9 October 2007
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3341

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-second General Assembly

First Committee

3rd Meeting (AM)


DENUCLEARIZATION OF KOREAN PENINSULA WELCOME, BUT RACE TO POSSESS NUCLEAR WEAPONS,


NOW JOINED BY TERRORISTS, CONTINUES UNABATED, DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE TOLD


United States Says Nuclear Weapons Remain Relevant in Today’s World;

Security Situation Needed for Reductions Includes ‘Clear, Full’ NPT Compliance


As the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate today, several speakers welcomed the progress made towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in the context of the six-party talks, but warned that the race to possess nuclear weapons –- now joined by terrorist organizations –- continued unabated, dramatically weakening collective security.


Almost 40 years after the adoption of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Kazakhstan’s representative said, “almost nothing has happened to allay the fears of humanity.”  Nuclear weapons were still the most dangerous kind of mass destruction weapons, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty, itself, had become an “asymmetric” agreement.  It provided for sanctions applicable only to non-nuclear-weapon States.  If the nuclear Powers called for the banning of nuclear weapons, they themselves should set an example through a reduction and renunciation of their nuclear arsenals.


That unfairness was an inducement for those States that still aspired to acquire weapons of mass destruction, she said.  Yet, that aspiration was irrational.  Kazakhstan called on States with nuclear weapons to achieve further reductions of their nuclear arsenals and to conclude arms control treaties that would provide for the dismantling of those weapons, rendering impossible their reconstruction and further use.  Nuclear-weapon States should also reaffirm their commitment to negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States.


The United States representative said that the challenges in stemming proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were daunting.  Yet, for too long, many had taken the easy path of relegating all responsibility in that regard to nuclear-weapon States.  That might be politically expedient, but it ignored the reality of today’s world.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty never envisaged complete nuclear disarmament without regard to the international security environment.  Indeed, just the opposite was true.  “Nuclear weapons continue to have relevance in today’s world, and that relevance was clearly not compatible with the NPT,” she said.


Until the countries of the world created the environment necessary for nuclear weapons to be entirely eliminated, she submitted that the protection that the United States extended to its allies had actually slowed nuclear proliferation and helped make it less likely that new nuclear arms races would emerge.  The necessary environment for ongoing reductions in nuclear weapons to continue to their logical conclusion included “clear and full compliance” on the part of all States with their international obligations, particularly those under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.


She said it also required a world in which the community of nations worked together to ensure that their territories did not provide safe haven for terrorists or the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and the materials to produce them.  That would be a world that could transcend the competitive military dynamics and concerns that, to date had encouraged reliance upon nuclear weapons.


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s delegate said that for too long, the multilateral disarmament machinery had been in disarray, with no substantive progress in the major non-proliferation and disarmament negotiations.  The international community had an urgent responsibility to reverse the failures of the multilateral disarmament community.  The proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery systems posed an ever-increasing threat, with the undeniable possibility that terrorists might use such weapons without hesitating to target civilians.


At the same time, he said, the integrity and relevance of the international non-proliferation system, centred on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, was being undermined by the non-compliance of some States, while the unwillingness of the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations under the Treaty’s Article VI was deepening the rift between the “nuclear haves” and have-nots.  Highlighting the recent breakthrough on the nuclear issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said his country would continue to cooperate closely with related parties for the smooth implementation of agreements and the future advancement of the negotiations. 


Turning to the situation on the Korean peninsula, Australia’s representative welcomed the progress on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear issue, most recently the 3 October agreement on second-phase action under the 2005 Joint Statement.  Similarly, Canada’s speaker called the July shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility an “important step towards achieving verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”, adding, however, that much remained to be negotiated. 


Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Iceland, Switzerland, South Africa, Myanmar, Turkey, Honduras, Argentina, United Republic of Tanzania, Ukraine and Togo.  Statements in exercise of the right of reply were made by the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Japan.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 10 October to continue its general debate.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly.  (For background of the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Releases GA/DIS/3339 and GA/DIS/3340, respectively.)


