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The oversized piece of furniture on the dais is reserved for heads of state waiting to take the podium and address the General Assembly. Today, Abbas will become the first Palestinian leader to use the chair as he waits his turn to speak at this week’s session, according to a Palestinian diplomat who isn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified.Since 1974, Palestinian leaders have had to stand while waiting to address the world body, as they were considered representatives of a stateless people, not heads of state. Abbas’s late predecessor Yasser Arafat would rest his hand on the chair’s back in a gesture of his yearning for statehood.The Palestinians were upgraded last year by the UN to join the Holy See as an “observer state,” which grants it the right to join UN agencies and sign treaties, though not the right to vote on resolutions. The authority used the Holy See as the precedent to make its case with the UN Office of Legal Affairs, according to the Palestinian diplomat.Pope Paul VI was permitted to sit in the chair for the first time on Oct. 4, 1965, a year after the Holy See was upgraded to observer status, the diplomat said.
I want to begin by commending the President of the General Assembly for arranging this event, in collaboration with Member States and with support from civil society.Today and together, we are making history.This is the first-ever high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament held by the General Assembly.That is all the more remarkable since this body has a long record of advocacy in this field.In its very first resolution, in 1946, the General Assembly identified nuclear disarmament as a leading goal of this Organization.Decades later the objective of “general and complete disarmament” remains a top priority – this combines both the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and the regulation of conventional arms.The efforts of this year’s Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament is further evidence of that commitment.Some might complain that nuclear disarmament is little more than a dream. But that ignores the very tangible benefits disarmament would bring for all humankind.Its success would strengthen international peace and security. It would free up vast and much-needed resources for social and economic development. It would advance the rule of law. It would spare the environment and help keep nuclear materials from terrorist or extremist groups. And it would remove a layer of fear that clouds all of human existence.Let us also remember that failure carries a heavy price.I was profoundly moved to be the first United Nations Secretary-General to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima. I also visited Nagasaki. Sadly, we know the terrible humanitarian consequences from the use of even one weapon. As long as such weapons exist, so, too, will the risks of use and proliferation.Some progress has been made.Declared stockpiles have been falling for decades. Some nuclear-weapon states have closed test sites, eliminated certain nuclear weapons, ceased to produce nuclear-weapon materials, and enhanced physical security.The review conferences of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have yielded disarmament commitments that the parties expect to be fulfilled.Yet much remains to be done.The transparency of nuclear weapons stocks, delivery systems and fissile material remains weak and uneven.The nuclear weapons states have a special responsibility to intensify their efforts.Let us remember that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are mutually reinforcing.Today, I once again call upon the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to demonstrate its commitment towards verifiable de-nuclearization.I urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to fulfil its pledge to enhance the transparency of its nuclear programme.I urge those countries outside the NPT regime to accede to it without delay and without conditions.For the global disarmament process to be credible and sustainable, universality should be achieved for all key instruments, including the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.It is also time for new binding legal commitments. This should begin with revitalizing the disarmament machinery, particularly the Conference on Disarmament.The CD should take up the fissile material cut-off treaty as a top priority.States without nuclear weapons have much to contribute, as seen in the expanded cooperation between members of regional nuclear-weapon-free zones.A Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is needed now more than ever. I will continue to promote its establishment.Finally, I wish to thank members of civil society for all they have done to promote disarmament efforts and advance disarmament and non-proliferation education.Five years ago next month, I launched my Five-Point Proposal on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. Many countries have shown strong support. Civil society has also embraced it in a very encouraging way. I will continue to explore all avenues to advance these efforts and look forward to your ongoing support.We simply must do more to meet the disarmament challenge. This agenda cannot languish, it must advance for our common humanity.It is now up to you, the Member States, to add to the historical legacy of this gathering by taking meaningful, practical steps to achieve our great disarmament goal.In this noble pursuit, you have my profound admiration and full support.Thank you for your commitment and engagement.