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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ban welcomes new arms pact between Russia and the United States

6 March 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed today’s agreement reached between Russia and the United States to reduce their arsenals, hailing it as an “important milestone” in global efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Negotiations between the two nations on a successor agreement to the 1991 Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, better known as START, wrapped up today.

According to media reports, the new pact will require both sides to cut their deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and launchers. It will also re-establish a verification mechanism to replace the one that expired with START last December.

Congratulating Russian and US presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama on the agreement and for the leadership they have displayed, Mr. Ban voiced hope in a statement that “this new treaty can be ratified without delay so as to allow its expeditious implementation.”

The Secretary-General called on both nations to press ahead with efforts to reduce and eliminate all nuclear weapons, encouraging other nuclear-weapon States to follow their example.

He also expressed optimism that today’s announcement will give “significant impetus” to this May’s review conference of the United Nations-backed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which forms the foundation of the world’s nuclear non-proliferation regime and marked the 40th anniversary of its entry into force earlier this month.

Parties to that pact will meet in New York in May to review its operation and how to further its full implementation and its universality. Under the provisions of the treaty, review conferences are held every five years.

Mr. Ban has characterized the last review meeting in 2005 as “disappointing.”

At the end of that meeting, Sergio Duarte, the President of the last Review Conference and currently UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the gathering ended having accomplished “very little” amid widely diverging views on nuclear arms and their spread. It wrapped up without any substantive agreement having been reached by nations.

In 2008, the Secretary-General put forward a five-point action plan to reinvigorate the international push towards disarmament.

It begins with a call for the parties to the NPT to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament, either through a new convention or through a series of mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a credible system of verification.

In addition, it is based on the following key principles: that disarmament must enhance security; be reliably verified; be rooted in legal obligations; be visible to the public; and must anticipate emerging dangers from other weapons.

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