6 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3385

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

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

First Committee

3rd Meeting (AM)


One Nuclear Weapon Exploded in One Major City Could Kill Hundreds of Thousands;


No Single Nation Could Halt Spread Alone, United States Tells First Committee


Despite Fresh Commitments, Speakers Say Past Decade Saw Reinterpretation,

Reversal of Obligations, Which Contributes to Present ‘Confidence Deficit’


Just one nuclear weapon exploded in one major city could kill hundreds of thousands and destabilize society, economies and ways of life, and halting their spread and preventing nuclear terrorism should be a shared responsibility because no single nation, no matter how powerful, could do that alone, the United States representative told the Disarmament Committee today.


As the Committee entered the second day of its general debate on all disarmament and international security issues before it, the United States Under Secretary for Arms Control, Ellen Tauscher, said that the effort to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) called for a global response.  Not only must the United States and the Russian Federation act to reduce their arsenals –- her country was already doing that such that within a few years it would have 75 per cent fewer strategic nuclear weapons deployed than at the end of the cold war -–  but all countries must take ownership in an effort to reduce the nuclear threats.


That responsibility did not end with a decision to forgo nuclear weapons and accept safeguards to demonstrate the sincerity of that decision, she said.  It must continue through the participation in collective efforts to impede others from crossing the “nuclear threshold”.  Every country’s national security was profoundly impacted by the outcome of those efforts.


The non-proliferation regime still faced severe challenges and there was an increasing risk that terrorists might acquire nuclear materials and technology, Japan’s representative warned, stressing that it was high time for the international community to take action.  The world could not afford to fail another NPT Review Conference.   Japan held that those States that possessed or tried to acquire nuclear weapons should understand that possessing them should not grant any political advantage in international politics, its speaker said. 


Despite the new optimism over fresh commitments to disarmament issues, several speakers in today’s debate were cautious, disappointed, and uncertain about the reliability of new commitments.  The experience of the past decade witnessed a reversal of commitment and a reinterpretation of obligations by some States regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, which had contributed to a “confidence deficit” and scepticism about prospects for progress, South Africa’s representative said.  Recent positive statements and efforts to address the most serious threats were still characterized by actions that served narrow interests and paralysed the relevant multilateral forums.


Even the Security Council’s new resolution on nuclear non-proliferation was disappointing, he said, submitting that the same attention had not yet been accorded to nuclear disarmament.  In addition, the long-outstanding entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) continued to weaken the disarmament and non-proliferation regimes and undermined the international community’s quest for a world free of nuclear weapons.  And positive developments in the Conference on Disarmament to move beyond a stalemate were shadowed by disagreement on modalities of implementation of that decision.


Indeed, Australia’s speaker pointed out, progress in the Conference followed with its failure to reach consensus over its decision on a fissile material cut‑off treaty.  “The international community should be rightly frustrated by this institutionalized inertia which, frankly, brings all of us into disrepute,” he said.  “I can’t explain to the average Australian why we can’t make progress.  We have to do better.”  The challenges were obvious, but it was the costs of inaction that must be more forcefully acknowledged.  “We are at a pivotal moment when we all must recognize that the possession of nuclear weapons in particular comes at a strategic cost to States, which is greater than the perceived strategic benefits.”


Saudi Arabia’s delegate said that an atmosphere of negligence permeated many multilateral endeavours.  Although there had been limited success in the adoption of treaties and international controls on the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, those had become worthless, owing to the failure of some States to comply with their treaty obligations and the international community’s subsequent silence.  That situation, underpinned by policies built on double standards, subsequently led to the non-implementation of the majority of the disarmament mechanisms.  For instance, Israel’s nuclear programme had not been placed under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.


It was clear, Cuba’s representative warned, that with 23,500 nuclear warheads in the world and 8,392 ready to be used, that the modernization programmes of nuclear weapons had grinded forward.  The swollen global military spending, increasing 4 per cent to more than $1 trillion last year was also unjustifiable.  Diverting just 10 per cent of that amount would allow many countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  He proposed that half of the global military spending be channelled through a fund for development uses that would be matched by the United Nations. 


Statements in the general debate were also made the by the representatives of the Republic of Korea, China, Kenya, Bulgaria, Norway, Jordan, Algeria, Nigeria and Bangladesh.


The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 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 on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Release GA/DIS/3384.)


