Friday, August 25, 2000

NPT goals key topic of UN disarmament meeting in Akita, Japan
25 August -- The importance of reaching the goals of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and their potential effect on the Asia and Pacific region were key topics of discussion at a United Nations-sponsored disarmament meeting held in Akita, Japan this week.

Some 70 participants, including officials from regional and international organizations, representatives of governments and experts from private research institutions, discussed current problems of international peace and security and explored new initiatives to address them at the four-day meeting, which began on Tuesday.

"To the extent that progress may be in jeopardy, to the extent that disarmament efforts are in danger of failure, to the extent that there is evidence of a new or emerging arms race -- all of these issues can be identified and publicly discussed," said Tsutomo Ishiguri, the Director of the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, which organized the event.

While the Akita meeting was the twelfth in a series of regional security conferences hosted by the Centre, it marked the first such gathering since last May's NPT review conference, when the five nuclear-weapon States (China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) committed themselves to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. This week's conference explored ways to measure progress towards that goal. It also tackled current developments with respect to other deadly weapons, including chemical weapons, biological weapons, missiles and large stockpiles of conventional arms.

"These conferences are especially important in the current environment of globalization -- a time when governments are giving increasing recognition to the valuable contributions from civil society in building conditions for a more peaceful and prosperous existence for all countries," Mr. Ishiguri told the UN News Service. He said the meetings also provided a kind of "early warning" of future problems the world community faces in the field of international peace and security. "These conferences help to build confidence in the commitments of all participating nations to fulfil the solemn goals of peace and security in the UN Charter," he stressed.