Press Release

Disarmament Commission                                     

2004 Substantive Session                                   

263rd Meeting (AM)


As the third and final week of the substantive session of the Disarmament Commission got under way this morning, the United States’ delegation introduced amendments to the agenda proposed last week by the Chairman.  Lack of agreement on the agenda has persisted since the session began on 5 April.

The United States delegate told representatives that he thought his instructions from Washington, D.C., would permit the Commission to reach agreement.  The amendments showed continued flexibility on the part of the United States.  He hoped that others would think about the approach very carefully, as his Government had come up with an answer with which everybody could live.  It could accept both (B) and (C) as written, but he had some changes to (A).

The Chairman’s proposed agenda, dated 12 April, reads as follows:  A) Guidelines for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects, including, in particular, strategies for dealing with illicit activities that undermine nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives;  B) Elements for verification mechanisms and instruments of conventional arms agreements; and C) Measures for improving the effectiveness of the United Nations disarmament machinery, without prejudice to efforts within the framework of    SSOD IV (fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament).

Tabling what he described as “a couple of fairly small changes” to A), the United States’ delegate said that the word “guidelines” be replaced with strategies, as that was a little less prescriptive, yet did not really change how a discussion would evolve.  That was a fairly modest change, which others should be able to accept without too much concern.  In response to concerns by some in the Non-Aligned Movement, he was willing to delete “in particular”.  That showed a lot of flexibility, since that phrase was important in narrowing things down.  He was willing to delete those two words, however, in exchange for the deletion of “in all its aspects”. 

He added that the phrase “in all its aspects”, when applied to non-proliferation, had always been a way a way of implying that non-proliferation also dealt with so-called vertical non-proliferation, or the accumulation of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon States.  Therefore, the term “nuclear disarmament” in that title covered that and, thus, “in all its aspects” was not necessary.  People in Washington, D.C., had wanted to make sure that agenda item A) did not become a discussion of “everything under the sun” in this area, without really doing damage to others’ positions. 

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Ireland’s representative thanked the United States, even after some time, for coming back with comments on the Chairman’s proposals.  She would certainly look at them very seriously.  Maybe she was more optimistic than others, but she still thought it was possible to reach consensus this week.

Following a discussion about when to convene the next formal meeting, the representative of Indonesia informed the Commission that members of the Non-Aligned Movement of countries appreciated the United States’ delegation for its amendment, which was under consideration. 

Statements in the discussion were also made by the representatives of Qatar and Egypt.  The Commission Chairman, Revaz Adamia (Georgia), also spoke.

The Disarmament Commission will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 21 April.

* *** *