15 October 2012
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3458

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

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

7th Meeting (PM)


‘End Nuclear Testing Before Nuclear Testing Ends Us,’ First Committee Told,

 

As Disarmament Machinery Chiefs Assist Search for Global Consensus

 


UN High Representative Says Eliminating World’s Most Indiscriminate Weapons

Requires Overcoming ‘Monumental’ Political, Technical, Institutional Challenges


As the First Committee today heard from a high-level panel of experts on the progress and impasses of the international disarmament machinery, delegates were told that the world must “put an end to nuclear testing before nuclear testing puts an end to the world”.


During the panel discussion prior to the continuation of its general debate, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) that eliminating the world’s most indiscriminate weaponry required overcoming monumental political, technical and institutional challenges, which took time and persistent effort.


Unfortunately, she said, the particular common causes shared by the organizations represented today were without question some of the most difficult in pursuit of strengthening international peace and security.


Noting that efforts had long been under way to explore ways to overcome the stalemate in multilateral disarmament negotiations, which persisted in the Conference on Disarmament, she said the effectiveness of each organization’s work depended very much on the harmony of Member States’ policies and priorities.  That so-called “political will” was the source of all productive work in each of the organizations.  Its presence or absence would shape, not just the work of the individual organizations, but also the future of international peace and security.


The Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, Tibor Tóth, said the mission of the Test-Ban Treaty and the United Nations was to outlaw nuclear weapon tests once and for all, which had a “poisonous legacy” of more than 2,000 such tests.  While there had only been two such tests in that past decade, that was still “two too many”.


But, while the international community had managed to “push the genie of nuclear testing back in the bottle”, that bottle was “still not sealed”, he said.  Eight countries still needed to ratify the Treaty in order for it to enter force, and until the international community drew that irrevocable line in the sand, the world would have no insurance policy.  Instead, it was protected only by voluntary moratoriums, which history had shown to be inadequate.


Entry into force of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) would close the door once and for all on nuclear testing, and make the de facto international norm legally binding, he said.  But, now the Treaty was at a standstill, and the window of opportunity was fast closing.  While the road ahead would be difficult, it could only be accomplished through leadership and political resolve.


The current stagnation in the Conference on Disarmament was “unacceptable”, its Secretary-General and Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Conference, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, declared.  The reasons for the impasse were primarily political, he said, and did not result from any one single fundamental flaw in the design of the Conference.  However, that did not make it any less unacceptable.


The stalemate, he warned, delayed negotiations to strengthen the common security, paralysed a formidable body of human resources and expertise in the area of disarmament in Geneva, exacerbated divisions and led the international community to collectively miss opportunities for a safer world.


Concrete steps to improve the functioning of the Conference could also be politically significant, as a demonstration of the membership’s collective will to chart a way out of the impasse, he said, but warned that any efforts to circumvent it by trying another avenue must complement it and make it more, and not less, likely that negotiations would eventually resume there.  If the Conference was undermined or dismantled, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to replace it, he alleged.


A representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Geoffrey Shaw, stressed that safeguards were a fundamental component of the nuclear non-proliferation region and contributed to collective security, as well as helped to create an environment conducive to nuclear cooperation.  As for the current state of play, comprehensive safeguards agreements were in force in 180 States, of which 172 were non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  However, 13 of them had yet to meet their NPT obligations and conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement.  For them, the Agency could not draw any safeguards conclusions.


Grace Asirwatham, Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, noted that it had thus far verified the destruction of nearly 75 per cent of the 71,000 metric tons of chemical weapons stockpiles declared by States parties.  To date, all of the 70 declared chemical weapons production facilities, specifically built to produce chemical weapons had been inactivated, and more than 90 per cent of them had either been destroyed or permanently converted for peaceful purposes.


But while more than 50 per cent of States parties still needed to take action to ensure that their legislation covered all key areas of the Convention, overall, the verified destruction of chemical weapons declared by States parties was well on track.  By 2016, only 1 per cent of those weapons would remain to be destroyed.


Speaking during the general debate were the representatives of the Philippines, Denmark, Venezuela, Pakistan, Ecuador, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea and Botswana.


A representative from Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) also spoke.


The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow, 16 October, to continue its general debate.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate.  For background information, see Press Releases GA/DIS/3453 of 8 October and GA/DIS/3454 of 9 October.


High-Level Panel


ANGELA KANE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that in her opening remarks to the First Committee, she took note of the many challenges that lay ahead in achieving disarmament goals and made an appeal to all delegations to continue their efforts to pursue their common interests in this field.


She said that few understood the importance of persistence more than the members of today’s panel, who represented organizations that were deeply committed to fulfilling their global mandates.  All were committed to eliminating weapons of mass destruction, and all appreciated that achievement of that goal would require legally binging commitments, which were verifiable and irreversible, applicable to all nations and implemented transparently.


While the panel were all “kindred spirits”, the partnership was built on deeds and not words alone, she said.  Cooperation between the United Nations and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) was quite close.  On 6 September, the United Nations had observed the International Day against Nuclear Tests, which was used to promote the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  On 27 September, the Organization had hosted the Sixth Ministerial Meeting on CTBT and, also on that day, many had attended a special performance of the play “ Reykjavik”, arranged by CTBTO.


She said that the United Nations was also working closely with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in many areas, including assisting with implementation of Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) and promoting universal membership in the Chemical Weapons Convention.  On 1 October, the Secretary-General had addressed a high-level meeting to mark the fifteenth anniversary of OPCW and the Convention, where he had stressed the humanitarian implications from the use of those weapons.


With respect to the Conference on Disarmament, she said that while it was an independent entity in the United Nations disarmament machinery, it reported to the General Assembly and its Secretary-General was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General.  Efforts had long been under way in the First Committee, most notably last year, to explore ways to overcome the stalemate in multilateral disarmament negotiations, which persisted in the Conference.


As for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), she said it had a wide range of mandates, including in the fields of verification and provision of technical assistance.  In addition, the international community had affirmed that the Agency had an essential responsibility and a key role in strengthening the international nuclear security framework.  The United Nations and IAEA also cooperated closely in assisting in the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Strategy.


In a very real sense, the panel represented, not just a group of international organizations, but, together, international organization as a process of the different institutions of Member States working together for common causes.  Unfortunately, the particular common causes shared by those organizations were, without question, some of the most difficult in pursuit of strengthening international peace and security.  Eliminating the world’s most indiscriminate weaponry required overcoming monumental political, technical, and institutional challenges, which took time and persistent effort.


Yet, while weapons technologies had evolved considerably over the years, many of the organizational challenges faced today resembled those faced by the institutions’ predecessors.  The disarmament official who had been her equivalent in the Secretariat of the League of Nations, Salvador de Madariaga, concluded, in his book on the subject published in 1929:  “The solution to the problem of disarmament cannot be found within the problem itself, but outside it.  In fact, the problem of disarmament is not the problem of disarmament.  It really is the problem of the organization of the world community.”


That, she said, offered a very thought-provoking context for the panel’s deliberations, because the effectiveness of each organization’s work depended very much upon the harmony of Member States’ policies and priorities.  Some called that “political will”, and it was the source of all productive work in each of the organizations.  Its presence or absence was apparent in the deliberations and votes in the First Committee, along with the work undertaken elsewhere in the United Nations disarmament machinery.  And, its presence or absence would shape not just the work of the individual organizations, but also the future of international peace and security.


She welcomed the support that Member States had provided to the organizations represented on the panel, which was enabling individuals to perform their official mandates.  To the extent that they were successful, they would all be contributing, each in his or her own way, to the construction of that great larger project described by Mr. Madariaga — the goal of establishing a true world community, which was still very much a work in progress.


KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Conference, focused on the current situation, saying that he shared the view of the overwhelming majority of both members and non-members of the Conference that the stagnation was unacceptable.  The reasons for the impasse were primarily political and did not result from any one single fundamental flaw in the design of the Conference, but this did not make it any less unacceptable.


The stalemate, he warned, delayed negotiations to strengthen the common security, paralysed a formidable body of human resources and expertise in the area of disarmament in Geneva, exacerbated divisions and led the international community to collectively miss opportunities for a safer world.  He expressed concern that the strengths of the Geneva disarmament community were not used to their full potential for the international community.  The Geneva agenda brought together a unique mix of disarmament, humanitarian, human rights and other issues, and was an asset that must be used in the service of a better world for all.


It had been a time of global transformation, he said, adding his firm belief that, in the long run, the dynamics in the Conference could also change, enabling it to overcome the paralysis.  This, however, required the kind of political will that was currently not there.  As in the case of climate change, that kind of crisis of multilateralism could have existential consequences for humankind.


Continuously waiting for progress could not be an option, he said.  It was against that background that he earlier this year had presented several practical proposals aimed at injecting new ideas into the Conference for members’ consideration.  He believed that in addition to increased political engagement to advance the substantive agenda, which must be their first priority, concrete steps to improve the functioning of the Conference could also be politically significant, as a demonstration of the membership’s collective will to chart a way out of the impasse, and that could help to build trust.


Last year, the Committee had sent a message of urgency to the Conference, but a year later, there had been no progress, he said, raising the question of what should be done if progress remained elusive, particularly whether that left no other option but to circumvent the Conference by trying another avenue.  Any such efforts, he stressed, should complement the Conference and make it more, and not less, likely that negotiations would eventually resume there.  The international community needed a standing negotiating forum in disarmament.  If the Conference was undermined or dismantled, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to replace it.  He appreciated that none of the drafts currently circulating in the Committee professed to squarely sideline the Conference.  All of the texts would leave its mandate and its session in tact.


In the area of nuclear disarmament, a like-minded forum could only go so far, he said, and the international community needed a forum where different views and interests could meet to find common ground, even when it took time.  Members had to keep in mind what was at stake; disarmament and non-proliferation were the cornerstones of a safer future for them all.  Disarmament was also linked to broader efforts for development and progress.  According to some estimates, last year, global military spending had reportedly exceeded $1.7 trillion.  That represented human opportunities lost.


Genuine multilateralism required willingness to compromise and called for self-restraint and a mindset that was able to see one’s own security best served through the reinforcement of collective security, he said, adding that only then was it possible to enter into a virtuous cycle of strengthening the rule of law in disarmament.  The responsibility that came with working on disarmament was great.  Throughout the multilateral disarmament machinery, the world needed to see that the disarmament community took its responsibility seriously by delivering on the mandates that were entrusted to it.  Nowhere was that more urgent than in the Conference on Disarmament, he said.


GRACE ASIRWATHAM, Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, noting that 2012 marked the fifteenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention, said that, last month, States parties to the treaty had reaffirmed their commitment to its goals and objectives.  They also had recognized with pride the progress that had been made in eliminating an entire category of weapons of mass destruction — the first treaty to have done so.  The Convention provided its States parties with a forum for consultation and cooperation and, when needed, it provided clarification and conducted fact-finding, all of which contributed to confidence-building.


She said her organization had thus far verified the destruction of nearly 75 per cent of the 71,000 metric tons of chemical weapons stockpiles declared by States parties.  Despite having missed the destruction deadline, the two major possessor States — Russian Federation and United States — were on track, making steady progress towards that goal.  The States parties had carefully considered the possible impact of the missed deadline and had taken a decision based on foresight and wisdom, encouraging them to complete the task while keeping progress under close review.  Three other declared possessor countries had commendably fulfilled their obligation to destroy their entire chemical weapons stockpile, she said.


In fact, she stated, to date, all of the 70 declared chemical weapons production facilities, specifically built to produce chemical weapons, had been inactivated, and more than 90 per cent of them had either been destroyed or permanently converted for peaceful purposes.  Due to the possibility of chemical warfare agents being produced in commercial facilities, the Convention extended the reach of verification to the global chemical industry.  That should be seen as a confidence-building measure and not a step driven by suspicion.  The contribution and support of the global chemical industry was an outstanding feature in the success of the Convention, without which, the goals of the Convention would have remained elusive.


Her organization was aware that the future of the Convention would place new demands on it, she went on.  As the completion of the destruction of declared arsenals of chemical weapons approached, progressively greater attention would have to focus on the objective of preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons.  It would also be important to review the industry verification to ensure that it continued to promote confidence in compliance.  The regime would need to keep pace with developments in the global chemical industry, and States parties should improve surveillance of transfers and trade in chemicals.  On the whole, the Convention’s regime would need to ensure that it remained an effective guarantor of security against, both conventional and non-conventional chemical threats.


She said there were some 5,000 facilities around the world considered relevant for the purposes of the Convention.  Those were liable to be inspected and, indeed, those producing chemicals deemed to be of the most relevance were regularly inspected by the Secretariat.  So far, more than 2,200 such inspections had been carried out in 81 countries.  As part of the objective to prevent the re-emergence of chemical weapons, the Convention’s regime monitored global exports and imports of chemicals covered by the treaty.  For chemicals of greater concern, States parties had declared their transfers to the Technical Secretariat.  Such trade was either conditional or prohibited to States not party to the Convention, and States parties were required to carefully monitor such transfers and to report relevant information to OPCW.  The United Nations worked closely with the World Customs Organization to streamline procedures and to make its monitoring tool more effective.


She said the Treaty was tied closely to science, and the dynamic nature of that science had a direct impact on its work.  The international community was facing a time of rapid advances in science and technology, and the topic of growing convergence between chemistry and biology had direct relevance to the Convention.  It was her organization’s responsibility, therefore, to adequately assess and address new such developments that might affect implementation.  The Convention was not intended to hamper the scientific, economic or technological development of its parties, but rather to promote international cooperation in the field of chemical activities for peaceful purposes — delineated under the Convention’s article XI.


For that purpose, she added, the organization had established a wide range of programmes for creating awareness, building capacities and exchanging best practices and information.  Its programmes in the areas of assistance and protection against chemical weapons, as well as international cooperation, offered strong incentives to the larger membership to remain engaged.  The Convention was widely considered to be a valuable and worthy instrument, as was evident from the number of countries that had joined it in such a short time; 118 States parties subscribed to the global ban on chemical weapons.  Such an overwhelming endorsement represented a “decisive seal of authority” on the global ban on chemical weapons.


She said the most important remaining challenges was convincing those few countries that had not yet joined the Convention to do so, otherwise, any chemical weapons present in that group would not be eliminated under international verification, and the vision of a chemical weapon-free world would remain elusive.  The international community must redouble its efforts to convince the remaining eight States to join.  Further, more than 50 per cent of States parties still needed to take action to ensure that their legislation covered all key areas of the Convention.  Overall, the verified destruction of chemical weapons declared by States parties was well on track.  By 2016, only 1 per cent of those weapons would remain to be destroyed.


GEOFFREY SHAW, Representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that nuclear technologies had a wide range of applications, but touching on some areas of Agency work relevant to the Committee underlined the Agency’s central role in ensuring that any expansion in the use of nuclear energy occurred in a way that was safe and secure and did not contribute to proliferation.  The safeguards were a fundamental component of the nuclear non-proliferation region and contributed to collective security, as well as helped to create an environment conducive to nuclear cooperation.  As for the current state of play, comprehensive safeguards agreements were in force in 180 States, of which 172 were non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  However, 13 of them had yet to meet their NPT obligations and conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement.  For them, the Agency could not draw any safeguards conclusions.


He reported that the number of States with additional protocols in force continued to rise.  It now stood at 118.  The Additional Protocol was essential to enabling the Agency to provide credible assurances, not only that declared nuclear material was not being diverted from peaceful uses, but also that there was no undeclared nuclear material and activities in a country.  Clearly, they were heading in the right direction, and the Agency encouraged all States to bring additional protocols into force as soon as possible.


Safeguards implementation continued to evolve to address new challenges, to take into account lessons learned and to take advantage of new technology, he added.  In that regard, the Agency had continued to evolve what it called the State-level concept for the planning, conduct and evaluation of safeguards.  Safeguards implementation, pursued in accordance with that concept, was based on a comprehensive evaluation of all “safeguards relevant” information regarding each State.  That helped the Agency to tailor its verification activities.


Concerning nuclear disarmament, IAEA was independently verifying that nuclear material from dismantled weapons was never again used for military purposes, he went on.  In that context, the Agency was working with the Russian Federation and the United States to develop an agreement that provided for Agency verification of the disposition of plutonium designated by those two countries to no longer be required for their respective defence programmes.


He said the five existing nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties recognized IAEA’s verification role through application of the safeguards of the Agency, which supported the creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones.  In November 2011, Director General Amano convened an IAEA forum on Experience of Possible Relevance to the Creation of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East, which provided an opportunity to participants to learn from the experience of other regions relevant to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.


World leaders in recent years had focused considerable attention on the threat of nuclear terrorism and the need for enhanced nuclear security, he noted, adding that while primary responsibility lay with national Governments, it had been recognized that IAEA had a central role as the global platform for strengthening nuclear security.  The Agency also helped to minimize the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists, or nuclear facilities being subjected to malicious acts.  The Agency had established internationally-accepted guidance that was used as a benchmark for nuclear security, which it helped countries to apply through expert peer review missions, specialist training and human resource development programmes.  It had trained more than 12,000 people in more than 120 countries in nuclear security in the last decade, and it had provided assistance to ensure that considerable amounts of highly enriched uranium had been more securely stored.  Additionally, the IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database tracked thefts and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and other radioactive materials.


Despite the increased interest in nuclear security, progress towards entry into force of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear material remained slow, he continued; only 58 States had adopted it.  Much progress had been made in recent years in countering the threat of nuclear terrorism, but more needed to be done.  As a next step, in July 2013, the Agency would organize a high-level International Conference on Nuclear Security.  IAEA was unique within the United Nations system:  it was the only organization with expertise in nuclear technologies, which it used to help countries reap the benefits of nuclear science and technology for sustainable development, as well as to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to enhance global nuclear security.


TIBOR TÓTH, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, focused on three issues:  empowerment through politics, empowerment through the verification system, and empowerment through knowledge creation.  On the first, he noted that it was the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis and that, before the crisis, the Test-Ban Treaty had not been a reality.  Only hours before midnight on 26 October 1962, there was suddenly a proposal from Nikita Khrushchev to put a test-ban treaty in the package of solutions.  A “soft” tool became CTBT, but, still, eight countries remained whose ratification was needed for its entry into force.


Regarding empowerment through the verification, he said that the Treaty’s verification system was uniquely democratic with an all-inclusive system for sharing data.  The system worked for detecting breaches in relation to nuclear explosions, and it empowered countries, both members and non-members, to know what happened and exactly how they should define political actions in light of a breach.  The system also provided early warning and early information about natural disasters.  The third point of empowerment was through the creation of knowledge, he said, explaining that the organization was conducting trainings, sharing their best practices, and instructing people through both traditional means and e-learning.


The mission of CTBT and the Organization was to outlaw nuclear-weapon tests — the poisonous legacy of 2,000 such tests — once and for all, he said.  Over the last decade, there had only been two tests, but that was two too many.  They had managed “to push the genie of nuclear testing back in the bottle”, but “the bottle is still not sealed”, as eight countries needed to ratify to prompt the Treaty’s entry into force.  “Until the Treaty is codified in international law, until we draw that irrevocable line in the sand, the international community will have no insurance policy.”  It was protected only by voluntary moratoriums, and history had taught that that was inadequate.


Between 1958 and 1961, the United States and the Soviet Union had adhered to a voluntary moratorium on nuclear weapons tests, he said.  But, when that measure gave way, more tests were conducted in the following year than in the previous decade combined.  Fifty years ago in October, the two super-Powers had come to the brink of Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis.  Everyone now knew how close the world had been to annihilation.  The questions that must be asked were whether the lesson had been learned and whether everything had been done to “make an unwinnable nuclear exchange a spectre of the past”.


Without CTBT, there was no legal barrier preventing such a crisis from happening again, he warned.  A return to testing could potentially trigger a new arms race.  That would dramatically increase tensions and instability in the international system, which could lead to that which everyone feared most — a nuclear exchange.  “We must not allow this to happen.  We must put an end to nuclear testing before nuclear testing puts an end to the world,” said Mr. Tóth.


The verdict was in:  CTBT was a powerful multilateral instrument that had solidified the no-test norm and increased transparency among the world’s nations, he said.  With 183 State signatories and 157 ratifying States, the great majority had spoken — no more tests.  That support was rooted in the fact that the CTBT verification system had repeatedly proven its effectiveness.  It had passed real-life stress tests, accurately and reliably detecting announced tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2006 and 2009, and played a key role in mitigating the tragic events in Japan last year.  Throughout the Fukushima crisis, CTBTO had provided up-to-date and accurate information to all State signatories and relevant international bodies, which had put all parties on a level playing field, enabling them to make informed decisions.  The CTBT verification regime was a “system of systems”, comprising a $1 billion investment.


Entry into force would close the door once and for all on testing, and make the de-facto international norm legally binding, he said.  It would operationalize the verification regime and allow the Treaty Organization to address compliance issues properly.  The verification system was more than 85 per cent complete, and it gathered data around the globe and around the clock, sharing it with 1,300 institutions in 120 countries.  However, in lieu of the Treaty’s entry into force, the Organization was subjected to dangerous fatigue:  the unsettling reality of limbo, the potential erosion of CTBTO, and of its verification system that was a truly unprecedented achievement in the history of multilateral verification.


A few years ago, there had been renewed hope that sufficient momentum would be generated to move the Treaty into force, he said, adding that there had been a window of opportunity for the leaders of the remaining “Annex 2” States to show leadership and make good on the “longest sought and hardest fought Treaty in the history of arms control”.  Only one State, Indonesia, had recognized that opportunity by ratifying the Treaty.


The Treaty was at a standstill, he said, expressing fear that the window of opportunity was fast closing.  Leadership was urgently needed, not only by those who were required to sign and ratify, but also by those who were trusted allies.  They needed to leverage their collective influence to make CTBT’s operation a top priority.  The road ahead would be difficult, and addressing multiple challenges would require both leadership and political resolve, but history had shown it could be done.  It should be remembered how generations of the past had tackled some of the most serious political and technological challenges, not because they were easy, but because they were hard.


Statements


LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), associating with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that this year had been an extraordinarily hectic and challenging time in the field of disarmament, noting several developments and challenges, including how to move from a voluntary to mandatory moratorium on nuclear testing.  With millions of Filipinos living and working in areas where nuclear weapons existed and the nuclear threat persisted, it was imperative for them to promote the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones to protect their nationals.  It was also imperative for the five nuclear-armed States sign the Protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Bangkok Treaty) as soon as possible.  His country, meanwhile, hoped for the convening and successful outcome of the conference on a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East.


He said the Philippines continued to view with concern the continuing impasse in the Conference on Disarmament.  He called for its revitalization, as well as open discussions on expanding its membership and the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to review that issue.  There was great potential in some of the proposals, including commencing work on a fissile material ban and a nuclear weapons convention.  As for conventional weapons, his country could not emphasize enough the need for an arms trade treaty and for universalization of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.


The Philippines, he noted, was actively engaged in advancing biosecurity and biosafety cooperation in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region, and it was working closely with ASEAN partners on weapons of mass destruction concerns.  It was also collaborating with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, given the importance of taking a regional approach to peace and security.


ERIK LAURSEN (Denmark), aligning with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said that his country’s focus was on maintaining the momentum gained towards achieving a global arms trade treaty, as well as on the decade-long stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and on proliferation threats.  On the arms trade treaty, he said he was encouraged by how close the international community had come to reaching agreement in July, and he urged that efforts be continued on the basis of the President’s draft text.  As for the Conference on Disarmament, if the international community was to reach the common goal of a peaceful world free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, it was crucial to have in place a strong, comprehensive and dynamic multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament regime.


On non-proliferation threats, he said the Security Council had a key responsibility, and he supported resolutions 1887 (2009) and 1540 (2004), and urged the full implementation of the texts on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran.  Regarding Iran, the ongoing and expanding enrichment activities, including to a level of 20 per cent, were a cause for great concern.  The most recent IAEA Board of Governors resolution, adopted on 13 September, underscored the need for Iran to urgently step up its cooperation with the Agency.  He urged it to fully comply with all resolutions of the Security Council, the IAEA Board of Governors, and with its safeguards agreement so that confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities could be restored.  He supported the establishment of zones free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and encouraged the international community to explore all such possibilities, including in the Arctic.


JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO (Venezuela), associating with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the nuclear-armed States now possessed 20,500 nuclear warheads, with about 5,000 deployed and ready for use, and about 2,000 on high alert.  Thanks to technological advances, a large number of them had a power of up to 100 times that of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The existence of those weapons presented a real and present danger, as their accidental or intentional use could destroy the planet several times over.  He urged the nuclear Powers to respect their international commitments, and stressed the importance of convening an international conference to examine the question of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.


He expressed concern at pressures exerted by the United States and other Powers to restrict Iran’s right to develop its nuclear industry for peaceful purposes and its aspiration to achieve energy and technological independence.  He attached special importance to granting negative security guarantees to non-nuclear-weapon States, given the latent threat of the use of those weapons against those that did not have them.  A binding international instrument that restrained the nuclear-weapon States should be adopted.


Venezuela was pleased at the progress made in the framework of the second review conference on small arms and light weapons, he said, noting the possible resumption of negotiations on an arms trade treaty.  He said success would depend on collective agreement on practical mechanisms for implementation by all States in a way that did not jeopardize security, territorial integrity, or political independence.  There should also be effective safeguards that avoided any manipulation or politicization by the arms producers or exporters.


ZAMIR AKRAM ( Pakistan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that since the end of the cold war, the global security environment had increasingly deteriorated.  The situation might well be on the verge of a new cold war if ambitions for world domination were not contained and the search for global supremacy was not replaced by accommodation and engagement.  Disarmament efforts remained stagnant.  New weapons systems were being developed and deployed, including anti-ballistic missile systems in several parts of the world, as well as the indiscriminate use of drones.  Other worrying trends included the growing weaponization of outer space and the hostile use of cyber-technologies.  The production of conventional weapons with destructive capacity equal to nuclear weapons would be dangerously destabilizing and would increase the temptation to respond with use of nuclear weapons.


In such a grim context, Pakistan had consistently called for evolving a renewed consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation, he said, forwarding some ideas his Government felt were essential to promote global security.  All should start from the basic premise of the recognition of the right to equal security for all States, which was a critical prerequisite for progress in areas of arms control and disarmament.  Measures should also address the motives that drove States to acquire weapons to defend themselves, including perceived threats from superior forces and discrimination in the application of international norms.  Finally, the nuclear-weapon States should demonstrate a renewed commitment to achieve nuclear disarmament within a reasonable timeframe, with the eventual objective, the total elimination of nuclear weapons.


He said an agreed approach must be evolved for the promotion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under appropriate international safeguards.  Until nuclear disarmament was achieved, non-nuclear-weapon States should be given assurances that they would not be threatened with nuclear weapons and those assurances should be translated into a legally binding treaty.  An agreement was also needed to address concerns arising from anti-ballistic missile systems, which were inherently destabilizing.  There was also a need to strengthen the international legal regime in order to prevent the militarization of outer space.  As a pragmatic step towards disarmament, the nuclear-weapon States should halt future production and eliminate all stocks of fissile materials through a fissile material treaty.


In the last three years, they had heard the contrived lament over the failure of the disarmament machinery, but in Pakistan’s view, the diagnosis was partial and focused almost exclusively on symptoms rather than causes, he said.  Even worse, the solutions put forward were selective, discriminatory and inconsistent.  In order to objectively evaluate the causes underlying the impasse at the Conference, it was important to acknowledge the following:  the Conference’s work was a reflection of prevailing political realities; no treaty could be negotiated in the Conference that was contrary to the security interests of its Member States; the lack of progress could not be attributed to the rules of procedure; and the Conference had four core issues on its agenda, so if there was no consensus on negotiating the fissile material treaty, there was also no consensus on negotiating nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances or prevention of an outer space arms race.


He said the problems in the Conference were not of an organizational nature, but related to the external political environment, and the challenges facing the international disarmament agenda and the machinery were not exclusive to the Conference.  The United Nations International Drug Control Programme and the First Committee confronted similar difficulties, he said, wondering why the Conference alone was blamed for their inaction.  A comprehensive revitalization effort was, therefore, required in the form of a new bargain for the twenty-first century.  He reiterated Pakistan’s support for the long-standing call of the Non-Aligned Movement countries to convene a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament, which should aim at an integrated and holistic approach to achieving the goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in a balanced manner.


DIEGO MOREJÓN (Ecuador), associating his statement with those made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States, condemned the existence of weapons of mass destruction and said their use was a crime against nature, as well as against humanity.  He regretted that 40 years since NPT, specific achievements had not been met.  One concern was how long non-nuclear States would have to wait until the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in an irreversible, verifiable process sealed by a legally binding treaty.  Further, he asked how long non-nuclear-weapon States would have to wait to see legally binding guarantees that lands and peoples would not suffer from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons while nuclear disarmament was being negotiated.


He said his country shared the concern of other States about the deadlock that existed within the Conference on Disarmament.  Concerning a treaty on fissionable materials, he said only an instrument that covered existing and future stockpiles of such materials could resolve concerns of States on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.  The Disarmament Commission had also not been fruitful for the past few years, and an overall analysis of the United Nations disarmament machinery should be undertaken.  He hoped that preparations for the 2015 NPT review would pave the way to a successful conference.


He firmly supported the implementation of the NPT review’s 1995 resolution on the Middle East, and appealed for pending aspects to be defined as soon as possible, leading to the holding of a conference in 2012, with the participation of all the States in the region.  He supported the legitimate and inalienable rights of States to develop and produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination, and he reiterated Ecuador’s complete commitment to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.


In the area of conventional weapons, he said he supported the objectives of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  It was regrettable that the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty did not achieve positive results.  Past negotiations on that subject revealed many obstacles that were hard to resolve.  However, such a treaty needed to be adopted by consensus.


SANJA ZOGRAFSKA-KRSTESKA (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), aligning herself with the statement made by the European Union, said that achieving progress in the disarmament of conventional weapons was of particular interest in her country, which had supported implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action since its inception.  By cooperating closely with its neighbours, her country had contributed to enhancing stability in South-Eastern Europe.  Human security remained central to Macedonian policy.  Among its recent achievements were adoption of a law on examination and marking of weapons and ammunition and another on weapons registration and management software, along with the implementation of a ballistic identification system and of the border management strategy.  Cooperation with the civil sector had also increased.


She said her country was a strong supporter of an arms trade treaty, as it was located in a region confronting an uncontrolled spread of conventional weapons.  Her Government supported the draft resolution submitted by a group of countries for the early continuation and convening of a final conference on the treaty to complete unfinished work.  She also reiterated her country’s firm commitment to finalize the destruction of the remaining cluster munitions stockpiles, and it supported international efforts towards universalizing global bans on mass destruction weapons.  The country also supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and hoped that the conference in Finland on the creation of such a zone in the Middle East could provide the desired outcome.


The entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty remained crucial, she said, noting the progress of her country in building its legislative, institutional and administrative capacities to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The threats to international security were not insurmountable.  All avenues should be explored to make headway at this session, including initiatives to expand the Conference on Disarmament’s membership and to negotiate a fissile material ban.


U MAUNG WAI ( Myanmar) said that nuclear disarmament was the highest priority on the disarmament agenda, and it was necessary to address the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.  The international community must not lose sight of the fact that as long as nuclear weapons continued to exist, humankind ran the risk of putting itself on the verge of extinction.  The only absolute guarantee against a nuclear catastrophe, therefore, was those weapons’ complete elimination.  Against that backdrop, it was important for all to faithfully pursue and implement their NPT commitments.  The catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons knew no boundary, and nuclear-armed States were entitled to an internationally and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances.  Unfortunately, that urgent and legitimate call had yet to be answered.


Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, he said, served the practical purpose of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and security assurances.  An early signing of the Protocol to the Bangkok Treaty and its related document by the five nuclear-weapon States would contribute, not only to the non-proliferation and disarmament of the region, but also to international peace and security.  He welcomed the ratification of CTBT by Guatemala, Guinea and Indonesia, the latter being an “Annex 2” State.  He also welcomed the outcome of the seventh Review Conference for the Biological Weapons Convention.  Myanmar, for its part, did not harbour any ambition to possess nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction.  Further, Myanmar was considering ratifying the disarmament treaties to which it was committed.


SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating with the statement made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite efforts by the United Nations, no fundamental changes had been made so far to address the threat of mass destruction weapons.  It was a stark reality that some of the big Powers continued to rely on nuclear weapons in pursuit of a “strong-arm policy” for monopoly, domination and interference.  The nuclear Power with the most sophisticated nuclear weapons had designated the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a “target of pre-emptive nuclear strike” and had been increasing nuclear threats by staging ever-intensifying nuclear war exercises on and around the Korean peninsula every year.


He said that provocative and aggressive military exercises had been staged this year in simulation of nuclear war against his country on several occasions, in the southern part of the Korean peninsula.  A huge number of troops from the United States mainland and other military bases in the Asia Pacific region were involved in joint military exercises such as “Key Resolve”, “Foal Eagle”, and “Ulji Freedom Guardian”, creating a real warlike situation.  Confronted by the extreme nuclear threats from the United States, his country had responded with its own nuclear deterrent, which not only served as a means of safeguarding its sovereignty and deterring war on the peninsula, but also concentrated on economy building and improving its people’s living standard.


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea supported nuclear disarmament, which it set as the fundamental issue related to world peace, he said, adding that to his Government’s regret, however, the nuclear disarmament process remained inactive with the aggressive nuclear doctrine unchanged and nuclear weapons being reduced only little by little.  That was a mockery of non-nuclear States, which would be driven further towards losing confidence in the nuclear Powers.  Nuclear disarmament was the only absolute solution to proliferation, which stemmed from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  The primary concern should be the conclusion of a legally binding treaty for total elimination of those weapons and prohibition of their use or threat of use.


At the same time, he asserted, the use of nuclear energy and exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes were inalienable rights of all sovereign States.  His Government believed the development of an independent nuclear power industry was a practical solution to the energy problem, and was making efforts to build a light water reactor, as well as to produce nuclear fuel on its own.  In 2009, it had joined the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1975 Registration Convention with the intention of participating in space exploration activities.  It had so far launched several space satellites by manufacturing them on its own, with 100 per cent domestic resources and technology.  Some countries, however, had deemed his country’s peaceful outer space activities to be military in nature and had gone so far as to make groundless allegations of a “long-range missile test” and a “uranium enrichment programme”.


Those countries, he continued, were alleging that, under the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology or even a satellite launch for peaceful purposes.  However, if those countries were free to launch satellites and only his was excluded, it was an intolerable infringement on his country’s sovereignty.  Regarding the Security Council resolutions, his country had never recognized them because they failed to make a fair judgement on the self-defensive nuclear test, which was in response to the hostile policy of the United States, “being full of prejudice and pressure”.  The question was how and why the Council had kept silent about the United States’ nuclear threats against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for over half a century.


Some countries often said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had “nuclear ambition”, but his Government had been above-board in each and every measure it had taken, never avoiding public eyes or pursuing any clandestine programme, he declared.  “The [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] has already emerged as a full-fledged nuclear-weapon State, and the era when the [ United States] threatened the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] with atomic bombs, is gone by.”  His country had opted for possession of a nuclear deterrent because it had to counter the United States’ moves aimed at eliminating it.  As long as the United States persisted in its hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, then its nuclear possession would inevitably be prolonged on a long-term basis.  His country would “abide by its responsibility as a responsible State possessing nuclear weapons and continue efforts to advance peaceful space exploration and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”, he concluded.


ARAYA DESTA (Eritrea), associating his statement with that made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, stressed that regional and international security and issues of disarmament were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, transparent, comprehensive and non-discriminatory instruments.  Eritrea supported the various international instruments that aimed at a complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament covering all weapons.  However, it was regrettable that over the years, the international community had not been able to move forward on the question of the Conference on Disarmament.  The international community’s shared future must compel it to immediately commence substantive discussions on disarmament matters.


In many parts of Africa, he said, small arms and light weapons continued to fuel conflicts, exacerbate crimes, divert much-needed resources and perpetuate regional insecurity.  The implementation of the Programme of Action was primarily the responsibility of Governments, but the nature of the trade in illicit arms and light weapons, which often transcended national boundaries, required a regional response; strengthening the institutional capacities of regional arrangements would meaningfully advance the objective of curbing illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  As a signatory to the Nairobi Declaration on the Problem of the Proliferation of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa, and an active member of the Regional Centre on Small Arms, Eritrea would continue to work closely with the sisterly countries in the region to eradicate that illicit trade from the Horn of Africa.


Reaffirming that the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was their complete elimination, he said efforts must be intensified towards that goal, as the use or threat of use of those weapons was unethical, and until complete disarmament could be achieved, nuclear-weapon States must give security assurances to non-nuclear-armed States.  Eritrea had been an early signatory to the Test-Ban Treaty, as well as a signatory to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).


He said that nuclear technology could play an important role in sustainable development, including in the attainment of internationally-agreed development goals.  In that light, Eritrea supported the inalienable right of every State to develop and/or acquire nuclear technology for peaceful use, in accordance with IAEA.  Experience had shown that weapons only fuelled insecurity, and thus, disarmament was the only viable tool for a more secure planet.


CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana), associating with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to the multilateral process relating to disarmament and accorded priority to the interrelated issues of international peace, development and disarmament.  Having underscored the importance of disarmament in reducing political tensions and mitigating conflicts, Botswana urged the Conference on Disarmament members to adopt and begin implementing its programme of work.  His country also believed that global disarmament could benefit from efforts at the regional level, particularly progress in creating nuclear-weapon-free zones.  In that, he welcomed the forthcoming conference on the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.


He also reiterated Botswana’s commitment to the implementation of the Pelindaba Treaty, which had established a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region’s “own backyard”.  The country gave high priority to the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty and called on all nuclear-armed States that had not yet done so to consider its ratification without any further delay.  It welcomed the outcome of the second view of the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action and appealed for international assistance in the areas of border control and management, marking and record-keeping to fight arms proliferation.  Botswana, furthermore, placed a high premium on the resumption of negotiations on an arms trade treaty in the near future, he said.


GIOCONDA UBEDA, Secretary General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), said that the consensus of the 2011 Joint Declaration of OPANAL member States was to move forward towards negotiating a universal legally binding instrument aimed at prohibiting nuclear weapons.  One part of the necessary revitalization process was to strengthen its zone through the concrete actions of Member States, and through the compliance of signatory States with their obligations under the Treaty’s protocols.  OPANAL, therefore, continued to urge the “P5” to modify or withdraw the interpretative declarations made at the time of signing the Protocols, especially those affecting negative security assurances, although OPANAL understood that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee.


He said nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation education was another mission of the Agency within the region.  Together with Member States, OPANAL’s members would promote education and outreach activities.  They would also strive to ensure that every State of the region’s zone was party to CTBT, and it called on all “Annex II” States to join at the earliest opportunity.  OPANAL, additionally, had taken part in the first Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2015 NPT review, as well as collaborated to move forward in the signature of the Conventions on Suppression of Nuclear Terrorism Acts and on Nuclear Safety.  During the last two years, the connection between OPANAL and IAEA had also been reinvigorated.


Stating that nuclear-weapon-free zones were not islands between each other, but were connected by bridges, he said that OPANAL would take concrete steps to strengthen and consolidate such zones.  Now was a propitious time to strengthen the coordination among them and to promote the exchange of good practices and lessons learned, which it was eager to do in connection with the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.


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For information media • not an official record