03/05/2005
Press Release
DC/2957


NPT Review Conference

3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)


REPUBLIC OF KOREA SAYS NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY FAILED TO CONTAIN NUCLEAR


SPECTRE ON KOREAN PENINSULA, AS REVIEW CONFERENCE CONTINUES DEBATE


Iran’s Foreign Minister Tells Delegates Country Will Pursue

All Legal Areas of Nuclear Technology, including Uranium Enrichment


While the nuclear non-proliferation regime had enhanced security elsewhere in the world, the Korean peninsula suffered from diminished security because of the miserable failure of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to contain the nuclear spectre, that Treaty’s Review Conference was told today, as the general debate on implementation continued at United Nations Headquarters.


The Republic of Korea’s Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and International Organizations, Chun Yung-Woo, said that the Treaty’s credibility had suffered an “irreparable blow” as a result of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s complete disregard for, and defiance of, all nuclear non-proliferation norms, as well as its announced withdrawal from the Treaty.  The North Korean nuclear issue posed an unacceptable threat to peace and security on the Korean peninsula, in north-east Asia and beyond.  The NPT had demonstrated its inherent limitations in dealing with such an intractable challenge from a “determined proliferator”.


He said that nothing short of Pyongyang’s strategic decision to abandon and dismantle, once and for all, its entire nuclear weapons programmes would achieve a breakthrough in the six-party talks.  The Treaty gave States parties the right to acquire and operate a full range of fuel-cycle activities, including uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of spent fuel, which could readily produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.  If proliferators were allowed to break out from the Treaty with impunity once they acquired the necessary materials and technologies to manufacture nuclear weapons, then the NPT, ironically, would have served their nuclear ambitions.  A fundamental loophole allowed proliferators to come to the brink of nuclear weapons capability without technically violating the Treaty.


The Review Conference for the 35-year-old NPT began yesterday.  A landmark agreement, the Treaty seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology, foster the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and further the goal of general and complete disarmament.  Review Conferences have been held every five years since it became operational in 1970, and all but three United Nations Member States -- India, Israel and Pakistan -- are parties to it.


Iran’s Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, told delegates today that, despite the difficulties historically facing the non-proliferation regime, the NPT had contained the number of nuclear-weapon States.  Without it, there would certainly have been more nuclear weapons in the hands of more countries.  On the other hand, the Treaty had not been successful in attaining the objective of nuclear disarmament.  The continued existence of thousands of nuclear warheads in the stockpiles of nuclear-weapon States, which could destroy the world many times over, was a major threat to global peace and security.  Efforts by the two major nuclear Powers after the cold war to reduce their nuclear arsenals had faced serious setbacks recently.


Iran was determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes, he said.  It had been eager to offer guarantees that those uses remained “permanently peaceful”.  No one should be under the illusion that objective guarantees could theoretically or practically amount to cessation or even long-term suspension of legal activity, which had been and would be carried out under the fullest and most intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision.  Cessation of legal activity was no objective guarantee against so-called “break-out” -- it was indeed a historically tested recipe for one.


Turning the Conference’s attention to an examination of the nuclear-weapon States’ implementation of their Treaty obligations, Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Laila Freivalds, said that only limited progress had been made towards nuclear disarmament.  There were even worrying signs pointing in the opposite direction.  One nuclear-weapon State was modernizing its nuclear arsenal, another was planning research on new nuclear warheads, and a third had announced its intention to develop new delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons.  New uses, roles and rationalizations for nuclear weapons were being pondered, she warned.


The Russian Federation’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergey I. Kislyak, said his country’s total nuclear weapons stockpile had been reduced more than fivefold since 1991, and in the past five years alone, it had reduced its strategic nuclear forces by 357 delivery vehicles and 1,740 nuclear warheads.  His country respected States’ interest in developing peaceful nuclear technologies and had a long history of cooperation with many countries in that sphere.  He called for solutions to Iran’s nuclear programme that would meet that country’s energy needs and dispel doubts about the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities.  He also called for the renewal of the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme; that country’s return to the NPT was not only possible, but essential.


China’s Director General for Arms Control, Zhang Yan, said his country had always advocated that all nuclear-weapon States should explicitly commit themselves to destroying nuclear weapons in a complete and thorough manner, and diminish the role of those weapons in national security policies.  The two countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should earnestly implement the Treaty they had concluded to reduce their nuclear weapons in a verifiable and irreversible manner.  China opposed nuclear weapons proliferation “in any form”, and called on all those States outside the NPT to join it now as non-nuclear-weapon States.  He offered an integrated approach to curb proliferation that addressed both the symptoms and root causes.


At the conclusion of the meeting, Conference President Sergio de Queiroz Duarte (Brazil) said he had been holding intensive consultations on the way forward with respect to agenda item 16, which concerns the way in which the Review would proceed in dealing with substantive issues.  He hoped to inform States parties of the outcome of those talks by tomorrow, at the latest.  He also announced that he would receive the mayors who had launched a global campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020, at the close of the morning meeting tomorrow.


Statements were also made by:  the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan; Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland; Under Secretary for Multilateral and Human Rights Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico; Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Algeria; Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt; Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy; Deputy Director General for Disarmament, Department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa; State Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia; and the Director of the Security Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.


Also participating in the debate were the representatives of Turkey, Switzerland, Morocco, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Kuwait, Slovenia, Iceland, Colombia, and Kyrgyzstan.


The 2005 NPT Review Conference will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 4 May, to continue its general debate.


Background


The 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons met today to continue its session.  (For background on the month-long Conference, see Press Release DC/2954 issued on 28 April.)


Statements


LAILA FREIVALDS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said the prospects for the review conference to be a success would depend, in large measure, on the ability to make progress on all three pillars -- non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The Conference should not limit itself only to review and safeguard what had already been agreed.  It should also find ways to move forward. 


The United States and Russia kept their cold war nuclear force postures practically intact, she said.  That meant that many nuclear weapons were still on “hair trigger alert”.  She called on those two States, as well as other nuclear-weapon States, to de-alert -- to reduce the operational status of nuclear-weapon systems.  The example of the United Kingdom, which had taken all its nuclear weapons off high alert, should be followed by the other nuclear-weapon States.  To begin with, nuclear weapon States should increase transparency about present operational status and plans towards de-alerting.


Regarding the role that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had assigned to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for its implementation, she said that, in order to be efficient, verification must be provided with proper tools.  The Conference should recognize that the Additional Protocol, together with the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements, represented the verification standard under article III of the Treaty.  She welcomed and supported the negotiations between Iran and the three European countries, through which Iran could build confidence and dispel the serious concerns surrounding its nuclear programme.  She called on Iran to seize that opportunity and to provide the necessary objective guarantees, by foregoing all enrichment and reprocessing activities. 


When the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea declared its intention to withdraw from the Treaty, some two years ago, the international community did not react decisively, she noted.  The IAEA’s reporting of that country’s non-compliance with its safeguards obligations to the Security Council was not followed up.  She urged the Democratic Republic to return to the six-party talks and to act constructively within its framework.  It should, without delay, completely, verifiably and irrevocably give up the nuclear weapons option.  At the same time, another lesson should be drawn from that country’s announced withdrawal.  It should be made more costly for any country to withdraw from the Treaty.  In that, the Security Council had a clear role. 


She added that, in recent years, States had been unable to deal effectively with certain situations, for example when it became clear that parties to the Treaty had violated their non-proliferation obligations, or when the Democratic Republic announced its withdrawal.  It would have been appropriate if the States parties had been able to meet at a General Conference to assess the situation.  She strongly hoped to see a decision at the Review Conference to strengthen the institutional framework of the Treaty, so that the review process would be better ensured. 


KAMAL KHARRAZI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that despite the difficulties historically facing the non-proliferation regime, the NPT had successfully contained the number of nuclear-weapon States.  Without it, there would certainly have been more nuclear weapons in the hands of more countries.  That, in turn, would have put the planet at greater risk of more insecurity and instability.  On the other hand, the Treaty had not been successful in attaining the objective of nuclear disarmament, as was required under its article VI.  The continued existence of thousands of nuclear warheads in the stockpiles of nuclear-weapon States, which could destroy the world many times over, was a major threat to global peace and security.  Unfortunately, the efforts of the two major nuclear Powers right after the cold war to reduce their nuclear arsenals had faced serious setbacks, particularly in recent years.  Nuclear weapons continued to be deployed in other countries, a fact that further exacerbated the situation.


He said that following the major efforts by States parties to strengthen the Treaty, the 2000 NPT Review Conference enthusiastically welcomed the “unequivocal undertakings by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament”.  Accordingly, the Conference had adopted 13 practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement article VI.  The current Conference had a special responsibility to review implementation of those practical steps and of the requisite measures to strengthen and complement them.  Failure to embark on a full-scope review of implementation of those steps would only frustrate the international community over the total indifference of nuclear-weapon States to its wishes to make progress towards nuclear disarmament.  That could potentially amount to unravelling the NPT’s fabric, credibility and authority. 


The unpleasant reality was that no progress had been achieved in implementing the 13 practical steps, he said.  On the contrary, measures had been adopted and implemented that ran counter to those obligations.  The Conference, therefore, should concentrate much of its efforts on consolidating the 13 steps by a thorough appraisal of their implementation and by rectifying the areas that impeded their realization.  In a nutshell, several developments must be fully taken into account in the appraisal.  For example, given concerns over the development of new non-strategic and low-yield nuclear weapons, commitments should be renewed to ban developments of new nuclear-weapon systems.  The principle of irreversibility should be applied to all unilateral, bilateral and multilateral nuclear disarmament agreements.  The nuclear-weapon States should ensure that that irreversibility also applied to existing measures to remove the warheads from the nuclear-weapon systems.  Effective steps should be taken to lower the operational status of nuclear weapons to reduce the risk of nuclear war.


He said that, consequently, there should be a commitment to revise nuclear doctrines, policies and postures to reflect such lowered operational status.  Development of national missile defence systems would instigate a new arms race in outer space and should be avoided.  Fresh efforts should be made within the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate arrangements to prevent an outer space arms race.  Meanwhile, the nuclear-weapon States should make a commitment in this Conference to make every effort to prevent such an arms race.  Unilateral nuclear disarmament measures should be vigorously pursued and go well beyond removing warheads from deployment.  Submission of more detailed information on the total current number of nuclear weapons, the numbers and yields of their warheads, the plan for the deployment and development of missile defence, and the inventories of fissile material for weapons purposes should be provided by the nuclear-weapon States as a confidence-building measure.  Also, negotiation of a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty should begin in the Conference on Disarmament.


The unfulfilled commitments and promises on a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances, agreed in 1995, should “be materialized” at this Conference, he said.  The 2000 Review Conference had reaffirmed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat.  States parties had also agreed on the need for legally binding security assurances by the five nuclear-weapon States to the non-nuclear-weapon States parties.  The Conference had also called on the preparatory committee to make recommendations about that to the 2005 Review Conference.  Regrettably, the committee had been “disabled” from producing such recommendations.  It was abhorrent that, during the same period, the dangerous doctrine of the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States and threats had been officially proclaimed by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


The inalienable right of States to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes emanated from the universally accepted proposition that scientific and technological achievements were the common heritage of mankind, he said.  Nuclear technology had been recognized as a source of energy and a viable option within the sustainable development policies, with broad applications in the field of food and agriculture, human health, power generation and industry, water resource management and environment.  The promotion of the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, therefore, had been one of the main pillars of the NPT and the main statutory objective of the International Atomic Energy Agency.  It was unacceptable that some tended to limit the access to peaceful nuclear technology to an “exclusive club” of technologically advanced States under the pretext of non-proliferation. 


That attitude was in clear violation of the letter and spirit of the Treaty and destroyed the fundamental balance existing between the rights and obligations under the Treaty, he added.  The NPT, itself, had clearly rejected that attempt in article IV by emphasizing that nothing in the Treaty should be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all Treaty parties to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination. 


“Let me make it absolutely clear that arbitrary and self-serving criteria and thresholds regarding proliferation-proof and proliferation-prone technologies and countries can and will only undermine the Treaty”, he said.  Iran was determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes, and it had been eager to offer assurances and guarantees that those uses remained “permanently peaceful”.  But, no one should be under the illusion that objective guarantees could theoretically or practically amount to cessation or even long-term suspension of legal activity, which had been and would be carried out under the fullest and most intrusive IAEA supervision.  Cessation of legal activity was no objective guarantee against so-called “break-out” -- it was indeed a historically tested recipe for one.


Implementation of article VI had been assured by the commitment of the States parties to articles I and II, as well as implementation of the IAEA safeguards.  The Agency’s full-scope safeguard system provided the main foundation for preventing the diversion of peaceful nuclear technology to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  The difficulty arose and worsened when, in practice, the non-parties to the treaty, which were supposed to be under special restrictions, were rewarded, at least by acquiescence to have unrestricted access to materials, equipment and technology, while States parties to the Treaty under the IAEA safeguards had been under extensive restrictions.  In the case of the Middle East, provision of such unrestricted access to one Treaty non-party had effectively contributed to the development of one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons, endangering regional and global peace and security.  Israel had continuously rejected calls by the international community and the NPT Conferences to accede to the NPT and place its facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards. 


He urged that concrete steps be taken to ensure the NPT’s universality, and to grant assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  The basic rights of States parties to unhindered access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, without discrimination, should be promoted.  In addition, the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament should be reconfirmed.  The credibility of the NPT was at stake.  The Treaty faced new challenges, which should be effectively addressed.  Whatever shortcomings it might have, the Treaty provided the only internationally viable foundation for curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and attaining the goal of nuclear disarmament.  Hopefully, the Conference would assist in consolidating its foundations.  The global security system, more than ever, required wise and brave decisions to salvage the Treaty’s credibility. 


KASSYMZHOMART K. TOKAEV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that his country, a party to the Treaty since 1993, believed the NPT needed to be reinforced.  It should continue to be an important instrument in the prevention of vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons, as well as the starting point for nuclear disarmament.  Given the importance of the issues at hand, he was disappointed with the outcomes of the work of the preparatory committee, which failed to provide the Review Conference with specific recommendations regarding joint efforts to ensure the effective application of the NPT.  Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and disarmament were mutually complementary processes.  It was essential to ensure a fair balance between mutual obligations of both nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States to achieve complete elimination of nuclear weapons. 


He called for a strengthened and universal application of the non-proliferation regimes, and believed that the current international agreements in that area, including the NPT, should be adapted to new realities.  The possession of nuclear weapons by some States was a constant stimulus for others to try to acquire them.  Thus, nuclear disarmament, a central obligation under the Treaty, should be carried out within the framework of legally binding arrangements.  He pointed out that certain States, which had yet to accede to the NPT or the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), continued to be in good graces with major Governments and did not experience any discomfort.  


Therein lay a serious problem -- the lack of an effective mechanism that would impose sanctions, at the highest international level, against those States that were actually in violation of the non-proliferation regimes, he said.  A unified and fair approach to the solution of that issue was also lacking.  Some States were punished upon mere suspicion that they might possess weapons of mass destruction, others were constantly warned about the harmful nature of such a policy course or censured by means of a unilateral embargo, while others were simply forgiven. 


The Review Conference, he added, coincided with the tenth anniversary of the removal of the last nuclear warhead from the territory of Kazakhstan.  As a State that had voluntarily renounced its nuclear arsenal -- the fourth largest in the world -- Kazakhstan was actively involved in the negotiations to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  In February, Central Asian countries had finalized the draft treaty in that context, which would become an important milestone in the joint efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime.  All Central Asian countries had agreed to sign the treaty in Semipalatinsk, the former nuclear testing site, where the Soviet nuclear programme was developed.


PIOTR SWITALSKI, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, said that notwithstanding some positive steps towards strengthening the treaty, the nuclear threat had been evolving in a dangerous way and the global non-proliferation efforts now faced serious challenges, including new and more deadly forms of terrorism -- with the real danger that its perpetrators could reach for nuclear materials.  While some States remained outside the NPT, another -- the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea -- had openly announced its withdrawal.  Moreover, concerns persisted that some States parties were trying to circumvent the NPT provisions.  Yet another dangerous factor was related to the wide illicit trade in nuclear materials, equipment and technology. 


He said that, in order to face those challenges, today’s security environment required an even more comprehensive and robust global non-proliferation strategy.  The NPT’s viability depended on universal compliance with tighter rules to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and their delivery means, more effective regional security strategies, and, last but not least, renewed progress towards fulfilling the NPT disarmament obligations by nuclear-weapon States.  To achieve those aims, the priority role of the IAEA must be strengthened.  Having safeguards agreements with the Agency in place since 1972 and the additional protocol since 2000, Poland felt entitled to urge all other States parties to adhere to the additional protocol as soon as possible.  As a member of the Agency’s Board of Governors, it also expected a positive outcome of the discussion to establish, within the Agency, a special committee on safeguards and verification. 


Poland supported the main objectives of the Global Threat Initiative announced last September in Vienna to strengthen the safety of the nuclear waste stockpiles and to convert research reactors to low-enriched uranium operation, he said.  Hopefully, the diplomatic conference in Vienna, in July, to amend the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials would be successful.  He welcomed the General Assembly’s recent adoption of the Convention on Nuclear Terrorism.  That long-awaited instrument was necessary to curb the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials and technologies.  He urged others to sign the Convention at the upcoming September summit in New York.  He also sought full implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  Undeclared nuclear activities in violation of the NPT should lead to serious consequences.  He welcomed discussion on proposals to set up a mechanism that would make withdrawal from the Treaty much more difficult and deprive such States from the benefits stemming from international cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. 


BAKI ILKIN (Turkey) said that the success of the non-proliferation regime depended not only on the adoption of treaties but also on effective implementation of and compliance with their provisions.  The IAEA’s international safeguards system was an indispensable component of the global non-proliferation regime.  Turkey recognized the need to strengthen the verification authority of the IAEA and strongly supported the idea that the Model Additional Protocol should be adopted as the universal norm for verifying compliance with the NPT. 


It had long been known that the spread of nuclear technology, especially the means of producing fuel for nuclear reactors, could also provide the foundation for nuclear weapons programmes, he noted.  Nuclear technology and materials should be prevented from being diverted to covert and illegal weapons programmes.  At the same time, the inalienable right of parties to the Treaty to develop, produce and use nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes in conformity with the Treaty could not be denied.  For the benefit of all, it was necessary to find an acceptable solution to that question. 


He attached utmost importance to the entry into force of the CTBT at the earliest possible date.  Pending that, all States should continue to abide by a moratorium and refrain from any action which would be contrary to the provisions of the CTBT.  Also, swift conclusion of a non-discriminatory and universal fissile material cut-off treaty, banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, would indeed make an important contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  Further, the Conference on Disarmament must find a solution to start negotiations, and an appropriate body should be established within that forum with a mandate to deal with nuclear disarmament. 


His country considered that an unequivocal undertaking by all nuclear-weapon States, as well as non-NPT States with nuclear capabilities, to eliminate their nuclear arsenals was a fundamental prerequisite for achieving the common goal of general and complete nuclear disarmament.  While welcoming the 2002 Moscow Treaty, he believed that reductions in strategic nuclear arsenals should be rendered transparent, irreversible and verifiable, in accordance with the goals and principles agreed upon under the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaties (START).


PATRICIA OLAMENDI, Undersecretary for Multilateral and Human Rights Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said it was the right of States parties to demand full compliance with nuclear disarmament, as called for in the Treaty.  Her Government fully endorsed the statement made yesterday by New Zealand’s Minister on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition.  She promoted the universality of the NPT and full compliance with each of its provisions.  All States parties were committed to provide clear evidence of compliance with that international legal instrument.  It was indispensable, therefore, to carry out a broad, transparent and objective evaluation of the Treaty’s implementation, knowing that, after 35 years, that instrument remained the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament.  Evaluation of the Treaty must be done in the context of its preambular portion and its articles.  The commitments made at previous Review Conferences must also be taken into account, and compliance with their final results must be assessed in a comprehensive and orderly manner. 


She proposed that this Conference design mechanisms to ensure compliance with the Treaty, especially given the diversity of opinions on compliance and implementation.  Hopefully, the opportunity would not be missed to make specific recommendations in that regard.  In terms of establishing compliance mechanisms, it was particularly relevant to have initiatives related to the drawing up of national reports, as well as an action programme for nuclear disarmament.  Institutional changes would allow for a more in-depth examination of both the challenges and opportunities.  She highlighted the importance of the contribution of civil society organizations to the cause of disarmament and non-proliferation, and she invited them to continue to cooperate in achieving the Treaty’s objectives, stressing that “the Treaty belongs to us all”. 


The Secretary-General, in his “In Larger Freedom” report, made a series of recommendations to advance disarmament and non-proliferation, she recalled.  He had also emphasized the special status of nuclear-weapon States and their unique responsibilities.  Those countries should do more, not only to reduce their non-strategic nuclear arsenals, but to agree not only to dismantlement measures, but also to their irreversibility.  The Secretary-General’s approach to deal jointly with all of the dimensions of disarmament was a necessary reference point in the process to strengthen the United Nations in facing the challenges of the current century and in its own reform process.  Mexico had scrupulously respected its non-proliferation obligations.  It had already signed the Additional Protocol and was preparing to ratify it soon.  The strength of the NPT lay in each State’s compliance with it.  Not complying with the Treaty risked undermining its credibility, to the detriment, unfortunately, of international peace and security. 


HOCINE MEGHLAOUI, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said that the 2000 Review Conference had adopted 13 steps, which constituted a true programme of action towards disarmament.  The hope raised in 2000 had led to disenchantment, because none of the 13 steps had been implemented.  The current Conference was taking place in a disquieting international environment.  The risks linked to nuclear proliferation, the emergence of new threats and the decline of multilateralism constituted challenges to the international community.  Proliferation was a threat to international peace and security.  Holding weapons of mass destruction was a credible threat to the very existence of humanity.  Despite its imperfections, the NPT remained the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime.  As such, the Treaty must be preserved and strengthened.


The credibility and efficiency of the NPT presupposed its universality, he said.  In that respect, he, once again, appealed to those countries outside the NPT to join it without delay.  Also, the CTBT was an important component of the non-proliferation regime, and he urged those not having done so to ratify that important instrument.  The Conference on Disarmament was the only multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament.  He called on all parties to show cooperation with a view to relaunching that body, which had proved effective and useful in the past.  Was it not time to call on the General Assembly to legislate the agenda of the Conference on Disarmament, as it did in 1978? 


It was important to have a balance between the concern for the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he stated.  Nuclear disarmament, an absolute priority, was the best way to release humanity from the threat of its annihilation.  The preservation of peace was inextricably linked to the elimination of nuclear weapons.  Non-nuclear-weapon States should benefit from assurances sheltering them from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Negative security assurances, a fundamental element in the process of disarmament, would strengthen security for all and buttress the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  To be credible, such security assurances needed to be codified in an international legal instrument. 


Regarding nuclear-weapon-free zones, he welcomed the decision taken by the countries of Central Asia to establish such a zone, but regretted the delay in establishing the same in the Middle East, due to Israel’s refusal to joint the NPT and submit itself to IAEA safeguards.  The international community must send a strong message to Israel to urge it to comply with international law.  A nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would contribute to strengthening peace and security in that particularly chaotic region of the world.


CHUN YUNG-WOO, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea, said there had been both good news and bad.  The good news was that the Treaty had achieved near universality, but that had been overshadowed by the unprecedented challenges it faced today.  The Treaty’s integrity and credibility had suffered an “irreparable blow” as a result of North Korea’s complete disregard for, and defiance of, all nuclear non-proliferation norms, and its announcement of withdrawal from the Treaty.  The North Korean nuclear issue posed an unacceptable threat to peace and security on the Korean peninsula, North-East Asia and beyond.  The NPT had demonstrated its inherent limitations in dealing with such an intractable challenge from a “determined proliferator”.  While the NPT regime had enhanced security elsewhere in the world, the Korean peninsula suffered from diminished security because of the “miserable failure of the NPT to contain the nuclear spectre”. 


