31/03/2003
Press Release
DC/2859



Disarmament Commission

2003 Substantive Session

252nd & 253rd Meetings (AM & PM)


‘CREEPING RETREAT’ FROM NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, INCREASED PROLIFERATION RISK

AMONG ISSUES STRESSED, AS DISARMAMENT COMMISSION OPENS SESSION


The Disarmament Commission must never underestimate the actual or potential support that existed among peoples of the world for concrete initiatives to liberate them from the prospect or threat of war, the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs told the Disarmament Commission today, as it opened its 2003 substantive session. 


The Disarmament Commission, whose membership is universal, is a deliberative body mandated to make recommendations on various concerns in the field of disarmament and to follow up the decisions and recommendations of the General Assembly’s first special session devoted to disarmament (1978).  The Commission focuses on a limited number of agenda items each session to allow for in-depth discussion.  It will seek to conclude its three-year consideration of two agenda items -- ways and means to achieve nuclear disarmament, and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms. 


Describing the Commission as a seedbed from which global disarmament norms ultimately emerged, Under-Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala acknowledged that disagreements over the role of force in international relations, the contributions of multilateralism to international peace and security, and the relevance and role of the United Nations in serving a full gamut of global norms were presenting new challenges for consensus-building in the Commission.  The “creeping retreat” from nuclear disarmament and the challenges to global non-proliferation norms, sometimes accompanied by deterrence doctrines to govern the use of such weapons, were also troubling. 


Opening the session, Commission Chairman Mario Maiolini (Italy), reminded delegations that the Commission had been created to consider some of the most complex security problems imaginable.  It had faced numerous obstacles before, relating to the cold war, a series of armed conflicts, and mounting military expenditures, yet, it eventually succeeded in reaching a consensus.  Recently, that progress had included guidelines for objective information on military matters (1992), regional approaches to disarmament (1993), guidelines for international arms transfers (1996), and two sets of guidelines in 1999 dealing with nuclear-weapon-free zones and conventional arms control.


Contributing to the general debate that followed, China’s representative said that non-traditional security threats characterized by terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction had become more salient.  A new security environment based on security for all should be created.  Although the quantity of nuclear weapons had been in decline, their role in certain national


strategies had not been drastically reduced.  The development of missile defence systems and outer space weapons had also had negative effects on global strategic stability.  Indeed, the deterioration of the international security environment had increased the risks of nuclear proliferation.


Pointing out that the Commission was meeting at a time when a devastating war in Iraq was under way, the Algerian representative said that not since the two world wars and the cold-war period had nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons been so highly regarded and positioned as an absolute guarantee of security, intimidation and domination.  The coordinated development of new types of armaments and the deliberate selective implementation of arms control treaties, as well as the new role those weapons played in security doctrines, had fostered mistrust, scepticism and a growing arms race.  That trend needed to be reversed and the disarmament process “re-empowered”, he urged.


The South African representative said that the post-cold-war security context demanded that the world finally live up to the promises of common security for all.  He was concerned about the lack of concrete progress in nuclear disarmament, as well as apparent tendencies towards unilateralism and diminished political will to abide by mutually agreed international regimes.  Eradication of the illicit small arms production and trade depended upon close cooperation, strong national legislation, including registration of civilian-owned firearms, and the inclusion in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms of information about destroyed surplus weapons.


Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement of countries, the Indonesian speaker expressed deep concern over the slow pace of progress and the lack thereof by the nuclear-weapon-States to accomplish the elimination of their nuclear arsenals.  He was also deeply concerned about strategic defence doctrines, which set out rationales for the use of nuclear weapons, and he had serious misgivings about the development of new types of weapons.  He called for a global conference aimed at reaching agreement on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified time frame, and for the possibility of convening an international conference to identify ways and means of eliminating nuclear dangers.


In other business, the Commission adopted its provisional agenda and programme of work.  Elected to the post of vice-chair were Saad Maandi (Algeria), Marly Cedeno (Venezuela), and John Gosal (Canada).  Alaa Isaa (Egypt) was elected Chairman of working group I on ways and means to achieve disarmament disarmament, and Santiago Irzabal Mourao (Brazil) was elected Chairman of working group II on conventional weapons.


Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Jordan, Japan, Peru, Switzerland, Brazil, Greece (on behalf of the European Union), and the Republic of Korea.  The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in right of reply.


The Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 1 April, to continue its general debate.


Background


The Disarmament Commission opened its 2003 substantive session this morning.  It was expected to adopt its agenda and approve its organization of work.  It was in its third year of deliberations on two items:  ways and means to achieve nuclear disarmament (for which it had before it a Chairman’s working paper, A/CN.10/2003/WG.1/WP.1); and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms (for which it had before it an explanatory note of the relevant working group chairman).  Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala was expected to speak.


The Commission, which is composed of all Member States of the United Nations, is a deliberative body, with the function of making recommendations on various problems in the field of disarmament and following up on the relevant decisions and recommendations of the 1978 General Assembly’s first special session devoted to disarmament.  It was first created in 1952, under the umbrella of the Security Council, with a general mandate on disarmament questions.  Since 1978, as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, the Commission has focused on a limited number of agenda items each session to allow for in-depth consideration.  Since 1993, it has dealt with two or three items, which it usually considers for three years.  The Commission is in its third year of consideration of the two agenda items.


Action


The Disarmament Commission took note of the provisional agenda for the 2003 substantive session (document A/CN.10/L.53) and the provisional programme of work (document A/CN.10/CRP.1).


Without a vote, the Commission then elected Saad Maandi (Algeria) from the Group of African States, Marly Cedeno (Venezuela) from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, and John Gosal (Canada) from the Group of Western European and Other States as Vice-Chairpersons.


Also without a vote, it elected Alaa Isaa (Egypt) of the Group of African States as Chairman of working group I on ways and means to achieve disarmament, to take the post of Yaw Odei Osei (Ghana), as well as Santiago Irzabal Mourao (Brazil) as Chairman of working group II on conventional weapons, to take the place of Gabriela Martinic (Argentina).


Chairman’s Opening Statement


In opening remarks, MARIO MAIOLINI (Italy), Chairman of the Commission, reminded delegations that the Commission was created to consider some of the most complex security problems imaginable.  The norms it deliberated today must have the capacity to adjust to new demands that arose from technological, political, and social forces in the world of tomorrow.  Such challenges required that the members proceed in a prudent and business-like manner.  The temptation to be overly ambitious should be avoided, as the complexities of the present and the uncertainties of the future required a cautious and measured approach.  He asked that one golden rule be observed, namely, that the Commission seek to ensure that its words and initiatives served the collective interests of future generations. 

He noted that, two years ago, the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters had warned of a “crisis in multilateral disarmament diplomacy”.  Today, as the Commission assembled amid a troubled international environment and persisting concerns over the future of multilateral disarmament efforts, if not multilateralism itself, the Advisory Board’s warning should serve as a call to action in defence of the United Nations.  It should not be forgotten that the Commission had already met in difficult times in the past and had proven its ability to adapt to changing circumstances, without sacrificing its fundamental purposes and principles.  After all, the Commission was forged at the dawn of the cold war and in the midst of an armed conflict in Korea.  It also appeared in the same year as the hydrogen bomb.


The General Assembly resolution establishing the Commission in 1952 stated in its preamble that the Assembly was “moved by anxiety at the general lack of confidence plaguing the world and leading to the burden of increasing armaments and the fear of war”, he recalled.  The resolution called for the elimination of “all major weapons adaptable to mass destruction”, for the limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and all other armaments, and for efforts to ensure effective international control of atomic energy for peaceful uses.  It also stated that, “in a system of guaranteed disarmament, there must be progressive disclosure and verification on a continuing basis of all armed forces ... and all armaments, including atomic”.  All of those themes remained quite relevant today. 


He said that, in the decades following adoption of that resolution, the Commission had faced numerous obstacles relating to the cold war, a series of armed conflicts, and mounting military expenditures.  Yet, it eventually succeeded in reaching a consensus on several principles and guidelines for future disarmament and arms control efforts.  Recently, that progress had included guidelines for objective information on military matters (1992), regional approaches to disarmament (1993), guidelines for international arms transfers (1996), and two sets of guidelines in 1999 dealing with nuclear-weapon-free zones and conventional arms control.  That tradition of persistence in the face of adversity should inspire efforts now, as members explored ways to move the multilateral disarmament agenda forward in two key areas. 


The first item on the agenda, ways and means to achieve nuclear disarmament, was particularly relevant in light of the persistence of global efforts to eliminate those weapons, he went on.  That related directly to their unique and indiscriminate effects –- effects that had led the world community to devise a wide range of non-proliferation and disarmament measures.  Though few States had sought nuclear weapons since the Commission first met in 1952, those weapons had spread nevertheless.  Tens of thousands of such weapons reportedly remained in existing stockpiles.  The exact number, however, was unknown, which highlighted the Commission’s long-standing goal of promoting greater “disclosure and verification”.


Turning to the second item on the agenda, he said that conventional arms had earned their place on the agenda due to their own devastating effects.  Produced in large numbers worldwide, such weapons were difficult to control and presented their own problems of disclosure and verification.  While they served some legitimate self-defence goals, they also continued to be manufactured by many States in numbers far greater than were needed for domestic consumption –- a phenomenon that had contributed to a thriving arms trade, including worrisome illicit transfers.  The papers from both working groups provided a solid foundation for further discussions, aimed at achieving a consensus on constructive measures that would strengthen international peace and security, while contributing to the prevention of war.


With international peace and security as the common goal, multilateralism must be the common path.  Multilateralism was nothing less than the process of democracy among nations –- a form of governance based on universal participation in achieving universal aims.  While the benefits of such cooperation were limitless, they required sustained human effort and, above all, a spirit of compromise and flexibility.  It was on the foundation of mutual benefit and cooperation, rather than the endless accumulation and perfection of weaponry, that it was possible to best promote the security interests of all.  The Commission had an enormously important role to play in contributing to a renewal or rebirth of the forces that bound nations together in a common destiny.


Statement by Under-Secretary-General


JAYANTHA DHANAPALA, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said that, for the past five years of his service, he had been impressed with the Commission’s commitment to its basic purposes and principles, as well as its demonstrated capacity to adapt its practices to meet new demands from the ever-changing international environment.  It had, for example, agreed to limit the number of items on its agenda, in order to permit more in-depth deliberations.  The Commission had also had some very productive sessions, in particular, in 1999, when it had been able to reach a consensus on guidelines for establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones and for conventional arms control.


He said that the Commission performed an indispensable role in the evolution of global disarmament norms.  Its focused, substantive agenda, allowed it to concentrate its deliberations far more than was possible in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), which had additional responsibilities, including consideration of more than 50 disarmament-related resolutions each year.  If the United Nations was, as described in the Millennium Declaration, “the indispensable common house of the entire human family”, then the Disarmament Commission was the wing of that house where new disarmament norms were discussed and elaborated.


Leaving the task of crafting resolutions and negotiating treaties to other parts of the United Nations disarmament machinery, the Commission made its greatest contributions in the realm of ideas, he said.  Indeed, it served as a seedbed from which global disarmament norms might ultimately emerge.  Being strictly a deliberative forum, it often encountered disagreements among its members over policies and priorities.  Yet, through that deliberative process, areas of common ground did emerge, as they had on several occasions in the Commission’s work throughout the 1990s. 


Undeniably, however, the Commission, along with other parts of the multilateral disarmament machinery, had faced some difficult times in recent years, he went on.  Its inability to schedule a substantive session in 2002 -–  the year of its fiftieth anniversary -– had been especially regrettable.  Today, disagreements over the role of force in international relations, the contributions of multilateralism to international peace and security, and, indeed, the relevance and role of the United Nations in serving a full gamut of global norms were presenting new challenges for consensus-building in the Commission.  Those hardships were coinciding with the recent trend of rising global military expenditures, which would exceed $1 trillion this year.  That unconscionable statistic was reminiscent of cold-war-spending levels.


Turning to the first item on the agenda, concerning ways and means to achieve nuclear disarmament, he said that the difficulty of that challenge was best symbolized by the grim fact that the issue had now been on the United Nations agenda for 57 years.  There had been some recent progress in related areas, including the bilateral Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (Moscow Treaty), which would substantially reduce the numbers of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by the United States and the Russian Federation.  Among the other developments had been the recent commitment of some $20 billion through the Group of 8 Global Partnership to efforts “against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction”.


Yet, he said, the actual record in achieving the verified dismantling and destruction of nuclear weapons had inspired little confidence, despite the “unequivocal undertaking” by the nuclear-weapon States at the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) “to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament”.  Tens of thousands of those weapons reportedly remained, though exactly how many was still unconfirmed, given the lack of transparency over those various weapons programmes.  The possible development of new weapons and new targeting options to serve aggressive counter-proliferation purposes further undermined that solemn disarmament undertaking, while creating new incentives for clandestine programmes.


He said that the “creeping retreat” from nuclear disarmament had also been accompanied by recent challenges to global non-proliferation norms, including, but not limited to, the decision by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to leave the NPT, and the South Asian nuclear tests in 1998.  It was also troubling that proliferation had, in some cases, been accompanied by the spread of various deterrence doctrines to govern the use of such weapons.  Virtually all members agreed that verification and compliance were critical to the success of both disarmament and non-proliferation commitments, as was the non-discriminatory enforcement of the relevant norms.  Yet, how was the world to reach agreement on the ways and means to achieve global nuclear disarmament if not through a careful deliberative process?


