Nigeria has urged nuclear weapons capable States to dismantle and renounce them to avoid catastrophic consequences on humanity.
The National Security Adviser, retired Major General Mohammed Monguno, made the call at the High Level Plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
The event was held on the sidelines of the ongoing 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.
Monguno said: “My delegation reiterates the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that could result from either a deliberate use and/or unintentional explosion of nuclear weapons.
“It is in this light that Nigeria calls on all States, particularly nuclear weapons States, to take into consideration, the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of these weapons on human health, the environment and vital economic resources among others.
“States who had such weapons should also take necessary measures aimed at dismantling them.
“Nuclear weapons remain the ultimate agents of mass destruction, and their total elimination should be the final objective of all disarmament processes within the broad spectrum of goals being pursued by the UN.”
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, signed the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty in September 2018, joining dozens of other countries that signed the treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
Nigeria, together with Ireland, Austria, Brazil, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa played leadership roles in bringing forward the UN resolution convening the Diplomatic Conference that negotiated the ground-breaking treaty.
Monguno said Nigeria was proud to have participated actively in the processes that led to the adoption of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which opened for signature on September 20, 2017 as well as being one of the first countries to sign it.
“Our commitment was guided by Nigeria’s principled position on the denuclearisation of the world,” he emphasised.
He said Africa had long acknowledged the threat posed to human existence by nuclear tests, adding that it was to this end that African countries collectively adopted the Pelindaba Treaty.
The treaty renounced the acquisition of nuclear weapons for military purposes, as well as declared Africa as a nuclear-weapons-free zone to serve as shield for the African territory.
The treaty prevents the stationing of nuclear explosive devices on the continent and prohibits testing of those weapons in the entire space that constitutes the African continent.
Monguno said: “Nigeria commends the continued efforts of the International Atomic Energy Commission, particularly its role in monitoring and inspecting nuclear facilities. We urge States to ensure compliance with IAEA safeguards and standards at all times
“While there are no easy solutions when we confront the gravest threat to our survival as a human race, we must remain undeterred and committed to a world of safety and security, one without the dangers posed by Nuclear Weapons.”
He explained that over seven decades had passed since the world witnessed the first-ever devastating and catastrophic impact in the use of nuclear weapons – the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.
Yet today, he lamented, the pains afflicted by that singular act continued to be borne by not only the direct victims of that attack, but also by many all around the world, warning that the continued existence of nuclear weapons was an existential threat to humankind.
Monguno said: “The cost of maintenance and modernisation of these weapons are both outrageous and inexcusable when compared to resources allocated by States for more useful and productive ventures that could further the growth and peaceful development of societies.
“Nigeria underscores its concern over the slow pace of progress by nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, in accordance with their legal obligations and undertakings under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“In this regard, we stress that the universalisation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is dependent upon strict compliance with its three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”
Monguno noted that the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice affirms that the threat or use of nuclear weapons constitute crime against humanity and a violation of international law, including international humanitarian law.