August 4, 2009 / 11:07 PM / 10 years ago

Obama to chair UN council meeting on nuclear arms

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 4 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama will chair a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council next month on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said on Tuesday.

The meeting will take place on Sept. 24 during the annual summit of the U.N. General Assembly. The heads of state of the other 14 Security Council members will be invited to participate, Rice said in a statement.

"The session will be focused on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament broadly and not on any specific countries," she said. "Over the next several weeks, we will work closely with members of the Security Council to prepare for this important meeting," Rice added.

Obama has vowed to take new steps to reduce U.S. stockpiles of nuclear weapons. He and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed in Moscow in July to reduce their Cold War arsenals of deployed nuclear warheads by around a third from current levels to 1,500-1,675 each.

Obama is scheduled to address the 192-nation General Assembly on Sept. 23 and possibly a climate change meeting a day earlier. Those appearances are expected to be his long-awaited debut at the United Nations.

The Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran and North Korea due to their respective nuclear programs.

Pyongyang has conducted two nuclear tests. Tehran denies Western allegations it is developing atomic weapons but has rejected the council’s demands that it freeze its nuclear enrichment program. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by Todd Eastham)

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