Disarmament talks face new threats, says Kofi Annan

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Kofi Annan. Photo by Yann Castanier

The stalemate on nuclear weapons disarmament needs to be resolved amid increasing concern about the "prodigious" number of warheads still in circulation, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Monday in Geneva.

Addressing a Working Group at the UN in Geneva which is looking at how to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, Mr Annan said that non-nuclear states now "rightfully question" whether the international community has the legal tools it needs to achieve this.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Speaking at the UN in Geneva, at a meeting that's tasked with kick-starting nuclear disarmament negotiations, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the current status quo is not good.

That's because it's been decades since nuclear weapons states entered into a legally binding contract to negotiate with non-nuclear states on disarmament, he said, the suggestion being that this accord urgently needs updating.

Worse still is the fact that nuclear arms states are busy modernising their nuclear arsenals and developing new types of weapons.

All this overshadows the "limited progress" made on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in recent years, Mr Annan said.

"Many non-nuclear weapons states rightfully question whether or not existing legal architecture sufficient to achieve and maintain a nuclear weapon-free world or even to prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons."

Some states had given up their nuclear weapons or their intention to procure them, but the global nuclear arsenal remained prodigious, Annan said.

The former UN Secretary General warned about increasing global instability, the rise of military budgets and the emergence and deployment of new technologies that can disrupt weapons systems meant to protect so-called global strategic stability.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'04"

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