He said that while North Korea’s return to the Treaty and compliance with its safeguards obligations should be integral to any negotiated settlement of the North Korean nuclear issue, the fact was that such steps alone were far from sufficient for resolving the fundamental proliferation concerns.  He remained committed to the six-party talks as the best means for resolving that issue.  However, nothing short of Pyongyang’s strategic decision to “abandon and dismantle once and for all its entire nuclear weapons programmes” would bring about a breakthrough in the six-party talks.  Meanwhile, the disclosure of an extensive illicit nuclear procurement network run by A.Q. Khan was a sobering wake-up call to the real danger of fissile materials and sensitive technologies, or even of nuclear weapons, falling into the wrong hands.  While he applauded the successful countering of that clandestine network, the fact that such a nuclear black market could flourish under the shadow of the NPT regime brought to light its inadequacies and loopholes.


In that connection, he said he welcomed the Security Council’s prompt action to resolutely deal with the illicit trafficking of mass destruction weapons and related materials involving non-State actors through adoption of resolution 1540 (2004).  Nevertheless, it would be wrong to expect that resolution or any other initiative to put an end to illicit nuclear trafficking.  One should never underestimate the resourcefulness of black market peddlers and determined proliferators to outsmart and outmanoeuvre Governments.  Another daunting challenge to the NPT came from a fundamental loophole that allowed determined proliferators to come to the brink of nuclear weapons capability without technically violating the Treaty.  The Treaty provided the right of States parties to acquire and operate a full range of fuel cycle activities, including uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of spent fuel, which could readily produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons.  That right could be abused by potential proliferators intent on developing their nuclear weapons capabilities under the guide of purportedly peaceful nuclear energy programmes.


He said that if such proliferators were allowed to break out from the Treaty with impunity once they had acquired all of the necessary materials and technologies to manufacture nuclear weapons, ironically, the NPT would end up serving their nuclear ambitions.  That was why he believed that the formality of compliance should not be allowed to defeat the substance of non-proliferation objectives.  Those multiple challenges confronting the NPT were creating a crisis of confidence in the Treaty itself.  They demanded a concerted response from the international community as a whole. In that context, the NPT must be supplemented and strengthened to fit the current realities, by enhancing the IAEA’s verification authority and capability through the universalization of the Additional Protocol.  Greater confidence in compliance was the key to expanded peaceful use of nuclear technology.  The Additional Protocol should be a condition of nuclear supply to non-nuclear-weapon States.  As such, it should also be made a new global safeguards and verification standard.  His country ratified the Additional Protocol in February 2004.


The Republic of Korea placed the utmost value on the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he said.  As a country that depended on nuclear energy for 40 per cent of its electric power supply and had the world’s sixth largest civil nuclear energy industry, it viewed that inalienable right as indispensable to its sustainable development.  Nevertheless, there should be proper safeguards against the possible abuse of that right by potential proliferators.  The right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under article IV of the Treaty was not absolute, but conditioned on compliance with non-proliferation and safeguards obligations under articles II and III.  In that context, he attached great importance to export controls over technologies and items of proliferation potential as a practical means of closing the existing loopholes in the NPT. 


In view of the direct proliferation danger associated with sensitive fuel cycle technologies and facilities, he said he recognized the need to control their transfer, particularly to countries of proliferation concern or those that had not legitimate need for such technologies and facilities in terms of economic feasibility or energy security.  Iron-clad guarantees for the security of fuel supply at a reasonable price should be provided to those countries that voluntary forego the possession of sensitive fuel cycle facilities.  There was no inconsistency between tightened export controls on the sensitive fuel cycle and the inalienable right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  On the contrary, better export controls could, in effect, expand the peaceful use of nuclear energy by reducing the risk of proliferation.  He also called for a revisiting of the Treaty’s withdrawal provision.  In addition, he supported Canada’s proposal to adopt a new arrangement for an annual policy forum. 


SERGEY I. KISLYAK, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that, since the 2000 Conference, Russia had been steadily building up its nuclear disarmament efforts.  It had fulfilled its obligations under START to reduce strategic nuclear arms, managing to do so well ahead of schedule.  Over the past five years, Russia had reduced its strategic nuclear forces by 357 delivery vehicles and 1,740 nuclear warheads.  It had cut down its arsenals of non-strategic nuclear weapons four-fold.  Compared to 1991, the total stockpile of nuclear weapons had been reduced more than five-fold.  In addition, the 2002 Moscow Treaty had become a significant step towards nuclear disarmament. 


It was hard to overestimate the unique role of the IAEA in verifying that the NPT States parties complied with their non-proliferation obligations, he said.  Russia planned to complete its ratification of the Additional Protocol in the near future.  The universalization of the Protocol was vital, as it was a feasible measure to effectively enhance the IAEA verification capabilities.  His country would continue to provide assistance to strengthen the IAEA safeguards system, including through financing a national programme of scientific and technical support of the Agency’s safeguards activities. 


Russia, he said, respected the interest of States in developing peaceful nuclear technologies, and had a long history of cooperation with many countries in that sphere.  In general, his country supported the broadest possible cooperation in using nuclear energy for development purposes.  At the same time, it was essential to reliably exclude the use of the peaceful atom for production of nuclear explosives.  In that connection, he drew attention to President Putin’s proposal to develop proliferation-resistant nuclear technologies. 


He favoured the earliest possible beginning, at the Conference on Disarmament, of negotiations on a treaty banning production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  He also supported the idea of establishing an ad hoc committee with the framework of the Conference on Disarmament to deal with nuclear disarmament issues and negative security assurances.  In addition, he was pleased to note that the elaboration of a treaty on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia was almost complete. 


He called for current consultations to provide for solutions regarding Iran’s nuclear programme that would meet that country’s legitimate energy needs, as well as dispel doubts as to the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities.  Also, the six-party talks regarding North Korea’s nuclear programme should be renewed.  That country’s return to the NPT was not only possible, but essential.  The cases of non-compliance with the Treaty, the black markets phenomenon, and the possibility of nuclear materials falling into the hands of terrorists confirmed the necessity to be vigilant and to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. 


PETER MAURER (Switzerland) said that, since the NPT entered into force and since the 2000 Review Conference, developments in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation had been disquieting rather than encouraging.  Among other things, the objective of universality had not been achieved; in 2003, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced its withdrawal from the Treaty; and, after more than two years of intensive investigations, the IAEA was still unable to determine the true nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. 


The Treaty should strengthen its credibility, he continued.  It was absolutely necessary to maintain what had been achieved in previous conferences, he said, referring to the “Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament”, adopted in 1995, and the 13 steps adopted in 2000.  Access to nuclear weapons and technologies by non-State actors was a legitimate concern, but Switzerland remained convinced of the importance of the NPT as the best safeguard against security worries, which for some were linked to the non-achievement of nuclear disarmament, while for others were connected with nuclear proliferation.  That underlined the vital importance of the universality of the NPT.  A strengthening of export controls for nuclear materials and technologies was indispensable, but that development should not be at the expense of the inalienable right of States parties according to article IV of the Treaty. 


Certain recent developments had highlighted the institutional weaknesses of the review process of the NPT, he said.  In light of that, he believed that it would be useful to reflect on the Canadian proposal for annual conferences as a basis for discussion.  That would make it possible to respond rapidly in cases of clear non-compliance with the Treaty.  The mandate of the Review Conference was to ensure that the objectives of the Treaty were being implemented and to find remedies, if that was not the case.  He hoped the Conference would succeed in meeting both traditional and new challenges, and in taking everyone’s security needs into account.


MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that an objective consideration of the NPT’s current operation was somewhat positive, as the Treaty was nearly universal and nuclear non-proliferation had become an international standard.  In the 1960s, when the NPT was concluded, people generally thought there would be about 15 nuclear Powers in the short- and medium-tern, but the NPT had averted that level of proliferation.  The IAEA had laid the basis for international cooperation in the peaceful use of the atom, which was necessary for those wishing to escape underdevelopment.  On the other hand, there had been a gradual erosion of confidence in the international non-proliferation regime.  The debates last year during the third preparatory committee meeting had confirmed the “confidence deficit” currently suffered by the regime.  Those discussions had shown that the NPT and the regime overall were losing credibility.  That erosion of trust was a source of concern for his country and the entire international community. 


He recalled that, in 1968, a majority of countries had denounced the possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons and had accepted that five States would possess them.  That asymmetry, which was the basis on which the Treaty had been developed, had been accepted by all States parties inasmuch as there existed clear obligations under article VI on the nuclear Powers.  The NPT had called on them to pursue in good faith negotiations on effective measures related to a cessation of the nuclear arms race in the near future and for nuclear disarmament.  In the final document adopted at the 2000 Review, that obligation had been strengthened by an “unequivocal” commitment on the part of those States to achieve the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  The NPT should in no way be perceived as an instrument that legitimized an everlasting monopoly of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon States.  Rather, its legal contract was based on a balancing of rights and obligations.  The regime’s entire credibility rested on that compromised balance and on the need for all to honour their commitments. 


While considerable efforts had been made in that regard in recent years, nuclear disarmament was still progressing “painfully”, he said.  In order for the non-proliferation regime to be truly effective, the parties should return to the common interpretation of the objective of article VI.  That would rebuild confidence in the Treaty regime, especially if the nuclear Powers seriously reaffirmed their will to gradually eliminate their nuclear arsenals, according to an agreed timetable.  Morocco wished to strengthen the Treaty and regime by eliminating the factors that had contributed to increasing its vulnerability.  Unfortunately, the major aims, which had been set in 2000, had not yet been achieved.  The treaty banning nuclear testing had not yet entered into force, and the long-awaited negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty had not yet begun.  The five-year NPT review process had not sufficiently pressed for full implementation of commitments, and States parties had no collective mechanisms to exercise their collective will in situations of non-compliance or violations. 


He urged the Review Conference to “get down to the job of finding solutions to the challenges”.  The strategic objective of any non-proliferation policy should be universal compliance with the norms and provisions of the current regime, leading to a decline in threats of destruction, which weighed on all humankind.  That required action to adapt the Treaty to the new challenges.  All countries, whether or not they possessed nuclear weapons, must scrupulously comply with the Treaty’s provisions, which were built around a balance of obligations.  Some must stop the upgrading of existing weapons and begin to reduce them; others must refrain from acquiring or developing mass destruction weapons.  Differences must be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.  


Today, he said, the concept of deterrence was not as operational, since non-State actors were looking to acquire weapons of mass destruction.  Universal adherence to the NPT, meanwhile, was the only way to strengthen the international non-proliferation regime.  In the Middle East, Israel had a military nuclear programme and refused to submit its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.  In those circumstances, how was it possible to hope for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region in the near future, where the risks of the break of international peace were very numerous? he asked.  As a party to the NPT since 1970, Morocco had had excellent cooperation with the IAEA, which played a considerable role in promoting developing countries’ peaceful use of nuclear energy.  The future of the NPT regime was in the hands of the States parties; it was up to them to improve it and strengthen its legitimacy. 


REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) drew attention to an uneven and selective implementation of the provisions of the NPT, which was complicated by a lack of political will and determination to abide by prior commitments.  Furthermore, non-proliferation had been placed at the expense of the other two pillars of the Treaty -- nuclear disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, thus creating a crisis of confidence in the NPT.  Therefore, the Conference offered a vital opportunity to:  reiterate the Treaty’s continuing relevance; uphold the 1995 bargain of “permanence with accountability”; build on the success of the 2000 Conference; respond effectively to the serious challenges that had arisen since then; and chart the Treaty’s future course. 


Although non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament were interdependent goals, there had been systematic attempts to de-link those two aspects with an unbalanced emphasis on the former, he said.  Meanwhile, disarmament was being replaced by an exclusive focus on non-proliferation, which had contributed to the further exacerbation of inherent discrimination and double standards.  Further compounding the situation had been the reassertion of discredited strategic doctrines, which had created a pervasive sense of global insecurity.  Thousands of nuclear weapons were retained, many on alert status.  The risk of their accidental or unauthorized use was a frightening possibility. 


While the norm of non-proliferation had been observed by an overwhelming majority of non-nuclear-weapon States, the right of access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy had been hampered by undue restrictions, which were contrary to the collectively agreed obligations of the non-proliferation regime.  Regrettably, collective punishment seemed to be in place, thus denying benefits for non-nuclear-weapon States that adhered to the Treaty. 


He recognized the need to plug the loopholes in the Treaty through the strengthening of the IAEA safeguards system and mechanisms to ensure non-diversion of nuclear materials.  In that regard, he supported the IAEA proposal for the creation of multilateral or international facilities, which, along with its broader rights of inspection over all countries, would enhance transparency in export controls decision-making, and ensure the exercise of the inalienable right of all States to unimpeded and assured access to nuclear technology. 


It would be unfair, he added, to demand that the non-nuclear-weapon States comply with their obligations, while the nuclear-weapon States had failed to live up to their commitments.  Just as non-proliferation objectives were backed by stringent enforcement and verification measures, so should the Treaty’s disarmament commitments.  A failure to deal with that issue through the creation of appropriate mechanisms ran the risk of making the NPT irrelevant. 


ABDULAZIZ NASSER AL-SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said he was concerned about the clear distinction between the nuclear States’ commitments towards the reduction and elimination of their nuclear weapons and the right of non-nuclear States to have unconditional security assurances.  That distinction had created a diplomatic impasse during the Review Conferences and in the Disarmament Commission, andaffected the credibility and universality of the NPT.  He called on the Conference to reach a consensus on a common international strategy for nuclear disarmament, which was binding on all States and based on the international law, resolutions and multilateral agreements. 


He stressed the necessity of urging nuclear States to start serious negotiations that might lead to full implementation of the 13 steps agreed on in 2000, and total destruction of nuclear and strategic weapons within a specific time frame.  Also necessary was to establish specialized international committees and mechanisms by the Conference on Disarmament to be responsible for following up efforts on the systematic destruction of nuclear weapons, as well as the negotiation of a non-discriminatory multilateral treaty prohibiting production of fissile material for manufacturing nuclear weapons. 


Among other things, it was also necessary to enhance the international system of verification of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and reaffirm the inalienable right of State parties to conduct research and produce nuclear power for development and peaceful purposes.  States should have free access to modern nuclear technologies used for peaceful purposes without obstacles or discrimination. 


While commending regional and subregional efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones in many parts of the world, he condemned the position of Israel regarding the establishment of a similar zone in the Middle East.  He urged States parties to take effective measures to compel Israel, the sole country in the region which had not yet acceded to the NPT, to dismantle and eliminate its nuclear weapons, and to accede, unconditionally, to the NPT.  Israel must also subject its nuclear, military and civil facilities to IAEA supervision and safeguards.  Further, he called for the discontinuation to Israel of scientific and technological assistance, which was used in developing its nuclear facilities.


CHUKA CHIDEBELEZE UDEDIBIA (Nigeria), on behalf of the Permanent Representative, Aminu Bashir Wali, bearing in mind that the NPT was the only legally binding international agreement that committed nuclear-weapon States to nuclear disarmament, called on States parties to reaffirm their commitment at this Conference to fully implement the Treaty in all its aspects, particularly article VI.  He also underlined the urgency of achieving the Treaty’s universality.  Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, it was imperative for States parties to agree on a legally binding international instrument under which the nuclear-weapon States undertake not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  He also noted with grave concern certain developments, including the emergence of new strategic doctrines in some nuclear-weapon States, that had shrouded the expected implementation of their commitments. 


