14 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3391

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

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

First Committee

10th Meeting (PM)


Proposal for International Day to Rid World of Nuclear Weapons Submitted in First


Committee, with Traditional Text on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Southern Hemisphere


Draft Held Back on De-Alerting Nuclear Weapons; Speaker Says Time to Look

Forward Rather Than Backward, To Focus on What Binds Rather Than What Divides


Establishing an international day to raise awareness of the deadly dangers of nuclear weapons would be a step towards the noble goal of the complete elimination of those weapons, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today, as two related draft resolutions were introduced and a decision was announced to hold back a third.


A draft resolution on an International Day for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons would do more than raise public awareness, said the representative of Kazakhstan, tabling the text; it would move States towards the “noble idea” of disarming, though not calling on them to disarm now.  The significance of the date chosen, 29 August, marked the closing of the world’s second largest nuclear test site, which had also initiated a process of voluntary renunciation of one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, she explained.


Prior to the draft’s introduction, she cautioned the Committee that, despite the current positive atmosphere, there was no assurance of continued progress.  “States still possess thousands of this deadly type of weapon and the risk of their proliferation and acquisition by non-State actors persists,” she said, adding that nuclear-weapon-free zones were part of the solution.


Towards that goal, the representative of New Zealand introduced a traditional draft resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free Southern hemisphere.  She welcomed the entry into force of the African nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), saying that the entire network of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties, which spanned the Southern hemisphere, was now in force.  Those zones were a powerful demonstration of the strong collective will that existed at the regional level to rid the world of nuclear weapons.


The zones were an example of the added value of a regional dimension to disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, and Chile, on behalf of the nuclear-weapon-free zones, would be presenting a draft resolution on that issue, its representative told the Committee today.  However, the lead sponsors of the draft resolution on decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems decided not to present the resolution during the present Assembly session.


Though still of the view that a lowered level of nuclear weapons readiness was an integral step that demonstrated a move forward in the disarmament and non-proliferation strategy, the sponsors took that action as evidence of their commitment to cooperate constructively on that important issue and to work to achieve the best possible outcome at the coming Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), he explained.


The United Kingdom also wanted to see further progress by the nuclear-weapon States under article VI of the NPT, its representative said.  “But let me be clear -- there is a grand bargain, which lies at the heart of the NPT, and the UK will be seeking action plans for all three pillars [non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy], along with strong international commitment to tackling the issue of nuclear security.”  The United Kingdom also wanted to see continued progress on the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a permanent ban on further nuclear weapons tests.


It was time to look forward rather than backward, he said.  If the members of the international community were to make the world a safer and more secure place, then they would need to focus on what bound rather than what divided them.  No one could disagree that nuclear proliferation was a threat to international peace and stability, that nuclear security should be a priority and that the international community wanted the certainty that nuclear weapons would never again be used.  They shared a common responsibility to enable access to peaceful nuclear energy, while guarding against its appropriation for offensive purposes.


It was essential that the 2010 NPT Review Conference strengthen the Treaty, said Uruguay’s representative, on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), adding that the Treaty’s extension could not entail the indefinite possession by nuclear-weapon States of their arsenals.  He also stressed the need to start substantive negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  “As long as nuclear-weapon States maintain their arsenals, the risk of proliferation will exist,” he said.  “The only secure manner guaranteeing a world without the threat of nuclear explosions is the total elimination of this kind of weapon.”


Canada actively promoted the enhancement of the institutional processes of the NPT, its speaker said.  It was proposing a strengthened review process underpinned by a three-fold plan: annual and more focused meetings which could discuss and take decisions on any issue covered by the Treaty; creation of a standing bureau empowered to convene extraordinary decision-making sessions to address events that threatened the integrity and viability of the NPT; and creation of a dedicated NPT support unit housed within the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.


Statements in thematic debate on nuclear weapons were also made by the representatives of Switzerland, Indonesia (on the behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Japan, Norway, France, Mexico, Netherlands, China, Venezuela, Cuba, Republic of Korea and Morocco.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 15 October, to continue its thematic debate on nuclear weapons.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic debate on nuclear weapons and to begin the introduction and consideration of all draft resolutions.


