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UN urges US, Russia to extend nuclear arms control pact

U.N. disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on Aug. 11, 2020. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The United States and Russia should extend a bilateral arms control treaty, due to expire in February, as otherwise global efforts toward nuclear abolition involving other major countries will become even more difficult, the U.N. disarmament chief said Tuesday.

    "Including other nuclear nations such as China into negotiations will not be possible in a short time (without the extension)," Izumi Nakamitsu, undersecretary general and high representative for disarmament affairs, told a press conference in Tokyo.

    "They bear special responsibilities," said Nakamitsu, who recently visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki to attend ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of the two Japanese cities.

    The 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is the only remaining arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, which possess the world's biggest nuclear arsenals.

    "If this (treaty) vanishes, there will not be any control over nuclear weapons and it will be very dangerous," she said at the Japan National Press Club.

    U.S. President Donald Trump has called for an arms control framework that also involves China, but Beijing has so far been reluctant to commit to the idea.

    The highest-ranking Japanese at the United Nations said China has come to be recognized as a superpower, not only because of its economic influence but also in terms of its military clout, and that the Asian country needs to assume responsibilities commensurate with its international status.

    As the world has been battered by the novel coronavirus pandemic for months, Nakamitsu believes many countries have to put more money into their economies, rather than in the realms of military and national security.

    Under such circumstances, there may be more chances to boost confidence-building measures and work toward international stability through negotiations.

    "While seizing this opportunity, the United Nations would like to proactively call for a return to the policy of using dialogue," she said.

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