The review process of the NPT was surely one important arena for assessing progress in implementing the global nuclear disarmament norm, but the Disarmament Commission had the advantage of being a fully universal deliberative body, which enabled it to complement the goals of the NPT review process, he said.  Working in tandem, those two arenas offered great potential to move the global nuclear disarmament agenda forward, at a time when such progress was long overdue. 


Regarding conventional arms, he said that how those weapons were developed, tested, traded, and finally used to cause death and suffering had some profound effects on international peace and security.  The specific characteristics of those weapons, such as their lethality, mobility, weight, range, stealthiness, and other properties, revealed much about the capabilities of the States possessing such arms and, to some extent, their intentions, as well.  Similarly, the sheer volume of weapons could also breed mistrust in international relations and lead to conditions triggering pre-emptive wars.  In such an environment, even routine military exercises might be confused as preparations for war.


He said that the problem was further complicated because it was legitimate for States to possess conventional weapons for self-defence and because commercial and political motivations frequently underpinned their continued production, perfection and export.  In the Persian Gulf, even the current war in Iraq had not deterred the convening last month of a major defence trade exhibition in the region.  One official commented after the event that war might delay a few deals for weeks and maybe months, but it would not really affect the sales.  Indeed, the war might service as a macabre advertisement of new types of weapons.  So, the great challenge before the Commission was to find a way to reduce threats to international peace and security posed by such weapons, while protecting the inherent right of all Member States to the means for their self-defence.


The Commission was meeting today in a “tragic wartime environment” caused by the failure of the Security Council to agree on a collective course of action to achieve the disarmament of Iraq, he said.  The world faced persisting threats from mass destruction weapons, which were in the custody of States, and potential weapons in the hands of non-State actors.  He saw the continued production, storage and transportation of materials that could be used in the manufacture of such weapons.  He also saw a thriving arms trade and continued reports of civilian casualties from the use of conventional arms around the world.  He also saw the costs of such developments as imposing on the social and economic development of virtually all States.


He said that the Commission must never underestimate the actual or potential support that existed among peoples for concrete initiatives to liberate them from the prospect of war or the threat of war.  Motivated by public expectations, stimulated by enlightened leadership, and recognizing the clear material and social benefits of achieving a world without nuclear weapons and with responsible controls over conventional arms, the Commission might have only just begun to demonstrate its full potential.  He wished members success in their deliberations and was confident that that institution would, indeed, fulfil its potential.


Statements


RAMEZ GOUSSOUS (Jordan) said the question of nuclear weapons was the highest priority and would remain the basis of the Commission’s work.  He hoped the subject would be addressed in the spirit of good faith.  International efforts must be stepped up to combat the danger of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction through an international framework.  It was necessary to reactivate the mechanism of the Disarmament Conference.  The Commission would also have to adopt guidelines to make it possible to eliminate nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  The universality of the NNPT must not be forgotten.


Regarding the Middle East, he said all States of the region had pledged to achieve nuclear disarmament through adherence to the NPT in order to free the region and the world of nuclear weapons.  Israel, however, had refused to adhere to that treaty and had chosen to follow the nuclear option.  It had refused to place its nuclear installations under the safeguard system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  The Sixth Review Conference of the NPT had included reaffirmation that Israel should adhere to the Treaty and place all its installations to the safeguard system in its final document.  In 1980, the General Assembly had adopted, by consensus, a resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.


The development and implementation of confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons was of great interest to his country, he said. Subjects that warranted specific attention included the question of whether the United Nations Register for Conventional Arms had been really successful.  He regretted that the group of experts did not succeed in expanding the Register to include weapons held by military forces that were produced locally and did not include weapons of mass destruction.  The Register was, therefore, not an effective mechanism for confidence-building and early warning and should be broadened in scope.


ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the Commission was convening at a time when a destructive war was taking place in Iraq.  Since the outset of that crisis, Algeria had called for a peaceful settlement and had cautioned about the perils and dangers of such a conflict for Iraq itself, as well as for the countries of the region.  He deeply regretted that the United Nations weapons inspections had been interrupted at a time when they were beginning to be effective.  Also regrettable was the loss of human life and the terrible destruction resulting from the conflict.  For more than half a century, the international community had been aware of the destruction from the stockpiling of arms and had openly called for disarmament.  The first explosion of a nuclear weapon, and the nuclear arms race that followed, had made disarmament a goal and a key pillar in the creation of a new system of international security.  That call was still relevant today. 


