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08:11 15 February 2017

Latin America urges U.N. members to "actively" join nuke ban talks

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 14, Kyodo

Latin American countries called on all U.N. member states to "actively" join talks for a treaty outlawing nuclear arms when they met Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of a regional nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty.

The call was enshrined in a declaration adopted at a meeting in Mexico City of parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which opened for signature in February 1967 and established the following year a nuclear-weapon-free zone that grew to cover all 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During the gathering, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said the Treaty of Tlatelolco has been the most powerful and vital contributor to the maintenance of peace and stability in the world.

The meeting came just ahead of the start of a U.N. conference in March to negotiate a first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons, with nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states still divided over the issue.

In the declaration, Latin American and Caribbean nations slammed the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons as a violation of the U.N. Charter and international law and as a crime against humanity.

They also said that "a world free of nuclear weapons is indispensable" for peace, security and development, while calling for "immediate action" by all U.N. member states to "actively participate in the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination."

The declaration appears to be aimed at adding pressure on five traditional nuclear powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- in the hope they will also support the nuclear ban treaty negotiations.

Mexico has been among the countries that have strongly pursued the start of the negotiations. The U.N. General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution in December calling for the start of talks to prohibit nuclear weapons.

The resolution drew support from 113 countries, while 35 -- including the United States, Britain, France, Russia and Japan -- voted against it, with 13 countries, including China, abstaining.

Japan remains vague about whether it will join the talks, reflecting its reliance on U.S. nuclear deterrence for protection. Tokyo nonetheless professes to aspire to a nuclear-weapon-free world as the only country to have been attacked with atomic bombs.

The first round of negotiations will take place from March 27 to 31, followed by a second round of talks from June 15 through July 7, both in New York.

The Treaty of Tlatelolco was the world's first agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons in a populated area, a move that emerged against the backdrop of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. It came into effect in April 1968.

==Kyodo

  • Latin America urges U.N. members to "actively" join nuke ban talks
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