KIM BONGHYUN (Republic of Korea) said a bright backdrop for work in the field of disarmament had been created by the agreement reached at the last session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the broken stalemate over the Conference on Disarmament’s work programme, the prospects for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and the strategic talks between the United States and the Russian Federation.  In addition, the Secretary‑General’s five-point proposal for nuclear disarmament shared “a world free of nuclear weapons” put forward by United States President Barack Obama.  The recent Security Council resolution 1887 (2009) was a landmark document and a clear manifestation of the tasks ahead.


He said his country believed that the central role of the NPT, as a cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime, should be further reinforced.  Monitoring and verification mechanisms should be strengthened through universalization of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol, especially in light of the current renaissance of nuclear energy.  “If the nuclear renaissance is an irreversible trend amid the challenges of the energy crisis and climate change, the international community needs to come up with ways and means to tackle the risks entailed in such a trend and further strengthen international cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” he said.  He acknowledged efforts to enhance safety, including the G-8 Global Partnership and Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and he welcomed President Obama’s initiative to hold a nuclear security summit next April.


Nuclear issues involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran posed a pressing challenge to international non-proliferation efforts, and the Republic of Korea supported diplomatic solutions, he said.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear development could not be tolerated.  That situation should be resolved through the six-party talks, in a peaceful manner.  He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resume negotiations with a sincere attitude towards denuclearization.  His country had proposed, in the General Assembly, a dismantling “bargain” for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, whereby dismantlement of the latter’s nuclear weapons programme would be met with security assurance and international assistance.


Welcoming the recent meeting of the “P5+1” (Security Council permanent five countries plus Germany) nations and Iran as a step forward, he called on Iran to further engage in a genuine dialogue within that framework and to fulfil its obligations under Security Council resolutions and IAEA safeguards.  He hoped the issue over the newly declared nuclear facility near the city of Qom would be resolved, through the Iranian Government’s full cooperation with the IAEA.


There had been some disappointing setbacks, he said, citing the inability of the Group of Governmental Experts on transparency in armaments to agree to include small arms and light weapons as a category in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, and that despite two years of intense negotiations, the Group could not reach consensus on the draft of a new protocol.  However, 20 years after the end of the cold war, a new consensus seemed to be forming towards the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  He hoped the coming annual United Nations-Republic of Korea Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Issues would be a constructive contribution towards common goals.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said that given that the very existence of nuclear weapons was a serious threat to international peace and security, she welcomed the recent positive signs and hoped concrete progress would be made towards nuclear disarmament.  She highlighted as examples, the strategic talks between the Russian Federation and the United States, which would pave the way to reducing arsenals.  She also pointed to the recent Security Council summit and the Conference on Disarmament’s adoption of a work programme after a 12-year deadlock, as further progress.  But it was essential that new steps were taken towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  “Bilateral initiatives should not replace an irreversible and verifiable multilateral agreement on complete disarmament.”


She said that the entry into force of the CTBT and the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty would strengthen the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The next NPT Review Conference should build upon past achievements, including the agreed on 13 practical steps to achieve disarmament.  There was a clear and inextricable link between disarmament and non-proliferation, both being mutually-reinforcing processes in which the best guarantee against proliferation was nuclear disarmament.  Brazil was constitutionally bound to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes only, and all countries must abide by their obligations under the NPT.


Nuclear-weapon-free zones were an important contribution to disarmament and non-proliferation, but to be effective, assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons must be irreversible and legally binding.  Brazil and New Zealand would submit a draft resolution to seek the establishment of the southern hemisphere as a region free of nuclear weapons.


More should be done to eliminate conventional weapons and to address the issue of arms transfers, she said.  Positive momentum was building, and renewed commitment to work constructively towards common goals and innovative solutions were an important part to moving forward in the area of disarmament.


AKIO SUDA ( Japan) noted that Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, at the Security Council summit in September, had proclaimed that his country had a moral responsibility to act as the only country to have suffered from atomic bombing.   Japan, therefore, was willing to take the lead in the pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons.  It welcomed the speech by United States President Obama in Prague, in which he had articulated a vision of a world without nuclear weapons.  That speech had inspired people around the world.   Japan held that those States that possessed or tried to acquire nuclear weapons should understand that possessing them should not grant any political advantage in international politics.  That view by the international community would contribute to achieving further nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.


He said that all States had a shared responsibility, and those holding nuclear weapons must take concrete measures to significantly reduce their nuclear arsenals, with a view to achieving their total elimination.  Non-nuclear-weapon States must faithfully comply with their non-proliferation obligations, thereby creating the necessary conditions for the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  That shared responsibility was yet to be fulfilled by the international community, despite the ever accelerating favourable trend.  A large nuclear arsenal persisted.  The non-proliferation regime still faced severe challenges and there was an increasing risk that terrorists might acquire nuclear materials and technology.  There was no time to waste.  It was high time for the international community to take action.  It could not afford to fail another NPT Review Conference.  States parties must establish effective and practical steps for implementation of all the NPT three pillars and successfully strengthen that regime.


States with nuclear weapons should also disclose information in the process of reducing nuclear arsenals, thereby ensuring transparency, he added.  Furthermore, Japan emphasized the importance of applying irreversibility and verifiability as work proceeded towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.  Two important complementary treaties to the NPT regime should be put in place without further delay.  The CTBT needed to enter into force as soon as possible and negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty must commence immediately at the 2010 session of the Conference on Disarmament.  In addition, nuclear non‑proliferation obligations should be observed faithfully.  In order to decrease the risk of proliferation and of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear materials, States using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should adhere to the highest level of standards in each area of nuclear safeguards, security and safety.


WANG QUN ( China) said that in confronting today’s complicated and volatile international security situations, all countries should embrace a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination.  Such concepts should fully respect and accommodate the legitimate security concerns of countries, endeavour to build State-to-State relations of mutual understanding and mutual trust, resolve differences and dispel misgivings, conduct dialogue and cooperation on an equal footing, and resolve international disputes through peaceful means.  Achieving the complete prohibition and destruction of nuclear weapons for a world free of nuclear weapons was not only the shared aspiration of all peace-loving people, but also a goal that China had all along been advocating and pursuing with unremitting efforts.


He called on nuclear-weapon States to fulfil nuclear disarmament obligations in good faith and to publicly undertake not to seek permanent possession of nuclear weapons.  He called for efforts to maintain the global strategic balance and stability, while abandoning the practice of seeking absolute strategic advantage.  As countries with the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, the United States and the Russian Federation should continue to take the lead in making drastic reductions in their nuclear weapons.   China welcomed the ongoing nuclear disarmament negotiations between them and hoped that they would reach an agreement, as scheduled.  Nuclear-weapon States should reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security and abandon the nuclear deterrence policies based on first-use of nuclear weapons.  The international community should negotiate and conclude an international legal instrument on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States as early as possible, and nuclear-weapon States should negotiate and conclude a treaty on no-first use of nuclear weapons against each another.


China had consistently stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, he said.  Meanwhile, it was firmly committed to a nuclear strategy of self-defence.   China had faithfully abided by its commitment that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstance, and that it would unconditionally not threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones.  His country was the only nuclear-weapon State that had undertaken such a commitment.  The country had persistently exercised utmost restraint on the development of nuclear weapons and had kept its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security.  It had no intention to participate in any form of arms race and had never deployed nuclear weapons on foreign soil.


He said his country was also committed to promoting the early ratification of the CTBT.  It welcomed the adoption of a work programme by the Conference on Disarmament and supported the early commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, a process in which China would be actively involved. 


China had made unremitting efforts to seek a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula and the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiation, he continued.   China maintained that the denuclearization of the peninsula, in conjunction with peace and stability there and in North-East Asia, served the common interest of all parties concerned.  Achieving the denuclearization of the peninsula through dialogue and consultation represented, not only the common understanding of the international community, but the only feasible way to solve the nuclear issue there.   China would continue to work with all relevant parties to actively promote the resolution of that issue.


RODOLFO BENíTEZ VERSÓN ( Cuba) said it was unjustifiable that more money was spent on war than development.  Since the Great Depression, world military spending had increased dramatically, by 4 per cent in the last year alone, reaching the current spending of over $1 trillion.  That was 15 times greater than international development aid.  The business of war flourished, and resources were being wasted.  The Millennium Development Goals would not be met because countries of the South would not have the funds to meet them.  Diverting just 10 per cent of the funds spent on war could allow countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  Rhetoric must be left aside, and the world must act.  The war industry funds must be used for, among other things, education and health care.  Cuba proposed that half of the global military spending be channelled through a fund for development uses that would be matched by the United Nations.


He said that with 23,500 nuclear warheads in the world and 8,392 ready to be used, it was clear that the modernization programmes of nuclear weapons had not stopped.  Those weapons were a grave danger for international peace and security.  Nuclear disarmament was a pressing task that must be the highest priority in the area of disarmament.  Past efforts, including the three preparatory conferences for the NPT Review Conference must achieve results.  Regarding peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the inalienable right of States to use nuclear energy must be respected.  Cuba applauded nuclear-weapon-free zones as concrete contributions to nuclear disarmament. 


The world heard messages of hope and change from the “White House”, but those pledges were not backed up by concrete actions, he said.  As an example, he pointed to the United States’ renewed aggressive interest to create new military bases in Latin America.  If the United States meant to truly contribute to peace and international security, it should immediately withdraw all military bases in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which was on Cuban territory and was illegally occupied against the will of Cuban people.


He hoped the results of the Security Council summit last month would have an impact, adding that a legal instrument must be adopted setting timelines for the destruction of nuclear arsenals in a verifiable and irreversible process.  It was unfortunate that the resolution adopted by the Security Council had excluded specific issues of non-proliferation, and he noted that the IAEA was the only such authority on verification.  Turning to the Conference on Disarmament, he hoped the positive developments this year would continue through next year’s session.


The total destruction of chemical and biological weapons was also of utmost importance, and he supported the relevant conventions.  Likewise, efforts to combat illicit arms trafficking must be strengthened, with special consideration given to the potential for the proliferation of mass destruction weapons to terrorists.  Cuba had been the victim of the indiscriminate use of arms by terrorists.  Today was the anniversary of a Cuban commercial aircraft crash near Barbados, which had left 73 dead.  He concluded by saying that hasty decisions should be avoided.  Discussions on those sensitive topics must continue, under United Nations auspices, in a balanced and transparent manner, and based on consensus.


ZACHARY MUBURI MUITA ( Kenya) said that multilateral negotiations and agreements were the only viable path to meaningful disarmament and security.  The most frightful danger to mankind to date was nuclear weapons, and their total elimination was the surest guarantee that the nightmare of nuclear war never happened.  The positive message of Presidents Obama and Medvedev concerning the reduction of their nuclear arsenals was a positive sign, as was the third session of the 2010 NPT Preparatory Committee and the progress made to put into force the CTBT.  He urged all States that had not signed and ratified the CTBT to do so.  Another forward step had been the entry into force of the African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).


Turning to conventional weapons, he said that their illicit proliferation plagued many African countries.  “The volume of weapons diverted from the legal trade in small arms and light weapons to a thriving black market continues to grow at an alarming rate,” he said.  “Sadly, the merchants of doom continue to benefit from this illicit trade without the slightest regard to suffering and violence to the most vulnerable populations in Africa.”  Challenges must be addressed, including the absence of export and import controls and failure to enforce existing mechanisms, owing to legal loopholes and the root causes for demand for these weapons.  States must implement the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, nationally and regionally.  As global trade in those weapons was not regulated, he was pleased to note progress made towards achieving an arms trade treaty, but that the document should be legally binding.


However, economic development and the reduction of violence went hand‑in‑hand, and long-term development would be impossible without long-term security, he proffered.  The cost of armed conflicts was estimated to be $18 billion in Africa, and armed violence was fuelled by readily available small arms and light weapons, with disastrous effects on civilians.  Governments were forced to equip their own armies to battle insecurity, diverting funds from public services.  That had a negative impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, which was why Kenya had been among the first countries to sign the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development.  “All States should invest more in human beings than spending trillions in armaments,” he said.  “Investment in human capital is the only assurance to security, peace and stability.”


ELLEN TAUSCHER, Under Secretary for Arms Control, United States, said that President Obama, at the Security Council summit, had underscored the United Nations pivotal role in preventing nuclear proliferation.  The historic resolution adopted at the summit enshrined the international community’s shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and achieved Security Council agreement on a broad framework for action to reduce nuclear dangers, as the international community worked towards that goal.  The spread of and use of nuclear weapons was a fundamental threat to the security of all peoples and nations.  Just one nuclear weapon exploded in one major city could kill hundreds of thousands and destabilize society, economies and ways of life.  Stopping the spread of those weapons and preventing nuclear terrorism should be a shared responsibility because no single nation, no matter how powerful, could do that alone.


She said that the United States had begun taking concrete steps towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  In the short-term, those steps, in their own right, would promote a more secure and stable international environment, enhance the nuclear non-proliferation regime and make it more difficult for terrorist groups to acquire nuclear weapons or materials.  As a first step towards reducing the world’s nuclear arsenals, the United States Government was negotiating with the Russian Federation to draft a START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) follow-on agreement.  The Administration would pursue ratification of the CTBT and its entry into force, so that nuclear testing would remain a distant memory.