He said that the Review Conference was a unique opportunity to reaffirm the commitments assumed in 2000 under the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament, and to the Treaty as a whole.  He reiterated his country’s long-standing support for the total elimination of nuclear testing, and stressed the significance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT.  He acknowledged the important bilateral efforts of the two major nuclear Powers in setting in motion the process of reducing strategic offensive nuclear weapons as a positive step towards nuclear disarmament.  He shared the view of the vast majority of Member States, however, that the reduction in deployments and operational status could not substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons.  Of equal significant was the need for those efforts to be transparent and verifiable.  He also called for a fissile material cut-off treaty, with a reliable verification mechanism that did not exclude existing stockpiles.


While he recognized the IAEA’s important role, increasing efforts by some States in the past few years to pursue the objectives of non-proliferation through the use of civilian nuclear reactors might hinder the peaceful application of nuclear technology.  He, thus, urged States parties to adopt appropriate measures at this Conference to preserve the inalienable right of all Treaty parties to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.  He also underscored the need for States parties to place their nuclear facilities under full-scope IAEA safeguards as essential for building confidence.  The Nigerian Government had established an agency to regulate all nuclear-related activities in the country in conformity with the NPT and IAEA.  His delegation would also continue to support efforts aimed at establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones in all regions of the world.  In that regard, he welcomed the decision of the five Central Asian States to sign the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty as soon as possible.  He also supported Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status as an important regional non-proliferation measure. 


ZHANG YAN, Director-General for the Arms Control Department of China, said that both encouraging and disturbing developments had been witnessed in international security since the last Review Conference.  On the one hand, some regional tensions were relaxing, international cooperation was also on the rise, and factors favourable for maintaining peace and preventing war were growing.  On the other hand, certain unstable and unpredictable factors were also affecting international security.  The increasing non-traditional threats intertwined with traditional threats constituted new challenges.  Terrorism and the proliferation of mass destruction weapons were becoming increasingly prominent.  The emerging regional nuclear issues, as well as the exposé of a nuclear smuggling network, had overshadowed international non-proliferation efforts.  It was no less disturbing that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which had been regarded as a cornerstone of strategic stability, had been “discarded”.


In addition, he said, outer space was facing the danger of “weaponization”.  The prospect of the entry into force of the CTBT was “diluted”, and international arms control and disarmament was at a stalemate.  The Conference on Disarmament remained paralyzed, making it impossible to start talks on such issues as a fissile material cut-off treaty and the prevention of an outer space arms race.  Meanwhile, some negative developments added new destabilizing factors.  Those developments included:  adherence to the cold war mentality; pursuing unilateralism; advocating pre-emptive strategies; listing countries as targets for nuclear strikes and lowering the threshold of using nuclear weapons; and researching and developing new types of nuclear weapons for specific purposes.  In that context, the Review Conference became the focus of attention.  The international community was expecting States parties to reach broad consensus and coordinate actions so as to effectively meet the new challenges.


Withstanding the test of time, the NPT had proven its indispensable value and function, he said.  It had played an important role in preventing nuclear weapons proliferation, diminishing the nuclear peril, and maintaining international peace and security.  Despite the challenges, the NPT still stood as the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and a decisive instrument in safeguarding world peace and stability.  Yet, in light of the latest developments, the international community must urgently take more pragmatic and concrete steps preserve and strengthen the Treaty’s universality and effectiveness.  China had always advocated that all nuclear-weapon States should explicitly commit themselves to destroying nuclear weapons in a complete and thorough manner, and lower the role of those weapons in national security policies.  The two countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should earnestly implement the Treaty they had concluded to reduce their nuclear weapons and further reduce their nuclear arsenals in a verifiable and irreversible manner.


He said his country opposed nuclear weapons proliferation “in any form”, and called on all those outside the NPT to join it as non-nuclear-weapon States.  Proliferation issues should be dealt with in an integrated approach that addressed both the symptoms and root causes.  In that regard, he proposed the following:  to earnestly create favourable international and regional security conditions conducive to non-proliferation; to solve the prominent nuclear proliferation and other related issues through political and diplomatic means; and to strengthen and improve the existing non-proliferation regime in light of the overall non-proliferation situation and the global economic, scientific and technological developments.  Any measures to strengthen the international non-proliferation regime should follow the principle of multilateralism through broad participation, so as to ensure the fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory nature of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. 


As a nuclear-weapon State, China had never shunned its responsibility in nuclear disarmament, he said.  It had always supported a complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and exercised utmost restraint in developing those weapons.  China had never taken part, nor would it do so, in any nuclear arms race and had supported the promotion of nuclear disarmament processes based on the principle of the preservation of global strategic stability and undiminished security for all.  China supported the early entry into force of the CTBT and was now working actively on ratifying the Treaty.  It was more than justified for the non-nuclear-weapon States to request to be free from the threat of nuclear weapons upon forgoing the development of those weapons.  Thus, the nuclear-weapon States should provide them with legally binding assurances.  On the very first days of possession of nuclear weapons, China had solemnly declared that, at no time and under no circumstances, would it be the first to use nuclear weapons.  Later, it undertook unconditionally not to use or threaten to use those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or in nuclear-weapon-free zones. 


He said that China, as a developing country, needed both an international and peripheral environment of long-term peace and stability.  China would continue to make efforts to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula appropriately, through the six-party talks.  Hopefully, the parties concerned could refrain from provocative action and demonstrate more flexibility to create favourable conditions for the resumption of the talks.  China favoured resolving the Iranian nuclear issue within the IAEA’s framework and supported efforts by Iran and the three European Union countries to negotiate a long-term solution.  The development of nuclear energy was an important component of China’s national strategy for economic and energy development.  It was actively boosting the use of nuclear energy and the application of nuclear technology, optimizing the energy structure, improving ecological environment and promoting economic development and technological progress for the benefit of its people.  China attached great importance to cooperation with the IAEA in the field of nuclear safety.


AHMED FATHALLA, Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Relations of Egypt, said that, despite a number of unilateral and bilateral steps towards nuclear disarmament, the final result had been merely the dismantling of a limited number of nuclear weapons.  That state of affairs reflected the inadequate progress on the part of nuclear-weapon States in fulfilling their obligations.  The current crisis was further compounded by the state of political and intellectual paralysis that had brought the multilateral disarmament machinery to a standstill.  At the same time, the international community had witnessed a laxity of compliance with commitments that were only undertaken a few years ago, such as the rejection of the CTBT by some States.


He reiterated the centrality of the 13 practical steps for nuclear disarmament adopted in 2000, which represented the road map endorsed by the international community leading to the fulfilment of the obligation of nuclear disarmament under article VI of the NPT.  Progress in implementing those 13 steps should be the foremost criterion in reviewing progress in the implementation of the Treaty. 


Non-compliance with the NPT was one of the primary challenges that had to be addressed, he noted.  Fulfilment of all obligations that flowed from the Treaty was the most secure foundation for ensuring the credibility of the non-proliferation regime.  At the same time, he stressed that the crux of compliance, the litmus test of fulfilment, was implementation of all obligations by all States parties whether nuclear- or non-nuclear-weapon States, as well as a genuine balance in monitoring compliance with the Treaty and in addressing cases of non-compliance. 


Addressing the lack of compliance required the utmost objectivity in assessing the degree of compliance by all States parties with their obligations.  That was a sine qua non, whether addressing compliance with article III or compliance with articles I and II.  The Conference should review the policies and doctrines of some military alliances, such as “nuclear sharing”, to determine whether they conformed with the obligations of States under the NPT. 


He recalled that the 2000 Review Conference reiterated the importance of Israel’s accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State and for that country to place all of its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, as a step towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and achieving universality of the Treaty in the region.  Supported by the Non-Aligned Movement, he called on the Conference to establish a subsidiary body to implement the 1995 Middle East resolution and the 2000 final document in that respect.  It was important for the Conference to establish a practical road map that guaranteed the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East


GIUSEPPE DRAGO, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, said that the carrying out of major clandestine programmes and networks represented an unprecedented challenge to the Treaty’s operation.  The most alarming was the case of clandestine nuclear activities coupled with withdrawal from the Treaty and the announcement of the actual possession of nuclear weapons.  The development of nuclear military activities by the countries that had still not joined the NPT continued to weaken the Treaty.  The possible use of nuclear weapons or materials by terrorist groups was another grave threat.  Nuclear disarmament was a pillar of the non-proliferation equation, and further progress in that field would benefit non-proliferation.  Likewise, an aggravated proliferation situation was detrimental to nuclear disarmament. 


