Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Challenges Highlight Regional  Fora

        Following opening remarks by Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuyasu Abe, and the Governor of Jeju Island, participants formed four plenary groups. 

            The group examining recent trends in WMD and their challenges to security sought progress on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and proposed establishing a negotiating group in that body. Some speakers supported negotiations outside the CD among like-minded States; others insisted on involving from the outset States that held weapons grade fissile materials; still others considered an open-ended group to discuss technical issues.  Discussions on the “13 steps” in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference led to recommendations that the United States take a lead in offering an alternative process; that some action be taken by the nuclear weapon States (NWS) to keep the non nuclear-weapon States (NNWS) faithful to their Treaty obligations; and that the strategic role of nuclear weapons be reduced to facilitate disarmament. 

            The group addressing prospects and challenges of the 2005 NPT Review Conference highlighted new cases of non-compliance and the DPRK’s withdrawal from the Treaty. Priority was given to universalization of both the NPT and the Additional Protocol to the IAEA safeguards agreements; early commencement of FMCT negotiations; further nuclear disarmament by the NWS, and the promotion of disarmament and non-proliferation education.  In the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, participants heard a presentation on “smart proliferation” – a strategy where under cover of a peaceful nuclear programme, nuclear material and other capabilities are acquired and kept in reserve until the political decision is taken to weaponize upon withdrawing from treaty-based obligations. Two proposals to limit the proliferation potential of the nuclear fuel cycle were also discussed:  one by the IAEA Director and the other by US President Bush. It was concluded that both would lead to further restrictions on the rights of NNWS to enjoy the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The role of civil society in abolishing nuclear weapons was addressed as well. Lastly, the presentation on Mongolia’s nuclear weapon-free status affirmed its intentions to institutionalize that status at the international level. To that end, the status and structure of a draft trilateral treaty involving China, Mongolia and the Russian Federation with optional protocols for the other three NWS was discussed. 

            Speakers on non-proliferation challenges in northeast Asia focused on Korean nuclear issues – its obstacles, resolution and lessons it posed for global non-proliferation, control of nuclear materials and verification. Participants agreed that the Six-Party talks were the best hope for a solution, but noted that a successful outcome to the process required overcoming considerable political, security and technical difficulties. 

            Five presentations given by the group devoted to missile non-proliferation covered missile non-proliferation in Thailand; overviews of missile proliferation concerns and effective approaches; MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) activities; and cooperative responses to missile proliferation.