Following the consensus adoption, in May, of a work plan at the Conference on Disarmament, the United States looked forward to a start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, she went on.  Conference members should not be bogged down in procedural motions and objections to halt those negotiations when the Conference reconvened in January.  The United States Government was fully committed to the Conventionon the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention).  No Government had done more than hers to eliminate excess conventional arms and ammunition, and to stem the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.


President Obama had called for a nuclear security summit to be held in April 2010, in Washington D.C., she added.  The summit would address the serious dangers of nuclear terrorism and encourage States to deepen their commitment to secure nuclear arsenals.  The United States would also do its part to reinvigorate the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime, the NPT.  The basic bargain of that Treaty was sound.  It held that countries with nuclear weapons would move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons would not acquire them, and all countries could access peaceful nuclear energy.  The United States was prepared to do its part to fulfil all the three pillars of that vital international agreement.  The effort to strengthen the NPT, however, called for a global response.  Not only must the United States and the Russian Federation act to reduce their arsenals –- her country was already doing that, such that within a few years it would have 75 per cent fewer strategic nuclear weapons deployed than at the end of the cold war -– but given the stakes for international security, all countries must take ownership in an effort to reduce the nuclear threats.


That responsibility did not end with a decision to forgo nuclear weapons and accept safeguards to demonstrate the sincerity of that decision, she said.  It must continue through the participation in collective efforts to impede others from crossing the “nuclear threshold”.  Every country’s national security was profoundly impacted by the outcome of those efforts. 


ELENA POPTODOROVA, Director of Security, Policy Directorate, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria , said that her country highly valued the work of multilateral mechanisms in the sphere of disarmament, arms control and non‑proliferation.  It would spare no effort in promoting the shared goal of getting the Conference on Disarmament back to work.  The adoption of a comprehensive work programme in May was a big step forward to overcome the 12‑year deadlock.   Bulgaria was equally committed to further strengthening the international system both by enlarging the current normative basis and by ensuring effective and full implementation of the existing instruments, as well as their universalization.  The full and universal implementation of the NPT was, and should remain, a priority.  Her country was committed to strengthening all three pillars of the Treaty and to a successful 2010 Review Conference.


She said that Bulgaria attached great importance to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons) and its protocols.  On several occasions, the country had reiterated its support for that key instrument of international humanitarian law and had expressed determination to contribute to its universalization and strict implementation.   Bulgaria took an active part in the work of the group of governmental experts within that Convention dealing with cluster munitions.  In search of a consensus on a new legally binding instrument on cluster munitions, the group had continued its deliberations in 2009.  Consensus within that group was achievable and should coalesce around a protocol on cluster munitions, which was compatible with the Convention on Cluster Munitions, signed in Oslo last December.


Small arms and light weapons had been rightfully defined as the new weapons of mass destruction, she continued.  Statistics showed that, annually, more than half a million deaths were caused by those weapons.  An effective tool to combat the spread and accumulation of that type of weapon was the United Nations Programme of Action.   Bulgaria fully supported the goal to strengthen that instrument’s implementation and stood ready to contribute to a successful biannual meeting in 2010.


STEFFEN KONGSTAD, Director-General at the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Norway, said the Security Council’s recent adoption of resolution 1887 (2009), not only sent a strong message that proliferation of nuclear weapons constituted a threat to international peace and security and the safest solution was to abolish them, but was a part of a historic opportunity for pursuing the goal of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.  The first challenge was to ensure that the coming NPT Review Conference produced a forward-looking outcome that included closing the loopholes, paving the way for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and agreeing on a process of accountability.  A weak outcome could gradually dissolve the NPT compact.  


He said that nuclear weapons were the most inhuman and indiscriminate weapons ever created, and stressed that disarmament and non-proliferation, therefore, were essential.  Lessons could be learned from successes in the field of humanitarian disarmament, such as the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Mine Ban Convention).   Norway urged states to ratify or accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions as soon as possible, saying that the document had set an international norm.  An arms trade treaty would have to trigger real improvements among individuals and societies, in order for it to succeed in the face of dramatic hikes in weapons transfers on the global scene.  That would require commitment to see the treaty move forward.


More efforts were also needed to render legally binding the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, he said.  It was time now to critically look at whether or not that instrument provided the best framework to address the humanitarian and development challenges posed by those weapons.  Advances in disarmament and arms control would only be possible if States listened to and learned from, and included civil society.