MARIUS GRINIUS ( Canada) said that, while stopping the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons was a “difficult and sometimes daunting task”, there had nevertheless been constructive progress on several disarmament issues.  He praised the agreement reached in June by the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on “Verification in all its Aspects”, and he commended progress made at the Third Review Conference on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the first Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting of the new review cycle and the Preparatory Committee for the Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention.  He also pointed to progress in combating the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, citing “important movement” over the past year toward the negotiation of an arms trade treaty. 


At the same time, he said that international progress in non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament was hindered by conflicts in South Asia and the Middle East.  Increased security in those regions would speed up work in multilateral forums.  Towards that goal, he called for universalization of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the Mine Ban Convention.  He praised the unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 1540 in April 2004, which had signalled the resolve of the international community to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of non-State actors.  It was also important to stop the flow of conventional weapons to such groups, for which the Group of Eight industrialized countries Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction was a valuable international cooperative mechanism, which needed the aid of all participants to fulfil the goals established at the Group of Eight Kananaskis Summit in 2002.  Chemical and biological weapons were another major concern, and he commended the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for increasing universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention.


Canada remained deeply concerned about the nature and scope of Iran’s nuclear programme and with that country’s failure to comply with international obligations, as required by Security Council resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), and 1747 (2007), he said.  Canada supported the six-party talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and welcomed the 13 February agreement.  The July shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility was an “important step toward achieving verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”, but “much remains to be negotiated”.  In that vein, he stressed the Committee’s role in bringing those outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty closer to its international norms.  The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was a key piece of unfinished business, with 10 so-called “Annex Two” States yet to ratify it.  Canada called on all States to ratify the treaty and to complete its verification network.


He closed by mentioning the need to reform the committee, and he touched briefly on the need to discuss verification, outer-space security, nuclear non-proliferation and conventional arms control.  Canada would lead a resolution devoted to follow up the report of the United Nations Panel of Government Experts on Verification, and would work towards a fissile material cut-off treaty.  He called on the United Nations to demonstrate a “substantive and positive approach” to solving the many problems of disarmament.


HJALMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland) said that progress had been slow on disarmament and non-proliferation in recent years.  The international community, therefore, must redouble its efforts in implementing and strengthening agreements and negotiating new ones.  Specifically, he called for the remaining 10 countries to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty so that that instrument, which was “crucial in halting and reversing the reliance on weapons of mass destruction”, could finally enter into force.  He also called “disappointing” the outcome of the 2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, and recent nuclear tests and nuclear proliferation initiatives a “sad reminder of non-compliance with international obligations”.


There had been some positive achievements in the field of disarmament, he said, notably the recent progress in the six-party talks on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the decision to shut down the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon by the end of the year.  The negotiated arrangement concerning Iran with the IAEA showed promise and, together with diplomatic efforts, “will hopefully lead to the intended outcome”.  The status of implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, with 182 States parties, was welcome news, and the high-level meeting to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Treaty’s entry into force, held on 27 September in New York, recalled that over one third of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles had been destroyed.  Similarly, the establishment of the Implementation Support Unit for the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva had been welcome.


Iceland was committed to effective implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, he said.  In addition, the new process for an arms trade treaty launched last year by the General Assembly “may prove to be an important step towards the control of import, export and transfers of conventional weapons”.


He agreed with the Secretary-General that there was a clear need to revitalize the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, which demanded stronger attention from all Member States.  “Our failures in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control pose a constant threat to peace and security,” he added, and “a revitalization in this field is long overdue.”  Iceland was one of 24 United Nations Member States that had no military, and he called on all Member States to do their share.


JURG STREULI ( Switzerland) noted with satisfaction the leading role his country had played this year in the Conference on Disarmament.  The challenge facing the Presidents of the 2008 session was to “take the final step so that the Conference on Disarmament can return to the path of negotiation”.  On behalf of the Swiss Government, he appealed to States to agree to the work programme proposed by the Presidents in order to enable the restart of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  He said, “we are of the opinion that the verifiable stop of the production of new fissile material can be achieved, especially as this would be in the interests of the national security of all States.” Adoption of the work programme would also make it possible to open “substantive discussions” on other disarmament questions.


He said that Switzerland regretted the lack of progress made during the first session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He called for a “gradual approach” on disarmament.  On regional issues, he said the 51st annual regular session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), held in Vienna in September, had “highlighted the increasing tensions generated by nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”.   Switzerland was pleased that a working plan had been put in place between the IAEA and Iran, but at the same time, “this process will not resolve the Iranian nuclear dossier as a whole, and this can be done only by diplomacy.”  Towards that goal, he called on all parties involved to begin negotiations as soon as possible.  Developments in the Korean peninsula had been encouraging, and he called on all States to “work constructively together to bring the process of the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula to a swift conclusion”.


The Chemical Weapons Convention was celebrating its tenth anniversary, and he said he hoped that the world was approaching a day when States would no longer possess those weapons.  All States should ratify and implement the Convention.  He congratulated Albania for having completed the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal.  The Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention had led to the establishment of the Implementation Support Unit, which would become an “important port of call” for States parties to exchange information.  The Third Review Conference of the States parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had seen the entry into force of Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.  That Conference had also showed that certain weapons not regulated by specific norms were causing unacceptable humanitarian problems.  He wished to see the introduction of a new instrument of international humanitarian law to address the problem of sub-munitions.   Switzerland was also actively involved in working to implement the United Nations 2001 Programme of Action on the illicit small arms trade, and the International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons.  Switzerland was also continuing its efforts to increase awareness of the “negative impact of armed violence on social and economic development”, on which it hoped to present a body of research next year.  He reiterated his country’s full endorsement of the United Nations initiative to develop an arms trade treaty.


ROBERT HILL ( Australia) noted that, since the Committee last met, the international community had made welcome, albeit in some cases, modest gains in multilateral arms control forums.  The States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention had held a successful review conference, at which they committed to universalize the treaty’s implementation, aided by a strengthened support unit.  The first meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference had reaffirmed the Treaty’s vital importance to global security.  The Conference on Disarmament saw overwhelming and cross-regional majority support for a fair and balanced proposal by the six Presidents to return the Conference to work -– and to the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty.


Yet, he went on, multilateral arms control forums were still not living up to the expectations placed on them –- as evidenced in the Conference on Disarmament’s inability to overcome the objections of a few States.  Worse still, some treaties faced internal challenges, the most serious of which were cases of non-compliance that remained unresolved, long after the international community rightfully sought redress.  Multilateral arms control regimes were fundamental to international security.  Support from other institutions and regimes could help them achieve their objectives.


Australia welcomed the progress on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear issue, most recently the 3 October agreement on second-phase action under the 2005 Joint Statement, continued Mr. Hill.  It looked to that country and the other participants in the six-party talks to maintain the positive momentum.


Australia counted on Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), along with the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, export control regimes and the IAEA Additional Protocol, among the practically-focused initiatives that had helped to strengthen international security, he added.  The Mine Ban Convention had stemmed the tide of suffering caused by landmines by prohibiting a heinous class of weapons and providing a framework for assistance.   Australia looked forward to a panel on the Convention’s impact on 23 October.  As President of the Meeting of States parties, it, along with President-designate from Jordan and the preceding President from Croatia, would introduce a resolution on that Convention in the Committee.


KIM HYUN-CHONG ( Republic of Korea) said that for too long, the multilateral disarmament machinery had been in disarray, with no substantive progress in the major non-proliferation and disarmament negotiations.  That situation had meant that the most pressing challenges of recent years had not been appropriately addressed, and the disappointing failures and setbacks had weakened confidence in the commitment to multilateralism.  The international community had an urgent responsibility to reverse the failures and shortcomings of the multilateral disarmament community.


He said that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems posed an ever increasing threat, which needed to be given the utmost priority.  It was an undeniable possibility that terrorists might use such weapons without hesitating to target innocent civilians.  At the same time, the integrity and relevance of the international non-proliferation system, centred on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, was being undermined by the non-compliance of some States, while the unwillingness of the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations under the Treaty’s Article VI was deepening the rift between the “nuclear haves” and have-nots.  To break the current impasse, the international community must strengthen the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime, while remedying the deficiencies.  Parallel efforts should be made to strengthen the disarmament and non-proliferation regimes for other classes of weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical and biological weapons through their respective Conventions.


