DATE=4/24/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-N-NUKE CONFERENCE OPENS (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-261661 BYLINE=BRECK ARDERY DATELINE=UNITED NATIONS CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan has opened a month-long conference on nuclear weapons today (Monday) with a warning that nuclear war remains a very real threat. VOA Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from the United Nations. TEXT: Mr. Annan says there has been progress in controlling the spread of nuclear weapons in recent years and praised the Russian parliament for its recent ratification of two measures (START II and CTBT, or comprehensive test ban treaty) to reduce the nuclear threat. However, the secretary-general says the 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan were setbacks that make clear the need to fight the proliferation of atomic weapons which he believes remains a serious danger. /// ANNAN ACT /// In an era of new threats to peace and security, we need to focus more than ever on halting proliferation and reducing those weapons of mass destruction that still threaten the very existence of human life on this planet. /// END ACT /// Mr. Annan, who spoke at the start of a month-long U-N review conference on the 1968 Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, took note of U-S plans to develop a national missile defense system. Without mentioning the United States by name, Mr. Annan spoke of "pressures" to develop national missile defenses. /// ANNAN ACT /// This pressure is jeopardizing the A-B-M (anti- Ballistic Missile) treaty, which has been called the cornerstone of strategic stability and could well lead to a new arms race, setbacks for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and create new incentives for missile proliferation. /// END ACT /// The Clinton administration says it will decide within a few months whether to go ahead with development of a limited missile defense system. /// REST OPT /// The U-N-sponsored conference on Nuclear Non- Proliferation includes speeches by 20 foreign ministers including Madeleine Albright of the United States and Igor Ivanov of Russia. (Signed) NEB/BA/LSF/JO 24-Apr-2000 14:36 PM EDT (24-Apr-2000 1836 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .