Ambassador Juul opened the meeting by stating Norway's goal: to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons. She emphasized that disarmament and non-proliferation concerns not only the countries that possess nuclear weapons. All countries must contribute in order for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which will take place in New York in May, to be a success.
"We are now seeing signs of optimism and a clear shift in international politics in support of a comprehensive disarmament agenda, with public awareness and increasing support for new disarmament measures," Ambassador Juul said.
Read Ambassador Juul's opening remarks in full here.
At the start of the meeting, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, made a strong appeal for progress in terms of disarmament and non-proliferation. He also pointed out the connection between disarmament and other major global challenges like climate change and poverty. While the world is well armed, he said, development remains under-funded.
Alberto G. Romulo, Foreign Minister of the Philippines, also stressed the international community's responsibility with regards to disarmament and the United Nations’ central role.
The ambassadors from Russia and United States informed the meeting about the new START agreement. The agreement reduces the number of warheads by a third and was described by the Russian ambassador as a historic milestone.
The U.S. Ambassador, Susan Rice, also stressed the importance of the agreement, given that Russia and the United States possess about 90% of the world's nuclear weapons. She called on all states not to use nuclear weapons, and to support non-proliferation. Furthermore, she referred to the Obama administration's goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and said the U.S. also wants to reduce the nuclear threat.