by Stephanie Parker
UNITED NATIONS, June 6 (Xinhua) -- The UN chief of disarmament called on the international community to make the youth population aware of the dangers of a "nuclear explosion" and "sensitize" them about the happenings around the world.
"What you see now among the young generation is (a lack of) awareness about the danger of a nuclear explosion. I think we need to sensitize them to what is actually happening," Angela Kane, the high representative for the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"We should not forget about the possibility of having a nuclear explosion, even an accidental one," she said. "We really need to sensitize the young generation."
Kane was appointed as the high representative for UNODA in 2012. Since then, she has been focusing on increasing nuclear transparency and awareness among the global population. Prior to this post, she served as the United Nations under-secretary-general for management from 2008-2012.
LACK OF NUCLEAR TRANSPARENCY
Kane said the overall nuclear weapon statistics provided to UNODA are not precise numbers because this information is not transparent.
During the Cold War, there were about 70,000 nuclear weapons and right now the number has dropped to somewhere between 17,000 to 20,000. "Everyone says: 'What a great success!'" Kane said.
"It's a reduction, but on the other hand it has not been brought about by disarmament negotiations. It has been brought about because modernization is needed," she said.
More specifically, the total figure of 17,000-20,000 is a rough count of nuclear weapons owned by the five nuclear powers, namely, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.
"The assumption is that the largest numbers are being held between the United States and the Russian Federation," Kane said.
She also identified four other countries with an undisclosed number of nuclear weapons. "I know four (countries) that have nuclear weapons and they are India, Pakistan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Israel," she said.
The four nations are not parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), an international legal agreement adopted in 1968, whose implementation is monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
According to the official website of the IAEA, the agency is the "world's center of cooperation in the nuclear field" that works with United Nations member states and partners around the world to "promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies."
Aside from nuclear disarmament education and the peaceful use of nuclear technologies, Kane also raised concerns about the deadly consequences of conventional weapons.
DEADLY CONSEQUENCES OF CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS
Kane cited Syria and some African countries as examples of the high cost of lives caused by conventional weapons in armed conflicts.
"Of course, conventional weapons kill ... people in this world and there are a lot of them," she said.
"If you just think about the number of conflicts that have raged in Africa or Syria, for example, where over the last three years 120,000 or maybe 130,000 people have been killed by conventional weapons," Kane said.
Therefore, "I think it depends on how many there are and are they being used to fight or are they being used to hunt. I think that this is something important to focus on and to sensitize young people too," Kane said.
As of now, UNODA wants youths to pay attention to global leaders' weapon spending. "Maybe we would have the money to use, not on arms but on other issues. That could really help the country," she said.
Consequently, the UN agency is encouraging youths to ask, "what can be done to reduce the number of conventional weapons," she said.