Tags: obama | un | nuclear

Obama to Chair U.N., Push Nuclear Disarmament

By Dave Eberhart   |   Thursday, 10 Sep 2009 11:18 AM

The United States has taken over the rotating presidency of United Nations Security Council for the month of September – opening the way for an historical first for a U.S. Chief Executive as President Barack Obama is slated to lead a Council meeting on September 24, according to a report by the VOA.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice revealed this week that Obama will chair a summit-level Security Council meeting on nuclear non-proliferation, according to the VOA.

"This session will focus on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament broadly, and not on any particular countries. Key areas to be highlighted will include arms control and nuclear disarmament, and strengthening the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] regime, and denying and disrupting trafficking in and the securing of nuclear materials," she said.

Ambassador Rice also said she expects Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to be at the Council proceeding as his country presently holds a non-permanent seat.

Gadhafi has been under fire for the hero's welcome in Libya of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was recently released from a U.K. prison because he is dying from cancer.

Obama takes over the helm at a busy season for the world body. September is when the world's leaders convene for the annual debate in the U.N. General Assembly.

His key role unfolds against a backdrop of vital issues that are coming to a head on this – the 64th session of the world body. Included in the heavy agenda, according to a report in the Financial Times:

  • A climate change debate on September 22 that may give a push to the search for a global climate deal at Copenhagen in December. T

  • A potential meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president – hosted by Obama – seeking a timetable for Middle East peace.

  • Iran’s nuclear ambitions are also high on the agenda. Obama gave Tehran a September deadline to consider his offer of negotiations. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad will attend the General Assembly “to encourage Iranian views in managing the world,” an aide said.

  • A debate on the U.N.'s peacekeeping mission in Haiti. Earlier this year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban tapped former President Bill Clinton as his special envoy for Haiti, and Ambassador Rice has announced that Clinton will attend next week's debate.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be on hand at the U.N. this month -- attending a Security Council session expected to adopt a resolution expanding the protection of women in conflict zones.

    In addition to his highlighted role leading the Security Council, Obama will address the General Assembly on the first day of its annual debate, on September 23. He is expected to spend three days at the United Nations, according to the VOA.

    But history-making and vital issues aside, many U.N. watchers wonder if Gaddafi will steal the show.

    “How President Gaddafi chooses to comport himself, when he attends the General Assembly and the Security Council in New York, has the potential either to further aggravate those feelings and emotions or not,” Ambassador Rice said, referring to the backlash against the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

    What’s more, the State Department has not ruled out the possibility that Obama and Colonel Gaddafi would physically cross paths. They are both due to address the General Assembly on the same day.

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