Statements


JÜRG STREULI ( Switzerland) said that a more constructive atmosphere seemed to have materialised in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  The international community must now move from the stage of encouraging statements to that of realisation of concrete actions.  In that respect, the finalisation of a new bilateral treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States, succeeding START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) represented a first important milestone.  That objective remained the most immediate priority and reflected the greater responsibility of those who possessed the most nuclear weapons to firmly set a course towards disarmament.  Moreover, such development might prompt other nuclear-weapon States –- whether or not they were States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) -– to make proportionate efforts. The implementation of that treaty would be a powerful argument to persuade non‑nuclear-weapon States to reaffirm their renunciation of nuclear weapons.


He said that a second milestone would be the early start of negotiations by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 2010.  Switzerland regretted that it had not yet been possible for the Conference to begin negotiations on a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile materials, or substantive discussions on other agenda items.  It hoped that all members of the Conference would rediscover the path of consensus and agree on and implement a programme of work in 2010.


A third milestone would be the 2010 NPT Review Conference, he said.  Switzerland hoped that the positive atmosphere at the third session of the Preparatory Committee would translate into a constructive spirit, opening the way towards tangible results.  To be successful, a significant collective effort would be required regarding each of the three pillars of the NPT.


He said that the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons should trigger a fundamental revision of nuclear thinking, taking global security into account.  In that context, his country had high hopes for the ongoing review by the United States of its nuclear posture.  Switzerland called on all nuclear-weapon States to initiate similar reviews.  Regarding the issue of readiness of nuclear weapons, he said that his country, together with five other States, had presented a resolution, with a view to reducing the alert level of those weapons.  The text, which had received broad support, underlined the conviction of the majority of States that progress must be achieved in that area.  Because nuclear weapons were under review in different countries, the States sponsoring the resolution had decided not to table it this year.  A study by the EastWest Institute to identify practical ways of enabling a reduction of the alert level, undertaken in partnership with Switzerland and New Zealand, reflected the willingness to develop a constructive dialogue on that issue.  That study would be the subject of a presentation at Headquarters on 15 October.


Switzerland was convinced that advances in nuclear disarmament strengthened the non-proliferation regime, he said.  Compliance with non-proliferation obligations was of utmost importance.  Switzerland remained concerned about growing dangers posed by nuclear proliferation.  It called upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions and return without preconditions to the six-party talks.


FEBRIAN ALPHYANTO RUDDYARD ( Indonesia) speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that disarmament and non-proliferation efforts should be simultaneous and parallel, and expressed deep concern over the slow pace of progress.  Negotiations should begin on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, within a specified time framework.  Despite positive developments, urgent concrete actions by nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations remained essential.  He called upon the Russian Federation and the United States to apply the principles of transparency, irreversibility and verifiability to further reductions of their nuclear arsenals, under START I.


Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he said that the Non‑Aligned Movement underlined the need for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally-binding instrument on security assurances to non‑nuclear-weapon States as a matter of priority.  He stressed the significance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT.  Also deeply concerned about the rising global military expenditures, he welcomed the adoption of the General‑Assembly resolution 63/52. 


He said that the development of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction violated the commitments undertaken by nuclear-weapon States at the time of the CTBT’s conclusion.  He was also concerned about the implications of the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defence systems and the threat of weaponization of outer space, as that impeded the promotion of disarmament and the strengthening of international security.  He was also concerned that the implementation of national missile defence systems could trigger arms races and the further development of advanced missile systems, as well as an increase in the number of nuclear weapons.


States parties to the NPT should intensify their efforts towards ensuring a successful Review Conference in 2010, he said.  Nothing in the Treaty should be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all parties to the Treaty to research, develop, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were positive steps towards disarmament and non-proliferation, and he supported the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.  Pending its establishment, the Movement demanded that Israel accede to the NPT without delay and place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Nuclear non-proliferation issues should be approached through political and diplomatic means, and measures and initiatives should be taken within the framework of international law, relevant conventions and the United Nations Charter.


MARTIN VIDAL (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that despite recent progress, as long as there were nuclear weapons, there would be a risk of their use and proliferation.  A general, transparent, irreversible and verifiable process within a well-defined timetable was needed to achieve nuclear disarmament, in accordance with article VI of the NPT.  The Treaty’s extension could not entail the indefinite possession by nuclear-weapon States of their arsenals.  It was essential that the coming NPT Review Conference strengthen the Treaty, reaffirm the decisions of the 1995 and 2000 conferences and agree on further measures to accomplish the Treaty’s three pillars.  He stressed the need to progress in the fulfilment of the nuclear disarmament obligation under article VI, adding that a lack of progress in that pillar might hinder the balance necessary for the Treaty’s success.


