7 March 2005

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ‘True Cornerstone’ of Global Security, Says Secretary-General on Agreement’s Thirty-Fifth Anniversary

NEW YORK, 4 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s statement on the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), issued in New York, 4 March:

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons entered into force 35 years ago tomorrow. The Treaty has defied gloomy predictions that, today, we would find between 15 and 50 nuclear-weapon States. With 188 States parties, it is the most universally supported international treaty. Given the grave perils that nuclear proliferation poses for all States, the NPT has been a true cornerstone of global security.

Yet today, the NPT confronts profound challenges to its effectiveness and credibility. At the 2005 NPT Review Conference in May, these challenges will test the commitment of all States to the three pillars of the NPT: non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

Progress in both disarmament and non-proliferation will be essential, and neither should be held hostage to the other.

Recent efforts by nuclear-weapon States towards disarmament should be recognized, yet the unique status of these States also entails unique responsibility. They should do even more to inspire confidence in their commitments.

Meanwhile, it is imperative to recognize that nuclear proliferation threatens not some, but all States. Thus, all States parties should agree to necessary measures for more credible verification and enforcement for the NPT.

And while the right to peaceful uses of nuclear technology should be preserved, States parties should agree to exercise this right in conformity with non-proliferation obligations, and with due regard for current challenges to the NPT.

In my forthcoming Report on Implementation of the Millennium Declaration, I will recommend priority measures to strengthen the NPT, for consideration by the Review Conference and by Heads of State gathered at the summit meeting scheduled for September. I challenge the Review Conference and Heads of State not only to strengthen the NPT, but also to demonstrate the continuing relevance and indispensability of multilateral regimes and fora in safeguarding global security.

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