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Ban Urges Action On Nuclear Treaty

The site of the last Soviet underground nuclear test in Semipalatinsk
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for urgent action to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear tests.

Ban said voluntary moratoriums on nuclear weapon testing were "valuable" but no substitute for ratifying the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which has been signed by 182 countries and ratified by 154 of them.

The treaty will enter into force once the remaining nine states recognized to hold nuclear technology -- including China, the United States, and Iran -- ratify the document.

Ban has invited officials from the nations that have ratified the accord to meet on the sidelines of next month's General Assembly.

Ban's appeal coincided with the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, which was authorized by the UN General Assembly in 2009.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said the Central Asian nation's decision to scrap the world's fourth-largest nuclear arsenal should serve "as a convincing proof of the real movement toward a world free from the nuclear weapons."

The ministry statement comes as Kazakhstan marked the 20th anniversary since the shutdown of its nuclear testing range.

More than 450 nuclear tests were carried out at Semipalatinsk during the Soviet era.
compiled from agency reports