NEW YORK – In the lead-up to the last Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in 2010, the world was buoyed by U.S. President Barack Obama’s pledge to seek a nuclear-free world, but five years on hopes have been dashed that atomic arms will be abolished anytime soon, the U.N. disarmament head said.
“Since the 2010 last review conference, the world has changed,” Angela Kane, the high representative for disarmament affairs, said in an interview ahead of the once-every-five-years conference that kicks off Monday.
Citing a host of political and humanitarian crises that have taken root in the Middle East, Ukraine and elsewhere since then, she said she believes top leaders and disarmament experts will face a difficult time during the more than three-week-long conference.
Britain, China, France and Russia along with the United States form the nuclear weapon states that are party to the treaty.
With roughly 190 countries having signed, the NPT is a landmark international treaty that sets out to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and technology, as well as to promote cooperation in pursuing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It also aims ultimately to achieve nuclear disarmament.
India, Pakistan and Israel are not parties to the treaty but are acknowledged to possess nuclear weapons. North Korea, which is known to have conducted three rounds of underground nuclear tests, the last one in 2013, says it has withdrawn from the treaty.
The high representative also pointed to the divide that exists between nuclear and nonnuclear weapon states, with the latter having signed on refraining from acquiring the destructive devices in the belief they would negotiate for nuclear disarmament.
She also emphasized the essential role that Japanese atomic bomb victims, known as hibakusha, play in sharing their experiences to press for change through their testimonies at such gatherings.
“It is a good that the hibakusha and also Japan are making such strong efforts to bring it back to people’s memories, to remind them of the horrors of the effects of such an explosion,” she noted.