UN Secretary-General António Guterres drew criticism from nuclear powers after saying that he will launch a disarmament initiative. In a Feb. 26 speech to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), Guterres asserted that much work remains to fulfill the first resolution of the UN General Assembly in 1946, which encouraged the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Further, he said work remains to be done to counter the erosion of the norms against chemical weapons use and nuclear testing. “In the face of this deterioration, the international community must urgently rebuild a common vision on disarmament and arms control,” he asserted.
A U.S. official told Reuters on Feb. 7 that disarmament was only an “aspirational goal” and that the United States does not believe “that it’s time for bold initiatives, particularly in the area of nuclear weapons.” Nuclear disarmament in the near term is unrealistic, Robert Wood, the U.S. ambassador to the CD, said in an address to that body following Guterres’ speech. Chinese and French ambassadors concurred. Alice Guitton, French permanent representative to the CD, said that disarmament must be built on patience, perseverance, and realism. Izumi Nakamitsu, UN high representative for disarmament affairs, has been gathering input from UN member states and civil society organizations on the structure of the initiative before an expected launch in May.—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE