• Kyodo

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A U.N. working group on nuclear disarmament on Friday adopted a report recommending to the General Assembly that negotiations to outlaw nuclear weapons begin in 2017.

The report, adopted on the last day of discussions at the U.N.’s European headquarters, says widespread support exists among member states for the start of the negotiations.

The move is expected to stir debate at the General Assembly this fall on a convention that would prohibit the possession, development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

The report includes opinions from Japan and NATO member nations that argue for a gradual approach to multilateral nuclear disarmament, saying there is a camp that opposes starting the negotiations under current conditions, although they support nuclear abolition in view of global security.

Japan has maintained that the stage is not yet set for such talks, citing threats from North Korea. It proposed instead making efforts at implementing a treaty for a comprehensive ban on nuclear tests or starting negotiations on an agreement to ban the further production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons at an early date.

Originally, the report was to be adopted by consensus. In Friday’s discussions, however, Australia called for putting it to a vote on behalf of a group of 14 nations that oppose a nuclear weapons convention. The other nations included South Korea, Poland and Turkey.

As a result, the document was endorsed with 68 nations in favor and 22 objecting. Japan, Switzerland and 11 other countries abstained from voting.

An original draft report circulated by Thani Thongphakdi, chairman of the working group, said a majority of the participating countries backed the 2017 start of the talks. But the opposing camp reacted strongly, forcing the wording to be altered to widespread support.

Last December, the General Assembly adopted a resolution for convening a working group in Geneva to discuss steps to advance a move toward nuclear disarmament.

The resolution called for a working group to “address concrete effective legal measures” necessary to “attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons,” with “all member states” encouraged to participate in it.

After holding discussions in February and May, the U.N. working group has held the third round intermittently since Aug. 5.

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