9 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3388

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

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

First Committee

6th & 7th Meetings (AM & PM)


New Winds Blowing through the Halls of Disarmament, but Real Menace -– Small Arms,


Light Weapons -- Destabilizing Societies Everywhere, First Committee Told


As Long as Nuclear Powers Argue for Gradual Nuclear Disarmament Process,

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones Are Most Feasible, Pragmatic Complement, Say Speakers


New winds were blowing positively through the halls of disarmament, but notwithstanding the recent momentum in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the new weapons of mass destruction -– small arms and light weapons -– were destabilizing societies and imperilling people everywhere, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today.


Addressing the Committee as it wrapped up the first week of its general debate, El Salvador’s representative said that although numerous commitments had been made with regard to nuclear disarmament, it remained vitally important to consider the issue of conventional weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons, as those were the cause of the greatest number of deaths in many countries.  That was mainly because of their growing proliferation and trafficking.  Those weapons were the greatest threat to national, regional and international security and were the ones used most often by criminals and other outlaws.


Peace and security were not only threatened by nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, but by conventional weapons, said Eritrea’s speaker.  Those weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons, were known for escalating conflicts and violent crimes, fuelling terrorism, impeding post-conflict reconstruction, and undermining long-term sustainable development in many regions of the developing world, particularly in Africa.  For that reason, she attached great importance to the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects.


The representative of Lesotho said that, as a small developing country, small arms and light weapons were more of a threat to his country than nuclear weapons.  Those weapons easily found their way into the hands of criminals.  Since 2006, the country had destroyed 5,921 illegal small arms and light weapons.  The international community needed join hands in addressing the threat posed by illicit trade in those weapons.  The 2001 Action Programme was key to promoting long-term security and development in developing countries.


Developing countries confronted major threats stemming from conventional weapons, said Niger’s representative, drawing attention to the devastating impact of mines and cluster munitions, which often rendered large swaths of land totally useless.  Small arms and light weapons increased transnational crime in many parts of the world and led to spikes in all kinds of trafficking, including drugs.  And, the people in the affected regions often found themselves helpless.  He agreed with other speakers that preventing that phenomenon called for international action, particularly implementation of the Action Programme.


Zambia’s delegate was also troubled that landmines posed a stumbling block to growth and sustainable socio-economic development and burdened Governments with financial obligations.  A landmine survey of Zambia from August 2008 to July 2009, covering seven of its nine provinces, would provide the data upon which a national policy could be formed.  Zambia also urged Member States to stop using cluster munitions and to ratify the Convention banning those dreadful weapons.


Expressing strong support for the elaboration of a comprehensive arms trade treaty that would establish common international standards for responsible trade in conventional weapons and ammunition, the representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told the Committee that conventional weapons were used to commit the vast majority of violations of international humanitarian law.  They caused untold suffering among civilians caught up in armed conflicts and their aftermath but, despite that fact, a vast array of conventional weapons remained easily accessible, even to those who consistently flouted the law.


Also endorsing the elaboration of an international arms trade treaty was Georgia’s representative, who said that would be an effective instrument in tackling the proliferation of conventional arms.  He said that the illicit production, accumulation, transfer and flow of small arms and light weapons were among the greatest challenges to international security.  The existence of occupied territories outside the scope of international control mechanisms created fertile ground for the spread of weapons.


Several other speakers urged the international community to take advantage of the new climate prevailing in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to jettison doctrines based on possession of nuclear weapons.  The representative of Benin, welcoming the clear support recently expressed by world leaders to rid the world of nuclear weapons, called for the neutralization of those weapons in military doctrines.  That should be a first step towards the total elimination of those weapons.


Similarly, Ethiopia’s representative said that while the international community was witnessing agreements on reducing nuclear weapons, it was worrying that some nuclear-weapon States continued to uphold doctrines of national defence and security strategies based on nuclear weapons.  Even more alarming was the possibility of continued nuclear tests to improve those weapons to fit into the configuration in different war scenarios.


Mongolia’s delegate said that as long as nuclear-weapon States argue for gradual and step-by-step nuclear disarmament, creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones should be strongly encouraged as one of the most feasible and pragmatic approaches.  Those zones complemented global disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, and strengthened the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  The new zones in Central Asia and Africa had been a remarkable development, as was the enhanced cooperation among the countries of those regions seen this year.


In that vein, several delegations today, including from Qatar and Syria, called on Israel to join the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- the only State in the region that was not a party to that near-universal instrument -- and place its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy (IAEA) safeguards.


Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Costa Rica, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Iceland, Libya, Iraq, Morocco, Haiti (on behalf of the Caribbean Community),  Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Nicaragua, Laos, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Bolivia, Burkina Faso and Uzbekistan.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 12 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).


JAIRO HERNANDEZ ( Costa Rica) said that despite a few setbacks, significant progress had been made in the field of disarmament, and strengthening multilateralism had emerged as a dominant sign.  The Secretary-General had revitalized the international agenda with his historical five-point proposal and the Conference on Disarmament finally overcame its prolonged stalemate.  In addition, the Security Council had passed a historical resolution.  The nuclear Powers had given impetus to a process that would dictate the future of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Strides concerning the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) were other hopeful signs, although there would always be those who regarded the glass to be half empty.


He said that Costa Rica was strongly committed to disarmament.  That was evident by its involvement with the Security Council, including the Council’s “1540” Committee concerning prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors, and the CTBT.  Restoring life to Article 26 of the United Nations Charter, which deals with diverting weapons spending to development, would achieve the vision of the United Nations founding members to ensure the welfare of humankind.  Costa Rica called for the use of reason, opposing the “insane” arms race that squandered exorbitant amounts of money, which could otherwise be used to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  It was disturbing to learn about the $1.4 trillion allocated to military spending last year, along with the $60 billion in military spending in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region where more than 200 million people lived in poverty.  He saw encouraging progress now and urged the world to redouble efforts to reduce military spending, in order to address the urgent crises facing nations worldwide.


CLAUDIA BLUM DE BARBERI ( Colombia) said that her country was noted for its respect for international instruments, its deep attachment to international institutions and international law.  Its commitment to peace and security had been demonstrated as essential aspects of its foreign policy through its active participation in forums where disarmament and non-proliferation were discussed.  As a State party to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Tlatelolco Treaty), Colombia supported all initiatives aimed at the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones as a guarantee for world peace and security.  It welcomed the entry into force of the treaties that established the nuclear-weapon-free zones in Central Asia on 21 March and, more recently, Africa, through the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty), on 15 July.  Those were, without any doubt, significant advances towards the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Colombia supported the holding of the second meeting on nuclear-weapon-free zones, under Chile’s coordination, on 30 April, prior to the 2010 NPT Review Conference.


She said that since Colombia deposited the instruments of ratification of the CTBT in January 2008, it had been committed to the Treaty’s entry into force. Colombia welcomed the announcement by the United States -- an “Annex II” State -- at the Sixth Conference to facilitate that Treaty’s operation, which made entry into force seem ever closer.


Although Colombia had not been involved in the Oslo process leading to the conclusion of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, it had been among the first countries to sign it, she stated.  With that decision, Colombia had renewed its obligation to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and its willingness to ban all weapons from its territory that had humanitarian impact.  As a demonstration of its commitment to that Convention, the country had destroyed 57 per cent of its arsenal, in a process that had culminated last May, and it would destroy the remaining 43 per cent before the end of the year.  The problem posed by landmines was reflected in the hundreds of victims it created annually worldwide and in the large swaths of agricultural land contaminated with those devices.  The international community should resolutely support the fight against that scourge, including efforts to restore the fundamental rights of survivors.  Colombia would reiterate that common objective at the Second Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention), under the title the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World:  a Shared Commitment, due to take place in Cartagena, Colombia, from 29 November to 3 December.


Colombia also attached great importance to the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, she said.  It was committed to achieving progress in that area and  continued to work at all levels in exchanging experiences and in the adoption of joint mechanisms that contributed to the implementation of politically and legally binding instruments in that field.


BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said while the international community’s priorities were set in 1978, laying down a programme of work for the Conference on Disarmament, the absence of political will had prevented progress, owing, in part, to double-standards and the exemption of some countries in the international consensus.  Challenges remained in an era of escalating concerns, especially regarding nuclear weapons proliferation among those claiming to use those weapons for political gains.  The transparent process of disarmament was challenged by States that did not follow their obligations.  Those States explained that their commitment to nuclear non-proliferation was subjected to their own national security and the security of their allies.  However, they had forgotten to mention that the right to national security was not a privilege of some and not others that would justify flouting the principles of non-proliferation. 


Continuing, he said that some countries had enabled Israel to produce nuclear weapons, which were now threatening regional peace.  Dealing with countries in a preferential way seriously undermined the credibility of countries attempting to achieve the universality of non-proliferation.  It showed that non-proliferation was indeed selective.  He hoped that during the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the issue of the 13 practical steps and the 1995 proposal for a nuclear-weapon-free zone the Middle East would see progress.  He welcomed all efforts made to advance those zones in regions around the world, and within that framework, he regretted that his region was under no international instrument to achieve peace and security.


Israel should accede to the NPT and place all its nuclear facilities under the guarantees of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he said. The United Nations and IAEA should be the natural framework for ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons.  Syria had supported that issue in the Security Council, but unfortunately, the proposal had not been adopted.  He welcomed the adoption by IAEA of resolutions that called on Israel to place its facilities under IAEA safeguards and join the NPT.  Israel rejected those resolutions.  Now the international community must ensure Israel’s adherence.  Israel’s current silence had dashed hope in Middle East for the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone. 


Syria supported the right of countries to pursue peaceful nuclear programmes, he said.  In addition, he welcomed the Conference on Disarmament’s progress and called upon that body to negotiate key disarmament issues and the prevention of weapons in outer space.  Of pressing concern was the need for nuclear-weapon States to provide negative assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.


NURBEK JEENBAEV ( Kyrgyzstan) said that his country was deeply convinced that a real contribution had been made towards nuclear disarmament with the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  The Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty had entered into force in March, and Kyrgyzstan had been one of main initiators for its establishment.  His country had shown firm and unwavering commitment in matters of nuclear disarmament and was grateful for the full support that the international community and Member States had provided for that nuclear-weapon-free zone initiative.  Several resolutions supporting its establishment had been adopted by the General Assembly and endorsed in other forums.  His country was also grateful to the Central Asian States for identifying it to serve as a depository country for the treaty.


He said that Kyrgyzstan had always worked with other States in advocating for the strengthening of the nuclear disarmament regime.  In that regard, it was committed to the early entry into force of the CTBT and supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in other regions of the world.


Kyrgyzstan was very concerned about the issue of nuclear waste storage, he said, adding that his country still had stores of radiological and other nuclear waste.  Determining how to deal with that waste was a very serious issue for the country.  He recalled the high-Level international forum organized by his Government and supported by the countries of the Central Asian region and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country offices in Central Asia, which had taken place in Geneva on 29 June.  It had dealt with the “existing tailings” in the territory of Central Asia left as a legacy from the military-industrial complex of the former Soviet Union.


He added that his country attached great importance to Security Council resolution 1540 and agreed with the need to block access to nuclear weapons by terrorists and non-State actors.  For its part, Kyrgyzstan was taking the necessary steps to strengthen its export regimes.  Addressing that challenge required cooperation by all States on export controls.  States with nuclear technology had a particular responsibility to prevent that from falling into the wrong hands.


Kyrgyzstan was also concerned about the issue of small arms and light weapons, he went on.  Addressing that challenge required the active participation of the United Nations.  His country supported a legally binding treaty on tracing, in order to prevent illegal trafficking in those weapons.


MOTLATSI RAMAFOLE ( Lesotho) said that the present session was being held at a time when there was some hope that the landscape of the disarmament machinery was changing. Disarmament issues had been illuminated during the year, however, problems persisted. The international community continued to witness some setbacks, which, sadly, demonstrated a lack of common ground and common purpose.  Those challenges not only threatened international peace and security, but also undermined the treaties and conventions aimed at achieving general and complete disarmament.  The NPT remained crucial as a framework for maintaining and strengthening international peace and security.  The progress achieved by the May 2009 preparatory committee meeting for the 2010 Review Conference had been encouraging.  Lesotho would join other members of the international community in ensuring that the Review Conference yielded positive results.  It was well settled that the three pillars of that Treaty, namely disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, were mutually reinforcing.  As such, they must be given equal and balanced treatment.  In joining the NPT, the non-nuclear weapons States had foregone their nuclear weapon ambitions.  Equally, the nuclear-weapon States, in return, were to fully respect their commitment to nuclear disarmament.


He added that the desire to create internationally-recognised nuclear-weapon-free zones had been buttressed by the coming into force of the Treaty of Pelindaba on 25 July.  Through that Treaty, Africa had demonstrated its commitment to building a safer world for humankind.  All of those regions that had not yet done so should follow suit and ensure a nuclear-weapon-free world.  As for cluster munitions, those violated international humanitarian law and, indeed, the Geneva Conventions relative to the protection of civilians during war.  A fervent believer in human rights and supporter of all efforts aimed at protecting civilians, Lesotho had been among the 93 signers of that Convention when it opened for signature in Oslo on 3 December 2008.  That was a prerequisite to ratification, which Lesotho intended to conclude at the earliest opportunity.


