UNITED NATIONS: “Bad actors” cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons at the cost of those trying to maintain peace and safety, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley has said as she voiced opposition to a UN conference negotiating a legally-binding instrument to prohibit such weapons. “We would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons but in this day and time we cannot honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them and those of us who are good trying to keep the peace and safety not to have them,” Haley told reporters here. Haley, joined by UK’s Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft and her French counterpart Francois Delattre, spoke just before the General Assembly convened its first substantive session to negotiate the legally-binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. She said the assembly “suddenly” wants to have a hearing to ban nuclear weapons and while “as a mother and daughter” she wants a world with no nuclear weapons, one also has to be “realistic”. “Is there anyone who believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons? So what you would see is that the General Assembly would go through, in good faith, trying to do something but North Korea would be the one cheering and all of us and the people we represent would be the ones at risk,” Haley, the first Indian-American to be elevated to a cabinet position in the Trump administration, said. She said Washington believes in the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and had reduced its weapons by 85 per cent since the treaty went into place. She added that while the US would want to see a world without nuclear weapons, the time for it is not and it will defend its citizens as well as its friends and allies. “One day we will hope we no longer need nuclear weapons. But, in this day and time, in the situations that we are in, we unfortunately don’t have the ability to do that,” she said. About 40 countries, including India, are not participating in the General Assembly session that will run until March 31. The UN said the conference represents the first multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament in more than 20 years. As of 2016, it is estimated that more than 15,000 nuclear warheads remain in global stockpiles. The world body said in a statement that while that represents a considerable reduction from the inventories maintained during the cold war, there has been growing frustration in recent years over the declining pace of reductions, continued reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines and continuing programmes to modernise and improve nuclear weapons.