He stressed the need to start substantive negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and supported a prompt start to the Conference on Disarmament’s substantive discussions on negative security assurances and on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  The CTBT was another essential part of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime, which would help to contain the horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Until that treaty entered force, the moratorium on nuclear tests was vital.  He urged all States to refrain from adopting any measures contrary to the provisions and obligations of the CTBT.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones made an important contribution to disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, but better coordination and cooperation among the zones was needed.  He welcomed the coming second conference of States parties and signatories to the treaties to establish such zones, and believed the achievement of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons should be an ongoing quest.  The nuclear‑weapon States that had signed and ratified the protocols of nuclear‑weapon-free zone instruments should modify or remove reservations or unilateral interpretations that affected the status and denuclearization of the zones.


There was an important link between disarmament and non-proliferation, he said.  As long as nuclear-weapon States maintained their arsenals, the risk of proliferation would exist.  And, the only secure way to guarantee a world without the threat of nuclear explosions was the total elimination of those weapons.


AKIO SUDA ( Japan) said that as a country that had suffered from atomic bombings, his had chosen to take a path of non-nuclear weapons.  Possessing nuclear weapons should not grant States any political advantages in international politics.  Reducing nuclear weapons arsenals was a priority.  Japan commended the Russian Federation and the United States for efforts towards that goal and called upon them to conclude their negotiations.  However, other nuclear-weapon States should not wait for the Russian Federation and the United States to initiate cutbacks; they should take steps themselves to stop increasing their nuclear arsenals and to reduce them.  He supported the resolution adopted at the recent Security Council summit. 


“The world has now arrived at the stage where it should consider more specifically a practical approach to nuclear disarmament, whereby international stability will be preserved, both in establishing the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, as well as in the process of attaining it, while the international regime of nuclear non-proliferation is being maintained and even enhanced, he said.”


Nuclear-weapon-free zones, when coordinated between the five nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States in the region concerned, contributed to nuclear non-proliferation and international peace and security, he said, welcoming the establishment of such zones in Africa and Central Asia.  He supported the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.


He said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its development of a nuclear weapons programme was a serious threat regionally and to the international community, as a whole.  It was imperative that that country comply with Security Council resolutions.  Japan would continue, through the six-party talks, to support a nuclear-weapon-free Korean peninsula.  He also promoted the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and strongly encouraged States that had not done so, to sign and ratify it.  The CTBT, along with a fissile material cut-off treaty, could cap the development of nuclear weapons.  He commended the work of the Conference on Disarmament, despite its inability to have begun substantive negotiations.


Japan did not favour pursuit of disarmament, followed by that of non‑proliferation, or vice versa, he said, adding that they were two wheels on the same cart.  The coming NPT Review Conference was of utmost importance.  The positive atmosphere and the work of the Third Preparatory Committee gave hope for a productive and substantive review next year.


KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) condemned the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and urged that country to return to the six‑party talks, without delay and without conditions.  It also demanded that Iran comply with the demands of the international community, with regard to its nuclear programme.  Norway hoped that the ongoing negotiations would result in a positive outcome.


He stressed the need for the nuclear-weapon States to continue the reduction of their arsenals.  Norway welcomed the announcement by the United States and Russian Federation of the decision to resume negotiations on a successor treaty to replace the START I.  Measures should be implemented to prevent a nuclear arms race, and the CTBT was an important tool in that regard.  While awaiting the Treaty’s entry into force, States parties should maintain the existing moratorium on nuclear testing.  Additionally, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) should be provided with the necessary support to enable it to play its role effectively.


Achieving the goal of nuclear disarmament required the reversal of security and policy roles for those weapons, he said.   Norway maintained that the international community should establish nuclear-weapon-free zones and provide negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  It welcomed the entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty and called on all concerned States to sign it.   Norway also stressed the importance of concluding a nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty in the Middle East, in line with relevant resolutions.  It was ready to contribute towards that goal.  Meanwhile, the IAEA should be provided with both the political and financial support it needed to carry out its functions.