As a small developing country, Lesotho was more threatened by small arms and light weapons than by nuclear weapons, he said.  Conventional weapons easily found their way into the hands of criminals.  From 2006 to date, Lesotho had managed to destroy 5,921 illegal small arms and light weapons.  The international community must join hands in addressing the threat posed by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. 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 was key to promoting long-term security and development.


ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia) said that despite encouraging strides in the field of disarmament, fundamental challenges and serious threats still hindered efforts to build a more secure and safe world.  More than 23,000 nuclear warheads and thousands of missiles and bombers were still in circulation.  Weapons of mass destruction treaties fell short of universal and strict adherence, and no legally binding treaties existed to deal with missiles, trade in small arms and cutting off fissile materials.  Past commitments, including the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament, had yet to be fully implemented.


She called for a renewed vigour and a pragmatic approach, underlining the significance of establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.  “As long as nuclear-weapon States argue for gradual and step-by-step nuclear disarmament, creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones should be strongly encouraged as one of the most feasible and pragmatic approaches”.  Those zones complemented global disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, and strengthened the NPT regime.  The new zones in Central Asia and Africa had been a remarkable development, as was the enhanced cooperation among the countries of those regions seen this year.


As a nation with a unique location that did not permit it to be part of any regional zone, Mongolia was pursuing a policy of institutionalizing its nuclear-weapon-free status by concluding an appropriate international treaty, she said, looking forward to the trilateral meeting that would bring about concrete results.  “Looking back, we could conclude that declaring our territory nuclear-weapon-free in 1992 did not weaken our security,” she said.  On the contrary, the nuclear-weapon-free regime, along with Mongolia’s open, transparent and predictable foreign policy, had strengthened its security and made the territory safe from national or foreign programmes and practices that were inconsistent with the nuclear-weapon-free zones.  “We earned the confidence and comfort of our partners and discarded the reason for the unnecessary potential interest from the military of other countries.  If it worked for us, there is no reason why it would not work for others.”


The chances for the CTBT to enter into force were greater today than ever before, she said, adding that its effective implementation and adherence was imperative for a viable NPT regime.  Mongolia was contributing to peacekeeping efforts and was committed to enhancing its contributions to United Nations missions and to the international community’s pursuit of global peace, security, disarmament and non-proliferation.


GUNNAR PALSSON ( Iceland) said the impasse stagnating multilateral discussions and negotiations had been broken and a new era had begun.  For the first time, a world free of nuclear weapons -- a distant vision at the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in 1986 -- had become a realistic working goal.  Despite recent gains, the world community remained confronted with grave risks of proliferation, and he called upon States to honour their obligations and cooperate fully with the IAEA.  The NPT remained the cornerstone of global security.  It had withstood challenges, including preventing the acquisition of those weapons by non-State actors and nuclear terrorism.  That should harden the resolve to strengthen the universality, effectiveness and authority of the treaty, and combine efforts to ensure a successful Review Conference next year.


He said that the CTBT’s early entry to force was a critical building block in the global non-proliferation architecture.  He was disappointed that ratification by 9 of the required 44 States needed for the treaty’s operation remained elusive.  He welcomed positive signals from some of those countries, and hoped that that attitude would encourage others to ratify that instrument to bring its entry into force within reach.  A verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty was another essential step towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and he welcomed the Conference on Disarmament’s progress.  He hoped negotiations on the treaty would begin early next year.


He called upon all countries to accede without delays to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).  The illicit use and spread of small arms and light weapons was another major challenge, and the prevention of their proliferation was a cause for development and human rights concerns.  Likewise, landmines and cluster munitions caused unacceptable harm to civilians, and Iceland hoped for the universalisation of the Mine-Ban Convention.  A legally binding arms trade treaty was also needed.


To take full advantage of the positive atmosphere, he called for a fundamental review of the inter-governmental machinery in the area of arms control and disarmament, set up by the United Nations more than 30 years ago.  Iceland was among more than 20 Member States that had never had or had abolished their military, and he hoped the current optimism would have an impact on reducing the growing military expenditures.


MARIO ANTONIO RIVERA MORA ( EL SALVADOR) said that his country had seen promising progress in the area of disarmament.  The recent Security Council summit had generated prospects for common goals, aimed at strengthening the disarmament and non-proliferation regime, with the adoption of resolution 1887.  That resolution offered a series of guidelines and measures which, if attained, would strengthen disarmament.  The meeting to promote the entry into force of the CTBT also showed the very serious intention of the United States and Indonesia to take the necessary steps to ratify that treaty.  El Salvador hoped that that development would stimulate other countries to follow suit.  There had also been the announcement of the decision by the United States and the Russian Federation on negotiations of a START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty)successor agreement.  Other countries should embark on those types of efforts to advance the disarmament process.  He also been encouraged by adoption of a work programme at Conference on Disarmament and looked forward to substantial work under that agenda.


He said that although numerous nuclear disarmament commitments had been made, the issue of conventional weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons, should not be overlooked.  Those weapons were the cause of the greatest deaths in many countries, particularly because of their growing proliferation and trafficking.  They imperilled national, regional and international security and were the weapons used most often by criminals and others acting outside of the law.  Those weapons exacerbated armed conflict and crime, and El Salvador supported the negotiation of a treaty on their transfers. 


Turning to anti-personnel mines, he expressed support for the Mine-Ban Convention and stressed the importance of programmes to rehabilitate the victims. He hoped that that matter would be addressed in greater detail, including the issue of technical and financial support by the international community to affected States.  The Cartagena meeting of the treaty parties offered an opportunity to do so.  El Salvador was resolute in its commitment to join forces with international community in finding a solution.


Noting that annual world military expenditure had reached a record $1.4 trillion, he said that that alarming figure should motivate the international community to reduce military spending.  Countries should work transparently in that endeavour and should invest in people instead of in arms. Only a small amount of the military expenditure would make a difference in the area of development. It was time to get past rhetoric and move to concrete action.


BOUBACAR BOUREIMA ( Niger) said that the present session of the Committee was taking place in a favourable context, both in terms of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons.  The year had been marked by some very encouraging events.  As though to give support to the Secretary-General’s five-point agenda, several important players had taken some very important initiatives.  He pointed to the adoption by the Conference on Disarmament of a work programme, which opened up the possibility for substantive discussions on disarmament issues.  The Disarmament Commission, although unable to have made recommendations on its programme of work, had still served as a forum for Member States to put forth some ideas on non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.  Those positive developments were given a new impetus by mutual understanding between the two major nuclear Powers -- the United States and the Russian Federation.  It was that general atmosphere of understanding that had allowed for the holding of a first Security Council summit on disarmament.  The meeting to promote the entry into force of the CTBT had also had important participation and exchanges of views.


