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UN's Ban urges nuclear disarmament deal

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) Jan 20, 2009
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Tuesday urged member states to break 13 years of deadlock in nuclear disarmament negotiations, saying that an accord could broker a "peace dividend" during the current economic crisis.

"At a time of global economic and financial crisis, advancing the disarmament agenda could produce a tangible peace dividend when the world needs it most," he told the Conference on Disarmament in a speech delivered on his behalf.

He noted that the UN Charter called for as little as possible of the world's human and economic resources to be used in arms, and said that "all UN member states must be mindful of this solemn responsibility".

There were "promising signs" in recent months from many parties, including the five nations wielding nuclear weapons -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, Ban assessed.

"The United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament should seize this moment and be in the vanguard of efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons," he said.

Ban last year launched new steps to advance the goal of a nuclear-free world, including a call on Russia and the United States to resume talks on cutting their nuclear arsenals.

He then described Britain's proposal to host a conference of nuclear-weapon states on verification was "a concrete step in the right direction".

However, progress in the permanent Conference on Disarmament in Geneva has been blocked since 1996, unable to even agree on an agenda amid disagreements between nuclear powers, notably over curbs on the production of fissile material and the arms race in outer space.

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Former top military officers say British nuclear deterrent useless
London (AFP) Jan 16, 2009
Three retired senior military officers on Friday condemned Britain's plans to renew its independent nuclear deterrent, saying the Trident system was "completely useless" against modern threats.

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