NEW YORK – Japan’s recently adopted U.N. resolution calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons better reflects today’s security concerns than previous versions, U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said Thursday.
“A majority of countries felt that that resolution reflected and was a snapshot of where we are today, what the threats are, and frankly, what the international community needs to do,” he told reporters at New York’s Foreign Press Center.
Wood said the adoption of the Japan-led resolution was a “big success,” despite criticism aimed at Tokyo by numerous countries for apparently backpedaling on nuclear disarmament when it came to the language used in the resolution.
A United Nations committee passed the annual resolution last week, but with significantly less support than in years past. It drew support from 144 countries, down 23 from last year.
Wood said it garnered support because it had a “strong condemnation of North Korea” for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Pyongyang has raised alarm bells by conducting a spate of ballistic missile tests, as well as carrying out its sixth and largest underground nuclear test in September, prompting the U.N. Security Council to issue its most stringent sanctions resolution yet.
Additionally, Wood said the backing shows a “growing understanding that future disarmament has to be conditions-based, meaning that you can’t divorce nuclear disarmament from the prevailing security environment.”
In addition to touching upon the threats from the Korean Peninsula, he spoke of other global uncertainties posed by precarious situations in the Middle East, and by the actions of Russia and China, particularly in the South China Sea.
Against this backdrop, Wood also took aim at those who supported a U.N. treaty outlawing nuclear weapons that was adopted in July.
The treaty’s proponents have long been frustrated by what they see as inadequate efforts by the nuclear weapons states — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — to reduce their nuclear arsenals despite having signed onto the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
In addition to the five countries, Japan and other nations operating under the nuclear umbrella for security reasons, do not support the ban treaty and are currently unlikely to do so.
Wood described how ban supporters are operating in a “parallel universe,” and claimed that due to their stance, “they have basically said nuclear deterrence is obsolete.”
He said “the conditions are not ripe for nuclear disarmament at this point,” citing the increasing security threats, adding, “This ban treaty has been extremely divisive and it has no practical impact on nuclear disarmament.”
The Japan-led resolution will be put to a vote before a plenary session in the General Assembly in December. The resolution has been put forward for 24 years in a row.