U.N. working group could change debate on nuclear disarmament

A U.N. working group has the opportunity to change the entire debate on nuclear weapons by placing a human face on the effects of such weapons, a U.N. official said on Thursday.

Angela Kane, the U.N. high representative for disarmament affairs, made the remarks on Thursday before the U.N.'s Open-Ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations. Kane said she welcomed and regretted the opportunity to address the group. She said her regret stemmed from the need to create the group in the first place.

"Nuclear disarmament efforts throughout the U.N. disarmament machinery-in the Disarmament Commission, the General Assembly's First Committee, and certainly in the Conference on Disarmament-have been a huge disappointment throughout the post-Cold War era, and this is a view shared throughout the world... If the process of fulfilling nuclear disarmament commitments had been functioning smoothly, there would have been no reason to establish this working group."

Kane said she welcomed the honor as well, because the group may be able to reinvigorate worldwide efforts of denuclearization.

"I welcome this honor because this working group has an excellent opportunit- especially under the competent stewardship of its chairman, Ambassador (Ana Teresa) Dengo-to revitalize the pursuit of global nuclear disarmament and I am pleased to do all I can to contribute to that great cause. Your discussions have already proven to be thought-provoking and highly informative."

Kane said she looked forward to reading the working group's final report.

"(I) know it will make a very positive contribution to the General Assembly's ability to fulfill its charter mandates of considering principles and making recommendations in the field of disarmament. I think it will also serve a constructive role as preparations continue for the high level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament to be held this year on September 26."