25 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3445

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

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

First Committee

20th Meeting (PM)


Perception in First Committee ‘World Cannot Afford to Stand Still’ on Disarmament,


but Divergent Views Emerge on Reasons for Stagnation, Ways to Overcome It

 


Some Point to ‘Misuse of Consensus Rule’; Others Say ‘Broken Machinery Won’t Fix

Itself’, Ask General Assembly to Tell Conference on Disarmament ‘Time Running Out’


Warned throughout the debate today in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) that the “world cannot afford to stand still on the crucial issues of disarmament and non-proliferation”, delegations struggled once more to understand the root cause for the dysfunction in the United Nations disarmament machinery in order to evolve a common approach to correcting it.


Dominating discussion was the 15-year impasse in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament.  Calling the 65-member body “inactive, ossified and dysfunctional”, Spain’s representative pointed to procedural problems, such as misuse of the rule of consensus, which he said had become a “virtual right of veto” that paralyzed work, prevented debate and subverted the Conference’s mandate as a negotiating body.  The Conference was in a “structural crisis” and, with that, unable to offer adequate answers to complex security issues.


He said the Conference also faced a problem of political will, which existed because of States’ rigid perception of security and their inability to properly assess the various dimensions of security issues.  Threats to security were a concern for all countries, and solutions needed to be found through multilateral negotiations.  That would be a far more profitable use of time than the continuous search for causes of impasse.


Citing disarmament and non-proliferation successes outside that institution, Italy’s Ambassador to the Conference said those achievements showed that the problem was not the alleged lack of political will, but the misuse of the rules of procedure by a small few who, for reasons of political necessity, however legitimate, prevented the majority, who had equally valid and legitimate political reasons, to get on with the work at hand.


He recalled that at the end of May 2009, the Conference had in fact adopted by consensus a programme of work that included negotiations, but it was then unable to implement it because one country prevented reaching a further consensus on altogether much more mundane issues, not really pertaining to national security, such as on which days of the week to hold the meetings of the ad hoc working groups, in which rooms, and chaired by whom.


The consensus rule in the Conference, asserted Hungary’s delegate, “must not be subject to abuse”.  The world could “not afford to allow procedural issues to stymie real political progress”.  After a decade of deadlock, the Conference’s revitalization was “more urgent than ever”.


As long as the consensus rule was applied to any procedural issue, said Norway’s delegate, any effort to improve the functioning of that body ran the risk of stumbling on the need to protect national interests.  “Indeed, we are now allowing those who do not seek progress to set the pace,” he said.  It was about time, he said, that the Assembly communicated clearly to the Conference that “time is running out”, and that there are viable alternatives.


Echoing that and other calls for alternative venues was Mexico’s delegate, who together with Norway and Austria yesterday tabled a draft resolution on taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.  The possibility that the Conference on Disarmament could improve its situation on its own was unimaginable, she said today.  She deemed the deadlock in the Conference to be “intolerable”.


“Broken disarmament machinery won’t fix itself,” said Canada’s delegate.  “Collectively, we must address the serious challenges posed by, amongst other factors, the fact that a small minority is blocking the CD from doing what it is supposed to do:  negotiate.”


As accountable members of the international community, responsibility should be assumed to explore all avenues to make the Conference “realize it raison d’être and start negotiations”, he said, adding that beyond the Conference, appropriate use should also be made of other international organizations, bodies, offices and units expressly designed to support the various international agreements that formed part of the global non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament agenda.


Continuing to view a fissile material cut-off treaty as the next logical disarmament initiative, he said Canada would table a resolution to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.  While Canada preferred that such a treaty be negotiated within the Conference, it would support exploring initiatives for that instrument outside of it.


Despite the stalemate, many hailed the Conference as the focal point for the disarmament community’s effort, with Finland’s delegate saying it was “irreplaceable” in its role as a single multilateral negotiating body in the field of disarmament.  He agreed it was necessary to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty without delay, but such negotiations, he said, should take place in the Conference since it took different national security concerns into consideration most effectively, in a way that no ad hoc forum could do.


Iran’s delegation agreed that the Conference should remain in its role as the sole negotiating body on those issues.  Instead of blaming the Disarmament Commission or the Conference for the stalemate, the blame should be put on countries such as Canada which had blocked any progress there in for over a decade.  He did not believe that the rules of procedure of the Conference or alternatives to it were viable options.


Also today, a draft resolution was introduced on the Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament (document A/C.1/66/L.9), by the delegate of Indonesia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. 


Statements were also delivered by the representatives of Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, and Egypt.


The Committee will meet at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 26 October, to begin taking action on the 53 draft resolutions and decisions before it.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic discussions on disarmament machinery, hearing introductions of drafts on that topic.  Following that, the Committee was also expected to convene a discussion with non-governmental organizations.  For background on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Release GA/DIS/3429.


Summaries of Drafts


A draft resolution, submitted by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, on United Nations regional centres for peace and disarmament (document A/C.1/66/L.9), would have the General Assembly, recognizing that the changes that have taken place in the world have created new opportunities and posed new challenges for the pursuit of disarmament, reiterate the importance of United Nations activities at the regional level to advance disarmament and to increase the stability and security of its Member States, which could be promoted in a substantive manner by the maintenance and revitalization of the three regional centres for peace and disarmament.


The Assembly would reaffirm that it was useful for the three Centres to carry out dissemination and educational programmes that promote regional peace and security and that are aimed at changing basic attitudes with respect to peace and security and disarmament so as to the achievement and purposes of the United Nations.  It would appeal to Member States in that are able to do so, as well as to international governmental and non-governmental organizations and foundations, to make voluntary contributions to the Regional Centres in their respective regions in order to strengthen their activities and initiatives.


Thematic Debate, Introduction of Drafts on Disarmament Machinery


GIOVANNI MANFREDI, Ambassador of Italy to the Conference on Disarmament, commended the Netherlands, Switzerland and South Africa for having tabled draft resolution L.39 on revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.  The aim of draft, similar to that of its predecessor, General Assembly resolution 65/93, adopted last year, was to keep political pressure undiminished and coax the Conference on Disarmament back to productive life, meaning — of course — back to negotiating international instruments for disarmament and non-proliferation. 


He said that paradoxically, in spite of the paralysis in the Conference, international disarmament efforts had not been without success in the past two years.  He cited the positive outcome of the 2010 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Also, in recent months, there had been the successful negotiation, signature and ratification of the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) between the Russian Federation and the United States, which should bring about a significant reduction in the atomic arsenals of the two main nuclear Powers.  In late 2008, the Convention on Cluster Munitions had been opened for signature, and Italy had been among the original signatories; it ratified it last year.  Today, more than 100 countries had joined the instrument.


The fact remained, however, that those successes had been achieved outside the Conference on Disarmament, and that, despite the fact that the Conference was defined as the sole multilateral negotiating body in the field of disarmament, he said.  The real problem with the Conference, therefore, was not the alleged lack of political will among its members, but the misuse of its rules of procedure by a small few who, for reasons of political necessity, however legitimate, prevented the majority, who had equally valid and legitimate political reasons, to get on with negotiating disarmament and non-proliferation agreements.


He recalled that at the end of May 2009, the Conference had in fact adopted by consensus a programme of work that included negotiations, but it was then unable to implement it because one country prevented reaching a further consensus on altogether much more mundane issues, not really pertaining to national security, such as on which days of the week to hold the meetings of the ad hoc working groups, in which rooms, and chaired by whom.


Other provisions of the rules of procedure also warranted a reappraisal, he said.  The monthly rotation of the presidency appeared to be too frequent, to the detriment of the continuity of the Conference’s work.  Also, the president’s decision-making authority could be better defined to allow him to take routine decisions without the need to first consult with the membership.


Furthermore, the rule requiring the adoption every year of a new work programme might be unwise.  It allowed any one member, on 1 January, to indefinitely block any further negotiations, of which it no longer approved, by withholding assent on extending them for a further year in the provisions of the program of work, a likely scenario since concluding any treaty dealing with disarmament and non-proliferation took far longer than one year.  Further thought, therefore, should be given to the working methods of the Conference to make them more attuned to its reason for existence.


CEZARY LUSINSKI ( Poland) said his delegation was concerned about the persistent stagnation affecting the multilateral disarmament mechanisms for more than a decade, especially with the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament.  In 2006, the “P-6” formula adopted to facilitate the substantive work of the Conference under the guidance of its successive presidents had brought about the considerable intensification of the debates.  In the last few years, there was a growing opposition among the Conference members to certain practices, which had been used to unilaterally block the implementation of the consensus decision.


He said that the long procedural stalling tactics in the Conference had prompted some Member States to seek an alternative forum or process, in which substantive work would be undertaken on issues that were ripe for negotiations or for substantive consideration without the constraints of the Conference’s working methods.  Indeed, the time had come to give serious consideration to alternative ways of moving forward and beginning substantive work on those “ripe” issues.


Recently, the crisis in the Conference had led to serious questioning in other disarmament bodies, which also had roots in the decisions of the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, and which had been struggling for some time with their own stagnation or “crisis of identity”.  It was understandable that some Conference members would be concerned for the future of the Conference and conclude that there was no prospect for overcoming the current impasse and therefore come out with the proposal on the establishment of a group of governmental experts with a mandate to identify options, including the necessary legal and procedural requirements, for launching negotiations of a treaty to ban the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other explosive devises.


However, he said, his delegation was sceptical about the advisability and practical usefulness of recent proposals concerning the revisions of the Conference’s rules of procedure, particularly with respect to consensus, or to the rotating presidency.  The latter practice gave the chance for each and every Member State to contribute to the work of the Conference in a foreseeable timespan, without absorbing its sometimes limited human and organizational resources for too long.  Poland was determined to make serious contributions to overcoming the persisting impasse in the disarmament machinery, and he supported the efforts of the Secretary-General aimed at revitalizing that machinery.


SZABOLCS NAGY ( Hungary) believed in a multilateral approach, the best tool for maintaining international peace and security.  However, the crisis in disarmament efforts was a grave concern.  The Conference on Disarmament had a crucial role to negotiate treaties, but after a decade of deadlock, its revitalization was more urgent than ever.  “The consensus rule in the [Conference on Disarmament] must not be subject to abuse,” he said.  “The world cannot afford to stand still on the crucial issues of disarmament and non-proliferation, and to allow procedural issues to stymie real political progress.”


He said Hungary had been among the first sponsors of the resolution on taking forward multilateral negotiations during last year’s General Assembly session.  United Nations Member States should consider options to overcome the deadlock in the Conference, he said, noting the growing number of initiatives and proposals aiming to finding a way out from the disarmament machinery’s deadlock.


KNUT LANGELAND ( Norway) said that the 2010 NPT Review Conference had demonstrated that there was broad political will to further strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and to move towards a world free from nuclear weapons.  However, the current machinery was impeding the translation of that political will into concrete actions.  While the outcome of the first special session of the General Assembly on disarmament must be honoured, that legacy from 1978 was preventing progress in nuclear multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation today.  “Indeed, we are now allowing those who do not seek progress to set the pace.”  As for the proposal to convene a fourth special session, Norway questioned the wisdom of engaging in an indefinite process of consultations that might lead nowhere.


The fundamental question today, he said, was whether the Conference on Disarmament was capable of reforming itself.  As long as the consensus rule was applied to any procedural issue, any effort to improve the functioning of that body ran the risk of stumbling on the need to protect national interests.  The limited number of States was in itself a major problem for the Conference’s legitimacy.  A credible and relevant multilateral negotiating body that aimed to negotiate treaties, which were to be valid for all States, should be open to all interested in joining it.  Furthermore, the Conference lacked interaction with civil society.


It was obvious, he said, that if the Conference had been working as the sole multilateral negotiating body in the field of arms control, then the arms trade treaty process would not have been generated from the General Assembly, but would have been put on the Conference’s agenda.  It was about time the Assembly communicated clearly to the Conference and its member States that “time is running out, and that there are viable alternatives to the CD that we could resort to”.  The resolution put forward by Austria, Mexico, and Norway, drawing upon the legitimacy and authority of the General Assembly, itself, was such an alternative.


YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said restoring functionality to the disarmament machinery was an important task.  The first special session of the General Assembly on disarmament in 1978 had distinguished the functions of the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament.  Mexico had given unlimited support to those bodies; however, the current situation was unjustifiable.


She said that the Conference on Disarmament deadlock was intolerable.  That body had been created to establish a space for dialogue, and agreements had been reached during the cold war.  Now, the body was unable to function.  International relations had always been difficult, but the current roadblock must be overcome.  The Conference’s informal activities of recent years should not be interpreted as a sign that the impasse would be broken.  The Conference was to be a vehicle to reach an end, but that had remained elusive for 15 years.  Negotiations were expected to take place, for instance, flowing from NPT articles, but those could not even begin.  When the Conference only discussed issues, it did not meet its whole mandate.


A new special session in the General Assembly should be held to deal with overcoming the current stagnation, she said.  The possibility that the Conference on Disarmament could improve its situation on its own was unimaginable now, and Mexico had tried to structure different alternatives to build trust.  Mexico, with Austria and Norway, had presented a draft text to move discussions forward.  The General Assembly should give a new impetus to the Conference, and she called on the United Nations to consider that proposal along with others on ways to revitalize the disarmament machinery.


ALEXANDRE FASEL ( Switzerland) said that while the challenges in the field of international security and disarmament remained numerous, both the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Disarmament Commission had been deadlocked for years.  It was of the utmost importance to have mechanisms and platforms that facilitated meaningful, timely, inclusive and effective deliberations and negotiations on all issues relating to arms control and disarmament.


He said that in order to make progress in the revitalization process, to take forward multilateral disarmament and to initiate the necessary reforms, a number of ideas and proposals had been presented.  Some were more comprehensive in nature, and others were more focused.  Some were more ambitious and some were less so.  His delegation valued all proposals, developments and initiatives as important contributions that could possibly help unlock the situation in the Conference.  In that spirit, Switzerland, together with South Africa and the Netherlands, had tabled draft resolution L.39, entitled “Revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations”, introduced yesterday by South Africa.


Switzerland was committed to upholding and preserving the institutions, which had served well in the past.  There needed to be a strong Conference on Disarmament, but it must also be engaged in actual and concrete work. Otherwise it undermined its own standing and legitimacy.


BOŠTJAN JERMAN ( Slovenia) said he was not satisfied with the current situation in international disarmament negotiations.  The international disarmament machinery, namely the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Disarmament Commission, had become dysfunctional.  While accepting that the First Committee was the only body in the field that was performing, there was potential and room for improving its deliberations, by making them less repetitive and more strategic and focused.  He welcomed the high-level meeting on disarmament, which had taken place in New York in September, saying that forward-looking and useful proposals and ideas had been discussed there.  He hoped for substantive follow-up and implementation of those ideas, stating that the current session of the First Committee was a good opportunity for that.


He said that Slovenia had supported resolution L.39, entitled “Revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament and taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations”, and called for the Committee’s unanimous support.  The resolution would help to start the long, demanding, and challenging process of modernization and thorough reform of the international disarmament machinery.  Resolution L.21, which Slovenia also supported, opened a new avenue for multilateral negotiations that could be pursued in the future, notably in the First Committee.  “All possible ways to move forward international disarmament negotiations” should be explored and there should be a distinction between short-and long-term objectives.  One particular short-term objective should be, not only the revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament, but its expansion.


ROMÁN OYARZUN ( Spain) expressed support for the strengthening the relevant multilateral institutions in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  The Conference on Disarmament needed urgently to overcome 14 years of stagnation, which had made it “inactive, ossified and dysfunctional”.  He pointed out its procedural problems, such as misuse of the rule of consensus, which had become a “virtual right of veto” that paralyzed work in progress, prevented debate and subverted the Conference’s mandate as a negotiating body.  The Conference was in a “structural crisis” and, with that, unable to offer adequate answers to complex security issues.


He said that the Conference also faced a problem of political will, which existed because of States’ rigid perception of security and their inability to properly assess the various dimensions of security issues.  Threats to security were a concern for all countries, and solutions needed to be found through multilateral negotiations.  That would be a far more profitable use of time than the continuous search for causes of impasse.


The Disarmament Commission needed to generate tangible results, so more attention should be given to streamlining debates, making them more concrete and specific, and focusing on priority topics, he said.  The working methods of the First Committee also needed review and strengthening, with a focus on finding solutions rather than revising already-agreed texts. 


DOVYDAS ŠPOKAUSKAS ( Lithuania) said that as a firm supporter of effective multilateralism, his country regarded the First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission, and relevant international treaties as important mutually reinforcing elements of the disarmament machinery.  Given the continuing stalemate in the Conference, the international community should reflect on options and identify other ways of progress.


He said that the enlargement of the Conference had been an outstanding issue for more than a decade and should be addressed without delay.  That was in line with its rules of procedure, which provided for regular reviews of the membership question.  The Informal Group of the Observer States had repeatedly called for appointment of a special rapporteur or coordinator who could facilitate that discussion.  Lithuania was convinced that the expansion of the Conference’s membership would promote transparency and inclusiveness.


ROLLIANSYAH SOEMIRAT (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that while it was important to recall the achievements the international community’s achievements made within the Conference on Disarmament, it was disappointing that the Conference had not been able to undertake substantive work on its agenda for many years.  The Movement believed that it was counter-productive to ascribe that lack of results to the body’s rules of procedure when the true obstacle was the lack of political will.  He emphasized the need to start negotiations without further delay on a phased programme, for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified framework of time, including a nuclear weapons convention.


He said the Movement also affirmed the importance and relevance of the United Nations Disarmament Commission as the sole, specialized deliberative body within the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery and called on Member States to display the necessary political will and flexibility to enable it to achievement agreement on recommendations in its next cycle.  The Movement recalled the paramount importance of the consensus final document of first special session of the Assembly devoted to disarmament and its contribution to the international disarmament agenda and machinery within the United Nations, and reiterated its support for a fourth such session.


On behalf of the Movement, he presented the draft resolution, entitled “United Nations Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament” (A/C.1/66/L.9).  The Movement encouraged United Nations activities at the regional level to advance the cause of disarmament.  The three Regional Centres should be adequately maintained and revitalized for that purpose.


HUSSEIN HIRJI ( Canada) said that as the first president of the Conference on Disarmament for its 2011 session, Canada had worked with all delegations to get the Conference back to fulfilling its negotiating mandate.  However, positions remained “as entrenched as ever, and we were consequently unable to put forward a programme of work in that period.  That “unfortunate situation”, he said, had continued during subsequent presidencies, and therefore, this year, the Conference “remains deadlocked with no substantive progress achieved”.


“It is unacceptable that this body dedicated to advancing disarmament can be presided over by known nuclear proliferators who are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.  This further undermines the credibility of the CD,” he said.


To address that stalemate, Canada had actively supported a variety of initiatives aimed at strengthening the disarmament machinery, but despite those and other noble efforts, “it is clear that some are intent on maintaining the status quo”, he said.  Regrettably, over time, the Conference “usurped” the role of the Disarmament Commission and had increasingly spent its time deliberating almost exclusively on procedural issues, thus failing to fulfil its own mandate as a negotiating forum.  To reverse that trend, decisive change was desirable.


He said that the responsibility to make that and other aspects of the machinery function effectively did not lay with only five countries, or 65, but with all United Nations Member States.  “Collectively, we must address the serious challenges posed by, amongst other factors, the fact that a small minority is blocking the CD from doing what it is supposed to do:  negotiate.  Broken disarmament machinery won’t fix itself.”  As accountable members of the international community, responsibility should be assumed to explore all avenues to make the Conference “realize it raison d’être and start negotiations”. 


Beyond the Conference, he said, appropriate use should also be made of other international organizations, bodies, offices and units expressly designed to support the various international agreements that formed part of the global non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament agenda, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), to name but a few.  The way in which those bodies functioned represented “potential templates” for getting the United Nations disarmament machinery back to productive work.  That was why Canada was concerned that opposition by States such as Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela at the IAEA General Conference in September had prevented adoption of a longstanding resolution on strengthening safeguards.


Continuing to view a fissile material cut-off treaty as the next logical disarmament initiative, he said Canada would table a resolution to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.  While Canada preferred that such a treaty be negotiated within the Conference, it would support exploring initiatives for that instrument outside of it.


SAMEH ABOUL-ENEIN ( Egypt), associating his statement with that made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said there was no doubt that the Conference on Disarmament remained the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament.  It was that context that should guide the international community when examining the different resolutions that related to the Conference.  Several key instruments framed international practices in the various forums, and it was not constructive to use this session to criticize the Conference on Disarmament, or to take disarmament negotiations outside the context of the Conference.


He said that the debate had clearly shown that the absence of political will to reach a balanced outcome remained the main obstacle to the Conference and the Disarmament Commission; the rules of procedure were not the problem.  That conclusion came as no surprise.  The solution lay in addressing all the issues on the agenda.  He saluted the efforts of the Secretary-General and said all such initiatives must be geared towards reinforcing the Conference, to deal with disarmament issues within its framework.  He was concerned by the efforts of some to bypass the Conference.  Every possible effort should be made to revitalize the Conference to ensure that it fulfilled its mandate.


Additionally, he said, duplicated structures must be avoided.  Aside from the potential encroachment of the Conference on Disarmament, there was also the possible duplication of the work. While fully agreeing that the revitalization of the Conference was important, Egypt believed there was a need to revitalize the Disarmament Commission and further streamline the work of the First Committee.  Egypt supported the Commission as the sole specialized deliberative body within the United Nations multilateral machinery, and believed in the important results it could produce.


It remained of paramount importance that the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research Institute’s resources and skills were developed to meet the priorities of the whole United Nations membership.  Efforts should be collective and not individual, consensual and not divisive.  The First Committee would hence have to reflect those principles when examining the several draft resolutions put before it.


AAPO PÖLHÖ ( Finland) said that the Conference on Disarmament should be the focal point of the disarmament community’s effort.  It was irreplaceable in its role as a single multilateral negotiating body in the field of disarmament.  The Conference could justifiably be proud of having managed to create international norms such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  Those were “remarkable” achievements.


He said that the decade-long deadlock in the Conference threatened to unravel the system of multilateral disarmament negotiations.  The United Nations disarmament machinery was in jeopardy and required political reengagement.  It was necessary to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty without delay.  Such negotiations should take place in the Conference on Disarmament since it was the forum that took different national security concerns into consideration most effectively, in a way that no ad hoc forum could do.  He concluded that more substantial discussion and less procedure was necessary in the First Committee and the United Nations Disarmament Commission.  He hoped that with the political re-engagement of all Member States, it would be possible to, together, take the agenda forward.


SEIFI PARGOU ( Iran) said due to the sensitive nature of disarmament issues, multilateral balance and consensus-based discussions in the United Nations were the only way forward.  The outcome text of the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament recognized the need for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and, underlining the significant role of an appropriate international machinery, expressed that political will, especially on the part of the nuclear-weapon States, was a prime factor in disarmament.


In the Conference on Disarmament, he said, there was a lack of genuine political will on behalf of some nuclear-weapon States.  In such circumstances, Iran did not believe that the rules of procedure of the Conference or alternatives to it were viable options.  The Conference on Disarmament should remain in its role as the sole negotiating body on those issues.  Instead of blaming the Disarmament Commission or the Conference for the stalemate, the blame should be put on countries such as Canada who had blocked any progress there in for over a decade, he said.


Iran supported the convening of a fourth special session of the Assembly on disarmament, he said.  Historically, the problems in the Conference now were not new.  As the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters had reported, the problems were not procedural, but political in nature.  The stream should be crossed where it was shallowest.  Certain nuclear-weapon States should show the necessary political will.  He supported the early commencement in the Conference on negotiations for a phased programme for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, including a convention on those weapons.  While over the past several decades, non-proliferation goals were at the top of the priority list, it was unfortunate that the same successes were not seen in nuclear disarmament.  The world remained separated by nuclear “haves” and nuclear “have-nots”.


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