He also highlighted as significant, the entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty on 15 July.  Niger would continue to work for the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament.  In addition to nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, developing countries confronted major threats stemming from conventional weapons.  Mines and cluster munitions meant that there were large areas of land that people could not use.  In that regard, Niger had been among the first countries to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  That Convention would be extremely helpful.  Niger welcomed the upcoming holding of the Second Review Conference of the Mine-Ban Convention in Cartagena and the first meeting of States parties to the Cluster Munitions Convention in Laos.


Turning to small arms and light weapons, he said that they tended to increase transnational crime in many parts of the world and stepped up trafficking flows, including of drugs, he said.  The people in the affected regions often found themselves helpless.  The international community must help to prevent that phenomenon, in particular, through the implementation of the Action Programme on small arms and light weapons.  The third biennial meeting to consider the plan’s implementation had supplied a thorough analysis, which could be used as a basis by the fourth such meeting to elaborate a legally binding instrument for tracing those weapons.  An arms trade treaty would also be particularly helpful.


ALEXANDER LOMAIA ( Georgia) said that universal accession to the NPT was essential to address current concerns in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  The CTBT was another vital instrument that needed to enter into force as soon as possible.  With the commendable work of the Conference on Disarmament, Georgia anticipated the encouraging dynamics to continue in next year’s session.  Additionally, an international arms trade treaty would be an effective instrument in non-proliferation and conventional arms.  The illicit production, accumulation, transfer and flow of small arms and light weapons was one of the greatest challenges to international security.  In addition, the existence of occupied territories outside the scope of international control mechanisms created fertile ground for the spread of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear materials.


In Georgia, he reported, large caches of armaments in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region could be transferred to terrorist and criminal groups, unless global control mechanisms were used.  Several attempts in recent years at nuclear smuggling through Georgian territories, uncontrolled by the central authorities, had highlighted the danger.  Georgian law enforcement bodies had prevented the smuggling, but without some international presence in the areas, it was impossible to conduct any verification in those areas, and the risk of the spread of nuclear materials and weapons of mass destruction had tremendously increased. 


Georgia remained under foreign occupation by its northern neighbour, in violation of a 2008 ceasefire agreement brokered by the European Union.  Meanwhile, the Russian Federation had recently voiced the need to establish a new security architecture.  He was confident that the implementation of existing obligations was a necessary precondition for any discussion of a new European security architecture.  “In these circumstances, it is high time for the international community to stand up for the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter,” he said.


NASSIR AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said that his country had worked hard within the disarmament and non-proliferation forums, including on the implementation of international and national instruments.  Qatar had also held a regional workshop on weapons of mass destruction.  Progress was needed in the lead-up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference, especially since a number of countries had refused to adhere to the treaty.  Nuclear disarmament was an inalienable right, as it was an essential pillar of the NPT.  The steps ahead should include a legally binding instrument to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Peaceful use of nuclear energy should not be denied.  He called for agreement on the Iranian dossier to be undertaken within international law.


He said that the universal implementation of the NPT hinged on its indefinite extension.  Other issues that needed to be addressed included the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and Israel’s non-adherence to IAEA resolutions.  Qatar supported the CTBT and was anxiously awaiting the entry into force of that important treaty.  He urged States to ratify it as quickly as possible, calling for the treaty’s implementation at the earliest date possible.  Small arms and light weapons were another great concern, which must be addressed in a very professional manner.  Presently, producer countries seemed to be ignoring their obligations.  Anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, the latter in use by Israel, also needed urgent attention.  States that developed those weapons were squandering resources that could be used to strengthen development.


ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM ( Libya) said the survival of the human race depended on prioritizing disarmament and non-proliferation issues.  Libya had dropped its plans to pursue the development of the atomic bomb, reflecting its own sincere desire to avoid those deadly weapons.  Every country had the right to use nuclear power for peaceful means, however, and should be encouraged to do so.  The IAEA should play its part to ensure that all States, without exception, accepted the safeguards regime.  Inspections should be carried out with regard to Israel’s nuclear capacity, otherwise all States in that region would seek nuclear weapons.  He called on the international community bring more pressure to bear on Israel to accede to the NPT and to make its facilities available to the IAEA, as a first step to building confidence.


He welcomed efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones to achieve international peace and security.  He called on all nuclear-weapon States to comply with their obligations under the NPT, with a view of establishing the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Non-proliferation and disarmament must go hand-in-hand, in order to attain the lofty goal of a world free of weapons of mass destruction.  The recent United States and Russian Federation negotiations were hopeful, as were the progressive steps towards the CTBT and fissile material cut-off treaty discussions.  A reduction in arsenals should also take place.  Words should be backed up by action.  He supported the Secretary-General’s five-point proposal.


Among the other challenges were those involving small arms and light weapons, and anti-personnel mines, he said.  Multilateral approaches were needed to deal with those issues in an objective, balanced manner, taking into account the concerns of all parties.  Many parts of the world suffered from the legacy of deadly landmines.  Unfortunately, the current international instrument had not taken some of those concerns into account.  The Mine-Ban Convention addressed the issue of anti-personnel mines, but some of the weaker countries felt that they had been deprived of ways to defend their borders.  The use of mines was unacceptable, but the convention should be reviewed.  Wars ended, but the mines remained, and there should be victim assistance and compensation, rehabilitation and mine removal.  He asked for a review and revision of the convention to cover those and other concerns of many countries, lest they take advantage of some of the treaty’s shortcomings to justify their behaviour, including withdrawal from the convention. 


Libya still had mines remaining from the Second World War, and many victims had suffered, he noted.  The States that placed those mines should shoulder their responsibility and cooperate with Libya to provide financial and technical assistance towards removing the mines and rehabilitating the victims.  Cooperation between Libya and Italy was relevant.  Libya wanted to work with other States, in a multilateral framework.


HAMID AL BAYATI ( Iraq) said that his Government supported all efforts aimed at making his region and the world more secure.  It supported the international effort against the threat of biological and nuclear weapons falling into the hands of non-State actors and being used by terrorists.  Iraq had declared respect for international agreements and conventions, and had several measures to translate that respect into reality.  It called for the implementation of all international instruments, without discrimination.  Iraq had affirmed that it would be a country free of weapons of mass destruction and it had declared its observance of the relevant conventions on disarmament.  It had acceded to the Biological Weapons Convention, for whose implementation it had appointed a national focal point and a monitoring national body.  It had also taken measures to control dual-use items in line with Security Council resolutions.  A new list of such items had been made drawn up.  Iraq had also signed the Test-Ban Treaty and was pursuing early ratification. It had also signed the Model Additional Protocol with the IAEA.