Highlighting the recent breakthrough on the nuclear issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that the six-party talks had been the main vehicle for the resolution of that issue.  Significant progress had been made in the process since the talks’ launch in 2003.  His country would continue to cooperate closely with related parties for the smooth implementation of agreements and the future advancement of the negotiations.  The Republic of Korea had also done its utmost to participate in non-proliferation and disarmament efforts on a bilateral, subregional, regional and global level.  In March, it had hosted an international conference, together with Australia, on brokering controls, including in the area of weapons of mass destruction, which had provided a valuable opportunity to pool wisdom, experience and information.


GLAUDINE MTSHALI (South Africa), associating her statement with those made on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition and Non-Aligned Movement of countries, said that today’s meeting took place “against the backdrop of a number of important challenges in the area of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control”, and called for a return to multilateral solutions.  South Africa was concerned by the massive number of nuclear weapons deployed and stockpiled around the world.  She was disappointed that nuclear-weapon States had not carried out their disarmament commitments, adding, “we do not believe that the possession of nuclear weapons, or the pursuit of the possession, enhances international peace and security.”  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was of vital importance, and she hoped that the progress made at the First Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference had provided positive momentum.  States that had foresworn the nuclear weapons option had the right to binding security assurances, and she had been encouraged by the recent statement of a nuclear-weapon State “reaffirming its unequivocal undertaking to the disarmament measures contained in the 1995 and 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference decisions and final document”.  On India, the proposal regarding civilian nuclear cooperation had “raised a number of important questions”, and it was imperative to ensure that “any decision in this regard should not erode, but strengthen the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.”


She said that the peaceful application of nuclear energy was “of particular importance to developing countries, given the urgent need for sustainable and accelerated economic growth”.  She, therefore, appreciated the IAEA’s projects in support of the Millennium Development Goals.  In Africa, she said the Agency could play an important role assisting with the transfer of technology to African countries, through effective cooperation with the African Union in the context of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  Moreover, South Africa believed that the time had come to increase funding for the technical cooperation projects.  Given that an increasing number of countries were considering the nuclear power option as a secure and clean energy source, the IAEA should be provided with the necessary means to carry out, not only its verification mandate, but also its technical cooperation activities and assistance.  At the same time, the expansion of atomic power meant it was necessary to strengthen regulatory approaches in respect of nuclear, radiation, radioactive waste and transport security.  South Africa supported the IAEA safety fundamentals.


South Africa had been honoured to have presided over the Conference on Disarmament at the beginning of its 2007 session, and, although the Conference had not adopted a programme of work, the momentum created would help move the Conference out of its stalemate.  She stressed the importance of banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, adding that a fissile material cut-off treaty must be negotiated without delay.  South Africa looked forward to the Second Special Session of States parties to review the Chemical Weapons Convention, set to take place in April 2008, and she called on all States parties possessing chemical weapons to actively continue with their destruction programmes.  She also welcomed the outcome of the Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, and, noting that the Mine Ban Treaty had recently marked its tenth anniversary, called on States in a position to do so to work more closely with highly affected States to assist them in the development of national survivor assistance plans.  Finally, South Africa expressed support for the annual omnibus small arms and light weapons draft resolution coordinated by Colombia, Japan and South Africa.  South Africa would be cooperating with other United Nations Member States in the process spelled out in resolution 61/89 entitled “Towards an Arms Trade Treaty:  Establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms”.


U WUNNA MAUNG LWIN ( Myanmar), on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) said that the Association, once again, would introduce two resolutions, which underscored its commitment to disarmament in all its aspects.   The first, which Malaysia had tabled annually since 1997, was entitled “Follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons”.  ASEAN would also, once again, co-sponsor the resolution entitled “Nuclear Disarmament”, which would have nuclear-weapon States take immediate, concrete steps to reduce their nuclear weapon systems, and call for an international conference on nuclear disarmament.  ASEAN countries had consistently stressed the need for universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and they “reiterate our call on the nuclear-weapon States to make further efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons”.  He welcomed the final declaration of the Conference on Facilitating the Entry-into-Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty, and noted that the Treaty now held near-universal support.


He said there was a need for a “comprehensive approach” towards missile proliferation, adding that the entry into force of the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions between the Russian Federation and the United States had been an important step.  Biological and chemical weapons were another great danger, and the Association called on all States to ratify the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions as soon as possible.  ASEAN was also “deeply concerned” over the illicit transfer, manufacture, and circulation of small arms and light weapons, convinced of the need to maintain control over their private ownership and to prevent their supply to non-State groups.  The Mine Ban Convention had been ratified by 155 countries.  He called on all States to also support the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects.  ASEAN also reiterated its support for the convening of a fourth special session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to disarmament.


Highlighting the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones, he noted that ASEAN had established such a zone in South-East Asia, and urged nuclear-weapon States to sign the Protocol “at an early date to make the Treaty fully operational and effective”.  He welcomed China’s willingness to sign the Protocol, expressing the wish to see all five nuclear-weapon States sign on.  A plan of action, intended to provide benchmarks for the Treaty’s implementation, had been adopted by ASEAN Foreign Ministers.  Indonesia, on behalf of the States parties to the Treaty, would table a resolution entitled “Treaty on South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty)”.


ASEAN also attached special importance to confidence-building measures in the region, and, as such, continued to work on measures to enhance regional security, he said.  The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was key in governing relations between States, and he welcomed the accession of France, Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.  He also acknowledged the declarations of the United Kingdom and the European Union of intent to accede to it.  As the Conference on Disarmament was “the single multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament”, he said he was disappointed by the lack of progress, and hoped States would “demonstrate their commitment to the process of disarmament and exercise the political will to overcome this deadlock and reach an amicable solution in the near future”.


BRYGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that almost 40 years after the adoption of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons by the General Assembly, almost nothing had happened to allay the fears of humanity.  Nuclear weapons were still the most dangerous kind of weapons of mass destruction, and the race for their possession, now joined by terrorist organizations, had continued unabated through the years.  Lack of international consensus on the issue had led to a dramatic weakening of the collective security system.  Indeed, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, itself, had become an asymmetric agreement.  It provided for sanctions applicable to only non-nuclear-weapon States.  However, if nuclear Powers called for the banning of the development of nuclear weapons, they themselves should set an example through reduction and renunciation of their nuclear arsenals.  That unfairness was an inducement for those States that still aspired to acquire weapons of mass destruction.  Yet, that aspiration was irrational.  Kazakhstan called on States with nuclear weapons to achieve further reductions of their nuclear arsenals and to conclude arms control treaties that would provide for the dismantling of those weapons, rendering impossible their reconstruction and further use.  Nuclear-weapon States should also reaffirm their commitment to negative assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States.


She added that Kazakhstan was convinced that the international community, primarily the nuclear-weapon States, should promote processes leading to the establishment of internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free zones in various parts of the world.  Taking into account the fact that the establishment of such zones contributed to the strengthening of international peace and security, Kazakhstan had joined the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, signed in September 2006 in Semipalatinsk.


On other matters, she reconfirmed her country’s intention to become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime and said that it had submitted all the required documentation.  She added that cooperation in ensuring transparency and building confidence in space activities was the major condition to preventing an outer space arms race.  Her country supported the relevant resolution on that subject.  Conflict prevention and settlement of regional conflicts should be the central element in the efforts of the international community, be that fighting poverty or preventing the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons.  Binding international instruments should be drafted to regulate identification and tracking of small arms and light weapons, and their brokering, as well as to ensure compliance with United Nations arms embargoes.


BAKI ILKIN ( Turkey) said he advocated global, general and complete disarmament.  The revitalization of the international disarmament agenda depended on the United Nations playing a “more effective role”, and on the restructure of the office for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations.  It was important for the international community to work together, since “universalization, effective implementation and further strengthening” of disarmament and non-proliferation instruments must be the common goal.


Stressing that Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was the core of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, he said that its integrity and credibility required the renewed commitment of all.  Turkey would promote the Treaty’s universalization, by strengthening of the Agency’s safeguards system, reinforcing export controls, and promoting the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  Further, as one of the countries that would assume the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament next year, Turkey would “spare no efforts” to allow the Conference to resume its negotiating role, with the goal of concluding a fissile material cut-off treaty.  He underscored the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones, and expressed his support for such a zone in the Middle East.  Turkey would continue to support the work of the Security Council’s 1540 Committee on global efforts against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism were also vital tools.


The Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions were “important components of the global system against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction”, and he called for their wider adherence.  He also supported The Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation.  On Iran, he said, “we attach great importance to the settlement, through peaceful means and as soon as possible, of the ongoing crisis of confidence between Iran and the international community.” Further, he said “we welcome the recent progress achieved through the six-party talks for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” 


Touching on other topics, he said that “terrorism in all its forms is a crime against humanity,” and could not be justified, and Turkey was committed to fighting all forms of terrorism.  Chemical weapons proliferation was another concern, as was the spread of small arms and light weapons.  Turkey would continue to support the conclusion of an arms trade treaty.  The proliferation of man-portable air defence systems was another major concern, and Turkey would once again co-sponsor the draft resolution on that menace.  Further, Turkey supported efforts to universalize and implement the Mine Ban Convention.  It also supported the United Nations Register for Conventional Weapons, and would continue to cooperate and fully support the work of the First Committee.


IVAN ROMERO-MARTINEZ ( Honduras) said that a world of peace was a permanent dream of his country, and that dream should also be a permanent reality.  Honduras attached the utmost importance to the items being discussed in the Committee.  The prevention of arms races and the strengthening of regimes to prevent nuclear weapons in Latin America required the support and attention of the international community.  Proliferation of light weapons had created risks for society.


He stressed the importance of establishing strict mechanisms to ensure that terrorists did not gain access to any kinds of weapons that could threaten humanity.  Honduras had been a pioneer in the effort to eradicate landmines, and it was willing to work with other Member States to ensure the effectiveness of related international agreements.  Honduras would also like to see a world free of nuclear weapons.  It was confident that the current General Assembly session would bring the international community closer to the desired objective –- zones and regions that were examples of peaceful coexistence.  Honduras would cooperate in any effort leading to international peace and security.


CHRISTINA ROCCA ( United States) said that United States nuclear forces were not, and had never been, on “hair-trigger alert”.  Multiple, rigorous procedural and technical safeguards existed to guard against accidental or unauthorized launch.  The United States also continued to hear calls for it to fully implement the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1990-1991, yet it was a matter of public record that the country had completed implementation of those commitments in 2003.


She said that, by 2012, the United States nuclear stockpile would be reduced to nearly one quarter of what it had been at the end of the cold war, and United States operationally-deployed strategic nuclear warheads would be reduced to about half of 2001 levels.  Numerically, the scale of disarmament by the United States and the former Soviet Union since the end of the cold war was unparalleled in history.  The United States called on all nations to halt the production of fissile material and other explosive devises for nuclear weapons, as it had done.  The United States Nuclear Posture Review had established a blueprint for creating a new strategic triad that included, but significantly no longer relied solely on, nuclear weapons.


Nowhere was the United States’ commitment to multilateral solutions more evident than with regard to the ongoing six-party talks regarding North Korean denuclearization, said Ms. Rocca.  As called for in the September 2005 Joint Statement and the 13 February 2007 Initial Actions agreement, the parties continued to work towards verifiable dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear facilities and a listing of all North Korean nuclear programmes.


On Iran, the unanimous adoption of two Security Council resolutions imposing Chapter VII sanctions on Iran had demonstrated the international community’s unity on that issue, she said.  As a consequence of Iran’s refusal to comply with its international obligations, the Council must move forward as soon as possible to adopt a third resolution under Chapter VII imposing additional sanctions measures.


Seeking multilateral solutions towards ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, for decades, had been, and remained, a cornerstone of United States foreign policy, she continued.  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remained the most universal tool in the non-proliferation “toolbox”.  The challenges in stemming proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were daunting.  Yet, for too long, many had taken the easy path of relegating all responsibility in that regard to nuclear-weapon States.  That might be politically expedient, but it ignored the reality of today’s world.  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons never envisaged complete nuclear disarmament without regard to the international security environment.  Indeed, just the opposite was true.


