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ICRC Calls for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

The International Committee of the Red Cross says the world has an historic opportunity to bring the era of nuclear weapons to an end at next month's Review Conference of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says there have been some positive developments recently in the field of nuclear disarmament. These include the U.N.Security Council endorsement of the objective of a world without nuclear weapons.

ICRC spokesman Florian Westphal tells VOA another positive development is the commitment by U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

He says this is an opportunity that must not be missed. "We really do think that it is a bit of a turning point now. I mean either these diplomatic efforts are pursued and we really advance toward the elimination of nuclear weapons or we face a possible alternative scenario which is more States acquiring nuclear weapons, possibly even non-State actors acquiring nuclear weapons. And, the aim of controlling that and eliminating that action is becoming more difficult. So, really we do think there is an opportunity to be seized now," he said.

The ICRC says it hopes the upcoming month-long nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference will move this process along.

The new U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, Laura Kennedy, agrees.

"The nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Russia is a thing of the past as both sides work actively together to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals, while preserving stability and security at each succeeding step. Our NATO allies, France and the UK, have also made unilateral cuts in their nuclear arsenals, and NATO is working on a new Strategic Concept that will address the role of nuclear weapons within the alliance," she said.

Kennedy says ending the production of fissile material used in making nuclear weapons would advance nuclear nonproliferation.

Many countries, including the United States, have been trying for years to get negotiations for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty started at the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, but Pakistan has repeatedly blocked this process.

The U.S. Ambassador says she will work to get these vital talks underway.