He said his country believed that the only way to avoid the use of nuclear weapons was through their full elimination. In that regard, countries still outside the NPT should join it.  The opinion of the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons had been clear.  Nuclear disarmament should take place under strict international control.


Regarding the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said that the region was not free of those weapons because it was not possible to verify the nuclear capabilities of all of the countries there.  The establishment of such a zone should be preceded by Israel’s accession to the NPT and by its agreement to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Meanwhile, the right of all States to research and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in accordance with the NPT and under IAEA safeguards, should be guaranteed.  Iraq hoped that the 2010 NPT Review Conference would be successful and lead to balancing and maintaining the treaty’s credibility.  The international community could not shoulder the burden of the failure of that conference.


ELSA HAILE ( Eritrea) said that while the international community could not expect to change the somewhat strained international climate overnight, there were actions it could take to preserve and build confidence to advance the cause of international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Those included reaffirming the collective commitment to preserve the sanctity of international agreements and collectively recognising the need to pursue progress concurrently on both fronts of disarmament and non-proliferation.  There was near-universal agreement that the international community could meet the challenges to peace, security and stability only through multilateralism, especially when it was under the auspices of a strengthened, revitalised and reformed United Nations.  In that way, it could provide credibility and legitimacy for addressing issues related to disarmament and international security.  It was imperative, therefore, that the international community come together and work to promote a world free of fear from nuclear armaments. Nuclear issues should be addressed through dialogue and negotiations.  Imposing sanctions or resorting to force could hardly offer a sustainable solution to the proliferation concerns.


She said that peace and security were not only threatened by nuclear weapons, but by the other weapons of mass destruction -- chemical and biological and toxin weapons.  In the field of conventional weapons, small arms and light weapons, which had been defined as the new weapons of mass destruction, were also sources of serious concern.  Those weapons were known for escalating conflicts and violent crimes, fuelling terrorism, impeding post-conflict reconstruction, and undermining long-term sustainable development in many regions of the developing world, particularly Africa.  For that reason, her country attached great importance to, and saw no better instrument than, the United Nations Action Programme, as a politically binding instrument.


The balance between the three pillars of the NPT should be maintained, she stressed.  The relationship among disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy should be appropriately addressed, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation should be accelerated in a balanced way.  Eritrea strongly believed that it was an inalienable right of all States to develop all aspects of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, without discrimination, consistent with the obligations under the NPT.  The country supported the IAEA’s increased input and assistance to developing countries in the fields of nuclear power, nuclear safety and security, and nuclear technology application.


BOB KULIMA ( Zambia) said that the continued possession of nuclear weapons by some Member States and the ambition of others to acquire them remained one of the most fundamental threats to global human and environmental security, and that compliance to various disarmament and non-proliferation treaties had been elusive and contentious.  However, there had been a positive trend, reflected in the efforts of the growing number of nuclear-weapon-free zones, commitments by the United States and Russian Federation, and the Security Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 1887 (2009).  He hoped the Council would strive to enhance multilateral efforts and transparency.  He added that the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions were core instruments in the fight against the spread of mass destruction weapons.


He said that in an age of terrorism, the detection at the border of weapons proliferation by Member States was important to their security and well-being.  Given Zambia’s location, there was a need for an international committee to enhance human and technical capacity to address that problem.  Illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was also a thorny issue for Zambia, for which bilateral and multilateral international assistance to developing countries was essential, aimed at the elimination of those weapons.


For Zambia, landmines posed a stumbling block to growth and sustainable socio-economic development, and burdened the Government with financial obligations, he said.  A landmine survey from August 2008 to July 2009, covering seven of nine provinces, would provide the data upon which a national policy could be formed.  Zambia urged Member States to stop using cluster munitions and to ratify the convention banning those dreadful weapons.


SIHAM MOURABIT ( Morocco) said there was an urgent need to strengthen the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  “If we wish to move ahead and prevent the risk of seeing terrorists and non-State actors using these weapons, we must act,” she urged.  It was up to the countries concerned to put an end to developing and producing nuclear weapons.  Nuclear energy and technology should be used for peaceful purposes.  That notion made the NPT the cornerstone of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Unfortunately, its implementation had been piecemeal, especially regarding the 13 practical measures towards nuclear disarmament and the issue of the Middle East.  It was essential that Israel accede to the NPT.  In the lead-up to the 2010 Review Conference, the international community should be aware that rapid and appropriate responses were needed. 


She said her country welcomed the recent United States commitments, and noted that the Security Council resolution 1887 (2009) had enshrined the purpose of revitalization of efforts and the return of multilateralism.  Morocco hoped that atmosphere would translate into a renewed vigour and progress for the Conference on Disarmament.  She also welcomed negotiations between the Russian Federation and the United States.  The CTBT was essential, and she welcomed the United States’ plans to ratify it.  She hoped other countries would follow its lead, as that treaty should enter force without delay.


Small arms and light weapons had a large impact on States, notably in Africa, where those weapons only deepened the impacts of the crime and terrorism there, she said.  The Programme of Action was essential, and the international community should mobilize around that issue to combat and eliminate the problem. In closing, she said that the Committee’s work on those important issues would accelerate efforts the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.


JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU ( Benin) called for new impetus to restore strengthened consensus on the three pillars of disarmament.  Benin welcomed the clear support for a world free of nuclear weapons, which had recently been expressed by world leaders, and called for the neutralization of those weapons in military doctrines. That action should be a first step towards the total elimination of those weapons.  The international community should do everything possible to institutionalise what had already been achieved and what it still hoped to achieve in the area of disarmament.  The Conference on Disarmament had an important role to play in that regard.  The prospect of ratification of the CTBT by the United States was a positive development.  He looked forward to its speedy realization, as that represented a step towards the zero option at the global level.  Moreover, that approach would provide security to non-nuclear Powers.


He said that Benin hoped that the differences that had undermined consensus at the last NPT review would be overcome at the forthcoming Review Conference.  The conference should work to strengthen the treaty’s authority.  The international community must continue seeking progress in the multilateral setting to resolve differences surrounding proliferation.  His country had been honoured to have chaired a Disarmament Commission working group during the past year.  It believed that the Conference on Disarmament must begin work on its agreed programme, leading to concrete action on its agenda items.  The international community should be more resolute in tackling emerging issues.


He said that the excessive accumulation of conventional weapons should be controlled.  The Working Group on an arms trade treaty should be able to reach consensus so that a legally binding instrument could be elaborated.  In that regard, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convention could serve as a useful point of reference. The treaty should seek to stop weapons transfers to non-state actors. Benin meanwhile echoed the Security Council’s appeal for States to limit military expenditure and devote more resources to economic development.  There should be a clear mandate for the Secretary-General to monitor and analyse military expenditure and its impact on development.


ROBERT YOUNG, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that with the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions by 94 States in Oslo last December, international humanitarian law now provided a comprehensive framework for preventing and addressing the terrible effects on civilian populations of weapons that continued to kill and maim long after conflicts had ended.  That Convention, the Mine-Ban Convention and Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War were each at a different stage of implementation, but together, they addressed all types of explosive ordnance, which threatened civilians. Those instruments sent a collective message that each party in an armed conflict was responsible for the human consequences of the use of those explosive munitions, even after hostilities had ended.  The ICRC urged all States that had not yet done so to adhere to those three important instruments.


He said that the ICRC strongly supported the elaboration of a comprehensive arms trade treaty, which established common international standards for responsible trade in conventional weapons and ammunition.  Conventional weapons were used to commit the vast majority of violations of international humanitarian law and caused untold suffering among civilians caught up in armed conflicts and their aftermath. Yet, a vast array of conventional weapons remained easily accessible, even to those who consistently flouted the law.  That made negotiation on an arms trade treaty imperative.  The many related complex and sensitive issues could be addressed in negotiations.


He noted that in 1945, an ICRC delegate, Dr. Marcel Junod, had been among the first foreign witnesses to the catastrophic destruction caused by the use of a nuclear weapon -- in Hiroshima.  His memoir, “The Hiroshima Disaster”, recorded the overwhelming devastation he had faced and the unspeakable human suffering he had witnessed. His testimony compelled the need to ensure that nuclear weapons were never again used.  The ICRC could only welcome the fact that elimination of nuclear weapons was now back on the international agenda.  Nuclear weapons were unique in their destructive power, in the unspeakable human suffering they caused, in the impossibility of controlling their effects, in the risks of escalation and in the threat they posed to the environment, to future generations, and indeed, to the survival of humanity.  The ICRC appealed to all States to ensure that they were never used again, regardless of their view on the legality of such use. Preventing the use of nuclear weapons meant preventing their proliferation and combating the transfer of materials and technology needed to produce them.  That required the fulfilment of the existing obligation to pursue negotiations to prohibit and completely eliminate those weapons.


FRISNEL AZOR ( Haiti), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that weapons of mass destruction were a major threat to collective security.  CARICOM noted that considerable progress had been made in the area of non-proliferation and disarmament and that that climate would inspire hope for future work towards the reduction and elimination of those weapons.  He welcomed the statements by the United States and Russian Federation Presidents to reduce their arsenals, and said that the Security Council’s summit had shed light on the will of States to move towards lasting solutions.  The coming NPT Review Conference should add to that positive climate.


He said that CARICOM was part of the five nuclear-weapon-free zones and all of its Member States had signed and ratified the region’s treaty in 1967.  The group remained faithful to the benefit of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Multilateralism was the only viable option to maintain peace and international security.  The challenge was to ensure the efficacy of the disarmament machinery.


During recent years, he said that Haiti had paid a dear price for the spread of conventional weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons, which destabilized many societies.  There were 45 million to 80 million firearms in his region, which had the highest rate of firearm-related homicides in the world.  CARICOM remained committed to combating that scourge, which caused conflict and crime.  The regulation of small arms and light weapons was a priority in the region and worthy of particular attention.  CARICOM called on the international community to pay due attention to the international arms trade.


Transhipment of nuclear or toxic waste was also a regional concern, he said.  Accidents would have unimaginable costs, and he called upon the waste-producing and shipping countries to adopt measures to address those issues, notably those adopted at the IAEA conference in 2003.  The threat of non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction was another concern, and CARICOM strongly supported resolution 1540.  CARICOM would work towards the adoption of disarmament measures and would encourage their universality and verification.


TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR ( Bahrain) said that the world was witnessing positive steps towards disarmament and non-proliferation.  Despite challenges, and in light of certain setbacks within national and international systems, those were not an obstacle to the creation to a safer world that consolidated international security and peace.  The NPT formed the keystone of the disarmament and non-proliferation system.  In that light, the solution to non-proliferation issues in the Middle East must be based on a global and comprehensive process.  Bahrain urged that serious steps should be taken to make the Middle East free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  Israel should accede to the IAEA and United Nations resolutions demanding that it open its facilities to the IAEA. 


He said his country welcomed Security Council resolution 1887, which included elements that would allow the international community to work towards disarmament.  The resolution also highlighted the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  The question of security and nuclear safety standards were important, so every project that included nuclear technology must meet standards in accordance with IAEA requirements.  That guarantee would consolidate confidence and help countries use peaceful nuclear technology.  Bahrain reaffirmed the legitimate right of those States to diversify their energy programmes, in accordance with international law.  A peaceful and diplomatic solution should be achieved regarding Iran’s nuclear issues, in order to safeguard friendly relations with countries in the region.  For its part, Bahrain had acceded to the major treaties and hoped to participate actively to put nuclear energy in the service of peace, health and the benefit of all.


FESSEHA ASGHEDOM TESSEMA ( Ethiopia) welcomed the recent entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty, saying that it showed that Africa was determined to strengthen the main elements of collective security in the region.  The remarkable progress made during the debate at the Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in September would enable the international community to move forward.  Ethiopia was also confident that the new momentum in the negotiations on global disarmament issues would attract many nations to follow a similar path.


He said that the CTBT was a key component of nuclear disarmament.  While, on the one hand, agreements on reducing nuclear weapons were in sight, it was worrying that some nuclear-weapon States clung to doctrines of national defence and security strategies based on nuclear weapons.  Even more alarming was the possibility of continued nuclear tests to improve those weapons to fit into the configuration of different war scenarios.  Ethiopia appreciated the recent accord between the Russian Federation and the United States.  Nuclear weapons remained a major danger to the survival of the human race, either as a result of an accident or through deliberate action.  The country believed that the abolition of nuclear weapons would be the only assurance against their use.


The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in the Ethiopian subregion had been aggravated as a result of the absence of a stable Government in Somalia, he said. That situation imperilled regional peace and security. Those weapons were as destructive as weapons of mass destruction for the region.  The supply of those arms by States to terrorist groups and non-State actors had a direct bearing on the security of individual countries, and indeed, on international peace and security.  Ethiopia had been working closely with partners in the region and beyond to implement the Programme of Action.  In line with that, member States of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) had undertaken measures to improve the coordinating mechanisms that would facilitate smoother implementation of the Action Programme.  But effective implementation required the international community’s support for the relevant regional and subregional organs in Africa.


SALAH AL-SAIF (Kuwait) said that the Security Council’s summit in September was good news, and with that optimism, he recalled that Israel still refused to accede to the NPT or committing to IAEA safeguards.  That situation undermined the NPT, as the countries that had not acceded were treated “lightly”.  Additionally, Israel’s rejection of the IAEA resolutions affected the entire Middle East region.


