United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today cited deeper global cooperation as "indispensable" to strengthening nuclear security, as he called on leaders to take the necessary steps towards ensuring a safer world for all.
"My message to you now, today, is this: be the first mover. Do not wait for others to act. The challenge is one of leadership," Mr. Ban said in his remarks at the opening session of the Nuclear Security Summit, hosted by the Government of the Netherlands in The Hague.
"Let us work towards a safer world for all - a world free of nuclear weapons and threat of nuclear terrorism."
Calling nuclear security a "pressing concern," the UN chief noted that the primary responsibility for preventing non-State actors and terrorists from acquiring the most devastating weapons known to humanity lies with national governments.
"But international cooperation and assistance are indispensable," he stated, adding that important challenges include strengthening nuclear security implementation and building a culture of nuclear security.
He highlighted three areas where the UN has an important role to play: strengthening the international framework for nuclear security; strengthening the capacity of States to detect and stop illicit trade in nuclear and radiological material; and the world body's efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.
"Non-proliferation and nuclear material controls are truly important, but neither offers any guarantee against the worst threat of all: a future use of nuclear weapons," Mr. Ban said.
"Let me be clear: nuclear security is jeopardized by the very existence of such weapons and the vast amounts of weapons-usable nuclear material in stockpiles outside of any international regulatory controls. This is why disarmament belongs on the global nuclear security agenda."
The catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons require that it be treated as a top priority, he continued, adding that disarmament will work better than any alternative in reducing the risk of use.
"Together, we must ensure that nuclear weapons are seen by States as a liability, not an asset," the UN chief stressed.