He said that never since the two world wars and the cold-war period had nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons been so highly regarded and positioned as an absolute guarantee of security, intimidation and domination.  But those weapons had not mitigated the security concerns of certain countries, nor motivated them to limit production and stockpiling to levels that were compatible with security and legitimate defence concerns.  Prospects for nuclear disarmament had dangerously worsened.  The coordinated development of new types of armaments and the deliberate selective implementation of arms control treaties, as well as the new role those weapons played in security doctrines, had fostered mistrust, scepticism and a growing arms race.  That trend needed to be reversed and the disarmament process “re-empowered”.  The key international challenges underscored the need for a security paradigm that was global in scope, and both universal and non-discriminatory.  In addition, such security would mobilize the energy and resources that had long been overwhelmed by the arms race.  Today, it was not so much weapons that guaranteed security, but economic and social development.


Nuclear disarmament was an urgent priority, he said.  Nothing justified the ongoing possession of those weapons by some, when most had undertaken not to acquire them at all.  The argument that key international security interests dictated the maintenance of nuclear stockpiles was unconvincing and undermined the credibility of the commitments already undertaken.  That argument was discriminatory and posed a threat to the security of others.  As long as nuclear weapons existed, the risk of their use also existed.  That was a contingency aimed at intimidating and dominating, which was both morally deplorable and politically untenable.  Unilateral and bilateral approaches, while necessary and useful, were only partial steps.  The path to nuclear disarmament had already been charted at the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, in 1978, and under article VI of the NPT.


He said that confidence-building measures in conventional weapons was another major issue.  In elaborating guidelines, the Commission should also consider regional realities.  The Register of Conventional Arms should be expanded to include holdings of mass destruction weapons, as well.  Success in developing conventional weapons guidelines depended on an objective approach and realistic proposals.  In that field, a genuine trust that was both global and non-discriminatory should be established.  A partial approach might not fulfil the necessary objectives.  Confidence-building measures should be based on military and non-military actions that were mutually reinforcing.  Political and economic factors that could have direct effects on security were core elements that would give expression to establishing confidence and were prerequisites to bringing about that gradual, phased process of disarmament.


HU XIAODI (China) said, while the international security situation had been stable on the whole, military confrontation caused by disputes over territories, resources, religions and interests continued.  Non-traditional security threats characterized by terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction had become more salient.  There was a need to create a favourable international security environment through a new security concept based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation with the aim of establishing common security for all countries.  His country was committed to multilateralism and democratization of international relations.


He said, although the quantity of nuclear weapons had been in decline, their role in certain country’s national strategy had not been drastically reduced.  The development of missile defence systems and outer space weapons had negative effects on global strategic stability.  The deterioration of the international security environment had increased the risks of nuclear proliferation.


Countries should work for a just and equitable new international political and economic order and should refrain from introducing weapons into outer space, he said.  The nuclear-weapon States possessing the largest nuclear arsenals bore special responsibility for nuclear disarmament, and should take the lead in reducing their arsenals drastically and in a legal binding form.  The nuclear weapons removed from the arsenals should be destroyed, verifiably and irreversibly.  All nuclear-weapon States should undertake not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and should withdraw all those weapons into their own territories.  Those and other measures should lead to the negotiation and conclusion of a treaty on the complete prohibition and destruction of disarmament weapons.


He said in recent years his country had been exploring ways to establish confidence-building measures.  In 1996 and 1997, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China had signed the Agreement on Confidence-Building in the Military Field in Border Areas, and the Agreement on Mutual Reduction of Military Forces in Border Areas.  In July 2001, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and China had signed the Declaration of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in which the six countries decided to cooperate extensively in the security, political, anti-terrorist, economic, cultural and technological field.  In November 2002, China and the countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.  It was of great significance to maintain and further develop the guiding role of the Commission.  Any attempt to weaken or abandon that organ would be detrimental to the disarmament process.


KUNIKO INOGUCHI (Japan) said that the present session was extremely important, as discussions should conclude on the two agenda items.  She hoped it would be possible to achieve consensus on a final document.  It was Japan’s fervent wish, as the only country to have experienced the devastation caused by nuclear bombs, to rid the world of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons.  The most effective way to achieve that goal was through practical and concrete steps, to which the States parties to the NPT had agreed in 2000.  At the last General Assembly session, her delegation had submitted a resolution on a path to nuclear disarmament, which had called on Member States to implement the

13 practical steps contained in the final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference.  Those had included a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  Overwhelming support for that text, including by three nuclear-weapon States, had clearly proven to the world that the international community was as earnest as ever in its desire for nuclear disarmament.


She cited as significant achievements in the nuclear disarmament field the signing by the Russian Federation and the United States of the Moscow Treaty.  She hoped for its early entry into force and speedy implementation by both parties.  She also welcomed the unilateral steps taken by France and the United Kingdom and she urged all nuclear-weapon States to further reduce their nuclear arsenals and to curb their accumulation.  The maintenance and strengthening of the NPT regime was essential in achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.  The legitimacy of the NPT had been maintained, despite the continuation of nuclear activities outside the watch of the IAEA.  Indeed, the NPT regime had faced severe challenges of non-compliance and from States outside that Treaty.  In that regard, she was encouraged by Cuba’s accession to the NPT and by the similar efforts being made by Timor-Leste.


