“The time for change is now” – Ban Ki Moon 2 days before the start of the NPT conference

May 1, 2010

By Tony Robinson

2 days before the NPT conference begins in New York, UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon addresses the anti-nuclear movement in a conference, “For a Nuclear Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World”. He talks of his shared view of a world free of Nuclear weapons and says, “The time for change is now”. A delegation of World without Wars travels to New York in support.

Pressenza – New York, 2010-05-01. At the end of 24 hours of panel meetings, workshops, and book and film presentations on Nuclear Abolition, Peace, Economic Justice and Human Needs the conference “For a Nuclear Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World” was addressed by Ban Ki Moon.

The conference organised by numerous international anti-nuclear organisations is a forerunner to the UN Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Conference which starts on Monday 2nd of May at the UN in New York and will continue for 4 weeks.

The UN secretary General was introduced by conference organiser Joseph Gerson who highlighted that since the end of the Second World War the US has been prepared to launch nuclear weapons 40 times.

In his address to the conference Mr. Ban talked of the vision he shared with the conference delegates of a world free of Nuclear Weapons. He said, “Our call is to ‘Disarm Now’,” echoing the “Desarmons Maintenant!” slogan of a large contingent of French activists who are in New York for the NPT conference. He added,“Nuclear Disarmament is my top priority”.

The UN chief talked of his recent trip to Kazakhstan where he visited the ground zero site for over 400 Soviet nuclear explosions and added that 24 years ago in Reykjavik, Iceland, Former US President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev almost made it to disarmament and sent a message to the diplomats at next week’s UN conference to “be bold and think big”.

Explaining that the world was “over armed” and anti-nuclear movement “under funded”, he said, to great applause from his audience, “The time for change is now”.

Although many in the anti-nuclear field privately consider the NPT to be increasingly obsolete, Ban Ki Moon defended it saying that in 1963 nuclear experts predicted that by this time there would be 25 nuclear weapons states, and today we see only nine.

Talking about recent developments in nuclear disarmament he praised the recent US Nuclear Posture Review, the new START agreement signed recently in Prague and the Washington conference of 47 countries that committed to securing nuclear weapons and material. This position is not universally shared among anti-nuclear activists either but nevertheless the audience accepted what he had to say with applause recognising that the South Korean is arguably their best ally in international politics.

In reference to recent NPT conferences he mentioned the “utter failure” of the 2005 edition and added, “We cannot afford to fail again. Failure is not an option”. He gave a stark warning that Iran and North Korea are a “serious concern” to proliferation.

Concluding, Mr Ban referred to article 6 of the NPT that calls on Nuclear Weapons States to disarm and said, “I will call on Nuclear Weapons States to fulfil this obligation”.

World without Wars and Violence

In attendance at the Conference was an international delegation of members of World without Wars composed of 20 people from Europe and North & South America.

The delegation is here to participate during the NPT conference and the Great March that will take place on Sunday, 2nd of May from Times Square to the UN buildings. The March will be the final act for the nuclear abolition torches that were carried by the World March for Peace and Nonviolence from New Zealand to Argentina between October 2009 and January 2010, and will be handed to UN Disarmament chief Sergio Duarte.

Commenting at the conference, Rafael de la Rubia, spokesperson for the March said, “It’s important for us to be here because the elimination of nuclear weapons was the principle point of the World March.”

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