Noting that the structure of the intergovernmental machinery in the field of disarmament had been established in 1978, he said that that should be revamped to reflect the twenty-first century.  The Conference on Disarmament had been deadlocked for more than a decade and could not start much-needed negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, and the United Nations Disarmament Commission attracted few experts to its forums.  Norway advocated improved working methods for the Committee to make it more relevant in addressing new security challenges.  “If we fail, we will continue to see that other bodies, like the United Nations Security Council, assume responsibility for matters related to disarmament and non-proliferation,” he said.  “The active participation of civil society and non‑governmental organizations is crucial in order to raise awareness and provide substantial contributions to the discussions.  Their expertise and experience are much needed in our quest to develop new instruments in the field of disarmament.”


ZEID ABUHASSAN ( Jordan) welcomed the strides made in the field of disarmament over the past six months, which now offered this Committee an opportunity to make real progress towards disarmament and non-proliferation during this session.  The calls for a world free of nuclear weapons and strategic talks between the United States and the Russian Federation could be the impetus for realizing multilateral disarmament agreements.  The Conference on Disarmament’s broken deadlock and attempts to advance a fissile material cut-off treaty accelerated disarmament matters, and the Security Council’s summit had been another step towards recognizing the universality of the CTBT.  More advances should follow in that climate of forward-looking momentum.


He said that the NPT was a cornerstone in the international disarmament regime.  Another positive step would be the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  That would be of vital importance for stability and security for all States in the region.  In accordance with several Security Council resolutions and reports of the Secretary-General, Israel must join the NPT and comply with IAEA safeguards.  That would build confidence in the region and put an end to the possibility of nuclear disaster.


Jordan had keen to fulfil its national, regional and international obligations, as it called for a world free of nuclear weapons, he said.  Strengthening bilateral and multilateral treaties must be a priority.  He reiterated that the NPT was the most effective instrument to put an end to weapons of mass destruction, and Jordan was fully ready to contribute to the 2010 Review Conference.  The right of Member States to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, however, should be respected and must remain unaffected throughout the NPT review process.  The real threat was nuclear terrorism and the reality that radioactive devices and fissile material could land in the hands of terrorists and non-State actors.  Countering that threat required an agreed mechanism.  To realize Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), Jordan supported the commencement of discussions on a fissile materials treaty.


As a member of the Mine Ban Convention, Jordan recognized the need to destroy mines, he said, noting that his country had removed mines in 2003 and expected to accomplish its mine clearance mission over the next two years.


KHALID AL NAFISEE ( Saudi Arabia) said that in 1978, the international community had outlined the priorities in disarmament when it adopted the Final Document of the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.  That document had established that international efforts should start with nuclear disarmament, then the disarmament of other weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, biological and conventional weapons, as well as those that could be deemed to be excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects.  It stated that reduction of armed forces would end in alignment with achieving the ultimate goal of the United Nations Charter in prevailing international peace and security.


He said that despite ongoing efforts since then, negligence had been the dominant characteristic of the multilateral endeavours to achieve those aspirations of the international community.  Although there had been limited success in the adoption of treaties and international controls on the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, those had become valueless, owing to the failure of some States to comply with their treaty obligations.  The international community had remained silent.  That situation, underpinned by policies built on double standards, subsequently led to the non-implementation of the majority of the disarmament mechanisms.  He referred to Israel’s nuclear programme which had not been placed under IAEA safeguards and to the fact that that country had not become a party to the NPT, with no action by the international community.


Saudi Arabia supported the right of all countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including the right of access to knowledge and peaceful nuclear technology.  He called on all to adhere to the path of negotiations and peaceful solutions, adding that all should commit themselves to a peaceful solution of the Iranian nuclear issue, in order to preserve the security of the region and avoid the perils of wars, from which the countries of the Middle East suffered.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said that the Committee session was taking place in the aftermath of the entry into force of Pelindaba Treaty, which established Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone.   Algeria had been among the first countries to ratify that Treaty and called on all the nuclear-weapon States that had not yet ratified it to do so.


He said that the new attitudes voiced by the leaders of the great Powers, particularly of nuclear-weapon States, was reason for optimism.  More than 30 years after the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, the world was at a turning point on the issue.  The United Nations was still having difficulty achieving that agreed course of action.  The objective was to rid the planet of nuclear weapons forever.   Algeria reiterated its dedication to the NPT and its determination to promote its ideal.  The conditions for the Treaty’s universality and credibility were based on three pillars.  Any trend to attach more importance to one pillar over the other would be watering down the Treaty.  The nuclear-weapon States had the obligation to work towards a reduction of their nuclear arsenals.  The negotiation of a fissile material cut‑off treaty would represent real progress on nuclear disarmament.