He said that while the international community now had a historic opportunity, it was crucial for NPT States parties to strengthen the Treaty’s legitimacy and to strengthen the three pillars.  Norway advocated cross–regional cooperation, for which the active participation of the civil society should be ensured.  It should also be ensured that the 2010 NPT Review Conference produced a substantive and tangible outcome.


JOHN DUNCAN ( United Kingdom) said that if the members of the international community were to make the world a safer and more secure place, then they would need to focus on what bound rather than what divided them.  No one could disagree that nuclear proliferation was a threat to international peace and stability, that nuclear security should be a priority and that the international community wanted the certainty that nuclear weapons would never again be used.  They shared a common responsibility to enable access to peaceful nuclear energy, while guarding against its appropriation for offensive purposes.


He said that it was time to look forward rather than backward.  If, by the time the First Committee met again in 2010, the international community had managed to move forward on issues of common concern, then it could be said that progress had been made and the trajectory towards a world without nuclear weapons had advanced.  The United Kingdom would like to vote in favour of more resolutions than it currently did.  Key to achieving greater consensus would be greater engagement by all and willingness to compromise on sometimes long-held positions.


His country would play its part in that and sought earlier engagement in the future, he said.  Progress would be made if the members of the international community engaged on issues, which concerned them.  That meant, for example, returning to the table at the Conference on Disarmament and adopting a programme of work in 2010, which kick-started negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Some States had some concerns about such a Treaty, but those concerns were better addressed transparently at a negotiating table, rather than being plunged into the deep freeze.  A failure to engage would not make the world a safer place, on a local, regional or, indeed, global level.


The United Kingdom also wanted to see continued progress on the CTBT ratification and a permanent ban on further explosive testing of nuclear weapons, he said.  It also wanted to see further progress by the nuclear-weapon States under article VI of the NPT.  “But let me be clear –- there is a grand bargain, which lies at the heart of the NPT, and the United Kingdom will be seeking action plans for all three pillars, along with strong international commitment to tackling the issue of nuclear security.”  United States President Barack Obama’s proposed summit on nuclear security, for April 2010, would be an important milestone.


ERIC DANON ( France) said that his country wished that States possessing nuclear weapons should fully commit to the reduction of their arsenals.  The country was happy that certain nuclear Powers had decided to take that path chosen by France for more than a decade.  The United Kingdom had also chosen that path.  A new reduction of strategic arsenals between the United States and the Russian Federation constituted a priority in terms of nuclear disarmament, since the two countries possessed 95 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons.  France commended President Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev for their commitment to conclude a new agreement before the end of the year.  It called on other States concerned to agree to similar reduction efforts.


He said his country also wished that, while awaiting the opening of the negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, a moratorium on the production of fissile materials would be put in place by each concerned country at the national level, without delay.  Concerning proliferation, France’s position was well known.  The proliferation crisis currently constituted the greatest threat to international peace and security, against which, the international community must be united and resolute.  Seeking peace, it must act without weakness against those who violated international norms.  Because disarmament was not possible without a sentiment of security and confidence, the aggravation of the proliferation crisis must be stopped; it constituted a hindrance to the pursuit of the reduction of nuclear weapons.  Because civil nuclear energy could not be developed without mutual confidence, those who wanted to divert the material to other ends must be discouraged.  That was the goal of the North Korean and the Iranian files.


The world must confront the increasing and considerable demands in the field of civil nuclear energy, he continued.   France, on several occasions, had underlined that it was ready to place its long experience and knowledge at the disposal of that “nuclear renaissance”.  However, civilian nuclear energy could only be developed in an extremely secure environment.  It was not an industrial sector like any other; the stakes for security, safety and non-proliferation were at the heart of its international development.  Some saw in that approach a derogation from the inalienable right provided under the NPT.  On the contrary, that was to permit that right to be exercised by all in a way that ensured the necessary respect for norms and elevated standards of security, safety and non‑proliferation.


BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that regardless of the positive atmosphere, there was no assurance of continued progress.  “States still possess thousands of this deadly type of weapon and the risk of their proliferation and acquisition by non-State actors persists,” she said.  The NPT was the cornerstone of disarmament and non-proliferation and the main instrument of the nuclear non‑proliferation regime.  Steady and gradual nuclear disarmament should occur through the implementation of commitments by all NPT States parties and she called upon all States to start negotiations, as early as possible, on a treaty banning fissile material production, and to ensure the earliest possible entry into force of the CTBT.  The considerable contributions of Kazakhstan and the Central Asian States had included this year’s entry into force of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region. 