He said he also deeply regretted that talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty had not yet begun and that the CTBT had not yet become operational.  The important reductions of nuclear weapons since the end of the cold war, however, should not be dismissed, and the entry into force of the Moscow Treaty was another positive development.  Meanwhile, nuclear proliferation not only impeded nuclear disarmament, but also impeded the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, another pillar of the non-proliferation regime.  The challenges to that regime and the increasing use of nuclear energy had brought international attention to the possible need for new regulations on the nuclear fuel cycle.  The withdrawal of a country from the Treaty and the inconclusive results of the preparatory process had shown the existence of an “institutional deficit”, which could weaken the Treaty.


While a consensual analysis of the Treaty’s operation in the past five years would be an encouraging Conference result, “we should dare to be more ambitious” by outlining consensual guidelines for the coming period, with the aim of strengthening the Treaty.  He would give priority to the following objectives:  promoting the Treaty’s universalization through negotiated solutions to all of the specific nuclear proliferation problems that had emerged in East Asia, the Middle East and South Asia; preventing terrorist groups from acquiring nuclear weapons; enhancing nuclear disarmament by starting talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty; strengthening the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; recognizing the important of the programmes for the destruction and elimination of nuclear weapons and fissile material; and considering possible procedural improvement to enhance the treaty and address the institutional deficit.


ABDUL SAMAD MINTY, Deputy Director-General for Disarmament, Department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, said his country continued to believe that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing processes that required continuous and irreversible progress on both fronts.  The only real guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was their complete elimination and the assurance that they would never be produced again.  Therefore, the implementation of the 13 practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons should be accelerated without delay.  In that connection, he strongly supported the proposal for the establishment of a subsidiary body on nuclear disarmament at the Review Conference to give focused attention to the issue.  Those who relied on nuclear weapons to demonstrate and exercise power should recognize that such dependence only served to increase in security, rather than promote security, peace and development. 


He said the Review Conference should guard against the adoption of new measures that would restrict the inalienable right of States parties to verifiably utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  There was a growing concern that, while demands were being made for non-nuclear-weapon States to agree to new measures in the name of non-proliferation, concrete actions towards nuclear disarmament were neglected.  South Africa could not support unwarranted restrictions on the NPT’s guaranteed access to such nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes by States that were fully compliant with their obligations under the NPT.  The imposition of additional restrictive measures on some NPT parties, while allowing others to have access to those capabilities, only served to exacerbate existing inequalities that were already inherent in the NPT and undermined one of the central bargains that were contained in the Treaty.


The challenges facing international peace and security today required that the Treaty be strengthened in all its aspects, he said.  Therefore, he suggested the Conference focus on reaching consensus agreements on the obligations, commitments and undertakings that could be implemented and achieved in the period before 2010.  Such measures should include agreements on, among others, achieving the universality of the NPT, and the early entry into force of the CTBT, as well as measures to address the proliferation threat posed by non-State actors, and further reinforcing the IAEA safeguards norm as a means to prevent proliferation. 


During the process of its democratic transformation, he recalled, South Africa voluntarily decided to dismantle its nuclear weapons arsenal with the hope that that example would be emulated.  On the contrary, his country remained deeply concerned by the continued retention of nuclear weapons and security doctrines that envisaged the use of nuclear weapons.  Due to that reality, non-nuclear-weapon States had the right to be provided with international legally binding security assurances under the NPT that would protect them against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Security assurances would strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and should be considered in a subsidiary body in Main Committee I of the Conference.


NABEELA ABDULLA AL-MULLA (Kuwait) said that the Review Conference was being held in a delicate international environment.  The international community stood at a crossroad, which would determine the destiny of the NPT and its ability to stand in the face of increasing difficulties.  The integrity of the Treaty must be maintained and all its pillars must be dealt with equally.  Issues such as disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy must be tackled together, not separately.  It was important to discuss the Treaty without compromising the right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  At the same time, it was important to stand firm against abuse of that right by States.  The right to peaceful use was a legitimate right but was not absolute; it must be subjected to controls. 


Her country accorded special importance to the resolution on the Middle East, which resulted from the 1995 Review Conference and which had not achieved any concrete results.  The Middle East region would not be able to achieve stability and security as long as Israel refused to place its facilities under IAEA safeguards.  That unnatural situation, if it persisted, would encourage other States to acquire nuclear weapons, thereby impeding the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  The convening of the 2005 Review Conference could be an opportunity for States that had not already done so, to declare their intention to accede to the NPT.  Achieving the universality of the IAEA safeguards system would strengthen the NPT regime.


Concerned about the illicit trafficking of nuclear material and the discovery of a black market for the transfer of nuclear materials and technology, she emphasized the need to create a system of protection in that regard.  Also, she looked forward to the upcoming conference on the convention on the physical protection of nuclear material.  The initiatives launched by a number of States in the area of nuclear security must be examined, so that those initiatives would not constitute separate tools, but complementary ones to the NPT system and the mandate of the IAEA.  In addition, she welcomed the General Assembly’s adoption of the International Convention to Suppress Nuclear Terrorism.


BOZO CERAR, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, said that the Review Conference was being held in a year of high expectations, related to the upcoming September summit.  States parties should take advantage of that momentum to adopt bold decisions, taking into account the recommendations of the Secretary-General in his report, “In Larger Freedom”.  Its proposals could form the basis of the Conference’s discussions.  The risk of weapons of mass destruction was one of the most dangerous threats to peace and stability.  The NPT remained a cornerstone and vital instrument in the preservation of peace, security and international stability.  Its universality was crucial for the Treaty’s integrity.  A balance between the three major pillars -- non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy -- should also be preserved. 


He said that there had been grave violations of the non-proliferation regime since the 2000 review.  Of particular concern was the risk of access by terrorists to mass destruction weapons.  He fully agreed with the Security Council that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations was one of the most serious threats to peace and security, and he welcomed adoption of resolution 1540 (2004).  That text had filled a gap in existing multilateral non-proliferation and control regimes.  As such, he stressed the importance of its implementation and called on States to submit their national reports as soon as possible.  As a country that possessed nuclear facilities, Slovenia attached great importance to the inalienable right of the States parties to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but all such activities should be transparent and come under the scrutiny of the IAEA.  An interesting idea put forth by the Secretary-General concerned a greater role for the Agency, namely that it should become a guarantor for the supply of fissile material. 


Slovenia attached great importance to the systematic and progressive efforts towards nuclear disarmament and fully implemented its share of responsibilities in accordance with the Treaty’s article VI.  He also considered that the 13 practical steps agreed in 2000 were still valid and in place.  He recognized important steps taken by the nuclear-weapon States to reduce their nuclear arsenals, particularly ratification of the Moscow Treaty in 2000.  At the same time, he called on them to continue with efforts to meet their article VI obligations.  He strongly supported the European Union position concerning withdrawal from the NPT, which should be presented during discussion in the main committees.  The Conference should adopt appropriate measures to discourage States parties to withdraw.  He stressed the need to strengthen the Security Council’s role as a final arbiter when treaty obligations were violated.  He expected the Conference to achieve some tangible results in that regard. 


HJÁLMAR W. HANNESSON (Iceland) said the NPT, and the broader nuclear non-proliferation system, was facing serious challenges within a context of a dramatically changed international security environment, where not only certain States, but also non-State actors and terrorists posed a threat to international peace and security.  The increasing threat of terrorism had added greater urgency to the questions of proliferation. 


Iceland, he said, had for many years declared that credible and effective verification was a key component of the NPT regime in order to prevent violations.  The NPT compliance and verification mechanism needed to be strengthened.  At the same time, the IAEA should be reinforced.  It was vital that all States planning to use nuclear energy for peaceful means open themselves to effective IAEA monitoring. 