Nuclear weapons continued to have relevance in today’s world, and that relevance was clearly incompatible with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, she continued.  Indeed, until the countries of the world could create the environment necessary for nuclear weapons to be entirely eliminated –- which was the ultimate aspiration of all Non-Proliferation Treaty States parties –  the protection which the United States extended to its allies had actually slowed nuclear proliferation and helped make it less likely that new nuclear arms races would emerge.  The necessary environment for ongoing reductions in nuclear weapons to continue to their logical conclusion included “clear and full compliance on the part of all States with their international obligations, particularly those under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  It also requires a world in which the community of nations work together to ensure that their territories do not provide safe haven for terrorists or the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and the materials to produce them.” That would be a world that could transcend the competitive military dynamics and concerns that, to date had encouraged reliance upon nuclear weapons.


JORGE ARGUELLO ( Argentina) aligned himself with the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group and the statement to be made by the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR).  Referring to the “paralysis of the disarmament machinery”, he said that revitalizing existing disarmament organs was a key concern, and, thus, Argentina had supported the Secretary-General’s decision to give priority to the disarmament agenda, as well as to General Assembly resolution 61/257, which had created the Office of High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.  Nuclear disarmament was another priority, and Argentina had made important efforts in that matter.  He pointed to Argentina’s pacific use of nuclear energy, and reiterated his country’s call to the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil the objectives of Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which he called the “cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime”.  He said nuclear-weapon States should demonstrate their willingness to completely eliminate those weapons, and added that the situation was aggravated by the increased disposition to include nuclear weapons in new security doctrines.


Confidence-building measures were important, and the Latin American and Caribbean region had been a pioneer in that area, he said.  Argentina was encouraged by the adoption of General Assembly resolutions 59/62, 60/82, and 61/79 with the objective of strengthening the exchange of information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms, and he said Argentina would once again present a resolution on that subject.


The international arms trade was “dangerously uncontrolled”, and it took a toll in human lives, he said.  “Irresponsible and poorly regulated arms trade feeds conflicts, human rights abuses and flagrant violations of international humanitarian law,” and the proliferation of arms and arms abuse debilitated countries and regions, conspiring against sustainable development.  There was a need for multilaterally negotiated standards on the transfer of conventional arms, and for such transfers to be carried out in accordance with the principles of applicable international law.  Argentina was committed to facilitating a common understanding on the transfer of conventional weapons.  General Assembly Resolution 61/89 on an arms trade treaty, to be presented by Argentina, showed the will of the great majority of the international community to strengthen instruments on disarmament and arms control.


AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that his country considered issues of disarmament to be critical to global peace, security and development.  General and complete disarmament was the cornerstone of international peace and security, and it was counting on the Committee, as an essential part of the General Assembly, to address all issues pertaining to disarmament and international peace and security.


He said his country had been impressed with the modesty with which the 2010 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons review cycle had started in Geneva this year, with States parties engaging in productive discussions.  Those steps were prerequisites for strengthening the future preparatory conferences and future review conferences.  That progress was encouraging, despite the continued existence of large stocks of nuclear weapons.  While his country was advocating, and encouraging support for, non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, it also supported research and production of nuclear energy for peaceful uses among developing countries, in a non-selective and non-discriminatory manner, under IAEA safeguards and strict observance of the 13 practical steps agreed at the 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review.


The United Republic of Tanzania was disappointed at the “fatal failure” of the 2006 United Nations Review Conference on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  The country continued to be apprehensive about the illicit transfer, manufacture, circulation, accumulation and stockpiling of those weapons in different parts of the world, where they had proved to be “weapons of mass killing” in protracted violent conflicts and low-intensity civil strife.  His country supported the steps taken towards an arms trade treaty, to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating that illicit trade as envisaged in the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action.


In addition, he said his country supported the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and had signed the IAEA Additional Protocol.  It had also signed and ratified the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, and had ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.


VASYL POKOTYLO ( Ukraine) said the international community continued to be challenged by the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and that a “broad and comprehensive concept” was needed to counter such risks.  He pointed to the European Security Strategy as a good basis for consolidating efforts on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty remained the “cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime”, and Ukraine would continue to work towards its universal accession.  Non-Proliferation Treaty parties had an inalienable right to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  However, maintaining the balance between rights and obligations, as envisaged in the Treaty, was essential.  The IAEA’s special role should be enhanced.  Similar machinery should be established within the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention.  Ukraine also supported strengthening the role of the Security Council, so that it “can take appropriate action in the event of non-compliance with Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations”.  He reiterated the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’s universalization, and said Ukraine’s role in nuclear disarmament could serve as an example.