Multilateral disarmament treaties were the fruits of labours by Member States to provide peace and security for humankind.  Those also represented the moral high ground.  She hoped it would be possible to work together to overcome the problems associated with the lack of universality or non-compliance with the NPT and strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  Japan, as a member of East Asia, was seriously concerned with steps taken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in that regard.  Although she was fully aware that the Disarmament Commission was not the most appropriate forum to discuss the security matters of a particular region, including the Korean peninsula, she must call for the peaceful resolution of those problems in her region.  For every country in the region, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, “multilateralism does matter” and the erosion of multilateral disarmament treaties was not in any East Asian country’s interest.


In light of the mounting uncertainties and difficulties, she said she expected that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would exercise political wisdom and cooperate in reducing the uncertainties by staying with the NPT and IAEA safeguards.  There was a strong common interest among all associated with the security problems of the Korean peninsula, which should be solved through dialogue.  Meanwhile, constructive and courageous initiatives should be undertaken to de-escalate the situation.  Concerning the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), it was regrettable that six years after opening for signature, it had still not entered into force.  Pending its operation, the moratorium on nuclear tests or any other nuclear explosions should be observed.  At the same time, she looked forward to concrete results in the discussions on conventional arms.  Since most violent conflicts today seemed to be deeply rooted, disarmament could not promise peace unless it promised reconciliation.  It was essential to look beyond disarmament and focus more vividly on the concept of disarmament and reconciliation.


MARCO BALAREZO (Peru) said it was startling to see that 1 per cent of the amount spent on weapons of mass destruction would make it possible to eliminate extreme poverty.  Unilateral, bilateral and regional initiatives were truly important in disarmament.


He said the NPT was central within disarmament tasks and hoped the

13 practical steps established by the NPT Review Conference would be implemented and that a monitoring mechanism would be established in order to assess progress. He also reiterated importance of the entry into force of the CTBT and emphasized the need for all States to ratify it.  As a member of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone, he underlined the importance of establishing such zones in other regions.


He welcomed progress in the document of confidence-building in the field of conventional weapons, as weapons reduction was not limited to nuclear weapons, but also applied to conventional weapons.  He emphasized the reduction of weapons expenditures.  Efforts to reduce weapons expenditures were also related to efforts to promote development.  Regarding the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, he wondered whether the categories mentioned there were still relevant or whether they should be updated.  In conclusion, he underlined the important role the Commission must play as the appropriate and relevant forum for dialogue and open debate.


CHRISTIAN FAESSLER (Switzerland) said his country supported all multilateral disarmament efforts and had ratified all multilateral treaties in that context.  It also strongly supported the application of international humanitarian law criteria regarding the development, production and use of conventional weapons. Those weapons threatened, among other things, the security and development of the most underprivileged countries.  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, as well as the possibility of non-State actors having access to those weapons, constituted a serious challenge to international peace and security.


He said his country was alarmed and disappointed by the violations of the NPT.  Efforts to preserve the integrity of the NPT must be accompanied by concrete and sustained commitment on the part of the nuclear States.  He also attached great importance to the immediate resumption of negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament regarding the prohibition of the production of fissile materials for military purposes.  The Disarmament Commission was the key body for in-depth consideration on precise disarmament questions


Regarding confidence-building measures on conventional weapons, he said at the regional level there already existed positive experience in the context of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  His country had submitted a working paper on confidence-building measures in 2000.  Confidence-building measures that had been achieved in various regions contributed to strengthening peace, security and stability at all levels.  At the global level, one such measure was good governance in the military and security sectors.  Such a measure should reduce the unpredictability of international relations, highlight the peaceful intentions of States, and improve the security climate.


RONALDO SARDENBERG (Brazil) said the Commission was meeting today under challenging circumstances, which could have adverse and long-standing effects on the work of the United Nations, not to mention the unavoidable toll on human life.  Although it was too early to evaluate the impact of recent events on the work of the disarmament community, or to extract lessons leading to a better understanding of the international security environment, one element stood out:  disarmament, once again, was a clear priority.  The accumulation of weapons engendered mistrust and threatened to destabilize a State, its neighbours, as well as the international community.  Recent progress had been modest and the disarmament agenda had remained paralysed.  The time had come to fully debate the causes of that stalemate, to embark on a comprehensive exercise to identify the relevant elements of the security context, and to map the road ahead.  The Disarmament Commission was the agreed forum for that inescapable exercise.


