U.N.'s Ban urges disarmament steps by nuclear powers

Other News Materials 25 October 2008 04:00 (UTC +04:00)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the world's nuclear powers on Friday to take steps to abolish their atomic arsenals and outlined a set of proposals for eliminating all weapons of mass destruction, Reuters reported.

The permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which they pledged to negotiate steps on scrapping their nuclear weapons.

While most of the 192 U.N. member states have signed the pact, U.N. officials and signatories without atomic weapons have long complained the five nuclear powers have yet to abandon their warhead stocks.

India, Pakistan and Israel are also widely seen as unofficial members of the nuclear club. North Korea held a nuclear test in 2006 and Western nations believe that Iran is following in Pyongyang's footsteps, a charge Tehran denies.

"Nuclear weapons produce horrific, indiscriminate effects. Even when not used, they pose great risks," Ban told a conference organized by the East-West Institute.

"Accidents could happen any time. The manufacture of nuclear weapons can harm public health and the environment," he said. "Of course, terrorists could acquire nuclear weapons."

While most countries have no plans to obtain atomic weapons, Ban said some still viewed possession of such weapons as a status symbol. He gave no examples.

"Some states view nuclear weapons as offering the ultimate deterrent of nuclear attack, which largely accounts for the estimated 26,000 that still exist," Ban said. He added the world remained concerned about North Korea and Iran.