The announcement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that it possessed nuclear weapons was of utmost concern.  He urged that country to reconsider its policies and honour its NPT non-proliferation and disarmament obligations.  Also, the Iranian authorities must fully comply with the IAEA’s requirements for transparency in the development of their nuclear programme.  Welcoming practical initiatives, which could serve as complements to the NPT and aimed at strengthening the non-proliferation regime, he reiterated his support for the Proliferation Security Initiative, as well as Security Council resolution 1540, which addressed the serious concerns about the risk of non-State actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.


MAGDALENE VŠÁRYOVÁ, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, said that global security continued to be threatened by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  That serious challenge must be addressed with full responsibility.  The fight against that phenomenon could not be won by a single country on a single battlefield; it required the joint effort of the international community in the spirit of multilateralism.  There was a need for the balanced treatment of the NPT in all its areas to ensure that its overall purpose was accomplished.  Harmonization of measures to provide such a balance was extremely important, although very difficult in a world full of proliferation risks.  The NPT, a cornerstone of global security, had been under increasing strain.  Concentrated effort to improve the non-proliferation regime, therefore, was sorely needed so as not to further challenge the Treaty’s credibility.


She stressed that strengthening the NPT was the only viable way to fortify global security.  The Review Conference was under pressure to counter the large number of threats, either traditional or new ones, and simultaneously address the different ways those were perceived.  The right assessment must be made at the right time.  The three NPT pillars represented a system of “communicating vessels”, the delicate balance of which must be preserved.  The Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference was highly relevant and of particular importance for his delegation, which would continue to strive for its preservation.  The issue of nuclear weapons proliferation was at the “very top of the international danger list”.  The risk of spreading those weapons, together with the possibility that they might fall into the hands of terrorists, was a grave danger to global security.  The other side of that coin was the increasing need of more and more countries to use nuclear energy to solve their energy demands. 


Bearing in mind those inherent contradictions, the international community must be given assurances that nuclear technologies and materials were not misused, she said.  Strict compliance with non-proliferation obligations and accountability were inevitably required.  Confidence in the NPT must be backed by clear and strong tools allowing the launch of a swift response, if needed.  The ability to act together in a concerted manner in an important moment could deter possible violations.  The IAEA’s Additional Protocol was an essential tool for the effective and efficient performance of the Agency’s verification activities.  Thus, it should be expeditiously developed into a verification standard.  The IAEA must also be equipped with a tool able to verify activities not consistent with the NPT.  And, the inalienable right of the peaceful use of nuclear energy must be supported by mutual certainty that that was not used for other purposes.  Non-proliferation obligations were not temporary bargaining tools.  There was an acute need for a comprehensive, defensible and irreversible system of safeguards and effective verification mechanisms that dispelled all concerns. 


KESTUTIS JANKAUSKAS, Director of the Security Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, agreed with previous speakers that, during the last five years, the non-proliferation regime had come under renewed strain of non-compliance.  The world was witnessing the controversy of withdrawal, clandestine proliferation, and the threat of nuclear terrorism.  To respond to those new threats and challenges, concrete actions should be taken to strengthen the Treaty’s functioning and the non-proliferation regime, in general.  States had the right to the peaceful use of nuclear power, yet the exercise of that right must not be a carte blanche for abusing the letter and spirit of the NPT.  That called for a stronger verification mechanism under IAEA authority.  Universalization of the Additional Protocol should also become a verification standard and a condition of supply to all non-nuclear-weapon States.  After four years of implementing the Additional Protocol, his country stood ready to assist others in embracing that vital commitment. 


He said he strongly believed that States should not be allowed to withdraw from the Treaty and then continue to enjoy the benefits of nuclear technologies acquired under the NPT.  Multilateral export control regimes supported by robust national systems of export controls were important tools in ensuring implementation of the Treaty’s article III.  They also provided a backbone for effective responses for the threat of terrorism stemming from weapons of mass destruction proliferation, as recognized by Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  That text was not just another routine exercise.  Rather, implementation of its provisions required serious and steady efforts.  Increased activities of black markets in sensitive nuclear materials and equipment called for additional efforts and strengthened export controls.  The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) must be credited for marshalling political will and capabilities to significantly “raise the bar” for proliferators.  He also supported the PSI interdiction principles, which gave new impetus for enhanced international cooperation to prevent illegal transfers of nuclear material and equipment.


The Review Conference must accord the highest priority to developing strategies to deny terrorists access to nuclear materials.  Thus, it was important to reach the expeditious agreement among States parties on amending the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.  Also welcome had been the adoption of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  On 31 December 2004, Lithuania shut down the first “RBMK-type” reactor of its Ignalina nuclear power plant.  The second and last reactor was slated for shutdown by 2009.  Decomissioning that type of reactor was an unprecedented challenge, requiring not only unique technical solutions, but that also came with a massive bill.  He appreciated the commitment of the European community and other donors to provide long-term and adequate financial support.  Assisted by the IAEA, Lithuania had also taken the necessary measures to improve the national physical protection system of radioactive materials. 


MARIA ÁNGELA HOLGUÍN CUÉLLAR (Colombia) said that global nuclear proliferation was now at its very peak.  The worldwide situation of nuclear proliferation gradually, but steadily, grew more grave.  Despite that worrying tendency, the NPT remained the principal bulwark against nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.  Its features made it one of the most important international “security bargains” of all time -- States without nuclear weapons pledged not to acquire them, while nuclear-armed States committed to eventually give them up.  Despite the spirit and contents of the Treaty, as well as the large number of States parties, the broader nuclear non-proliferation system was under great stress.  Global security and proliferation challenges were as complex as they were in the 1960s when the NPT was created.  Some nuclear-weapon States still remained outside the NPT, and the existing global stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium posed another significant threat to global peace and security.


She said she also noted with great concern the lack of progress since the last Review Conference.  The fact that States partaking in the so-called “nuclear club” still possessed those weapons reinforced the lacklustre progress on nuclear disarmament, as measured against the will and commitments by countries like Colombia, which advocated disarmament and non-proliferation.  Besides being committed to the Treaty of Tlatelolco and a signatory of the CTBT, it would soon adhere to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol.  Aware of the need to avoid nuclear proliferation, Colombia abided by Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), as well as the other initiatives aimed at avoiding the diversion of nuclear material and technology for terrorist purposes.  The international community must not permit enlarging the number of members in the “nuclear club”, as that would further extend the “balance of terror”.  For Colombia, the only way out of the world’s crossroads in the nuclear weapons sphere was the weapons’ total elimination.  


NURBEK JEENBAEV (Kyrgyzstan) said he was pleased to note the significant progress that had been achieved recently toward establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  It was expected that the treaty, agreed to in February in Tashkent, would be signed soon.  The five Central Asian States were united in their belief that the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region would strengthen peace and security at the regional and global levels. 


His country had always regarded the NPT as the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and continued to do so.  However, it also recognized that the world had changed dramatically in recent years.  New proliferation challenges had emerged and old ways of doing business would no longer suffice.  To persevere, the Treaty must adapt to those new challenges, and the non-proliferation strategy and tactics of States parties must take account of those new realities. 


Adequate safeguards and physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities remained the first line of defence against nuclear terrorism.  He strongly endorsed the IAEA’s efforts to strengthen the international safeguards system.  In that regard, he was pleased to report that on 3 February, its safeguards agreement with the Agency entered into force, and it planned to complete the steps necessary to put in place the Additional Protocol to the safeguards agreement.  He also supported ongoing efforts to strengthen the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and to implement Security Council resolution 1540 to address the new proliferation challenges posed by non-State actors. 


Creative efforts must be undertaken to reduce the possibility that terrorists could gain access to fissile material, and especially highly-enriched uranium, which might be used to fabricate crude nuclear weapons.  The Review Conference should consider means to enhance the security of existing stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium, while consolidating them, reducing their size, and moving toward the elimination of the use of such uranium in the civilian nuclear sector.  He also supported increased efforts to reinforce export controls and to combat illicit trafficking in sensitive nuclear material.


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