He said that the Commission, as the universal forum dedicated to the long-term discussion of disarmament issues, should discuss future disarmament options without any constraints.  It was in no one’s interest to perceive the Commission as a “failed forum” for such deliberations.  The need for results here was even more evident, taking into account that the prospects for immediate progress and agreements in other disarmament forums were far from reassuring.  Turning to the potential of confidence-building measures, he hoped Member States would make better use of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.  In addition to seeking an increase in the number of participating countries, he welcomed the initiation of a review process to further strengthen and promote that instrument.  He also sought broader participation in the United Nations Standardized System of Reporting on Military Expenditures.  Regionally, several confidence-building measures were being implemented in the Americas. 


Unfortunately, he said, the field of nuclear disarmament was still marked by distressing signs.  The lack of progress in the Conference on Disarmament was “alarming” and recent developments could hardly be construed as meaningful to the achievement of nuclear disarmament.  Working group I, on nuclear disarmament, should seriously advance the debate on that question.  The next three weeks were an important opportunity for a meaningful exchange of views on that subject and related issues.  A frank and substantive exchange of views in the two working groups, taking into account the dynamics of the real world outside the United Nations Building and the need for concrete new ideas to further the disarmament cause, would be a step in the right direction to reassure public opinion of the importance of the Commission and to lay the foundations for the successful conclusion of its present exercise. 


DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa) said the international community was faced with increasing and serious questions on how to address non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control issues, as well as increasing threats of terrorism and the use of weapons of mass destruction.  The post-cold-war security context demanded that the world finally live up to the promises of the concept of common security forged at the creation of the United Nations.


He was concerned about the lack of concrete progress in nuclear disarmament. A seeming rising tendency towards unilateralism and an apparent lack of political will among some States to abide by mutually agreed international regimes were a few examples of the lack of commitment to achieve progress in that field.  He welcomed the positive outcome of the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT.  He hoped that the nuclear-weapon States would further reduce their arsenals.  He hoped a subsidiary body could be established in the Conference on Disarmament to deal with nuclear disarmament and that a treaty on banning of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons could be negotiated.  He called upon States that had not done so to ratify the CTBT as soon as possible, so that it could enter into force.


Establishment of confidence-building measures must take into account regional peculiarities, he said.  He welcomed initiatives undertaken by various regions regarding the programme of action to eradicate the small arms trade.  The Southern African Development Community (SADC) had adopted a protocol in that regard, with the objective to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit production and trafficking of such weapons.  To achieve those objectives, member States would facilitate close cooperation and incorporate measures in their national legislations in that regard, including registration of civilian-owned firearms in their territories.


The Register on Conventional Arms could be a confidence-building measure, he said, but the scope of that Register excluded aspects of small arms and light weapons.  The destruction of surplus weapons no longer in use by government forces was important for promoting confidence among States.  His Government had decided to destroy all surplus small arms and light weapons, rather than sell them.


Right of Reply


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea responded to the statement made by the representative of Japan on the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula.  He said that issue deserved no interference by Japan.  The nuclear issue was directly related to the security of the Korean nation and was a product of the United

States’ escalating, hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its threat to mount a pre-emptive nuclear strike against it.


He said it was well known that Japan was in no position to guarantee the security of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  If there was a security issue between them, both were already committed to keeping the promises made in the declaration not to threaten each other’s security, which should be observed on the basis of reciprocity.  If any party ceased to implement its commitments, it was impossible for the other to continue to fulfil them.  The Pyongyang Declaration was respected by both sides.  If Japan sincerely wanted a peaceful solution to the issue, it should urge the United States to sign the non-aggression pact proposed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in order to defuse the current crisis on the Korean peninsula.


ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), speaking on behalf of the European Union and Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Iceland and Norway, said it was important that the existing disarmament and non-proliferation agreements were effectively implemented and fully complied with.  Preserving the NPT was vital for international and regional security.  The NPT must not be undermined by States parties seeking to acquire or contribute directly or indirectly to proliferation of nuclear weapons.


He stressed the importance of implementation of the “13 practical steps” contained in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review conference and called for the early entry into force of the CTBT, as well as for all States that had not yet ratified the Treaty to do so without delay and unconditionally, in particular, the 13 States whose ratification was required for entry into force.  He also called for, among other things, the immediate start of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral, internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devises, the preservation and continued implementation of the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction treaty (START), and regular reporting on article VI and the Middle East, in accordance with the 2000 Final Document.


