UNITED NATIONS – UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday implicitly criticized the United States and Russia for failing to advance nuclear disarmament in a setback he said marked a return to Cold War attitudes.
In a speech delivered by his deputy Jan Eliasson, Ban told a conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opening at the United Nations that a nuclear-free world was the “historic imperative of our time.
The 190 signatories of the NPT opened a month-long conference to review progress over the past five years in reducing the nuclear threat with much of the focus centered on the fate of US and Russian stockpiles.
“I am deeply concerned that over the last five years this process seems to have stalled,” the UN leader said.
The secretary-general complained that instead of stepping up nuclear disarmament “there has been a dangerous return to Cold War mentalities.
Since it entered into force in 1970, the world has seen a drastic cut in warheads, but UN officials have raised alarm over the failure to move toward deeper cuts.
The United States and Russia have made little headway in cutting their nuclear stockpiles since 2011, and the crisis over Ukraine is stoking distrust, dimming prospects for future cooperation.
The NPT is seen as a grand bargain between five nuclear powers – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – and non-nuclear states which agreed to give up atomic weapon ambitions in exchange for disarmament pledges.
Ban said the action plans agreed at the last conference must be implemented, or the NPT “could risk fading in relevance”.
Over 190 countries or entities have signed on to the landmark treaty.