She said that every nation had the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under strict international control, and Kazakhstan stood for the peaceful resolution of recent conflict situations regarding nuclear programmes.  Concerning the growing global energy demand, Kazakhstan supported multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle and expressed readiness to host a nuclear fuel bank on its territory, under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) auspices.  Such a facility would enable countries to purchase nuclear fuel, decreasing the need for individual nations to develop their own enrichment programmes.  It would also strengthen the non-proliferation regime.


Next, she introduced a draft resolution on an International Day for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/64/L.14), on behalf of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.  The draft would raise public awareness about the threats and dangers of the existence of nuclear weapons.  The draft did not call upon States to disarm now, but rather, would help everyone moving towards that noble idea.  The significance of the date chosen, 29 August, marked the closing of the world’s second largest nuclear test site, which also initiated a process of voluntary renunciation of one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world, she said.


PABLO MACEDO ( Mexico) said that major efforts had been recently made to put nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation back into the forefront, where they belonged.  A wind of change was pushing the world forward, and President Obama’s speech and the United States and the Russian Federation talks were hopeful signs.  Reduction of nuclear arsenals was another sign, but the real goal was disarmament.  The Security Council summit had been another encouraging mark of progress, with the unanimous adoption of resolution 1887 (2009).  The air had changed.  Dialogue and confidence flourished.  But rhetoric must be translated into concrete action.

The 2010 NPT Review Conference would be an ideal time to demonstrate that change.  Unfortunately, the last Conference on Disarmament session had not advanced, but he hoped the next session would be more fruitful. 


He said that Mexico was aware that materials with multiple uses could be transported for military purposes, so the Government had established export controls as a contribution to non-proliferation efforts.  He commended France for having taken the brave step of permanently closing production plants, as well as the moratorium declared by other nuclear-weapon States.  Work in that field should have a constructive and creative spirit.  Banning nuclear tests contributed to the further reduction of arsenals.  Ratification by nuclear-weapon States would act as an impetus to move the CTBT towards the achievement of a long-awaited dream.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones also contributed to disarmament efforts.  To encourage cooperation and understanding between those zones, he anticipated a second meeting of States and would co-sponsor a draft resolution with Chile on this issue.


“The role of nuclear weapons in military doctrines or tactics should disappear,” he said.  “Their very existence was a threat to peace.”  Mexico would continue to work towards this goal, he concluded.


PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL ( Netherlands) welcomed the new élan in disarmament and non-proliferation and said that the international community should build on that momentum and take concrete steps towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  The coming year would be crucial.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference marked an important milestone for the international non-proliferation system.  In view of the lack of outcome of the 2005 Conference, and recent developments, it was important that real progress be made to strengthen the non-proliferation system.  In order to move forward, a strategic and creative approach was needed. 


He said that, in the coming months, his country would be active in the preparations for the NPT review, working closely with countries from all regions.  The NPT should not merely serve the interests of the five permanent members of the Security Council, or any small group of countries.  A well-functioning and effective NPT served all.  The Netherlands called on those States that had not ratified the NPT to do so and those that had ratified it to implement it.  The best way to move forward was by maintaining the balance between the three pillars of the NPT:  non-proliferation, peaceful use of nuclear energy and disarmament.


Another milestone would be the entry into force of the CTBT, he went on.  In past years, his country had been very active in promoting the Treaty’s operation.  It welcomed the commitment of President Obama to seek United States’ ratification of the Treaty, as well as the positive statements in that regard by other States.  It hoped that all States concerned would soon live up to their responsibilities and take the crucial step.  With the new momentum on disarmament, the Conference on Disarmament should leave the period of often interesting, but inconclusive, discussions behind.  It should again become a forum for new and concrete steps.  His country stressed the importance of an early start and conclusion of negotiations on an effectively verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty.


ALFREDO LABBÉ, Director for International and Human Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile, said that one year ago, delegates in this room said that political changes that had already occurred could create opportunities for rescuing the nuclear non-proliferation regime and re-launching nuclear disarmament.  The political changes that were observed a year ago were today a solid reality, and the hopes of yesterday had given way to political events, upon which courses of action could be built.  Disarmament was a segment of the multilateral agenda that required decisive leadership on the part of major actors.  Nuclear disarmament would be a reality when States that possessed atomic weapons relinquished that instrument of power, whose mere existence created unacceptable risks.  The Non-Aligned Movement felt that the best way to avert the danger of nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands was to eliminate them completely.