He expressed Algeria’s support for a diplomatic settlement of the nuclear issues involving Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He added that the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy was very important.  The entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty pointed to the need for action on such a zone in Middle East.  Progress on that request had remained blocked because of Israeli intransigence and its refusal to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA watch.  Algeria would sponsor a resolution on strengthening security in the Middle East, for which he sought the Committee’s support.


As Chair of the Conference on Disarmament, Algeria had re-launched the work of that body after 12 years, with the adoption of a work programme.  The international community should work to make its aims a reality.  He added that illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons continued to threaten international peace and security.  The small arms Action Programme had heightened awareness about the danger those weapons posed.   Algeria supported an arms trade treaty, as a contribution to strengthening international peace and security.


BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said that despite the new optimism, the experience of the past decade saw a reversal of commitment and a reinterpretation of obligations by some States regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, which had contributed to a “confidence deficit” and scepticism about prospects for progress.  Recent positive statements and efforts to address some of the most serious threats to international peace and security continued to be characterized by actions that served narrow interests and paralysed the relevant multilateral forums that were established to address these concerns.  The recent adoption of a Security Council resolution on nuclear non-proliferation was disappointing in that the same attention had not yet been accorded to nuclear disarmament.


Established instruments in the fields of non-proliferation and disarmament could effectively address threats posed by all weapons of mass destruction, he said, hoping that the Committee would contribute to efforts to secure consensus on important challenges facing the world’s collective security.  The long-outstanding entry into force of the CTBT continued to weaken the disarmament and non‑proliferation regimes and undermined the international community’s quest for a world free of nuclear weapons.  Positive developments in the Conference on Disarmament to move beyond a stalemate were shadowed by disagreement on modalities of implementation of that decision.  He called upon Conference members to build on the 2009 momentum and make a fissile material ban treaty a reality.


Regarding conventional weapons, South Africa anticipated the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on implementing the action plan.  Substantive progress had set a forward-looking work programme until 2012, but there was room for improved cooperation on the subject of tracing and illicit brokering.  South Africa would continue to work towards an arms trade treaty.  “Any further delay to the regulation of arms trade and transfers will see the continual human rights violations and abuses, the destruction and displacement of innocent lives, as well as the oppression of humankind that would continue to undermine development goals,” he said.  The Conventions on landmines and cluster munitions had worked towards eliminating those lethal weapons, and he noted that efforts are under way to appoint a new Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).


With the United Nations Disarmament Commission having failed to reach substantive conclusions during its previous three-year cycle, South Africa had been encouraged by the agenda adopted by the Commission this year.  It attached the highest importance to the Commission’s role as the sole deliberative body in the United Nations disarmament machinery.


GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said his country and the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament of Japan’s Prime Minister made strong efforts to generate new thinking to overcome sterile and formulaic debates in the past, at a time when a new dynamic in the field of disarmament provided an opportunity to make genuine progress.  Nuclear-weapon States should exercise leadership, he said, welcoming the recent statements of President Obama, and the United States and Russian Federation negotiations to reduce their nuclear arsenals.


However, progress in the Conference on Disarmament’s break of a 12-year deadlock followed with its failure to reach consensus over its decision on a fissile material treaty.  “The international community should be rightly frustrated by this institutionalized inertia which, frankly, brings all of us into disrepute,” he said.  “I can’t explain to the average Australian why we can’t make progress.  We have to do better.”


To do better, the Conference on Disarmament must make substantive progress in all areas of its work programme, he urged.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference must achieve a successful conclusion that would recognize collective security benefits for all Member States.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s test this year was a stark reminder of the need to maintain and strengthen the non-proliferation regime, and Iran’s disclosure of a covert enrichment facility reinforced concerns about that country’s nuclear programme.  Australia urged those two countries to comply with international obligations and Security Council resolutions.


Turning to conventional weapons, he said that an arms trade treaty was greatly needed to arrest the irresponsible and illicit transfer of those weapons and their components.  The illicit trade of small arms and light weapons was a problem that needed continued attention.  Australia attached great importance to the early entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and continued efforts to strengthen the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.


“The challenges are obvious,” he said.  “But it is the costs of inaction that we must more forcefully acknowledge.  We are at a pivotal moment when we all must recognize that the possession of nuclear weapons in particular comes at a strategic cost to States, which is greater than the perceived strategic benefits.”


BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) said that the present session was being held at a time of great concern amid the global economic and financial crisis and the risk to international peace and security caused by the prevailing stalemate in multilateral negotiations.  It was no surprise, therefore, that while resources for aid and development assistance continued to plummet, military expenditure continued to escalate.  World military expenditure, which stood at $780 billion at the beginning of the decade, had now risen to $1.464 trillion in real terms, in 2007.  On the other hand, less than 1 per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was the amount needed to put every child into school by 2000.  The international community could not watch that situation continue unabated.  The need to reverse that negative trend had become one of the greatest challenges to the international community today.


He said that the reawakening of the international community on how best to address the issues of arms control and disarmament had been amply demonstrated by the summit on nuclear disarmament convened by the Security Council on 24 September.   Nigeria expected that the positive momentum generated so far on how to implement disarmament and non-proliferation measures should be pursued with vigour during the current session.  Everything must be done to avert the failures that had characterized the disarmament agenda in the last couple of years, so as to realize the shared international concerns about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons.


Nigeria supported the concept of internationally-recognized nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, established on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among States in the regions concerned, he stated.   Africa had again demonstrated its commitment to the principle of universal denuclearization, with the recent entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.  Nigeria was also committed to the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  Despite efforts at various levels, the circulation of those weapons, especially in the West African subregion, was fast turning the region into a major transit point for illicit trafficking in arms and drugs.  That situation also facilitated the growth of criminal syndicates, some possessing sufficient firepower to challenge a nation’s military force.  That was why the country called on the international community to demonstrate commitment to check that menace by implementing existing initiatives, as well as developing new and legally binding ones, where necessary.  Such instruments should be geared towards achieving the goal of preventing, combating and eradicating illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and regulating the transfer of conventional weapons in general.  Full implementation of Action Programme would be a very good beginning.


ZULFIQUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh) called for a balanced approach in addressing the three pillars of the NPT -– nuclear disarmament of countries currently possessing nuclear weapons, non-proliferation to countries not yet in possession, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy for all.  All States, particularly those in annex II of the CTBT, should refrain from conducting nuclear test explosions and should sign and ratify that Treaty.  His country had been the first annex II South Asian nation to join the CTBT.  It was convinced that its universalization and entry into force at an early date was a critical building block for a nuclear‑weapon-free world.  Bangladesh called on parties to the NPT, pursuant to the Treaty’s article VI, to undertake negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear arms reduction and disarmament and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament, under strict and effective international control.


He reiterated his country’s demand for security assurances, through the establishment of a universally binding legal instrument prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  The country supported Security Council resolution 1887 (2009), which recalled the 1995 statements by each of the five nuclear-weapon States guaranteeing negative security assurances to NPT States parties.  Strict adherence to that commitment was essential for strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime.


While Bangladesh supported all non-discriminatory efforts toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he said it recognized, as stipulated in article IV of the NPT, the inalienable right of States parties to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination and in conformity with the Treaty’s articles I and II.  The country had consciously and unconditionally opted to remain non-nuclear.  It was currently making good use of the NPT provision on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, however, for improving the living standard of its people under IAEA guidance.  It had also concluded safeguards agreements, including the Additional Protocols.


While working on the elimination of weapons of mass destruction from the face of the earth, sight must not be lost of the perennial threats posed by proliferation of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, he went on.  The country lent its support to the global effort for concluding an arms trade treaty to ensure transparent transfer of conventional weapons.  Proliferation of small arms and light weapons -- the real weapon of mass destruction, in use on a daily basis -- was destabilizing regions and societies in developing countries, with devastating impact on vulnerable groups, including women and children.


Right of Reply


HONG JE RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected statements by the Republic of Korea and Japan regarding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  The situation on the peninsula was the direct result of United States’ policy.  His country had never denied the denuclearization of the peninsula and it did not engage in a nuclear arms race.  It had done everything to remove nuclear threats and to secure peace and security on the peninsula.  It had initiated denuclearization and advanced proposals on adopting a “DPRK-US” non-aggression treaty, but its efforts had not received due response from the United States.


Instead, he continued, the United States had held that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should not launch even a peaceful satellite, and had made the case in the Security Council when the country undertook such a launch.  The launch by his country conformed with international law.


In view of the continued hostility of the United States towards his country, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was using its nuclear capability as deterrence, he said.  The mission of its nuclear weapons was to deter nuclear war on the peninsula.  Its nuclear deterrence had made the country more secure, allowing its people to focus on economic development.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would act in a responsible manner in the management of its nuclear weapons and in disarmament.


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For information media • not an official record