12 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3412

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

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

First Committee

8th Meeting (PM)


Treaty Banning Only Future Production of Fissile Material Will Freeze Asymmetries

 

in Stockpiles, Be Injurious to Pakistan’s National Security, First Committee Told

 


Growing Imbalance in Military Capabilities Increased Insecurity, While Pursuit

Of ‘Great Power Politics’ Destabilized Tenuous Regional Balance, Delegate Says


A growing asymmetry in military capabilities between major Powers and medium and small States had further increased insecurity among States, and in crucial regions, the pursuit of “great power politics” had destabilized tenuous regional balance, Pakistan’s representative told the Disarmament Committee today.


He asserted, as the Committee’s general debate came to a close, that some States had been denied the right to peaceful nuclear cooperation, while others were helped in promoting unsafeguarded nuclear programmes and building and upgrading strategic weapon systems, including anti-ballistic ones, thereby accelerating vertical nuclear proliferation.


Further, he said, since the fissile material cut-off treaty had been introduced into the agenda of the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament in 1994, Pakistan had called attention to the fact that a treaty to cut off future production of fissile material would freeze the existing asymmetries in fissile material stockpiles.  That would be detrimental for its national security.  Accordingly, Pakistan had been advocating a treaty that not only banned future production, but also aimed at reducing existing stockpiles of fissile material. 


Clearly, he said, it was not through choice, but necessity, that Pakistan was opposed to negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  The responsibility for that lay with those countries that had, for their own interests, brought about a qualitative change in the strategic environment in Pakistan’s region by entering into discriminatory nuclear cooperation agreements and, in that process, had drastically undermined the international non-proliferation and disarmament framework.


He pointed out that the current hiatus in the Conference on Disarmament was not unprecedented. That body had not undertaken negotiations for any multilateral instrument since it last concluded the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1995.  Yet, it was only now, after more than a decade, that certain countries had questioned its relevance, seeking ways to revitalize its functioning and even proposing to seek alternative venues.  By undermining it in that way, those countries would open the Conference up to the possibilities of negotiating other of its agenda items in alternative venues as well.


Tunisia’s representative said the Conference on Disarmament needed to overcome this period of sluggishness.  In addition, a new push should aim for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  While this year was rich in multilateral milestones, the impetus must be maintained.  Commitments to existing frameworks needed to be honoured and bolstered, and flexibility and transcending differences were needed, alongside trust and confidence, to truly strengthen the multilateral forums.  Zones free of weapons of mass destruction were among the forward-reaching efforts, and he endorsed the quest to establish one in the “problematic region” of the Middle East.


The representative of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations said he regretted that the Middle East had yet to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone; Israel had neither joined nor stated its intention to join the NPT.  Israel had clearly and repeatedly stated that it was a nuclear-weapon State, he said.  It was vital to push for the implementation of the “package deal” on the indefinite extension of the NPT, in particular, the resolution on the Middle East.  “Anything else will prove devastating and could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region,” he said.  “We are certain this is a possibility no one wants to face.”


“Humanity is not powerless in the face of the harmful effects of the technologies it creates,” asserted the representative for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  Recent successes, he said, “can inspire and guide us together in pursuing the objective of a world without nuclear weapons and with standards for the responsible transfer of conventional arms”.  He pointed to the Mine-Ban Convention as an example of an instrument that had already achieved much, particularly the elimination of 42 million mines and vast tracks of cleared land in its 11 years in force.


Also speaking in the general debate were the representatives of Denmark, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Nicaragua.


A statement was also made by the representative of the Inter-Parliamentarian Union.


The representatives of the Russian Federation and Georgia spoke in exercise of the right of reply.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 13 October, to begin its thematic debate.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon 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, please see Press Release GA/DIS/3406.)


ZAMIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that a multitude of disputes and conflicts had festered, expanding in their deadly scope and intensity, providing the crucible for extremism and terrorism and involving a wide spectrum of State and non-State actors.  That grim situation undermined the efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  Instead of nuclear disarmament, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons had become the only goal, and even that goal was pursued selectively.  Some States had been denied the right to peaceful nuclear cooperation, while others were helped in promoting un-safeguarded nuclear programmes and building and upgrading strategic weapon systems, including anti-ballistic ones, thereby accelerating vertical nuclear proliferation.


He said that a growing asymmetry in military capabilities between major Powers and medium and small States had further increased insecurity among States.  In crucial regions, the pursuit of “great power politics” had destabilised tenuous regional balance.  Attempts to forge a new consensus on arms control and disarmament required the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.  That alone could ensure genuine and complete ownership of the outcome by all States.  In discussing that issue, his country had been puzzled when some powerful nations argued that such a session had been overtaken by events, yet they opposed its convening.


Pakistan was also dismayed by arguments from some States that the United Nations disarmament machinery, in particular the Conference on Disarmament, had become dysfunctional, owing to its rule of procedure, he said.  In reality, the decade-old stalemate in that Conference and the overall international disarmament machinery had nothing to do with rules of procedure; it was the lack of political will on the part of some major Powers to pursue disarmament negotiations on the basis of equal security of all States, as accepted in the first special session devoted to disarmament.  The United Nations disarmament machinery and the Conference on Disarmament, in particular, were not handmaiden to the whims of the major Powers or a device to confer legitimacy on their pursuit of discriminatory policies.


The current hiatus in the Conference on Disarmament was not unprecedented, he went on.  That body had not undertaken negotiations for any multilateral instrument since it last concluded the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1995.  Yet, it was only now, after more than a decade, that certain countries had questioned its relevance, seeking ways to revitalize its functioning and even proposing to seek alternative venues.  By undermining it to pursue negotiations elsewhere on one issue on its agenda, those countries would open the Conference up to the possibilities of negotiating other of its agenda items in alternative venues as well.


Since the fissile material cut-off treaty had been introduced into the agenda of the Conference in 1994, Pakistan had called attention to the fact that a treaty to cut off future production of fissile material would freeze the existing asymmetries in fissile material stockpiles, which would be detrimental for its national security.  Accordingly, his country had been advocating a treaty that not only banned future production, but also aimed at reducing existing stockpiles of fissile material.  Clearly, it was not through choice, but necessity, that Pakistan was opposed to negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  The responsibility for that lay with those countries that had, for their own interests, brought about a qualitative change in the strategic environment in Pakistan’s region by entering into discriminatory nuclear cooperation agreements and, in that process, had drastically undermined the international non-proliferation and disarmament framework.


GHAZI JOMAA (Tunisia) said that despite progress in disarmament, it was important to note the current sluggishness and the need to push forward to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament and the entry into force of the CTBT.  This year was rich in multilateral milestones, but the impetus must be maintained.  Commitments to existing frameworks should be honoured and bolstered.  Flexibility and transcending differences were needed, and trust and confidence should be strengthened within multilateral forums.


He said that zones free of weapons of mass destruction were among forward-reaching efforts.  The Middle East was a problematic region, with appeals from States in the region to establish such a zone.  Tunisia endorsed the outcome of the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), particularly the agreement to convene a conference in 2012 to address that issue.


The installation of two international monitoring system stations in Tunisia were among part of his country’s commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, he said.  In addition, Tunisia supported the instruments covering landmines, chemical weapons and the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.


THEIS TRUELSEN, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control of Denmark, said fruitful meetings and advances were a good start in a new era.  Areas where momentum was needed included the Conference on Disarmament, and he pointed to the importance of last month’s high-level meeting to revitalize that body.  If members of the Conference did not start to discuss the issues, it would be impossible to determine if the roadblock in negotiations was indeed caused by a lack of political will.  Denmark supported the statement made last week in the Committee by the Ambassador of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, which had dealt with all the specifics and important issues.


ARCHIL GHEGHECHKORI (Georgia) said that the NPT remained the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  Georgia, therefore, welcomed the adoption of the final document of its last review.  The CTBT was another vital instrument for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and every effort should be made to ensure that it entered into force as soon as possible.  There were grounds for optimism.  On the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention), Georgia stood ready to cooperate fully in order to support its Review Conference.  The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemicals Weapons Convention) also had an essential role to play.  In that regard, Georgia supported the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and was ready to contribute to achieve the treaty’s goals.


He said the Conference on Disarmament should regain its credibility by resuming its negotiating role as soon as possible. Georgia commended the high-level meeting convened by the Secretary and supported the Chief’s call for action.  The illicit manufacture and trafficking in small arms and light weapons was another challenge, and Georgia planned to play its role and would support the implementation of the United Nations of Programme of Action on those weapons. He had also expressed full support for the Arms Trade Treaty, which he described as an essential instrument for the non-proliferation of conventional arms.  Such an instrument could be effective in instituting controls on legal arms trade.


He said that preventing the risk of nuclear terrorism was one of the main priorities of his country.  There had been attempts to smuggle weapons through Georgia.  Those attempts had taken place in areas where there had been international monitoring.  In areas, such as Abkhazia, which were under occupation, such monitoring was not possible.  That situation created the risk that weapons could be transferred there.


ALEXANDRU CUJBA (Republic of Moldova) said increased multilateral efforts were encouraging examples of cooperation among Member States.  He supported the Secretary-General’s call to invigorate multilateral discussions in this Committee, as well as to revive and strengthen the Conference on Disarmament.  The NPT was the most important multilateral instrument for the promotion of nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear proliferation, while sustaining the peaceful use of nuclear energy; it required comprehensive implementation.


He said that nuclear-weapon-free zones also facilitated the maintenance of peace and security, at the global and regional levels.  Moldova was satisfied with the progress achieved at the last NPT Review Conference and endorsed convening in 2012 a conference to address the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.  The Test-Ban Treaty was also another indispensable part of the regime, and its early entry into force should be a top priority for all States parties.  Early commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty was another critical step towards the fulfilment of the obligations and final objectives enshrined in article VI of the NPT.  To achieve genuine security at the international, regional and national levels, progress in disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons should be complemented by control and reductions of conventions arms.


For almost two decades, Moldova had aimed to reduce and eliminate the huge amounts of weapons and ammunitions accumulated on its territory, he said.  Bilateral and multilateral partners had helped, but regretfully, due to the secessionist regime in the eastern part of the country, Moldova could not ensure the efficient control of those obsolete stockpiles and, consequently, of the flow of dual-use goods and materials that entered or transited the Transnistrian region of Moldova.  He called for an international fact-finding mission to get a clear picture of the stockpiled weapons and ammunition, and for a resumption of their withdrawal and destruction.


He said his country also supported initiatives and actions to prevent illicit arms trafficking and pled for the continuation of negotiations on an arms trade treaty, in the form of a legally binding instrument to establish the highest common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons.  Moldova also sought the full implementation and universalization of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention).


JASSER JIMENEZ (Nicaragua) advocated the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  His country welcomed the initiative by Brazil and Turkey in the case of Iran.  It also called on the nuclear-weapon States to comply with the responsibilities they had undertaken in 2000 for the complete elimination of their nuclear weapons.  Nicaragua opposed any form of nuclear weapons testing.  He highlighted the importance of the work of the Conference on Disarmament, adding his voice to the belief that non-nuclear-weapon States should receive effective negative security assurances — in a universal, legally binding agreement from the nuclear-weapon States — against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.


He applauded the United States and the Russian Federation on their progress, saying it was important that the two countries respect the principle of transparency in the new accord’s implementation.  The creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was the only way to avoid a nuclear catastrophe, and every effort should be made to support their creation, including in the Middle East.  The inalienable right of developing countries to the peaceful use nuclear energy should also be respected.  On the Mine-Ban Treaty, he stated that Nicaragua, today, was mine-free, and he called on States that were responsible for placing mines to cooperate with the other countries to help them to eliminate them.


AMMAR HIJAZI, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, said disarmament efforts must be done in a manner that upheld the principles of international humanitarian law, particularly the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols.  Any serious disarmament efforts must be comprehensive and in line with relevant legal instruments.  Efforts outside that context would be counterproductive and would allow States to violate the rules of war while illicitly stockpiling weapons of mass destruction to escape accountability and cling to intransigence in the face of international will.


He said that combating and preventing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons needed the international community’s attention.  Member States should also afford due attention to official State arming and forming of militias residing unlawfully in an occupied land.  Such State-sanctioned militias fed conflicts and perpetuated human rights violations.  The continued illegal Israeli settlers’ violence against the Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was a clear example of that situation, and he was gravely concerned about reported plans by Israel to further relax the lenient regulations on the acquisition and bearing of arms by Israeli settlers.


States should also address the effects of certain conventional weapons, including cluster munitions, anti-personnel landmines, flechette missiles, the so-called dense inert metal explosive (DIME) munitions and ammunition-containing depleted uranium.  Attention should also be focused on the illegal use of weapons that were not proscribed as illegal under international law, such as white phosphorous.  The recent report of the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict, known as the Goldstone Report, had documented Israel’s use of such weapons against civilians.  South Lebanon was another example, with the civilian population subjected to Israeli cluster munitions.  States responsible for laying mines and similar weapons outside their territories must bear the full responsibility to clear them.


He regretted that the Middle East had yet to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone; Israel had neither joined nor stated its intention to join the NPT.  Israel had clearly and repeatedly stated that it was a nuclear-weapon State, he said.  It was vital to push for the implementation of the “package deal” on the indefinite extension of the NPT, in particular, the resolution on the Middle East.  “Anything else will prove devastating and could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region,” he said.  “We are certain this is a possibility no one wants to face.”


The 13 practical steps, adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, must be respected, and he called on Member States to ensure the success of those pledges.  Failure to do so would only further undermine the single most important multilateral nuclear arms control agreement and, with that, the efforts of the international community exerted over the past 41 years.


Human rights violations, impunity, foreign occupation, underdevelopment and poverty induced violence, extremism and hopelessness, providing fertile ground for a host of illicit trades, which this Committee must address responsibly.  “It is our responsibility to endorse the reality that deadly conflicts and illicit arms trade will continue so long as the root causes of conflicts continue unresolved.”


ANDA FILIP, representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), said that parliaments had a significant role to play in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  More parliaments were now exercising a more thorough examination and oversight of national policies in the areas of defence, security and disarmament.  Moreover, there was growing recognition of the fact that, in order to build the political will and commitment needed to advance nuclear disarmament, it was crucial to engage with legislators and to integrate their perspectives into national and international processes.  Parliamentarians were keeping up with that challenge.  One tool that was serving them well was the IPU political resolution, adopted by consensus in April 2009, on advancing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and securing the early entry into force of the CTBT.  That resolution  included some practical recommendations on what parliamentarians could do to ensure universal ratification of that Treaty, promote the Secretary-General’s five-point plan for nuclear disarmament and support a number of concurrent steps such as reduction in stockpiles, establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and the start-up of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.


ROBERT YOUNG, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the recognition of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and, on the flip side, the commitments made to eliminate those bombs had profound implications.  Those pledges must now be translated into a wide range of actions that would progressively end the role of nuclear weapons in State security.  A negotiating process should begin, based, not only on military doctrines and power politics, but on the consequences of the use of those weapons and the fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.


He said that ICRC had consistently appealed for stricter national and international control over access to all types of conventional weapons and ammunition.  Civilian most often were the victims of those weapons, and ICRC was mandated to protect and assist those affected by armed conflict.  However, challenges to that were overwhelming when access to arms was unrestrained.  An effective arms trade treaty should be broad in scope, covering all conventional weapons and ammunition, among other things.  He urged States to ensure that work in the two preparatory committee sessions in 2011 resulted in a strong and comprehensive draft for finalization at the diplomatic conference in 2012.


Regarding the Convention on Cluster Munitions, he urged States parties to attend their upcoming meeting with concrete commitments to increase clearance and provide victim assistance.  He also urged all States party to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects(Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons) to ensure that any protocol on those weapons developed within that instrument’s framework effectively address the humanitarian consequences.


He noted that the Mine-Ban Convention had the strongest implementation mechanism and an impressive record of achievements in the 11 years since its entry into force, including the destruction of over 42 million landmines and the clearance of vast areas.  ICRC urged all States parties to that treaty to continue to invest the time and resources needed to ensure that that unique convention delivered on its promises to victims and spared future generations the scourge of those insidious weapons.


“Humanity is not powerless in the face of the harmful effects of the technologies it creates,” he said.  “These recent successes can inspire and guide us together in pursuing the objective of a world without nuclear weapons and with standards for the responsible transfer of conventional arms.”


Rights of Reply


The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the representative of Georgia had complained about violations of the United Nations Charter, but that violation had been committed by Georgia, which had attacked Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  History had shown that aggressors always bore the responsibility for their actions.  The situation in question had been the result of Georgian aggressions.  On 14 October, discussion would open in Geneva on the Caucasus and any issues linked to the situation referred to could be taken up there.


The representative of Georgia, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that it was a positive development that the representative of the Russian Federation was “giving indirect recognition” to what the Georgian delegation had said earlier.  That statement had focused on the security problems that Georgia was facing.  Whoever felt responsible for those problems had just responded.  The situation that had arisen in 2008 had been an aggression, but that aggression had been by the Russian Federation against Georgia.  He did not want to go into bilateral polemics, as the place for that was at the meeting in Geneva, not in the First Committee.


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For information media • not an official record