• The Associated Press


A senior U.N. official urged countries possessing nuclear weapons to focus on disarmament, not just nonproliferation, at the opening of a security conference Monday in Sapporo.

“Any position focusing on nonproliferation without working seriously on disarmament lacks credibility,” Nobuyasu Abe, U.N. undersecretary general on disarmament affairs, told the 16th U.N. Conference on Disarmament Issues.

He said that while countries are locked in a stalemate over how to tackle proliferation and disarmament, the threat of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists is growing.

“The longer we wait for progress in WMD disarmament or nonproliferation, the greater the risk of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists,” he said in his opening speech, calling for countries to be more flexible.

About 70 government officials, disarmament experts and representatives from 16 countries, including the United States, Russia and South Korea, are participating in this year’s conference.

The four-day meeting will address North Korea’s alleged nuclear weapons program, worldwide measures against terrorism and other issues, said Foreign Ministry official Toshihiko Neko.

In his speech, Abe also cited concern about archrival nuclear powers India and Pakistan.

The conference, sponsored by the U.N. Department for Disarmament Affairs and the U.N. Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, has been held in Japan every year since 1989.

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