Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine call for worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine called for U.N. First Committee Members States to renew and expedite efforts to abolish all nuclear weapons worldwide in New York on Thursday.

The three countries renounced approximately 3,000 strategic nuclear weapons and 3,000 battlefield nuclear weapons spread across the newly-independent states after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The countries signed onto the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and successfully abandoned nuclear capabilities by 1996.

Leaders from the countries called on Member States to follow in their footsteps on Thursday. The comments were made at a roundtable event organized by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the U.N. to discuss "lessons learned and the prospects for nuclear disarmament."

Kazakhstan Delegate Barlybay Sardykov said eliminating nuclear weapons programs around the world is "the most ardent aspiration of mankind" and that a world free of nuclear weapons is achievable.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Aleksandr Mikhnevich expressed disappointment that more countries hadn't committed to eliminating all nuclear weapons.

Office of Disarmament Affairs Director Virginia Gamba, a representative of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said the non-nuclear commitments made by Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and other countries demonstrated that "a move toward nuclearization is neither inevitable nor unalterable."

"The examples of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine offer hope for a future world without nuclear weapons," Gamba said.