He urged NPT States parties to call for adherence to the treaty and IAEA Additional Protocols, keeping in mind the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  For its part, Kuwait established a national committee on IAEA issues.  Kuwait also welcomed the “P5 + 1” talks with Iran, and hoped that country would continue along that diplomatic path to secure peace in the Gulf region and the whole of the Middle East.  Also welcome had been the conference on resolution 1540.


Kuwait attached great importance to the upcoming NPT Review Conference, he said, pressing the need for the session to determine the approach to addressing non-proliferation concerns in the future.  Ridding the Middle East of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction should be at the heart of the conference.


MOHAMMED AQEEL BA-OMAR ( Oman) said the paralysis and pessimism on disarmament had given rise to mistrust in the multilateral mechanisms.  States should show political will to emerge from the stalemate, without the use of double standards to avoid the repeated setbacks of past years.  There had been virtually no progress for the last three decades in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Quite the contrary, some States wished to obtain nuclear weapons as a deterrent to maintain their national security concerns.  He hoped the new United States President and his recent commitments was a sign of change.  Although 40 years had elapsed since the NPT was created, some States were still not parties to it.  He urged all States to show the required political will to adhere to the NPT as soon as possible.  He also respected the rights of all States to pursue peaceful nuclear energy programmes under IAEA supervision.


He said it was time to rid the Middle East of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  That would create a climate of confidence and prevent an arms race in the region.  The creation of such zones was an important objective, which should garner international support.  He urged Israel to adhere to the NPT and to submit its nuclear facilities to IAEA’s safeguards.  Unfortunately, there had been no progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region.  Hopefully, the coming NPT Review Conference would make forward strides in that regard.


He welcomed the cooperation of Iran and the IAEA with the “P5+1” talks on the nuclear file and reaffirmed the importance of concluding that file through peaceful means, which preserved Iran’s right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  He was firmly committed to the Action Programme on small arms and light weapons and urged all States to fulfil their obligations to all disarmament and non-proliferation treaties.


MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO ( Nicaragua) said that military expenditures had climbed 45 per cent since 1999.  Emphasizing the strong proven link between disarmament and development, she said that with just a fraction of that large amount diverted to development, the Millennium Development Goals would become a reality and the countries of the North would meet the 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for overseas development assistance (ODA).  The best road ahead in disarmament was the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Accidents, vulnerability to terrorist attacks and other concerns were among the disasters that could occur based on those weapons’ mere existence.


She recalled that, after the adoption of the NPT, the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament and other advancements, the lack of compliance among certain States undermined those developments.  Nuclear Powers should exert political will at the NPT Review Conference in 2010, in order to achieve positive results.  There were good signs, for instance, the talks between the United States and the Russian Federation.  She hoped the recent Security Council resolution 1887 and General Assembly resolutions on disarmament and non-proliferation, which had the support of all 192 Member States, would be more than just paper documents.  She applauded the new and existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and urged nuclear-weapon States to provide security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.


States should ratify the CTBT, especially the Annex II countries, she urged.  Small arms and light weapons were another great concern, as they were linked to terrorist groups and drug traffickers.  However, the victims of those weapons were almost always civilians.  Nicaragua had signed international measures to address the problem.  At the regional level, it coordinated efforts to deal with trafficking.  Nicaragua’s national police had seized almost 13,000 weapons in one raid in the summer of 2008.  Nicaragua stood against military installations by the United States in the region because that created an atmosphere conducive to an arms race.  She supported Cuba’s statement demanding the removal of the United States military base from its territory.


KANIKA PHOMMACHANH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said general and complete disarmament must be the ultimate goal, especially in the context of the recent progress, including steps made towards the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the Conference on Disarmament’s broken deadlock, the Disarmament Commission’s agreed agenda for the three-year cycle and the Security Council summit.  Weapons of mass destruction posed the gravest danger to humankind and should be eliminated, with the NPT paving the way.  The upcoming Review Conference was an important opportunity to renew commitments to the principle and objective of the treaty’s three pillars.


She said that the CTBT was the other non-proliferation cornerstone.  The final declaration issued last month was a firm commitment of the international community to accelerate the ratification process a step towards its entry into force.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were also an effective contribution to strengthening the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and enhancing peace and security at regional and international levels, while continuing to reinforce the NPT system.  Laos underscored the importance of nuclear-weapon States’ adherence to the various zones, including, in particular, the protocol annexed to the Bangkok Treaty.


Cluster munitions were of immediate concern to Laos, which fully endorsed the objective of achieving their total elimination, she said.  They caused excessive injury and had indiscriminate effects, usually on civilian populations.  As one of the countries most affected by cluster munitions, Laos attached enormous importance to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and strongly supported the Oslo process.  Laos had taken all necessary steps to fulfil its obligations.


“There needs to be strong political will and flexibility from States in overcoming obstacles and to meet security challenges,” she said.  “It is our strong belief that with great solidarity, we will be able to achieve the common goals of a safe and more secure world for all.”


PABLO SOLON-ROMERO ( Bolivia) said that his country’s new Constitution established Bolivia as a country of peace; it rejected war as a way of solving disputes between States.  It also forbade the establishment of foreign military bases on its territory.  Bolivia attached the utmost importance to the issue of the disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons because it believed that those weapons could only bring irrevocable damage to humanity and to mother Earth.  Peace could not be ensured through the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The best contribution that the major Powers could make to non-proliferation would be the dismantling of the thousands of nuclear weapons in their possession.  It was not possible to advocate for non-proliferation without dismantling those weapons.  That should be the commitment of the Member States and the permanent members of the Security Council.


Turning to the issue of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said that it was essential for Israel to accede to the NPT, given that it was the only country in the region that had not yet done so.  He expressed Bolivia’s concern at the more than $1.2 trillion spent every year in military situations.  It was regrettable that that money was spent on military situations in the face of poverty and hunger in many parts of the world.


Bolivia backed the implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, he said.  It also believed that there should be a binding treaty on the marking and tracing of those weapons.  The Latin America region had been a pioneer in implementing confidence-building measures in the area of international security.  Recently, however, there were dark clouds building in the region with the possible installation of seven military bases there by the United States.  That situation created a threat in the region.   Bolivia rejected the establishment of foreign military bases in its region, as they only provoked tension and concern.  He stressed the need for all agreements between countries in matters of defence should be registered, in order to build confidence.