He said that the Security Council had endeavoured to strike a political balance between the principles, instruments, bodies and political variables involved, while facing the challenges that nuclear proliferation and terrorism posed for the whole world.  The General Assembly now had the possibility, through the work of this Committee and the plenary, to expand on and clarify the results of the Security Council’s disarmament summit.  A clear message must be sent to the Conference on Disarmament, which had adopted a programme of work, but then had failed to initiate substantive work.  Was it not perhaps ironical that the substantive progress now being made in the area of nuclear disarmament resulted from the bilateral negotiations between the United States and the Russian Federation, launched to replace the START I Treaty and not from the so-called principal forum for the negotiation of disarmament instruments? he asked.


The coming NPT Review Conference was undoubtedly the most important event on the coming year’s calendar, he said, anticipating a positive outcome to renew the political legitimacy of an instrument crucial for international peace and security.  “The old diplomatic qualities of good faith and pragmatism will be essential to the achievement of this outcome.”  The NPT belonged to all States.  The crux of the problem was the need to reconcile support for earlier results and to review the 13 practical steps.  It was also essential for the Review Conference to provide significant space for civil society, as the efforts of some of those organizations had set an example.  “The beneficiaries of everything we do in this room are flesh and blood people, our fellow men and women, our brothers and sisters and our compatriots, who hope for and deserve much more and much better from the United Nations,”  he said.


Speaking on behalf of the group of lead sponsors of the draft resolution on decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, he said that a lowered level of nuclear weapons readiness was an integral step that demonstrated a move forward in the disarmament and non-proliferation strategy.  However, the lead sponsors decided not to present the resolution during the present Assembly session; the way forward was through the existing review conferences.  The draft’s sponsors had decided not to present the draft resolution this year as a demonstration of their commitment to cooperate constructively on that important issue and to work to achieve the best possible outcome at the coming NPT Review Conference.  Instead, the lead sponsors intended to present the resolution at the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly.


Speaking as the focal points of the nuclear-weapon-free zones, he said they had received a mandate from the 2005 Mexico Conference, establishing the basis for coordination and cooperation between those zones.  In that context, the convening of a second conference on nuclear-weapon-free zones next year at the United Nations, immediately before the NPT Review Conference, would be a timely event.  New regions had joined such zones, namely Central Asia and Africa, and States parties and members of the zones all believed that the United Nations was the appropriate forum at which to hold such a conference.  The zones were an important tool to prevent proliferation and to create a climate of confidence.  The zones were an example of the added value of a regional dimension to disarmament and non‑proliferation efforts.   Chile, on behalf of the nuclear-weapon-free zones, would be presenting a draft resolution on that issue.


KANG YONG ( China) said that Chinese President Hu Jintao had elaborated China’s position on nuclear disarmament in a comprehensive and systematic way.  That position included maintaining global strategic balance and stability and vigorously advancing nuclear disarmament.  All nuclear-weapon States should fulfil in good faith their obligations under article VI of the NPT and publicly undertake not to seek permanent possession of nuclear weapons.  Countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should continue to take the lead in making drastic and substantive reductions in their arsenals.  The CTBT should be brought into force at an early date and negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty should start as soon as possible.   China’s position also included abandoning a nuclear‑deterrence policy based on first use of nuclear weapons and taking credible steps to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons.  All nuclear-weapon States should make an unequivocal commitment of unconditionally not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones, and conclude legally binding international instruments in that regard.  In the meantime, nuclear-weapon States should negotiate and conclude a treaty on no first-use of nuclear weapons against one another.


He said that China had consistently stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and had made unremitting efforts towards that goal.  It was firmly committed to a nuclear strategy of self-defence.  It had adhered to the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstance and had made the unequivocal commitment that it would unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones.   China did not participate in any form of a nuclear‑arms race and had kept its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security.  The country would continue to work with the international community to advance the international nuclear-disarmament process, with the aim of making a due contribution to the early realization of the goal of a complete ban through destruction of nuclear weapons for a nuclear-weapon-free world.