On regional issues, he said his country was concerned with the intention of one State to suspend implementation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).  He said that Treaty continued to play a “fundamental role” in arms control in Europe, and he stressed the importance of preserving the “Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty regime”.  At the same time, he acknowledged that the 1990 Treaty did not correspond to the current security situation in Europe.  The international community, and first of all, “CFE countries” had to react quickly to “overcome the situation which potentially may lead to the new dividing lines in Europe”.  In that context, he welcomed efforts by the United States to start a parallel North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Russian process of actions to overcome existing problems.   Ukraine was willing to contribute to those efforts, “anytime and anywhere”.


Also necessary was to strengthen action to counter uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, he said.  The Mine Ban Treaty was another important instrument of disarmament and international humanitarian law.  Further, as a State party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Ukraine was committed to proper compliance, and to strengthening the effectiveness of that Convention and its Protocols.  Ukraine also supported the initiative on establishing a global, international arms trade treaty.  At the same time, he regretted that the Chemical Weapons Convention had not yet acquired universal status.  In conclusion, he stressed the urgency of consolidating international efforts to achieve progress in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.


ROLAND KPOTSRA ( Togo) said that the present world situation was still a threatening one.  Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remained a major menace to international security.  Proliferation of small arms and light weapons was leading to the destruction of social infrastructure, and States were crumbling.  However, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope.  The Conference on Disarmament had been able to step up its work, in order to deal with the longstanding deadlock, and progress was visible on the horizon.


He said his country hoped that the preliminary work done by the General Assembly in 2006 in negotiating a treaty on trade in small arms would lead to the opening of direct negotiations during the current session, leading to such an accord.  He welcomed the significant progress made on 3 October in Beijing in the six-party talks.  That progress should be encouraged.  He also appealed to all parties to seek the most appropriate ways and means of arriving at a solution on Iran.


In order to advance the goals of disarmament, he said it was essential to achieve the universalization of the IAEA safeguards.  An urgent appeal should be made to the “big Powers” that had not already done so to become parties to the safeguards agreement.  The major Powers must continue to do more than they have done so far.  There should also be a reduction of the staggering amounts they had poured into the arms race.  Today, none of the new threats was purely military or could be handled in purely military terms.


Small arms and light weapons ravaged many countries, particularly in Africa, and he appealed for support for regional efforts, such as those undertaken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to address the problem.  He also appealed for support for the Regional Disarmament Centres and expressed the hope that, this year, Member States would not simply, once again, adopt identical resolutions about the Centres without thinking about how to breathe new life into them.  Instead, the Committee should adopt a resolution with a more consistent framework covering the Centres.


Right of Reply


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that almost all of the delegations had referred to Korean denuclearization, and encouraged the present positive developments.  However, Japan and Portugal had spoken on the contrary.  His country rejected in strong terms the statements made by Portugal and Japan on the nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula, since those allegations would reverse the “current positive situation moving towards success”.


He said that the test undertaken on 9 October 2006 should not be condemned, as it had been by Portugal and Japan.  The test was conducted in self-defence against the United States’ attempts to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  His country’s test was a deterrent and posed no danger.  Rather, it contributed to maintaining peace and security in the Korean peninsula and its surrounding area.  Japan was also benefiting from this situation.


His country had been seeking a peaceful resolution to the situation since 2002, he said.  Denuclearization of the peninsula was the ultimate goal, reaffirmed by the six-party talks and the historic north-south summit.  Denuclearization of the peninsula was possible, only if the United States abandoned its hostile policy and proved itself through actions.  The six-party talks would be effective if they followed the system of “action for action”.  He called on Japan to participate positively, instead of “pouring cold water into this positive atmosphere”.


The representative of Japan, also in exercise of the right of reply, said that his delegation’s statement yesterday had not been critical but, rather, encouraging of the “very positive trends” in the matter.  He welcomed the recent progress in the six-party talks.  It was true that he had urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with United Nations resolutions, but in so doing, he had been “describing history”, rather than criticizing that country.  Thus, the present criticism by that country against Japan was “baseless”.


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For information media • not an official record