A top UN official yesterday denounced growing rhetoric claiming that nuclear arms are necessary and warned that the risk of such weapons being used was on the rise.
"The threat of the use, intentional or otherwise, of nuclear weapons is growing," the UN's representative for disarmament affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, told a preliminary review meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The United States, which holds one of the world's largest nuclear arsenals, also warned the conference that the prospects for progress on disarmament was currently "bleak".
The NPT, introduced at the height of the Cold War a half century ago, seeks to prevent the spread of atomic weapons while putting the onus on nuclear states to reduce their stockpiles.
Speaking at the opening of the Geneva meeting, Nakamitsu warned that "the world today faces similar challenges to the context that gave birth to the NPT."
The NPT treaty, which counts 191 state parties, faces a comprehensive review every five years, with preparatory committees each year in between.
The next full review of the treaty is scheduled for 2020.
The year's meeting comes after North Korea, which pulled out of the treaty 15 years ago, declared a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests and said it would dismantle its nuclear test site.
Nakamitsu hailed the announcement, voicing hope that the move "will contribute to building trust and to sustaining an atmosphere for sincere dialogue and negotiations."