|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
2011 Substantive Session
312th & 313th Meetings (AM & PM)
Bilateral Disarmament Progress, Right to Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy
among Issues Highlighted, As Disarmament Commission Concludes Debate
Several Speakers Express Deep Concern over Disarmament Machinery Impasse;
Chair Encourages Delegations in Negotiations to ‘Focus on What Unites Us All’
Concrete action towards the goal of complete nuclear disarmament, while guaranteeing the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, was urgently needed — both to ensure a safer world and to prove the value of the “struggling” Disarmament Commission, whose reputation had been tarnished by years of inaction, delegates said today, as they wrapped up the general debate of its 2011 substantive session.
The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals bore a “special responsibility” for progress on complete disarmament, said India’s representative, echoing a sentiment common among many of today’s speakers. The Russian Federation and the United States still held more than 90 per cent of the nuclear weapons in the world, he said, and while the 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty between those nations was a step in the right direction, more remained to be done.
For its part, India had made considerable efforts toward breaking the deadlock that had long plagued the United Nations disarmament machinery, he said, adding that those efforts had met with limited success. Moreover, India’s support for “complete and verifiable” nuclear disarmament had been frequently demonstrated, including through relevant resolutions presented to the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and through a 1988 Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free and Non-Violent World Order, presented to the Third Special Session of the United Nations on Disarmament.
That Action Plan had postulated a nuclear-weapon-free world in stages by 2010, said the delegate, a deadline that had regrettably not been met. “The end of the cold war had kept alive the hope that that goal could be, but it was not to be,” he added.
On that point, the representative of the Russian Federation said that, while not necessarily imminent, much progress had been made toward the “long-term goal” of complete nuclear disarmament. His country had taken a number of “historic steps”, including the successful implementation of the 1991 START Treaty, the 2002 Treaty on Strategy Offensive Reductions between the Russian Federation and the United States, and the new and much-lauded START Treaty of 2010.
“We expect that the principles of equality, parity and indivisible security of Parties that form the basis of the Treaty will become a new gold standard to all future agreements on disarmament and arms control, both bilateral and multilateral,” he said, referring to that recent agreement.
Among other prominent themes of today’s debate was a passionate defence of the rights of all States to use nuclear energy for safe, peaceful purposes. The representative of Nepal, for one, noted the urgent need — felt disproportionately by developing countries — to preserve natural resources and limit global spending on “devastating armaments”.
“The relationship between disarmament and development is complex but undeniable,” he said, adding that security itself remained elusive in a volatile world, where multiple crises afflicted the poor and vulnerable most.
The representative of Cuba agreed, emphasizing that resources spent on arms could instead be used to alleviate the suffering of countless people around the world. He pointed to the longstanding expansion of global military expenditures — which had reached an astronomical $1.5 trillion and half of that by one country — and noted that that those funds could instead be used to fight the extreme poverty that affected an estimated 1.4 billion people, feed 1 billion hungry people, prevent 11 million child deaths, and achieve other important development goals.
Like Nepal and other Non-Aligned Movement States, the Cuban representative said that he supported the “inalienable” right of all nations to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. However, Cuba felt that the “political manipulation” of non-proliferation, based on the “double standards” of major Powers, must stop.
He further noted that an estimated 23,000 nuclear weapons still existed on the planet, despite actions taken by nuclear-weapon States. “The only guarantee that nuclear weapons will not be used is their complete elimination and prohibition,” he stressed. To that end, Cuba, alongside the other Non-Aligned Movement States, had undertaken efforts to include in the Plan of Action adopted by the Conference on Disarmament a calendar with a deadline of 2025 to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons, but regretted that it had not been adopted.
Egypt’s delegate said he was increasingly concerned at the “stagnation” in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation at the international and regional levels. The efforts of the five nuclear-weapon States in the multilateral context remained extremely limited, especially when compared to their commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
In that vein, he continued, the Commission’s Working Group I on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation must strengthen the Plan of Action adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. It must issue recommendations aimed at protecting the credibility of the international non-proliferation regime from “erosion” created by nuclear-weapon States that did not implement their obligations.
The representative of Switzerland also highlighted its deep concerns about the longstanding impasse in the international disarmament machinery, which it said brought into question the Commission’s “value added” to the General Assembly. The Commission had been unable to submit a recommendation to the Assembly for more than 11 years, in part because some players were focused primarily on their own national security interests. “This kind of narrow approach is clearly inappropriate,” said the delegate, urging that “fresh impulses” be generated to redress the gap between the severity of the problems and the lack of progress.
The representative of Norway agreed, noting that the Commission was indeed “struggling” and questioning whether its current structure of three-year cycles, two broad topics and consensual reports was the best way to make use of it. While Norway would work to reach consensus this year, he added, “frankly, we are not very optimistic about the prospects.”
Despite those deep concerns, some words of hope were offered by the Hamid al-Bayati, the Chair of the Commission, as he spoke at the close of the debate. “We need to see the bigger picture and focus on what unites us all, rather than what divides us,” he said, appealing to all delegations to concentrate on those elements which commanded consensus.
“I do not think we should invent anything new here,” said Mr. al-Bayati, referring to the Commission’s working methods. Listing, in that respect, several organizational recommendations adopted by the Commission in 2006 — which had yet to be implemented — he said that he believed the Commission did in fact have sufficient procedural tools and methods at its disposal to improve the efficiency of its work.
“What we need at this stage is to demonstrate political will and use effectively the tools that are already in place,” he concluded.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia, France, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Philippines, Iran, Ecuador, Venezuela, Iraq, United Kingdom, Nigeria and Viet Nam.
The Disarmament Commission will reconvene in plenary at 10 a.m. Thursday, 21 April to continue and conclude its 2011 substantive session.
The Disarmament Commission met today to continue the general debate of its 2011 substantive session. The three-week session, which will run until 22 April, features three agenda items: recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade; and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.
MOHAMED REFAAT FARGHAL (Egypt), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite positive developments, challenges to regional and international security persisted, the most serious of which involved States that either evaded their obligations or implementation of them under “false pretences”. Egypt was increasingly concerned at the stagnation in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation at the international and regional levels. Efforts of the five nuclear-weapon States in the multilateral context remained extremely limited, especially when compared to their commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
Further, no progress had been made in the practical implementation of the Plan of Action on the Middle East, adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, he said, notably on mandating the Secretary-General and the three depositary States — in consultations with regional States — to convene a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the region. He also expressed concern that neither a facilitator nor a venue had been chosen and called for immediately completing those procedural measures. Egypt looked forward to participating in all three Working Groups.
In that context, he stressed the need for Working Group I to work towards an outcome that promoted implementation of General Assembly resolutions on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free zones, notably resolutions 65/42 and 65/88. The Commission must strengthen the plan of action adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and issue recommendations aimed at protecting the credibility of the international non-proliferation regime from “erosion” created by nuclear-weapon States that did not implement their obligations. Strengthening the international disarmament agenda also required revitalizing the Conference of Disarmament in a manner allowing for the launch of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention to totally ban those arms, and set 2025 as the appropriate timeframe.
As for elements to include in the Fourth Disarmament Decade, he underlined the importance of convening the Fourth special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament. Regarding confidence-building measures, he urged focusing on the centrality of existing structures in the United Nations framework, notably as represented by the United Nations Programme of Action to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons as a politically-binding instrument. Any discussion of conventional weapons also must recognize the relevant principles of the United Nations Charter, especially the right of States to manufacture, import and retain conventional arms for legitimate self-defence.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA ( Nepal), aligning his statement with that delivered by Indonesia yesterday on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed his delegation’s satisfaction that the current substantive session had taken up three important agenda items. “Our collective call is to spare precious yet limited resources for the well-being of humankind, instead of producing and procuring devastating armaments,” he said, adding that “the relationship between disarmament and development is complex but undeniable.” Security remained elusive in a volatile world, where multiple crises disproportionately affected the poor and vulnerable. Even after the extension of the NPT regime in 1995, the world had not yet witnessed significant actions toward nuclear disarmament. Nepal believed that the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free zones by various treaties helped to promote regional non-proliferation. It reiterated its support for the Secretary-General’s five-point plan for nuclear disarmament and called for the implementation of the 13-Point practical steps.
He further called for the elimination of chemical, biological and bacteriological weapons in order to achieve the goal of eliminating all weapons of mass destruction, and emphasized that the effective implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons would help to curb the “devastating effects” of those weapons on many developing countries, and particularly on conflict-ridden countries. Also, he emphasized the importance of the immediate revival of the Conference on Disarmament as a multilateral negotiations forum, and said that States needed to work harder to start negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. In that respect he called for the convening of the General Assembly’s fourth special session in disarmament to “help unblock the deadlock” in disarmament machinery and processes in a comprehensive way.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia), associating his statement with the Non-Aligned Movement, said international expectations for advancing the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda were high. Given that, he hoped that, just as in 1999, when the Commission achieved consensus on guidelines for establishing nuclear-weapons-free zones and conventional arms control, it would again bring political capital to bear on the current session. Although the Working Group dedicated to the declaration of the 2010s as the Fourth Disarmament Decade could not conclude its work last year, he encouraged all States to expand on the common points forged.
There had been various positive developments in the area of global nuclear disarmament, including the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) between the United States and Russian Federation, which must be used as building blocks to enhance support for realizing nuclear disarmament.
In that regard, the importance of dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation could not be over emphasized, he said. Indonesia viewed the Commission’s role as important in facilitating an exchange of views, given the optimistic international movements in the disarmament field, and in building consensus on the issues on its agenda. As the only disarmament body with universal membership, it must be central to international efforts. To tackle the disarmament and non-proliferation challenges ahead, “it is crucial that we all work together to materialize our respective undertakings,” he said.
SERGE BAVAUD ( Switzerland) said the arms control and disarmament processes had long played a crucial role in maintaining international peace and security. But, the fact that multilateral disarmament bodies had been blocked for far too long was a matter of concern. The consequences were already being felt and would only grow more acute in the coming years. Indeed, the existing bodies did not appear able to find answers to their challenges, in part because some players were focused primarily on their own national security interests. “This kind of narrow approach is clearly inappropriate,” he said, urging that “fresh impulses” be generated to redress the gap between the severity of the problems and the lack of progress.
He said that the Commission’s main objective was to reinforce or create rules relating to disarmament by submitting recommendations to the General Assembly, but it had not been able to do that for more than eleven years. Given that, its value added must be reassessed and potential measures to remedy the situation must be more closely examined. One option would be for the Commission to serve as an “inter-sessional reunion” to the Assembly’s annual session. Another idea would be to allow the Commission President to submit a report to the Assembly in his own name.
Moving on, he said steps should also be taken to render the Conference on Disarmament functional, adding that Switzerland was ready to participate in talks on all the main agenda items. The events that took place at the start of this year strengthened his Government’s belief that the procedures governing that forum contributed to its inability to act. They were developed during the cold war and no longer appropriate. Even if there was a common political will to advance, any movement was being thwarted by highly restrictive rules of procedure. Security considerations were taking precedence over considerations of a global nature.
Welcoming efforts to end the deadlock hampering disarmament mechanisms, he said the Secretary-General’s high-level session on 24 September 2010 was a first step in that direction. The next stage should include a debate at the expert level within the scope of the Assembly before the end of the sixty-fifth session, to evaluate progress made since last year. Those debates should be incorporated into the activities of the sixty-sixth session and he expressed hope that the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters would substantially contribute to that process.
HAMID ALI RAO ( India), associating his statement with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Commission could play a central role in developing consensus on disarmament issues facing the international community. In past years, the Commission had had an extensive exchange of views in the area of “recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”, but it had not been possible to arrive at a consensus. Nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority for India and the Non-Aligned Movement. India had been consistent in its support for global, complete and verifiable nuclear disarmament, as demonstrated through a 1988 Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free and Non-Violent World Order, which had been presented to the Third Special Session of the United Nations on Disarmament. That Action Plan had postulated a nuclear-weapon-free world in stages by 2010. The end of the cold war kept alive the hope that the goal could be reached, ”but it was not to be,” he said. In June 2008, on the twentieth anniversary of that Action Plan, India had asked others to join it in taking the “critical first step” toward total disarmament, by committing to a legally binding international instrument to eliminate nuclear weapons within a time-bound framework.
His Government believed that nuclear disarmament could be achieved by a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework for achieving “global and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament”. Progressive steps to de-legitimize such weapons were essential to achieving the goal of elimination. Measures to reduce nuclear dangers from accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons, increasing restraints on the use of nuclear weapons, and de-alerting of nuclear weapons, were pertinent in that regard. Similarly, India’s resolutions in the First Committee of the General Assembly on a “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons” and “Reducing Nuclear Dangers” gave expression to some of the necessary steps in that respect, and had found support from a large number of countries.
The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals bore a special responsibility for progress on nuclear disarmament, he continued. The Russian Federation and the United States still held more than 90 per cent of the nuclear weapons in the world, and the new START was a step in the right direction. As nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were mutually enforcing processes, the expansion of nuclear energy and reduction of proliferation risks needed to go “hand in hand”. Further, he said, Working Group II on “Elements of a draft Declaration of the 2010s as the Fourth Disarmament Decade” had seen substantial discussions, but again a consensus had eluded the Commission. He hoped that it would be reached during the present session, and said that the draft “should reflect the aspirations of the international community in the field of disarmament.” Consensus should be found on elements of enduring validity that upheld the priority for nuclear disarmament and addressed other dimensions of global security, such as space security, and strengthening the international framework on conventional arms. Regarding the third item on the Commission’s agenda, “Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons”, India was ready for substantive deliberations, but remained “sceptical” of how much progress could be achieved in the short time available.
MARTIN BRIENS (France), aligning with the European Union, said the entry into force of the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions and the more recent START were ample signs that headway could be made in the area of disarmament when an open and constructive mindset prevailed. Indeed, mobilization was necessary in the nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional arenas, and that type of comprehensive approach should be at heart of discussions on a draft declaration for the Fourth Disarmament Decade.
Welcoming Working Group III on confidence-building measures, he said its work should not be deferred. In the nuclear field, the road map now comprised the actions plans adopted by consensus at the last NPT Review Conference and it behoved each State party to meet its share of the contract. The five permanent members of the Security Council — the “P5” — were ready to shoulder their responsibilities in that regard, and France had organized the first follow-up meeting, which would take place in Paris on 30 June. Such developments showed the resolve of the “P5” to implement specific actions and ensure full respect for Treaty commitments.
Underscoring the need to strengthen the multilateral disarmament framework, he encouraged States that had not yet done so to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and negotiate a fissile missile cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament. France was open to innovative methods to move the process forward and called for a moratorium on the production of fissile missile material. Further, all States must create a secure international environment by stopping proliferation, especially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran. For its part, France continued its efforts to prevent and reduce that grave threat.
In other areas, he said France supported efforts to implement the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, noting that all actors should help create the conditions that would allow for the holding of the 2012 Conference, and supporting the idea to organize a seminar on that matter. Noting that the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention would take place next December, he said the Foreign Ministers of the Group of Eight (G-8) major economies had adopted a declaration with that in mind and called for strengthening the conventions regime.
Finally, France supported all efforts to combat the proliferation of antiballistic missiles, he said, noting that during France’s Presidency of the Hague Code of Conduct, his Government focused on fostering use of the Code and strengthening its functioning. On conventional weapons, he welcomed the constructive atmosphere for negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty and expressed hope for more efforts in the area of small arms and light weapons.
RODOLFO BENÍTEZ VERSON ( Cuba) said that, sixty-five years after the founding of the United Nations, and despite deep economic and environmental crises, military expenditures were increasing every year at an accelerated rate, now reaching the astronomical figure of $1.5 trillion. One country alone was responsible for nearly half of all global military expenditures. With the resources currently devoted to armaments, the world would be able to fight the extreme poverty that affected an estimated 1.4 billion people, feed 1 billion hungry people, prevent 11 million child deaths, and achieve other important development goals. In that respect, a new global order was required, based on human solidarity and justice, and in which conflicts were settled on the basis of dialogue, negotiation and adherence to the principles of non-interference and the sovereign equality of States. Cuba, along with the rest of the Non-Aligned Movement countries, had submitted a detailed Working Paper to the Commission’s Working Group I, containing concrete recommendations to achieve nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. He proposed that the document be used as a basis for reaching an agreement on that important issue.
Noting that around 23,300 nuclear weapons still existed despite the end of the cold war, Cuba said that nuclear disarmament was, and must remain, the top priority in the field of disarmament. “The only guarantee that nuclear weapons will not be used is their complete elimination and prohibition,” he said. The “political manipulation” on non-proliferation, based on double standards and the existence of a “club of a privileged few” who continued to improve nuclear weapons, while there were attempts to question the inalienable right of the countries in the South to peacefully use nuclear energy, must stop. Cuba was ready to negotiate, in parallel in the framework of the Conference on Disarmament, a treaty that eliminated and prohibited nuclear weapons, that banned an arms race in outer space, that offered effective security assurances to non-nuclear weapon States, and that prohibited the production of fissile materials for manufacturing nuclear weapons. Cuba considered that the final document of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on NPT was “insufficient” and still far from what the current moment required. Cuba had made efforts for the Plan of Action adopted by the Conference to include a calendar with well-defined actions, setting 2025 as the deadline to achieve total elimination of nuclear weapons, but it regretted that it had not been adopted. Finally, Cuba felt that it was important for the Commission to recommend to the General Assembly a draft Declaration of the present decade as the Fourth Disarmament Decade, which would contribute to mobilizing international efforts towards facing the current and resulting challenges in the area of disarmament.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that, as one of the major nuclear States, his country reaffirmed its commitment to the obligations under Article VI of NPT. “A long-term strategic task of the foreign policy determined by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is to ultimately build a world free from nuclear weapons,” he said. Toward that aim, Russia had recently taken a number of historic steps, including the successful implementation of the START Treaty of 1991 and the Treaty on Strategy Offensive Reductions of 2002. To replace those two treaties, a new agreement with the United States on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms was elaborated and signed. Two months ago, on 5 February 2011, it entered into force, establishing strategic arms reductions that were irreversible, transparent and verifiable. “We expect that the principles of equality, parity and indivisible security of Parties that form the basis of the Treaty will become a new gold standard to all future agreements on disarmament and arms control, both bilateral and multilateral,” he said.
It was important nonetheless to remember that the Russian Federation and the United States were not the only States to bear the burden of nuclear responsibility, he said. Significant reductions bilaterally raised the scale of the disarmament process; it must be made multilateral. Also, the Russian Federation considered it wrong to limit the disarmament process to NPT member states, and urged all nuclear weapon States to take an active part in disarmament. Noting that strategic offensive and defensive armaments were interconnected, he said that “the further we go in the reduction of strategic offensive armaments, the more careful we should be about anti-missile ballistic defence systems deployment.” Such missile defence deployment could give impulse to an arms race, which “cannot be allowed”. He believed in that regard that his country’s initiative to establish a universal legal regime on the basis of the 1987 Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Nuclear Missiles (INF) in order to eliminate intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles and the initiative to return all nuclear weapons to their owners’ national territories and destroy their infrastructure abroad were still relevant. Additionally, the decisions of the 2010 NPT Review Conference were a “reliable benchmark” for strengthening the non-proliferation regime. The Russian Federation also supported the idea of launching negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament in the framework of its balanced programme of work on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.
Regarding the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the delegation strongly urged all States, primarily those on whom the Treaty’s entry into force depended, to sign and ratify CTBT without delay. Two weeks ago, he said, the Russian Federation had ratified the protocols to the African Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), and it expected all other nuclear-weapons States that had not yet done so to follow its example. The implementation of the 1995 Resolution on establishing a Middle East nuclear weapon free zone remained a priority for his country and it supported the convening of a special international conference on that issue in 2012.
There was a growing awareness in the world of the fact that the realization of the legitimate interest in the peaceful uses of atomic energy required a modern, proliferation-resistant architecture of international cooperation based on strict mechanisms of verification and non-proliferation objectives. With that purpose in mind, his country had established the International Uranium Enrichment Centre in Angarsk, where a low-enriched uranium reserve managed by IAEA was set up and could already be used by any State observing its non-proliferation obligations. It was also necessary to continue the progressive development of an IAEA safeguard system and the universalization of the Safeguards Agreement and its Additional Protocol. Also important was international cooperation on ensuring the physical security of nuclear facilities and countering nuclear trafficking.
The Russian Federation stressed the importance of a Global Initiative to Combat Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the development of “best practices” of nuclear materials identification and nuclear criminalistics. Further, the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space was another priority. He believed that the immediate task was to initiate a comprehensive discussion at the Conference on Disarmament on a draft treaty, prepared by China and the Russian Federation, and to thus “pave the way” for further substantial negotiations. Recalling that joint international efforts had led to the recent creation of a Group of Governmental Experts, he said that, starting in 2012, the Group would be conducting a study on transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities. A draft international document on rules of conduct in outer space could become the final product of the Group’s work.
Regarding recent European talks in the sphere of strengthening and modernizing the conventional arms control regime in that region, the Russian Federation felt that the most important goal was to reach an agreement on the mandate for future negotiations, scheduled to begin in 2011. In that respect the Russian Federation put forth no preliminary conditions, assuming that each participant would be able to bring up any questions of his or her own concern. His delegation intended to actively participate in the open-ended meeting of experts on the implementation of the corresponding United Nations Programme of Action on small arms, which would take place in May 2011. Further to that issue, the Russian Federation supported a United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, and submitted data to the Register on a regular basis and in a due time. It also supported further discussion of the idea of an international arms trade treaty in the framework of the United Nations.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said that, as a small unarmed State, his country approached disarmament in the context of human rights and international humanitarian law, and encouraged cross-links in those thematic areas. Last year, States parties to the Treaty adopted a final document containing innovative measures, especially in the action plan on nuclear disarmament. In that context, he recalled NPT Review’s recognition that international humanitarian law applied to nuclear weapons, as well as the interest of non-nuclear-weapon States in the “de-altering” of nuclear weapons. Now was the time to translate such commitments into action, especially by discussing policies leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Noting that Liechtenstein had ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he said States must use the renewed momentum in the field of disarmament to achieve progress in the Conference on Disarmament, which should heed the Assembly’s calls for an early negotiation of a fissile missile cut-off treaty — the most achievable of the tasks on its agenda. The Conference’s inaction was no longer acceptable.
In the field of conventional weapons, transparency was among the most important confidence-building measures, he said, and in that spirit, Liechtenstein reported to the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms and the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures. He encouraged other States to do the same, although he was aware of the heavy burden that disarmament resolutions placed on States that wished to submit their views to the Secretary-General, and thus, encouraged the development of a consolidated reporting tool. Finally, he reaffirmed his support for a strong and comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty, which should count among its objectives the protection of human rights and promotion of international humanitarian law.
ENRIQUE OCHOA (Mexico), aligning with the Rio Group, said the Commission’s mandate was to hold deliberations with a view to producing recommendations on disarmament and the lack of results over 10 years was “completely disheartening”. Moreover, the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament not only reinforced the need to revitalize the disarmament machinery — including working methods — but also had led to a negative perception of multilateral diplomacy.
Indeed, States owed society specific results, he said, especially in nuclear disarmament, where people’s security was at stake. They must justify that more than $1.5 million had been spent on the Commission’s three-week sessions without concrete results. A lack of results again would make it impossible to explain why the money had been spent and, thus, the priority should be to produce substantive recommendations on the three agenda items. Positive signs in the disarmament field had led Mexico to believe that it could be a moment of change. “The world will judge us by our actions, not by our words,” he said.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN ( Philippines), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Commission remained a vital mechanism in the field in disarmament, given its universal membership and ability to submit recommendations on urgent disarmament issues to the Assembly. States must take advantage of its unique character to improve global peace and security. It was incumbent on all nations to see that nuclear weapons were eliminated in an irreversible, transparent manner. Further, it was important that other nations and international organizations be given the opportunity to verify the reports of some nuclear Powers regarding the dismantling of their arsenals. He called on States to follow the lead of the United States and the Russian Federation and pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament, or even disarm unilaterally.
The Philippines was also firmly committed to NPT’s two other pillars: nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy, he said, underlining the importance of IAEA; and the Monitoring States of CTBT, especially in detecting nuclear radiation emerging from damaged plants in Japan. He called on all States to ban all forms of nuclear testing and urged those that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Test-Ban Treaty as soon as possible.
Underlining the importance of creating a universal, legally binding instrument on negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States, he said he looked forward to the early establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and understood that, for a Conference in 2012 to be a success, all regional nations must attend, participate and negotiate in a forthright “give and take” manner. He also called for an international conference to set the parameters for the elimination of nuclear weapons and prohibition of their production, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use. It defied all logic that the non-nuclear-weapon States must wait until the day when the nuclear Powers were finally willing to eliminate their weapons. That was not what had been envisioned with the indefinite extension of NPT in 1995.
On other matters, he said the Conference on Disarmament remained a “rudderless, directionless ship floating along aimlessly since 1996”, and as an observer State, called on that body to appoint a Special Rapporteur to examine the question of membership expansion, as its limited membership was a relic of past historical circumstances. As for confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms, he said conventional weapons had killed more people than nuclear weapons, due to their widespread use. Confidence-building measures established the climate of trust necessary for reducing tensions and ending hostile situations, which in turn, led to disarmament progress.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Iran) said that, despite the claims of some nuclear weapon States with regard to their compliance with their legal obligations in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, recent “facts and figures” brought the validity of those claims into question, and instead revealed that at least one such State was making “considerable plans” to modernize its nuclear weapons arsenal and production facilities. Under such circumstances, the international community had no choice but to react collectively by redoubling its efforts to get rid of the threat of nuclear weapons “once and for all”. Iran, while supporting the proposal of the Non-Aligned Movement on the adoption of a legal framework with specified timelines for the total elimination of nuclear weapons by 2025, emphasized the high priority of starting negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention and an unconditional, legally-binding instrument on negative security assurances. Reductions in arms should, moreover, go beyond merely decommissioning nuclear weapons, and must be irreversible, transparent and internationally verifiable.
Iran believed that the best way to guarantee the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons was the full and non-selective implementation of NPT, in particular in the Middle East, where the nuclear weapons programme of one State threatened international peace and security. Iran supported the inalienable right of all Treaty parties to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination. It also believed that there should be no restrictions on exports of materials, equipment and technology for those peaceful purposes. Iran, for its part, was determined to exercise that right and, in doing so, took its responsibilities very seriously. Contrary to the allegations made by the representative of the European Union yesterday, Iran’s nuclear activities were, and had always been, peaceful in nature, as IAEA had repeatedly confirmed. Further, Iran had always demonstrated its readiness to negotiate without preconditions with concerned parties, and reiterated its willingness to engage in serious and constructive negotiations based on mutual respect and justice.
JOSÉ EDUARDO PROAÑO ( Ecuador) said the field of disarmament comprises two categories: weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons. An exclusive group possessed nuclear weapons and there was concern at the use and proliferation of those arms. The third pillar of the Non-Proliferation Treaty — States’ rights to peaceful use of nuclear energy — also was not immune to controversy. It was “sad” that the Commission must contemplate recent tragic events that showed the inherent dangers of nuclear energy. Given the evidence, one could not help but be indignant at the stubborn attachment to nuclear weapons, especially when it was well known that their use would only lead to atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law.
While the legitimacy of weapons possession was being questioned, a legally binding agreement for negative security assurances was a legitimate demand, given the possible catastrophic consequences of using nuclear arms, he said. Guarantees against that threat were to be found only in their complete ban and destruction. Ecuador, as a contracting party to Treaty of Tlatelolco, the agreement prohibiting nuclear weapons in Latin America, reaffirmed its desire to soon see progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. As for conventional weapons, he welcomed the meetings of the preparatory committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, saying that any instrument emerging from that conference must respect State sovereignty and territorial integrity, among other principles. He regretted the slow progress in the Conference on Disarmament, urging that alternative solutions be found to improve its effectiveness.
LISETH ANCIDEY ( Venezuela), joining the statements made by the representative of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and of Chile on behalf of the Rio Group, said that her country was fully committed to the success of the Commission in achieving progress on the three agenda items currently before it. She was concerned that for several years the Commission had not been able to achieve any tangible results. Total disarmament was “inextricably linked” with the development of a peaceful world. Many wanted to forget the fact that the world had long lived under the constant threat of nuclear “extermination”, as the scope and scale of a nuclear weapons were “boundless”. She believed that efforts in that field should be boosted through the compliance of all States with their international obligations. It was the nuclear powers, first and foremost, that should take steps toward fulfilling those obligations.
Her delegation restated its appeal to the nuclear-weapons States to abide by Article VI of NPT, while meanwhile rejecting its selective application. It expressed its concern with the strategic defence doctrines currently being developed by the major Powers in order to create military deterrence policies. In that light, Venezuela considered that the negotiation of a legally biding instrument for negative security assurances was particularly important. Agreeing on the draft Declaration for the Fourth Decade would also have a positive impact on the disarmament and non-proliferation field. The Declaration must also contain specific references to the threats and challenges facing the disarmament machinery, including the accelerated development of nuclear weapons and their diversion, the potential use of those weapons against those States without them, and others.
The greatest responsibility for the elimination of nuclear weapons lay with the nuclear-weapon States, in accordance with NPT, she said. Meanwhile, the positive contribution that confidence and security-building measures could have was also important. However, she noted with concern the lack of transparency of some States with regard to their nuclear materials. Venezuela fully supported a climate of trust among all countries, and believed that the strengthening of the nuclear machinery of the United Nations required the full support of all States, and reissued its appeal that that machinery respect the sovereign rights of States to define their own needs. Regarding the illicit transfer in small arms and light weapons, tracking systems were critical towards establishing the origins of weapons, and there was a need for stringent controls on any States that housed public or private weapons manufacturers.
JWAN TAWFIQ ( Iraq) said her country had emerged from sanctions imposed by the Security Council and today was taking steps to return to the international community as a State active in disarmament and non-proliferation. Nuclear non-proliferation could only be realized by acceding to NPT and CTBT, and by subjecting all installations and programmes to IAEA’s comprehensive system of guarantees. There was a responsibility to respect and implement international non-proliferation instruments, a goal to which Iraq was committed. The constitution outlined that the Government would respect and implement all such instruments, and prohibited the development, manufacture and use of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Moreover, a special law outlined the creation of a unified system for implementing international treaties.
Outlining other efforts, she said Iraq had acceded to NPT in 1969 and signed the IAEA Protocol related to the comprehensive system of guarantees in 2008. In 2009, Iraq had ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention and in 2008 signed CTBT. It also had acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, and signed both the Cluster Munitions Convention and the Mine Ban Treaty.
The possession of new types of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems was also a concern, she continued, saying that an agreement must be reached on an internationally binding instrument to provide guarantees to non-nuclear-weapons States, and establish the means through which progress could be made. Negative security assurances were an important step on that path. On the creation of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, she reaffirmed Security Council resolutions 487 (1981), 687 (1991). Any efforts to create such a zone must be prepared for with basic steps, such as Israel’s nuclear disarmament, accession to NPT and opening of its facilities to IAEA comprehensive system of guarantees. She also underlined the importance of consultations among regional neighbours on the establishment of nuclear reactors near border areas. Population centres must also be considered. The Commission’s work ahead was extremely important and Iraq was fully prepared to cooperate for its success.
IAIN COX (United Kingdom) said that his delegation fully endorsed the statement given by the representative of Hungary on behalf of the European Union, and went on to say that he remained committed to the long-term objective of a world without nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom was committed to maintaining only a minimum nuclear deterrent. It had signed and ratified CTBT and had ceased production of fissile materials for military purposes. Moreover, in October 2010, the United Kingdom had announced that it would reduce the number of warhead onboard each of its submarines from 48 to 40; reduce its requirement for operationally available warheads from fewer than 160 to no more than 120; reduce the number of operational missiles on the Vanguard class submarines to no more than eight; and reduce its overall nuclear weapon stockpile to not more than 180 by the mid 2020s. It had also announced a new, stronger security assurance that the United Kingdom would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States party to NPT. Along with Norway, the United Kingdom was continuing research into the verification challenges of nuclear disarmament.
The United Kingdom was disappointed that, despite the momentum generated by those developments, the Conference on Disarmament remained deadlocked. Among other things, there had been no progress toward the start of negotiations on a fissile material treaty. In the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation, which was a “critical enabler for nuclear disarmament”, it was essential that all parties to the Treaty comply with its provisions. The United Kingdom continued to believe that the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction to non-State actors remained a serious threat, and supported international efforts to combat that threat, including the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and through national programmes to achieve that goal. The United Kingdom was also active in a number of international non-proliferation initiatives, including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the Group of 8 Partnership, and the Nuclear Security Summit. Additionally, his delegation supported the ongoing negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty and looked forward to further progress at the July 2011 Preparatory Committee and at the Conference in 2012.
KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) said the entry into force of the new START was an important step in reducing nuclear arsenals. Norway was also encouraged by the way the Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions had consolidated global norms prohibiting weapons that caused unacceptable harm. At the same time, Secretary-General’s high-level meeting last year reaffirmed the deep frustration over the long-lasting impasse that had paralysed the multilateral machinery. Further, an entry into force of CTBT appeared not to be on the horizon and time was running out for the preparation of the Middle East Conference on a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
Indeed, the Conference on Disarmament was struggling and the same could be said about the Commission, he observed. Agreeing that the fate of this year’s report remained in States’ hands, he said it was also clear that the Commission’s working methods had an important impact on whether the body could provide added value. It had not delivered the expected results. Its current structure of three-year cycles, two broad topics and consensual reports must be examined to ensure it was the best way to make use of the Commission.
While Norway would work to reach consensus this year, “frankly, we are not very optimistic about the prospects,” he said. If an agreement on a report were to be reached, it would likely be a rather modest text. On a number of occasions, not least in the First Committee, Norway had advocated for a profound re-assessment of the Commission. The Commission should not be held hostage to an outdated consensus rule. Its outcome could be a Chair’s summary, reflecting the discussions and identifying areas of convergence and divergence. That type of outcome could facilitate the Assembly’s work, and possibly that of individual treaty bodies.
RAFF BUKUB-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA ( Nigeria), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, said disarmament should remain the highest priority. Urging nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their NPT obligations, he said that the Treaty was fundamental to protecting the world from the proliferation threat. In the Commission, he was concerned at the slow pace of progress in Working Group I and encouraged States, especially nuclear-weapons States, to engage constructively to break the impasse. States must sustain the significance of the consensus outcome of the First Special Session on Disarmament.
In addition, negotiations must proceed in the Conference on Disarmament on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. An early entry into force of CTBT also must be achieved. More must be done to enforce the ban on all forms of nuclear tests and he called on the nuclear Powers to abide by moratoria on such explosions. Further, negotiations on a non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material should begin. Recognizing the landmark entry into force of the Treaty of Pelindaba, the African nuclear-weapon-free zone, he called on States that had not yet ratified its Protocols to do so without delay.
In the area of conventional weapons, he said the developing world had paid a heavy price from the effects of the illicit acquisition, manufacture and circulation of those arms. Indeed, there was an urgent need to engage in a range of conflict prevention measures, including those related to illicit small arms and light weapons. To that end, he supported the United Nations’ goals on issues, such as transparency in armaments, ammunition marking and tracing, and regional disarmament programmes.
PHAM VINH QUANG (Viet Nam), associating his statement with that of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Commission was convening at a “critical juncture” when the world was faced with a complex situation requiring a new impetus in addressing the urgent issues of nuclear danger, disarmament and non-proliferation. The international community should make more tangible efforts towards the goal of nuclear disarmament, he said, adding that Viet Nam felt that the Commission’s long-standing stalemate might be removed by promoting multilateralism, while emphasizing the central role of the United Nations in the process. He underscored the “vital importance” of the Commission, and reaffirmed its continued support for its work.
With regard to the first agenda item, Viet Nam also reaffirmed its full support for general and complete disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Substantive progress on those issues had yet to be made, notwithstanding the genuine efforts made by the Non-Aligned Movement during the last substantive session of the Commission, especially in Working Group I. He hoped that concrete and substantive recommendations would be agreed upon during the present session of the Commission. He fully supported the proposal submitted to Working Group I by the Non-Aligned Movement and called on the Working Group to give it proper consideration. He also called on the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a balanced and comprehensive programme of work by, among others, establishing an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament as early as possible. He also supported all steps prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and providing for the destruction of all nuclear weapons.
He, additionally, underscored the crucial role of the nuclear-weapon-free zones towards achieving peace and security. His country was working hard with other Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member States to ensure that Southeast Asia was free from nuclear weapons and he urged the nuclear-weapons States to accede to the South East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty.
* *** *For information media • not an official record