DELL HIGGIE ( New Zealand) welcomed the reiteration in resolution 1887 (2009) of article VI of the NPT -– the obligation to pursue negotiations on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament.  Those effective measures were not just about the numbers, although quantitative reductions were of course an important element.  They must also include practical and transparent steps that collectively lessened the role of nuclear weapons in national-security strategies.  The operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems was an important element of nuclear doctrines.  The “de-alerting group”, of which her country was a part, had decided not to present its resolution on that matter this year, in recognition of the very positive momentum that existed currently and the genuine willingness of many States to explore concrete steps to achieve the “Prague vision”.  That decision was intended to allow space for various review processes under way to reach a positive outcome.


The CTBT had a vital place in today’s multilateral framework for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, with a strong contribution to make to global security, she said, adding that its entry into force would be a major step towards a world free of nuclear weapons.


She then introduced a resolution on a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere, put forward jointly with Brazil, saying that it had been adopted by an overwhelming majority in past years.  The two countries looked forward to an even stronger outcome this year. 


She welcomed the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).  The entire network of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties, which spanned the southern hemisphere, was now in force.  Those zones were a powerful demonstration of the strong collective will that existed at the regional level to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones contributed strongly to both nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation objectives.  New Zealand looked forward to further progress towards the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in other regions, especially the Middle East.


LISETH ANCIDEY ( Venezuela) said since the dawn of the nuclear era, the world had lived with the nuclear-weapon threat.  The scope and destructive nature of nuclear weapons were immeasurable, 64 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The world was experiencing a new series of threats and challenges, where rapid modernization played out and the reality that non-State actors and terrorists sought to acquire nuclear weapons.  The only guarantee in real terms would be the full elimination of those weapons.  Nuclear-weapon States should eliminate their arsenals.  The fifth NPT Review Conference had emphasized that countries should work closely on disarmament, but some of those efforts had been stymied by a lack of political will.


She welcomed the Conference on Disarmament’s agreement on a work programme, and highlighted the importance of negotiations between the Russian Federation and the United States.  The Security Council had also considered nuclear disarmament at a recent summit, however, it adopted a resolution that focused mostly on non‑proliferation.  She was concerned that the Security Council was stepping into the arena that was the domain of the IAEA.  The NPT Review Conference next year should focus on the treaty’s three pillars, including the inalienable right of States to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  The granting of negative security guarantees to non-nuclear-weapon States would be an important step.  The CTBT was also an essential part of the disarmament and non‑proliferation regime.  She stressed the contribution of the nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, adding that Venezuela supported the coming conference on the zones and supported the proposal to establish one in the Middle East.


QUINONES SANCHEZ ( Cuba) said that there were 23,000 nuclear warheads, with more than 8,000 set to be used immediately.  Nuclear disarmament was and should continue to be the highest priority in disarmament.  While some States used deterrence as a rationalization for possessing nuclear weapons, the use of nuclear weapons was a flagrant violation of international standards.  It was of grave concern that not all States with nuclear weapons were prepared to commit to the NPT and to fully eliminate their arsenals.  Countries should comply with those obligations in good faith.


He hoped the statements made at the Security Council summit would not just have an impact in the media, but would be used to reach the goal of disarmament.  It was unfortunate that Security Council resolution 1887 (2009) stressed almost exclusively non-proliferation issues.  The IAEA was the only authority to verify Member States’ compliance with their respective agreements.  He rejected the selective focus and double standards.  He was also concerned about the danger of terrorism.  A complete prohibition of nuclear weapons would be the only assurance that those weapons would not fall into the hands of terrorists.  However, States parties to the NPT had the right to pursue nuclear-technology development for peaceful purposes.


Besides being a State party to the NPT, Cuba supported General Assembly resolutions, including on banning the use of nuclear weapons.  The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones was a positive step.  It was essential for nuclear‑weapon States to guarantee to non-nuclear States that they would not use or threaten to use those weapons.  The enormous funds used to maintain nuclear weapons could be diverted and used to create a better world, free of nuclear arms.


JONATHAN TAN ( Canada) said that his country actively promoted the enhancement of the institutional processes of the NPT. In that respect, it had tabled a working paper entitled “Strengthening the Review Process of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons”.  What it was proposing was three-fold:  to establish annual and more focused meetings, which could discuss and take decisions on any issue covered by the Treaty; to create a standing bureau empowered to convene extraordinary decision-making sessions to address events that threatened the integrity and viability of the NPT; and to create a dedicated NPT support unit housed within the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.  Those three cost-neutral proposals would help the international community to better advance the NPT’s mandate.  Canada looked forward to further discussing them.


He said that the international non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament regime had witnessed important successes in the past few years.  Closely interrelated to those developments was progress on the CTBT.  Gaining the remaining ratifications to permit that Treaty to enter into force was a key step to strengthening the NPT.  However, maintaining optimism was not always easy.  Momentum in some regions within multilateral forums and international treaties had stalled.  Iran remained in non-compliance with its international obligations, while refusing to extend full cooperation to the IAEA.  Canada strongly supported efforts to find a negotiated settlement, which might include reversible Security Council sanctions, as long as Iran remained in non-compliance with its international obligations.  In May, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had conducted its second nuclear test explosion in defiance of Security Council resolutions and norms espoused by all CTBT signatories against further nuclear-weapons testing.  Canada joined the worldwide denunciations of that act.  Canada’s ultimate aim was to see the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea resume its adherence to the NPT, fully comply with the IAEA comprehensive nuclear‑safeguards agreement, and resume its participation in the six-party talks.


IM HAN-TAEK ( Republic of Korea) said that his country believed that the NPT had served as a cornerstone for the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  Its firm position was that the treaty’s central role should be reinforced, while maintaining a delicate balance among its three pillars.  In that regard, the 2010 Review Conference offered an indispensable chance to overcome the pending challenges and to reinforce the NPT regime.  As the last session of the Preparatory Committee in May, agreement had been reached on a substantive agenda and timeframe, thereby laying the foundation for a successful outcome of the Review Conference.  He stressed the shared responsibility to maintain the momentum, leading to the Conference and achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world.


Affirming his country’s conviction towards the latter goal, he called on nuclear-weapon-States to do their part and urged non-nuclear-weapon States to maintain their commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.  The entry into force of the CTBT was a pressing task, awaiting decisive action.  The Republic of Korea called on those States that had not yet ratified it, in particular, the remaining “annex II” States, to do so immediately.  The nuclear-weapon-States should also maintain a moratorium on nuclear testing until that Treaty’s entry into force.


The “nuclear renaissance” was becoming an irreversible trend, he said, urging the international community to develop ways and means to tackle the risks that entailed and to strengthen international cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Given that the threat of nuclear terrorism was the most extreme to global security, his country joined the effort to enhance nuclear safety and security through international cooperation.  It hoped that the nuclear security summit, to be held in April 2010, would be an occasion to mobilize the will of global leaders to tackle the threat of nuclear terrorism and the non-proliferation of nuclear materials.


He said that the peaceful resolution of the “DPRK nuclear issue” remained vital to securing peace and security in the Northeast Asia, as well as sustaining the integrity of the global non-proliferation regime.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear development should not and would not be tolerated.  His country appreciated the unified and strong response of the international community to that country’s second nuclear test on 25 May, through the adoption of Security Council resolution 1874 (2009).


SIHAM MOURABIT ( Morocco) said that eliminating nuclear weapons was the end goal.  The vulnerability of installations and sensitive sites should be addressed at the next conference on nuclear security.  A new interest in disarmament and non-proliferation existed now.  The United States-Russian Federation negotiations were an impetus for that interest, and she hoped bilateral steps and unilateral declarations would pave the way for an international conference to find the ways and means to achieve complete disarmament.


She said that the world today was at a threshold.  She hoped the NPT Review Conference would see further advances in general and complete disarmament.  Article VI of the Treaty pertained to the cessation of the nuclear-arms race, among other things, and the NPT could in no way be used as a way for nuclear‑weapon States to maintain their arsenals.  Morocco believed that the universal ideal hinged on the return to multilateralism and the strengthening of instruments, under United Nations auspices.  The objective of nuclear disarmament could only be achieved if there was a complete recognition of the link between disarmament and non-proliferation. 


Israel should open its nuclear facilities to the IAEA, and a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone should be established in the Middle East, she urged.  The CTBT’s entry into force was another forward step.  Negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty at next year’s Conference on Disarmament would be a new stone in building the foundation of disarmament.


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For information media • not an official record