He said confidence-building measures were valuable tools in conflict prevention and in post-conflict stabilization.  The Union supported and encouraged the adoption of such measures when there was a need for a step-by-step building of trust and establishment of new patterns of interaction.  In times of increased tension, openness and predictability were more important than ever.  That implied verification regimes that ensure reliability of provided information.  He encouraged States to involve civil society and non-governmental organizations in such measures.  The OSCE area was a prime example of where confidence-building measures had contributed to a new pattern of interaction.


Transparency in armaments was fundamental in building confidence and security.  The Register of Conventional Arms was a key instrument in that regard. He hoped that the review of scope and operation of the Register this year would secure meaningful expansion of its scope, possibly in the field of small arms and light weapons.


YURI THAMRIN (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement of countries, stressed the special importance of refraining from the threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or against peoples under colonial or foreign domination seeking to exercise their right to self-determination and to achieve independence.  The Movement also stressed the importance of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States, the inviolability of international frontiers, and the peaceful settlement of disputes. 


Regarding the item on nuclear disarmament, he reiterated his deep concern over the slow pace of progress and the lack thereof by the nuclear-weapon-States in eliminating their nuclear arsenals, leading to nuclear disarmament.  The Movement was also deeply concerned about the threat to humanity derived from the continued existence of those weapons and from their possible use or threat of use.  He underscored the need to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the urgent need to commence negotiations without delay.  He was also deeply concerned about strategic defence doctrines, which set out rationales for the use of nuclear weapons and the “Alliance Strategic Concept” adopted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April 1999. 


That doctrine not only maintained unjustifiable concepts of international security based on promoting and developing military alliances and policies of nuclear deterrence, but also included new elements aimed at opening further the scope for the possible use or threat of use of force by NATO, he said.  In the context of the “Nuclear Posture Review” undertaken by the United States, he had serious misgivings about the development of new types of weapons.  He reiterated that the nuclear-weapon States had agreed to provide assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Noting the signing of the Moscow Treaty, he also stressed that reductions in deployments and in operational status were no substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons.


Continuing, he said he was strongly concerned about the growing resort to unilateralism; multilateralism and multilaterally agreed solutions provided the only sustainable method of addressing disarmament and international security issues.  He, once again, called for an international conference aimed at reaching agreement on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified framework of time; to prohibit their development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and to provide for their destruction.  The Movement wished to keep all options open for achieving the elimination of all mass destruction weapons, including the possibility of convening an international conference to identify ways and means of eliminating nuclear dangers.


Turning to the second item, on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms, he said that such steps were neither a substitute nor a precondition for disarmament.  Yet, their potential for creating an atmosphere conducive to arms control and disarmament had been demonstrated in various parts of the world.  An unbalanced and incomplete approach, however, especially in some regions, would not build confidence.  At the same time, there was a need to develop and implement confidence-building measures as a concrete means for the peaceful settlement of disputes.  He underlined the importance of the reduction of

military expenditures, in accordance with the principle of undiminished security at the lowest level of armaments.


LEE HO-JIN (Republic of Korea) underscored the urgency of preserving the integrity of the NPT.  He said there was a growing recognition of the necessity to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the monitoring and verification mechanisms of global non-proliferation instruments.  It was essential to promote the universality of the Additional Protocol to the IAEA safeguards agreement.  The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 had highlighted the importance of strengthening measures of nuclear safety.  Member States should resolve to prevent nuclear materials and technologies from falling into the hands of non-State actors.


He expressed his country’s most serious concern about the continued non-compliance of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with its safeguards agreement and its continued defiance of its non-proliferation obligations.  That violation jeopardized peace and security on the Korean peninsula and beyond.  The North Korean nuclear issue could be resolved through peaceful means.  North Korea should retract its announcement of withdrawal from the NPT and comply fully with its safeguards obligations.  Its nuclear weapons programme should be abandoned in a verifiable manner.


He said, given the heightened non-traditional security threats and increased interdependence among States, the role of confidence-building measures in conflict prevention had grown more important than ever.  He favoured developing such measures by employing a practical and step-by-step approach.  The measures should be established on the premise that the security of one State was indivisible from, and inextricably linked to, the security of the region as a whole.  The measures also needed to be tailored to the particular security needs of countries in a region or subregion.


One of the greatest challenges was the illegal proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  Progress had been achieved by adopting the programme of action of the small arms Conference in 2001.  That programme had established a significant set of confidence-building measures.  The Register of Conventional Arms was a successful example of the practical application of a confidence-building measure on a global scale.  He encouraged wider participation and increased effectiveness in its operations.  Regional initiatives had proven to be an effective way of developing confidence-building measures.  The ASEAN Regional Forum had promoted transparency and dialogue by providing a forum for discussion of high-level security issues.


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