FEODOR STARCEVIC ( Serbia) said the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the growing danger of non-State actors acquiring them was one of the major threats to international peace and security.  He welcomed the Security Council summit, which had reaffirmed the belief that the international non-proliferation regime should be strengthened.  Serbia had acceded to all major international agreements in the area of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, and had submitted its candidature for Conference on Disarmament membership.  He supported the commitments and activities of the United Nations and other international actors aimed at establishing effective measures to strengthen, in the long-term, the international regime of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  It attached great importance to Security Council resolution 1540, including submission of annual reports on the activities taken to implement it.


He said that Serbia was fully committed to its obligations under the NPT, and, on a national level, had taken comprehensive implementation measures.  The upcoming Review Conference was an opportunity to make progress on all three of the Treaty’s pillars.  During a visit by the IAEA Director General, the Additional Protocol had signed, completing Serbia’s obligations under the NPT.  Serbia had also adopted a law on protection against ionizing radiation and on nuclear security, which provided for the establishment of an independent regulatory agency and standardized measures for protection of the lives and health of people, and the environment.  Serbia had cooperated actively with IAEA, signing a joint agreement with the agency and the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union on the transfer of spent nuclear fuel.


Serbia attached great importance to the full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and had adopted a law on the topic, he said.  The Biological Weapons Convention was another major instrument, and a national mechanism for preventing the proliferation of those weapons was expected to be adopted by parliament soon.  In face of the new security challenges, Serbia had started the Implementation Programme against the Proliferation and CBRNs (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear weapons) Terrorism (IPACT).


The CTBT was one of the pillars of the international disarmament and non-proliferation and should be put into force, he said.  In its resolve to honour its disarmament obligations, Serbia was working on fulfilling the requirements of the Mine-Ban Convention and, with assistance of international donors, would achieve its goal of de-mining of the Croatia border area in 2010.  Serbia continued to implement the Agreement on Sub-regional Arms Control and new projects, as well as on improving its legislation and procedures regarding arms export control.


New security risks had become a problem in the region with the formation of the illegal Kosovar Security Force, which ran counter to Security Council resolution 1244 (1999) and threatened Serbia’s national security.  The Force’s presence was tantamount to a steady re-armament of the southern Serbian province, contrary to Serbia’s declaration of demilitarization since 1999 in accordance with resolution 1244.


AKSOLTAN ATAEVA ( Turkmenistan) said the geopolitical importance of Central Asia was on the rise, bolstered by energy resources being transported through the region.  But threats of terrorism and climate change had impacted international security.  Turkmenistan supported the strengthening of mechanisms for regional security and for preventing threats or the emergence of conflict.  Those threats could be countered only through collective efforts.  Thus, Turkmenistan was endeavouring to preserve peace and to ward off threats.  A United Nations Centre on Diplomacy was taking action, including by convening a first conference to discuss the regional nuclear-weapon-free zone.


She said that Turkmenistan had fulfilled it obligations regarding landmines.  However, the current constant threat to the region was drug trafficking.  Turkmenistan shared Kazakhstan’s concerns of the spread of nuclear weapons, and the fear that they would fall into the hands of terrorists.  Meanwhile, her country was lending assistance to Afghanistan by sending humanitarian supplies, building hospitals and schools, and promoting economic development.  The question of Afghanistan’s stabilization was a matter for the Security Council.  Issues of drug trafficking should also be addressed.  A regional disarmament conference should be held to establish an ongoing dialogue on disarmament and related issues.


RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said that efforts to build a better world should be inspired by a shared vision and commitment to justice, equity, progress and peace and should focus on promoting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, reducing conflict and deepening mutual understanding and respect.  The NPT was the cornerstone of those efforts and provided a framework for disarmament.  But as long as some countries had nuclear weapons, there would be others who aspired to attain them for deterrence, leading to an arms race that promoted proliferation.


He said that it was critical to focus on the three pillars of the NPT and he was convinced that the use of nuclear technologies in developing countries, especially African, could help overcome energy crises and contribute to economic and social development.  Many decades of talk on non-proliferation and disarmament had gone without satisfactory results, and it was imperative that the process of engagement by nuclear States was accelerated to achieve complete disarmament.  Uganda welcomed and supported the coming 2010 NPT Review Conference, as well as the entry into force of the African nuclear-weapon-free zone.


Conventional weapons also caused horror and destruction, the impact of which could be seen in countries such as Somalia, he said.  As weapons of choice in insurgency and acts of piracy, small arms destabilized regions and international peace and security.  “There is an urgent need to reinvigorate efforts to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons,” he said.  Toxic waste dumping was also a concern off the coasts of some African countries, and the international community should use the tools at its disposal to eradicate that harmful practice.


PAUL ROBERT TIENDREBEOGO ( Burkina Faso) said that disarmament was at the core of international concerns, and this year a new impetus had created a positive atmosphere.  The progress in the Conference on Disarmament, the United States’ recent statements and the meeting of the resolution 1540 Committee had been among some of the bright spots.  The Treaty of Pelindaba’s entry into force in July had also been a step forward, and he urged other regions to follow suit.


He said that the three pillars of the NPT were of utmost importance.  He called for the entry into force of the CTBT and said the same diligence and effort should spill over to the area of small arms and light weapons, the proliferation and abuse of which fed conflicts and terrorist networks.  Those weapons slowed sustainable development and impeded attainment of the Millennium Goals.  He hoped to see efforts toward legally binding instruments to regulate their trade.  He also urged the international community to help ECOWAS on disarmament issues.


New winds were blowing positively through the halls of disarmament, he said, stressing that the ratification and implementation by all Member States of treaties and conventions, such as the NPT and CTBT, should remain priorities.  The United Nations was the ideal forum for that quest.  Burkina Faso was closely involved in the resolution of regional crises and aimed to do its part to build peace and justice.


MURAD ASKAROV ( Uzbekistan) said that summit being planned by United States President Obama for April 2010 and the NPT Review Conference to be held next year in New York were events of historic importance in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Uzbekistan had made an effective contribution to promote and support nuclear non-proliferation.  The country believed that leading States should set an example for the world by their actions.  Uzbekistan had led by example through its support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  That initiative had been implemented with the cooperation of all countries of the region.  It had been the first such zone created in the northern hemisphere, directly bordering two nuclear-weapon States.  The coming into force of the treaty was of special importance in addressing problems connected with international security.  The significance of the initiative had hinged on the geo-strategic situation of the region, which was also very densely populated.


He said it was important that the United Nations promote the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones in other regions, as they would in turn promote the strengthening of global security. In addition, any political decision would only be worthwhile if also resulted in attention to social ills.  Noting that in previous stages of development, humankind had always been able to find wise solutions to existing problems, he pointed out that, in the recent era, every 10 to 15 years, the international community had signed historic treaties.  He expressed the hope that next year would become a historic year for promoting and strengthening the international non-proliferation regime.


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For information media • not an official record