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Forging legally binding U.N. deal banning nuclear weapons 'unrealistic': U.S. official

All Headlines 03:50 August 30, 2016

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 (Yonhap) -- A recent U.N. panel's proposal to launch negotiations to ban nuclear weapons is "unrealistic" as it fails to take the international security environment into consideration, a State Department nonproliferation official said Monday.

Earlier this month, the U.N. panel -- the Open Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament -- voted to adopt its final report calling for the U.N. General Assembly to launch negotiations to forge a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons.

The U.S. and other nuclear states have voted against the report.

"We know that nuclear disarmament can only be achieved through an approach that takes into account the views and the security interests of all states," Anita E. Friedt, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, said during a visit to Kazakhstan, according to a transcript provided by the department.

"That is why we reject the final report from the Open Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament (OEWG), which recently completed its work. The United States calls on all states to reject unrealistic efforts to ban nuclear weapons," she said.

"The OEWG final report and efforts to institute a legal ban on nuclear weapons fail to take account of the international security environment and will neither lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons nor uphold the principle of undiminished security for all," she added.

Instead, the U.S. is engaging members of the U.N. Security Council on a resolution that would emphasize the importance of maintaining a moratorium on nuclear explosive tests while at the same time trying to persuade Congress to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Friedt said.

"Today only one state, North Korea, continues nuclear testing, despite overwhelming international pressure and condemnation," she said.

Friedt also outlined a series of efforts the U.S. has made under President Barack Obama's vision for a nuclear-free world, such as reducing its deployed stockpiles and launchers through the New START Treaty, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in our security strategy and securing the nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama is also reportedly considering renouncing the preemptive nuclear strike option to bolster his legacy as champion of a world without nuclear weapons. The so-called "no first use" policy has unnerved allies depending on U.S. nuclear weapons for their security.

A series of security experts have expressed strong concern about abandoning the nuclear preemptive strike option, saying it would send the wrong signal at a time when Russia is flexing its military muscle, China is building up its nuclear forces and North Korea is bent on developing nuclear missiles.

The no first use policy could erode the confidence allies have in the U.S. nuclear umbrella, they said.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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