UN chief urges disarmament forum to start work on fissile material ban

24 February 2011The United Nations Conference on Disarmament (CD), the world’s sole multilateral forum on the issue, must move ahead vigorously on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear devices or risk slipping into irrelevance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned today. “We have collectively done much to move the disarmament agenda forward in recent years,” he told his Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, which is currently meeting in New York. “But now, we must intensify these efforts or risk the very real possibility of sliding backwards. This is why disarmament and non-proliferation are among my top priorities for 2011.”Established in 1979, the 65-member CD focuses on cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war, and prevention of an arms race in outer space. UN Office at Geneva (UNOG) Director-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze is its Secretary-General.At a high-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York last September, many leaders voiced deep concern at the CD’s inability to overcome its differences and urged it to start its substantive work this year. Mr. Ban noted that there is almost universal support within the CD to start negotiating a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, but some members have suggested exploring alternative arrangements outside the CD. “Such a parallel mechanism risks weakening the CD’s relevance and credibility,” he said, welcoming last month’s joint statement by China and the United States reaffirming support for the early start of negotiations within the forum.Addressing the CD in Geneva last month, Mr. Ban called on it to overcome its decade-long deadlock and begin substantive work, warning that its very credibility is at stake. read more