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article imageUN chief calls for renewed disarmament push

By AFP     Feb 26, 2018 in World

The UN secretary-general launched Monday what he termed "a new initiative" to revitalise global disarmament, warning that surging arms sales and rising nuclear tensions required a renewed effort towards containing deadly weapons.

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations chief, offered few details on the project but said its objective was to give "greater impetus and direction to the global disarmament agenda."

He told the UN's Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that he wants to shake up the approaches that have led to stalemate and a reversal of progress in recent years.

The UN's stated goal of a nuclear-free world remains a remote prospect, with an estimated "150,000 nuclear weapons in the world", Guterres said.

He added that any initial momentum towards curbing the size and budgets of the world's militaries has "been abandoned", while "military power is glorified".

"At the same time, global arms trade is thriving in a way not seen since the Cold War", Guterres further said.

The UN Conference on Disarmament has failed for two decades to agree on a conclusive deal, as nations have traded blame for each others' failures to implement existing deals.

But Guterres said he has instructed his top disarmament envoy, Japanese diplomat Izumi Nakamitsu, to consult across the UN system and among member-states to come up with a strategy that will restore "the role of disarmament as an integral component" of the UN's work.

Guterres added that denuclearisation efforts should be matched with strategies to enforce chemical weapons bans and the development of tools to manage the threats posed by new technologies like autonomous weapons systems -- also known as killer robots.

Noting global hotspots including the Korean Peninsula, Guterres said: "We cannot contemplate further erosion of the global framework for disarmament."

"Indeed, we must reverse it urgently", he added

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