UNITED NATIONS, Oct 25: As a major arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation is ending and a leadership change in Washington is in sight, John Mroz, president of the EastWest Institute, said on Friday it was time to “seize this (auspicious) moment”, and take dramatic action to reduce weapons of mass destruction.

He was speaking at a joint press conference at the UN to launch an initiative designed by the EastWest Institute, an independent international body focussing on security issues to break the logjam in global efforts to control and reduce stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Speakers at the one-day inaugural event included the former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger and the director-general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei.

Asked what would end the logjam, Mr Miroz said the Russian government had been invited to join the initiative by the EastWest Institute, and that the effort was in line with several Russian initiatives. There had been no lack of commitment to nuclear disarmament in the last 20 years; what was missing was a willingness to work towards that end in a way that was based on the principle of undiminished security, which was enshrined in many United Nations documents.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged the world’s nuclear powers to abolish their atomic arsenals and outlined a set of proposals for eliminating all weapons of mass destruction.