Ban Urges Iran and North Korea to Cooperate on Nuclear Issues

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Iran and North Korea on Monday to respond to demands to resolve international disputes over their nuclear activities, in particular for Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear plan is entirely peaceful.

Ban appealed to those two countries on the occasion of the opening at UN headquarters of talks to prepare for the review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2010.

The NPT is signed by more than 180 countries, including the five nuclear countries: the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, which hold also permanent seats on the UN Security Council.

The NPT is due for review every five years since it entered into force in 1970. But the last review in 2005 ended in disarray because states could not agree on ways to strengthen its implementation while some developing countries have acquired nuclear technology.

'Today we seem to be emerging from that low point,' Ban said. 'This preparatory session must generate agreements on key procedural issues and substantive recommendations to the Review Conference (in 2010).'

He said Russia and the United States have now agreed to pursue verifiable reduction of their strategic offensive nuclear arsenals by replacing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. US President Barack Obama has committed to seek ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty on ballistic missiles.

Ban called on Iran to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency to demonstrate the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities and to re-engage in negotiations with the UN Security Council to end the dispute over nuclear issues.

He called on North Korea to return to the six-party talks to work out a verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner. The talks involve China, the United States, Japan, Russia and both North and South Korea.

The preparatory talks at UN headquarters this week have drawn disarmament experts from around the world. The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two cities in Japan levelled by atomic bombs in 1945, are also taking part in the debate.

Source: DPA