The world community has a "new window of opportunity" to advance disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation programmes in 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.
Ban cited the review conference scheduled in May of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a major event. The NPT regulates nuclear programmes of countries that are parties to it.
"The treaty is facing a number of challenges," Ban told a meeting of UN heads of disarmament and nuclear agencies, including Yukiya Amano, the new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
"A successful outcome would strengthen confidence not only in the treaty, but also for the collective global effort to make the world free of nuclear weapons," he said.
The NPT, which entered into force in the 1970s, has been reviewed every five years to assess progress in nuclear disarmament and strengthen nuclear safeguards.
The heads of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the preparatory commission of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) were also present. CTBT bans nuclear tests anywhere in the world, but lacks ratification by countries having nuclear programmes.
Ban said he plans to attend the annual UN conference on disarmament in Geneva end of January. He will attend the Global Zero Summit in Paris and the Munich Security Conference in February. In April he will attend the Summit on Nuclear Security in Washington.
Those meetings are expected to build momentum for the NPT review conference in New York in May, which is considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament.