Amid deadlock in UN disarmament forum, Ban suggests way forward

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) and General Assembly President Joseph Deiss

27 July 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the world’s sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum remains deadlocked and suggested ways to break the stalemate, including the appointment of a panel of eminent persons, the creation of an ad hoc committee of the General Assembly or a United Nations conference.

“We meet in the midst of a growing crisis of confidence,” said Mr. Ban, addressing the General Assembly’s follow-up gathering on last year’s high-level meeting on the Conference on Disarmament and Multilateral Disarmament Negotiations.

“For too long the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery, in particular the Conference on Disarmament (CD), has failed us,” he said.

Established in 1979 as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community, the CD primarily focuses on cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war, and prevention of an arms race in outer space, among other things.

“If differences persist, we could consider the appointment of a high-level panel of eminent persons, as I have suggested. Alternatively, States could conduct negotiations in an ad hoc committee of the General Assembly or a UN conference,” said the Secretary-General.

He stressed that the international community must never abandon multilateralism, saying that in addressing disarmament, the goal is not to advance the preferences of the few, but the common interests of all.

“If the CD remains deadlocked, the General Assembly has a responsibility to step in. As I have said before, the CD should not be held perpetually hostage by one or two members. Concerns should be addressed through negotiations.

“The world expects progress. Let us defer no longer. Let us put an end to this long cycle of stagnation,” he added.

General Assembly President Joseph Deiss called for greater political will to break the deadlock in the CD.

“It is important that we try to break the current deadlock and to keep an integrated approach to disarmament and non-proliferation,” said Mr. Deiss.

The General Assembly meeting in New York coincided with the 23rd UN Conference on Disarmament Issues in Matsumoto, Japan, where the head of the UN nuclear agency stressed that all States must comply with their obligations under the international nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty.

He named Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Syria as countries that are not in full compliance.

“My approach to nuclear verification since taking up office in December 2009 has been very straightforward – all safeguards agreements between Member States and the Agency, and other relevant obligations such as UN Security Council resolutions, should be implemented fully,” said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” Mr. Amano said in his keynote address to the three-day conference.

He urged Iran to move towards the full implementation of all relevant obligations to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

“The nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains a matter of serious concern,” said Mr. Amano. “As you may know, since April 2009 the agency has not been able to implement any safeguards measures in that country.

“Last year’s reports about the construction of a new uranium enrichment facility and a light water reactor in the DPRK are deeply troubling,” he told the conference, hosted by the Japanese Government, the city of Matsumoto and UN Office for Disarmament Affairs through its Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific.

He called upon the DPRK to fully implement all of the relevant resolutions of the IAEA General Conference and the Security Council.

On Syria, Mr. Amano stated that the IAEA had come to the to the conclusion that it is “very likely” that a building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site in 2007 was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the agency.

“Following my latest report on this subject, the IAEA Board of Governors last month adopted a resolution finding Syria to be in non-compliance with its safeguards obligations. I continue to engage with Syria to resolve related outstanding issues,” he added.

Mr. Amano said IAEA continues to support the creation of new nuclear weapons-free zones and to help in their implementation. He said he was consulting with IAEA Member States on the possibility of convening a forum on the relevance of existing nuclear weapon-free zones and to consider establishing such a zone in the Middle East.

He said IAEA was also committed to making nuclear techniques available in areas such as health care and nutrition, food security, the environment and water resource management.

“I made the issue of cancer in developing countries a high priority for my first year in office because I wanted to ensure that these countries derive maximum benefit from the IAEA’s expertise in nuclear medicine and radiotherapy,” he said. This year, the agency has placed special emphasis on nuclear techniques for water resources management, he added.


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