|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
10th Meeting (PM)
Centrality of Missiles for Offensive, Defensive Purposes, Absence of Far-Reaching
Commitments to Restrain Their Proliferation Draw Attention of First Committee
Chair of Hague Code of Conduct Briefs,
As Members Debate Rationale for Nuclear Weapons Possession
The combustible mix of the centrality of missiles on the world stage, both for offensive and deterrent purposes, and the proliferation of mass destruction weapons created a complicated setting in which to pursue any far-reaching or globally binding commitments in that area, the First Committee heard today.
Continuing focused debate on its nuclear weapons cluster, the Disarmament and International Security Committee was addressed by Cho Hyun of the Republic of Korea, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. He said this year’s tenth anniversary of the Code should be an opportunity to establish a common basis for implementing voluntary transparency measures concerning ballistic missile launches.
The missile issue was indeed a complex one, he said, with a wide range of strategic, political, economic and commercial implications that warranted careful consideration. The Code — the only multilateral instrument of norms against the proliferation of ballistic missiles — aimed to establish norms of self-restraint regarding ballistic missile development and the diversion of space-launch vehicle technologies for that purpose.
Although States and international organizations had actively pursued missile-related issues from within the United Nations, the diverse interests among States and international organizations demonstrated that the establishment of a universal norm governing the missile issue remained elusive, he said. The Code could not be a panacea for all dimensions of global missile issues, but it had an important role to play in controlling ballistic missile proliferation, which everyone understood was a serious threat to international peace and security.
Following that briefing, speakers again turned their attention to the so-called payload of ballistic missiles, namely nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The representative of the United Kingdom said the country had declared, for the first time, in 2010, its maximum number of nuclear warheads in its stockpile and concluded that it could meet the minimum necessary requirements for credible deterrence with a smaller nuclear weapons capability.
The United Kingdom, she said, had announced that by the mid-2020s, it would reduce its warheads on board each of its submarines, as well as the requirement for operationally available warheads, and reduce the number of operational missiles on the Vanguard class submarines. It was implementing its reduction programme early.
It had also announced new stronger security assurances that it would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States parties to and in compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, she said, adding, however, that while the environment was so uncertain, her country held an effective minimum deterrent in a safe and secure manner.
Other speakers rejected the notion of a credible deterrent altogether, saying there was no rationale for clinging to nuclear weapons. The representative of Mexico said it was “irrational” to continue to promote the idea that weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, had some kind of intrinsic value in maintaining international peace and security. In fact, he said, it was the deterrence logic of those weapons that spurred others to try to possess them.
Similarly critical of that argument, the speaker from Venezuela said the world community seemed to be entering a phase of the “normalization” of nuclear arsenals. Because of arguments that production of nuclear weapons contributed to deterrence and peaceful coexistence among nuclear-weapon States, progress in reducing nuclear arsenals below the threshold was not foreseen in the near future.
Nuclear weapons did not make the world a safer place, declared the representative of New Zealand. The only guarantee that nuclear weapons would not be used again was their complete and total elimination. Those weapons had no place in today’s world, as no State would be immune from their devastating impact.
Switzerland was particularly concerned, said its representative, about the development of new weapons systems. That implied that nuclear-armed States would maintain those weapons for decades to come, which raised fundamental questions about their willingness to implement their disarmament commitments. The twenty-first century security architecture should not be based on such indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. Thought must be given to devising a new security concept.
Also speaking during the general debate were the representatives of China, Republic of Korea (national capacity), Netherlands, Lithuania, Togo, Thailand, Serbia, Romania, Iraq, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Canada, Norway and Malaysia.
Statements in exercise of the right of reply were made by the delegates from Syria, Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Friday, 18 October, to continue its thematic discussion on nuclear weapons.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic debate segment and introduction of all draft resolutions and decisions, beginning with its Cluster 1 on nuclear weapons.
CHO HYUN (Republic of Korea) speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, said that 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the Code, which was the only multilateral instrument of norms against the proliferation of ballistic missiles. It had contributed to building confidence among members of the international community by establishing a common basis for implementing voluntary transparency measures concerning ballistic missile launches.
He said that over the past decade, much progress had been made in efforts to strengthen the Code. To date, 134 countries had subscribed to it, and many of them had faithfully implemented their obligations, such as timely submission of annual declarations and the provision of pre-launch notifications. In addition, the United Nations General Assembly had adopted resolutions in support of the Code in 2005, 2008 and 2010, recognizing the instrument as “a practical step against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery”.
Despite this significant level of subscription, implementation and recognition by the international community, he said, much work remained to be done if the Code was to become an effective universal mechanism of transparency as well as a source of trust and confidence in ballistic missile activities. As missile technology continued to develop and grow more sophisticated, the international community could not remain complacent about the progress achieved so far. Rather, the 10-year milestone should be an opportunity to advance the common goal.
In 2008, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had noted that the international community had long harboured concerns about the accumulation, proliferation, technical refinement, threat and use of ballistic and other types of missiles, he recalled. Although States and international organizations had actively pursued missile-related issues from within the United Nations, the diverse interests among States and international organizations demonstrated that the establishment of a universal norm governing the missile issue remained a vision for the future.
He said that the missile issue was indeed a complex one, with a wide range of strategic, political, economic and commercial implications that warranted careful consideration. Nevertheless, everyone shared a common understanding that ballistic missile proliferation posed a serious threat to international peace and security. While fully recognizing that the Code could not be a panacea for all dimensions of global missile issues, it had an important role to play in controlling ballistic missile proliferation.
Effective non-proliferation efforts entailed actions to curb both the supply of, and demand for, a weapon, he said. Thus, in order to properly combat the proliferation challenge, the international community should consider both supply-side and demand-side strategies. “To put it simply,” he said, “the technical capability to develop a weapon” was the “supply side” aspect of proliferation, while the motivation to develop a weapon represented the “demand-side”. In practice, non-proliferation regimes focusing on the supply side tried to limit the technical capabilities of States or non-State actors by regulating materials and technology transfers. Demand-side regimes, on the other hand, usually encouraged States to refrain voluntarily from acquiring, developing or using the weapon.
While the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a supply-side regime for curbing the proliferation of missile technology, played an important role, he said, it could do little to address motivation. The Code aimed to fill that gap by establishing norms of self-restraint regarding the development of ballistic missiles and the diversion of space-launch vehicle technologies to ballistic missile development, which addressed a range of motivations, including security considerations.
As the sole multilateral instrument to establish norms against the proliferation of ballistic missiles and the only multilateral arms control instrument started in the twenty-first century, the Code focused on strengthening universalization by minimizing the burden on its subscribing States. It did not levy any constraint on those countries’ defence policies or space programmes, as long as those were developed in accordance with international norms. Many States had already co-sponsored this year’s draft resolution, which was tabled this morning, and its adoption would renew the international community’s commitment to ballistic missile non-proliferation.
ZHANG JUNAN ( China) said that as a follow-up to the London Conference in 2009 and the Paris Conference in 2011, the Permanent-5 (P5) held a conference in Washington in June to continue discussions on measures to implement the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Their Working Group on Glossary of Definitions for Key Nuclear Terms held its first experts meeting in Beijing in September and decided to speed up its work, in order to enhance mutual understanding and exchanges in the field. He welcomed the progress in building nuclear-weapon-free zones, noting respect for the zone in Mongolia. The P5 had already reached agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries on the content of the Protocol to the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok), which provided favourable conditions for its early signature and entry into force.
He said that the realization of a complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and the establishment of a world free of those arms remained a long-term and arduous task. China believed that the international community should foster a new thinking on security, featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and make further efforts in several aspects. First, all nuclear-weapon States should fulfil in good faith their nuclear disarmament obligations. The international community should also develop, at an appropriate time, a viable, long-term plan composed of phased actions, including the conclusion of a convention on the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons.
Second, he went on, all nuclear-weapon States should abandon the nuclear deterrence policy based on first use of nuclear weapons and unequivocally undertake no-first-use against each other. The policy and practice of nuclear umbrella and nuclear sharing should also be abandoned. Third, countries that had not done so should sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to facilitate its early entry into force and, in the interim, nuclear-armed States should observe their moratoriums. Fourth, nuclear disarmament should follow the principles of promoting international stability, peace and security, and undiminished security for all. The development of missile defence systems that undermined global strategic balance and stability should be abandoned.
He said that China had consistently stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and was firmly committed to a nuclear strategy of self-defence. China had adhered to the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances, and made the unequivocal commitment that it would unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones. That nuclear policy was unique among all nuclear-weapons States. China had never deployed any nuclear weapons on foreign territory, and had never participated in any form of nuclear arms race, nor would it do so. China would continue to keep its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security.
He said that China was ready to work with the international community to continuously make unremitting efforts to promote the international nuclear disarmament process and ultimately realize the goal of complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.
KWON HAERYONG ( Republic of Korea) said that since nuclear weapons continued to pose the most destructive threat to mankind, nuclear disarmament was crucial for avoiding a potential nuclear war. Progress had been made, but a wide gap in perception still existed between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States. He emphasized the importance of narrowing that gap. His delegation believed that nuclear-weapon States should maintain the momentum in disarmament by further fulfilling their obligations under the NPT, which was critical in encouraging non-nuclear-weapon States to remain committed to carrying out their nuclear non-proliferation duty under that treaty.
He said that with the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world, it was imperative for the international community to ensure the early entry into force of the CTBT. The Republic of Korea stressed the importance of maintaining a moratorium on nuclear testing until that occurred. His Government also believed that the time was ripe for the commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and called on all Conference on Disarmament members to show more flexibility and political will to enable negotiations to begin.
The nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a grave challenge to the international non-proliferation regime and to peace on the Korean peninsula, he said. That country’s pursuit of uranium enrichment and light water reactor construction represented its ongoing defiance of its obligations under the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions insisting it abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes. Yet, the country had recently expressed its intention to expand its nuclear capabilities, while referring to itself as a nuclear-weapon State, but the international community had reaffirmed that the “DPRK” could not have the status of a nuclear-weapon State in accordance with the NPT. The Republic of Korea once again strongly urged that country to immediately cease all nuclear activities and take concrete measures towards denuclearization.
ROBERTO DONDISCH (Mexico), associating with the statements of the New Agenda Coalition and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, said his country maintained an active and committed position in favour of nuclear disarmament. Achieving the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee for international security. The NPT’s successful results in 2010 were welcomed, and the Plan of Action had put the international community back on track after a decade-long impasse towards the treaty’s full implementation. The path towards the ninth review conference was facing important challenges, however, Mexico would unceasingly question the justifications used to procure nuclear weapons.
He said that international society had not accepted the indefinite possession of those weapons by the nuclear-armed States, as identified in the NPT. It was irrational to continue to promote the idea that a weapon of mass destruction, including a nuclear weapon, had some kind of intrinsic value in maintaining international peace and security. In fact, it was the deterrence logic of those weapons that spurred others to try to possess them.
The nuclear-weapon States were holding meetings to discuss compliance, he said, voicing hope that those talks would lead to the irreversible, transparent and verifiable destruction of nuclear weapons, regardless of their type or geographical location. Those efforts were valid, and might be mutually reinforcing, but they did not replace multilateral action for nuclear disarmament. The unequivocal decision of States to disarm was part of the original negotiation package of the NPT, as well as the decision to extend that treaty. That was a commitment which, as of today, had not been fulfilled.
Mexico would fulfil its obligations under the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon State, he said, adding that it had completely and transparently implemented its safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 1973. He supported the right of all States to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses, but said that must be fully in accordance with the IAEA safeguard agreements. Diversion of nuclear material from civilian to military programmes must be guaranteed. In that regard, he reiterated the call to Israel, India and Pakistan to adhere to the NPT, without conditions, and on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran and Syria to honour their promises as NPT States parties and comply with relevant IAEA and Security Council resolutions.
Although the CTBT had not entered into force, it had already established its validity, he said, asking all States to honour the nuclear testing moratoriums. The creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones must be freely decided and agreed by the parties involved and, in that connection, Mexico would welcome the sovereign decision of countries that wished to enter into such zones. He welcomed follow-up on an option for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as well as all work being done in that direction. He commended Norway on the decision to convene a conference, on March 13, on the disastrous consequences of nuclear weapons, and he looked forward enthusiastically to participating.
PAUL VAN DEN IJSEL ( Netherlands) said that the NPT was the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation system and was also important for furthering the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The international community should now move forward to the swift implementation of the 2010 Action Plan. The IAEA had played a crucial role, and the Netherlands supported its actions aimed at universalizing the Additional Protocol. Further, the Netherlands regarded a conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty as an indispensable step towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons and attached great importance to the entry into force of the CTBT and the completion of its verification regime.
He said his country was strongly committed to global nuclear security. He noted progress made at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on a wide range of topics, including the minimization of highly enriched uranium, the inclusion in the mandate of the summit the protection of radiological sources, and the synergy between nuclear safety and security. The third Nuclear Security Summit would take place in The Hague in March 2014.
Expressing concern about the steady progress made by Iran in its uranium enrichment and heavy water-related activities, he said that the burden of proof was on Iran to convince the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. Urging Iran to implement confidence-building steps and to cooperate fully with the IAEA, he said that his country supported the efforts of China, France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States to engage that country in a meaningful diplomatic process.
His country, in 2011, had expressed concern about Syria’s non-compliance with its safeguards obligations under the NPT, he recalled. Unfortunately, Syria had failed to undertake steps to remedy that. He urged the country to fully cooperate with the IAEA to resolve all open questions. The Netherlands was also deeply concerned about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and deplored the decision made by its Government not to cooperate with the Agency. He expressed his own country’s strong commitment to non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament, as well as to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), associating with the statement of the European Union, welcomed the successful outcome of the NPT Review Conference in 2010 and this year’s first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 review, but said it was unfortunate that the Conference in Disarmament had again failed to engage in substantive work. Lithuania supported all efforts that aimed to find the way out of that impasse, particularly the efforts by Canada to establish a group of Governmental experts to elaborate the provisions of a future treaty banning the production of fissile material. A world free of nuclear weapons remained his country’s general vision for the future. Meanwhile, effective multilateral and bilateral agreements on nuclear arms control and disarmament paved the way to that goal. Lithuania, as a non-nuclear-weapon State, considered confidence-building measures, reciprocal transparency and verification to be an integral part of that process. It also shared concerns regarding proliferation challenges, which must be effectively addressed by the international community in order to maintain the credibility of the NPT regime.
He welcomed successful implementation of the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) and would have liked to see cooperation expand, making non-strategic nuclear weapons a part of arms reduction treaties. Lithuania remained a staunch supporter of global efforts to counter nuclear security threats, and had participated in the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. The recently established Nuclear Security Centre of Excellence in Medininkai, Lithuania would be a good platform to help achieve mitigating those threats. Lithuania hoped to finish 2012 with a successful Helsinki conference on a nuclear-free-zone in the Middle East and called on all States for its successfully convening by the end of the year, as well as on States in the Middle East to take part without preconditions.
KOKOU NAYO MBEOU ( Togo), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the entire international community was concerned about the threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism. Togo had ratified several international legal instruments on disarmament, and was applying the IAEA safeguards within the context of non-proliferation. The international community had been working tirelessly for nuclear disarmament, but one had to admit that nuclear tests had been held, which could start an arms race. Togo urged States that had not yet ratified the Test-Ban Treaty to do so.
He said that terrorism was on the rise and had gained a foothold, yet there was still no have adequate means to defeat it. Regarding nuclear terrorism in particular, appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that nuclear weapons did not fall into the wrong hands. Togo had taken part actively in a regional African seminar in Morocco on nuclear security and global initiatives. It had also joined the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and had filed its official notification concerning accession.
Togo remained convinced that non-proliferation should include strengthening the weapons of mass destruction regime articulated by the Security Council, he said, adding the hope that the international community would provide assistance to countries to fill the gaps most commonly seen in the application of Security Council resolutions. In conclusion, Togo quoted a statement made by another delegate concerning the need to have the means to fight nuclear terrorism, noting that “terrorism should not take the elevator up while States took the stairs.”
NONGYOW THONGTON (Thailand), associating with the statement made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said that her country shared the concern about the apparent lack of progress in the intertwined challenges of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, but believed that “frustration should be channelled” towards joint determination in eliminating nuclear weapons, and that strong political will and practical measures were required of both nuclear- and non-nuclear-armed States. The vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world would never be realized if nuclear testing continued, and Thailand reaffirmed its strong commitment to accelerating the entry into force and universalization of the Test-Ban Treaty. The next milestone would be a fissile material cut-off treaty. Negative security assurances also played a vital part in reducing incentives for nuclear proliferation, and she called for a universal and legally binding agreement. She hoped the Conference on Disarmament would soon be able to begin those negotiations, she said, reiterating strong support for expanding that body’s membership. At less than one third of that of the United Nations, it could not reflect global challenges and needs.
“We live in uncertain times,” she said, cautioning that the unpredictable nature of terrorist attacks made it prudent to place nuclear security among the top priorities on the global agenda. For its part, Thailand was committed to implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and was in the process of strengthening its export control regime. It had also participated actively in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
Regional mechanisms played an important role towards attainment of a nuclear-weapon-free world, she said, noting that her country was actively promoting the Treaty of Bangkok. She underscored the importance of establishing such zones, which were effective regionally, but also played a pivotal role in confidence-building and preventive diplomacy. She, thus, welcomed the upcoming conference on a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East. At the same time, the country recognized the inalienable right of States to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and commended IAEA’s role in that regard. Thailand was convinced that multilateral agreements were crucial to achieving the common global goal of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It remained hopeful that, despite many pressing challenges, the international community would be able to see substantive progress in the upcoming negotiations and deliver the result awaited by all.
DANIJELA ČUBRILO ( Serbia), aligning with the European Union, said that Serbia shared the conviction that the risks from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction presented the greatest challenge to international peace. Despite the success of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, joint efforts must be intensified in order to translate its conclusions and recommendations into real results. A serious stumbling block to the implementation of the Action Plan was the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament. Serbia attached particular importance to an early commencement of negotiations on a fissile material ban treaty. The country had taken extensive legislative, regulatory and other measures to enhance implementation of the NPT, including by adopting a law, in 2009, on protection against ionizing radiation and nuclear security.
She said her country had also actively cooperated with the IAEA. Additionally, through a project for the repatriation of spent nuclear fuel, of the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences to the Russian Federation, Serbia had joined the group of countries no longer having enriched uranium on their territories. Through the “VIND” project, her country had contributed in a practical manner to international efforts to prevent nuclear-weapon proliferation. Serbia also attached great importance to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and had pursued numerous activities with the aim of improving its legislation, standards and practices in that respect. In 2012, it had submitted the updated national report on measures taken to implement that text, and it had adopted the National Action Plan for its implementation for the period 2012-2016. It had been the first country in the wider region to have adopted such a plan.
Serbia had ratified the Test-Ban Treaty in 2004 and remained firmly committed to its goals, she said. It also strongly believed that the Treaty’s entry into force would significantly contribute to reinforcing global peace. All efforts should be made to ensure the Treaty’s operation, and she called on States that had not yet signed or ratified it to do so. Meanwhile, she stressed the need to uphold moratoriums on nuclear test explosions with the understanding that they were no alternative to the comprehensive legal obligations deriving from the CTBT. Serbia supported the establishment of an effective monitoring and verification system with credible control and detection capabilities. It also welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to organize the high-level meeting on countering nuclear terrorism, which focused on strengthening the legal framework.
CORNEL FERUŢĂ (Romania), aligning his statement with that of the European Union, said his delegation shared the concern regarding the lack of progress on disarmament arrangements, particularly the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament. The entire international community shared responsibility for concrete results towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Romania was strongly committed to effective multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms, for which the NPT was the foundation. The international community needed to act firmly in order to further strengthen the non-proliferation regime, which included implementation of the IAEA comprehensive safeguards and the Additional Protocol. The Agency should be equipped with the necessary resources to fulfil its mandate, and it must benefit from the political support of all its Member States in order to perform its tasks at the highest professional standards.
He endorsed the Joint Ministerial Statement of the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, adopted in September, and firmly supported that Treaty’s entry into force as an important step in achieving nuclear disarmament and strengthening the non-proliferation regime. Romania had constantly supported the efforts of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna to bolster the Treaty’s verification mechanism. As a concrete step in that regard, Romania had hosted the 2011 National Data Center Evaluation Workshop in Bucharest. Much work remained to be done, but he looked forward to opportunities to engage in a flexible and constructive manner on disarmament and non-proliferation issues.
HAMID AL BAYATI ( Iraq) said his Government was keen to pursue a new path of confidence building and transparency in its relationship with the international community in order to contribute to the restoration of the international status the country had enjoyed before the adoption of Security Council resolution 661 in 1990, following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The Government had taken a number of steps towards non-proliferation and disarmament by joining related conventions and implementing their commitments.
He said his country believed in the importance of promoting the universality of the NPT. Concerning the Test-Ban Treaty, Iraq was convinced that it was one of the main pillars for guaranteeing the achievement of international security, and it had signed the Treaty on 18 August 2008. Since then, the Iraqi Council of Representatives had granted the approval for Iraq to join the treaty. He called on all countries to join the treaty and welcomed Indonesia’s ratification.
BENNO LAGGNER ( Switzerland) said that nuclear weapons had the capacity to kill millions, perhaps billions, of people. Their effects were uncontrollable in space and time. Their use, in any form or way, would cause widespread, severe and long-term damage to life on the planet. Developing stronger and more far-reaching international instruments to ban the use of those weapons and to eliminate them and all other weapons of mass destruction was therefore an imperative.
Joining other countries in concern over progress in the disarmament arena, he said Switzerland was particularly concerned about the development of new weapons systems or plans to that effect. It implied that nuclear-armed States would maintain those weapons for decades to come, which raised fundamental questions about their willingness to implement their disarmament commitments. The twenty-first century security architecture should not be based on such indiscriminate and inhumane weapons, and thought must be given to developing a new global security concept. He called for renewed disarmament commitments, in particular, by States with the largest arsenals. The United States and the Russian Federation bore special responsibility for launching a new round of negotiations on making deeper cuts that included all kinds of nuclear weapons. That necessary step would ensure subsequent reciprocal steps by other State possessors.
Delineating national efforts to further the cause of disarmament, he said that Switzerland was encouraged by the increasing attention being given to the humanitarian dimension of nuclear disarmament. A better understanding of the impact of nuclear explosions would pave the way to a multilateral process to ban nuclear weapons based on their destructive, indiscriminate and inhumane nature. Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were inextricably linked, and for that reason, Switzerland was concerned about unresolved proliferation cases, as any spread of nuclear weapons would be a grave threat to peace and security.
DEBORAH PANCKHURST ( New Zealand), associating with the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) and the statement delivered by Switzerland yesterday on behalf of the De-alerting Group, said her country’s long-standing commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation stemmed from its belief that nuclear weapons did not make the world a safer place. The only guarantee that nuclear weapons would not be used again was their complete and total elimination. New Zealand believed that NAC’s draft resolution addressed a number of nuclear disarmament issues on which progress was essential.
She said her country was concerned that large numbers of nuclear weapons remained today at high levels of readiness, and she urged nuclear-weapon States to take action to lower their operational readiness. The entry into force of the CTBT was another important step, and New Zealand called on all States that had not yet done so to ratify it. New Zealand was pleased to join with Australia and Mexico in promoting a resolution on the CTBT, which recognized the importance of the Treaty in their framework of efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.
New Zealand had long held that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing processes requiring urgent action on both fronts, she said, calling on all States to take steps to meet their non-proliferation obligations. New Zealand also welcomed efforts to strengthen existing zones and to establish new ones, as those were a powerful demonstration of the strong collective will that existed regionally to rid the world of nuclear weapons. New Zealand was pleased again this year to present, with Brazil, their biennial resolution titled, “Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas”. Nuclear weapons had no place in today’s world, as no State would be immune from their devastating impact.
KANG MYONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating with the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that since 1945, when the first nuclear weapon resulted from the Manhattan Project, humanity had lived in fear and unrest. Major Powers had insisted on the need to possess nuclear weapons for security reasons, but humankind would never be free from the threat of holocaust and doom as long as those weapons existed. But while it was the aspiration and desire of the international community to open an era of lasting peace in the twenty-first century, the realities showed that major Powers relied on nuclear weapons more than ever before. The nuclear doctrine of mutual deterrence had been modified to one of nuclear pre-emptive strike, and the nuclear threat had become more blatant and ever-increasing.
He said that fairness was “forced silent” in international relations. Debates on disarmament at the United Nations did not address threats and challenges, but were distracted by unrealistic assertions on marginal issues. Fumbling with the “branches” rather than dealing with the root cause was a waste of time, producing no proper solution and extending meaningless dispute. Nuclear disarmament was the first and foremost priority, and the only absolute solution to nuclear non-proliferation, which stemmed from the use or threat of use of those weapons by nuclear-weapon States.
The main obstacle to durable peace on the Korean peninsula was the United States’ hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which had deep historical roots, he said. Long before the rise of the nuclear issue, the United States had defined the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as an enemy and refused to recognize its sovereignty. Military attacks and nuclear threats aimed at eliminating the ideology and system of his country had been committed openly, and economic sanctions and international pressure for isolating and suffocating the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been persistent. Thus, his country had opted for nuclear deterrence not because it pursued any nuclear ambition, but because it had to. If the United States showed courage through action by withdrawing its hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, his country would at any time be ready to improve bilateral relations on the principles of respect for sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit.
Saying he wished to respond to some earlier statements, he said that made by the South Korean delegation did not deserve even a passing note, since South Korea had no sovereign right and was at the beck and call of the United States. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had the status of a full-fledged nuclear-weapon State, whereas South Korea was a “subordinate under the U.S.”.
He said that some European countries, such as France and the Netherlands, had said in their statements that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should abandon its nuclear programme. He reiterated that his country possessed “nuclear deterrent” to counter the threats of the United States; it was self-defensive in nature. Furthermore, “the DPRK has nothing to do with the IAEA or the NPT because it is not a party to either of them.” As far as uranium enrichment and construction of a light water reactor were concerned, they were for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
A piece of advice, he said, to those countries with a biased view of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula: before you say anything about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear programme, how about urging the United States to stop bullying small countries with its nuclear weapons? If you have no guts to say so, then you should keep silent, otherwise it would be construed as flattery to the United States.
MIRA CHATT ( Canada) expressed satisfaction with the largely constructive exchange at the NPT Preparatory Committee meeting and said that it was important that the current review cycle had gotten under way without the procedural delays that had plagued the start of the last one. Strengthening governance and accountability could be usefully addressed in the current review cycle.
Regarding nuclear proliferation, she said her country was profoundly concerned by the three blatant cases of non-compliance with nuclear non-proliferation obligations. Iran’s nuclear programme could only be seen as an effort to acquire a nuclear weapon capability, and its non-compliance with international law and lack of respect for its safeguards and obligations devalued the work done to ensure the safe use of nuclear power. Canada called on Iran, North Korea and Syria in the strongest terms to abide by relevant Security Council resolutions and cooperate fully with the IAEA and the international community to resolve outstanding questions about their nuclear activities.
There also remained unfinished business to advance key instruments, she said. The Conference on Disarmament had again failed to reach an agreement on a comprehensive Programme of Work that included negotiations on a fissile material ban. Canada would table a draft resolution that aimed to follow up on the call made in the 2011 text to have the General Assembly consider options for the negotiation of a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. That the Conference had failed to agree on a work programme every year since 1998 was “cause for ridicule”, and that North Korea had chaired that disarmament body was also “rather absurd”.
Entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty also remained elusive, she said, noting that her country had been pleased to co-host a “Friends of the CTBT” Ministerial meeting on 27 September. She encouraged any State that had not yet done so to add their voice to the international chorus in favour of the full implementation of the CTBT and its verification system. Canada had recently concluded a contribution agreement with the CTBTO in Vienna to provide state-of-the-art Canadian equipment to bolster that organization’s on-site inspection capabilities. Since 2002, Canada had invested more than $880 million in programming worldwide to combat the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction. Canada’s Prime Minster had renewed the country’s programme, Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, until 2018, with $367 million in funding.
JORGE VALERO (Venezuela), associating with Indonesia and Peru on behalf of the Union of South American nations, said the world was full of tensions and the system of global relations that attempted to regulate States’ behaviour was under constant threat. There were armed interventions with disregard to the Security Council, the United Nations and international law. Ambitions of world domination by certain imperial Powers were on the agenda and undermined the possibility of moving towards a peaceful world without nuclear weapons. New concepts of permanent war were created to justify the preservation and moderation of nuclear arsenals, for example though the possibility of so-called “rogue States” getting nuclear weapons. Arsenals with the capacity to destroy the world several times over still existed. The process of modernizing nuclear weapons was accelerating and spread to outer space. There were few signs that the international community was on the path towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
He said the international community seemed to be entering a phase of the normalization of nuclear arsenals. A new cold war accompanied by a new arms race was a real and imminent danger. Many would argue that production of nuclear weapons need not lead to nuclear war and contributed to deterrence and peaceful coexistence among nuclear-weapon States. They claimed that they wanted to avoid nuclear confrontation and presumed that nuclear exchange would never happen. Given those positions, progress in reducing nuclear arsenals below the threshold was not foreseen in the near future. Yet, there was no guarantee that nuclear war would not happen. The future could not rest on the false confidence of a few States. Venezuela believed that the adoption of multilateral agreements was a priority of mankind and that the international community must devote itself to negotiating such agreements through the Conference on Disarmament. Venezuela intended to contribute to the development of new international geopolitics for a multi-centred multipolar world to achieve balance. Nuclear Powers had primary responsibility for fulfilling their commitments under the NPT, in order to strengthen global peace and security and ensure survival of the human species.
INGA NYHAMAR ( Norway) said that the consequences of any nuclear detonation would be global, whether caused by a State’s intentional use, terrorist action or accident. Norway would hold a conference in 2013 in Oslo on the humanitarian impact of nuclear detonations and the ability for the international community to respond to each disaster credibly and effectively. That conference would create an arena to discuss immediate as well as long-term effects and consequences, and the actual state of preparedness to provide an adequate humanitarian response. The conference would cover themes such as preparedness, protection, civilian loss of life and damage, humanitarian efforts and response capacity, refugee flows, health issues, and climate effects.
Throughout the history of the United Nations, she said, the humanitarian perspective had grown stronger in international political and international arms control. The humanitarian impact of weapons was increasingly becoming a key consideration, but, nuclear weapons were rarely seen in that light. That might be about to change, however, given the increasing awareness of the humanitarian impact; that was the most fundamental motivation for all of the international community’s efforts for disarmament, non-proliferation and nuclear security.
She urged Iran to restore international confidence concerning its nuclear activities, and condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s violation of relevant Security Council resolutions, and she urged Syria to cooperate with the IAEA. She called for the immediate commencement of negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty, also stressing that the process for bringing stocks of fissile materials under IAEA safeguards should be accelerated. Additionally, further steps needed to be taken to bring the CTBT into force.
JO ADAMSON (United Kingdom), associating with the European Union, said that in recent years there had been tangible steps towards the nuclear disarmament goal, but a commitment must be made to a shared future where each was prepared to do their part for a stable world. That was of fundamental importance. The United Kingdom remained committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons and had a strong record of meeting its commitments as a nuclear-weapon State.
She said that while the environment was so uncertain, the United Kingdom held an effective minimum deterrent in a safe and secure manner. It had declared for the first time in 2010 its maximum number of nuclear warheads in the United Kingdom’ stockpile and concluded that it could meet the minimum necessary requirements for credible deterrence with a smaller nuclear weapons capability. It had announced that by the mid-2020s, it would reduce its warheads on board each of its submarines from 48 to 40. It would reduce the requirement for operationally available warheads to no more than 120, and reduce the number of operational missiles on the Vanguard class submarines to no more than 8 and reduce overall its nuclear weapons stockpile to no more than 180. It was implementing its reduction programme early, and at least one submarine now carried a maximum of 40 warheads. Further, it would reduce its available warheads to 120 by the next NPT Review Conference of 2015. It had also announced new stronger security assurances that it would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States parties to and in compliance with the NPT.
The United Kingdom had been working to make progress multilaterally, she said, noting that a conference in June had offered the opportunity for the P5 States to meet and discuss their NPT obligations. That had been significant, not only for substantive discussion, but also for continuing to build trust and confidence between those States, as well as for public outreach with non-governmental organizations and non-nuclear-armed States. The P5 had responsibilities, but the international community must not forget that so did all parties.
In other developments, she noted that the United Kingdom and Norway were collaborating on verification matters. Her country continued to push for progress on multilateral instruments and believed the entry into force of the CTBT was key. In that, the United Kingdom lent its support to a project to promote the Treaty’s signature and ratification by small island countries. Her country wanted to see the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, without which, the international community had no legally binding way of putting a stop to the production of that material for use in nuclear weapons.
With regard to non-proliferation challenges, she said that nowhere were those more evident than in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Her country was concerned at the latter’s enriched uranium and light water reactor construction, as well as Iran’s capacity to produce 20 per cent enriched uranium, which had no plausible civilian use. The international community must be united regarding Iran to encourage it to engage meaningfully and rebuild international confidence in the peaceful nature of its programme.
The United Kingdom continued to support a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, she said. It was co-convener of the conference on the issue and believed that in order to have constructive dialogue the engagement of all States in the region was required. With regard to other nuclear-weapon-free zones, her country believed that they contributed greatly to enhancing security. In December 2011, the P5 had reached an agreement for a Protocol to the Treaty of Bangkok and was disappointed that the signing ceremony had been postponed. Those States remained strongly committed to signing that Protocol as soon as possible and by signing and ratifying would agree not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against its 10 States parties. Her country encouraged the P5 and ASEAN to seize the window that was now available to clinch the Protocol and not let that window of opportunity close. The United Kingdom further demonstrated its commitment to such zones by signing the agreement for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Mongolia.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said that the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1969 on the legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was a significant milestone in international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, as it lent a moral argument for the total elimination of those weapons. Today, 19,000 nuclear weapons remained, ready for use.
Since 1996, he noted, Malaysia had tabled the resolution on the “Follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons” and was doing so again this year. The elements contained in the text (document A/C.1/67/L.9) centred on the call for negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention to prohibit the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and provide for their elimination.
An incremental comprehensive approach would enable States to reach a balanced implementation of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, he said. That also ensured that the NPT remained the cornerstone in the maintenance of international peace and security by totally eliminating nuclear weapons. In order to move ahead, consensus was required to begin that important multilateral process.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Syria said that his delegation believed that later on, certain countries, the Netherlands and Norway, would be blaming Syria and making it seem like Syria was responsible for the hole in the ozone, climate change and the extinction of certain species. That meant that they were simply ignoring facts. That double standard approach ignored the measures of Israel’s nuclear weapons programmes and also flouted national and international law.
He said that the Netherlands had been violating the NPT because it possessed nuclear weapons within its territory. It participated in the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. In 1992, there had been an accident with an airplane near Amsterdam that was carrying nuclear material while it was flying towards Israel. That egregious and most striking hypocrisy must be the bombing in Syria in 2007, which was a violation of international law and showed total disregard for the non-proliferation regime, but not a single Western country had spoken up to denounce that action. In a meeting with 27 European Union Ambassadors, many of those Ambassadors had admitted behind closed doors that not speaking about that incident undermined their own credibility and moral authority to speak out on other issues, such as human rights violations. He wished to see countries, such as the Netherlands and Norway, look at the Middle East on a credible and ethical basis and not launch allegations that had political aims.
Also speaking in exercise of the right or reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that throughout the past two weeks week, many States had expressed serous concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missile program, which posed a serious threat to peace and security on the Korean peninsula. Many countries, including the Republic of Korea, had urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to the international regime and comply with obligations under the IAEA and the NPT.
He said that countries had the right to engage in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, but the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had developed its nuclear weapons programme within the NPT regime and had declared its withdrawal, which had severely undermined the NPT’s foundations. The right to use nuclear energy peacefully should not be used as a disguise for a nuclear weapons programme, as was the case with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He drew attention to Security Council resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), as well as the final document of the NPT in 2010 and several IAEA documents on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea issue, clearly affirming that it could not, under any circumstances, have the status of a nuclear-weapon State. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must respond to the international community and denuclearize without delay.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the north and south of Korea were one nation and shared the same language and customs, and should not bandy words about in front of the international community instead of seeking reconciliation.
But since the Republic of Korea had spoken first, he would say a few words and reiterate his position, which was that North Korea possessed nuclear weapons to counter the nuclear threats of the United States, which had persisted for more than half a century. As far as uranium enrichment was concerned, that was being done only for peaceful purposes. North Korea was already a full-fledged nuclear-weapon State and did not feel any need to publicly be recognized as such. It was satisfied that it was capable of reliably defending the sovereignty and security with its own nuclear weapons.
Alluding to the Republic of Korea, he said: “a puppy knows no fear of a tiger”. The Republic of Korea should stop following blindly in the footsteps of the United States hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, adding, that when it was ready to come out from under the military umbrella of the United States, “then we’ll talk”.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, speaking again in exercise of the right of reply, said that in regard to an allegation made by the delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, that country had developed its nuclear weapons programme and launched a ballistic missile. It had repeatedly ignored and violated international regimes, including the IAEA, NPT, and resolutions of the Security Council. Such behaviour had posed a serious threat to peace and security in the Korean peninsula, north-east Asia and the whole world.
He said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had conducted nuclear tests and launched a ballistic missile “at the cost of people’s lives”, in that it had spent huge amounts of its resources on nuclear and ballistic missile programmes while the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea suffered from chronic food shortages. To relieve those food shortages, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had appealed to international organizations for humanitarian assistance even though they had persistently violated international regimes. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should focus on improving the basic living conditions of its people by abandoning nuclear weapons in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking again in exercise of the right of reply, reiterated that the principled position vis-à-vis the nuclear issue was that its possession of nuclear weapons was directly linked to the nuclear threats of the United States. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons would continue long-term unless the United States dropped its hostile policy towards it. Now that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had a solid guarantee of peace and security, economic development would follow.
* *** *For information media • not an official record