Continuing CHAPTER I

Conference on Disarmament 2004

Nuclear disarmament

In 2004, the Conference on Disarmament once again could not adopt a programme of work. Consequently, it did not establish a subsidiary body to deal with nuclear disarmament. The issue of nuclear disarmament was therefore addressed in its plenary meetings. With a view to the upcoming 2005 NPT Review Conference, several references were made to the outcomes of previous NPT Review Conferences and, in particular, to the "13 practical steps" for systematic and progressive efforts towards nuclear disarmament. Concerns related to the proliferation of WMD, in particular nuclear weapons and related technologies, both to States and non-state actors remained high on the Conference's agenda. The importance of the Security Council Resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1540 (2004) was underscored on several occasions.
The proposal on the programme of work by five former Presidents of the Conference (the so-called A5 Proposal) was considered, as was the case last year, by many delegations as the preferred basis for a programme of work.1
While the Non-Aligned Movement continued to give the highest priority to nuclear disarmament,2 the Western Group underscored the importance of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT). China continued to emphasize the issue of the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS).3 In the same context, Pakistan noted that the A5 proposal contained four items which had to be addressed (FMCT, nuclear disarmament, PAROS and negative security assurances).4
A view was expressed that issues such as WMD proliferation including the double standard in the perception of such weapons, the traffic in fissile material, obstacles concerning the establishment of NWFZs as well as the growing menace of terrorism and WMD required the immediate attention of the Conference on Disarmament.5
Libya's decision to ratify the CTBT was widely welcomed, as was Iran's signature, on 18 December 2003, of the IAEA Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement.6
Iran considered nuclear disarmament to be a priority of the Conference on Disarmament and noted that no progress had been made in that field, particularly the implementation of the thirteen steps adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Moreover, it questioned the value of current unilateral and bilateral initiatives to reduce nuclear weapons as they lacked international verification measures and could be reversed at any time. Furthermore, it defended its own right of access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.7
Several Arab countries recalled the pledges made by the nuclear-weapon States at the 2000 NPT Review Conference to make progress towards the complete dismantlement of their nuclear arsenals. Those pledges have yet to be implemented and the results of the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the seventh NPT Review Conference were hardly encouraging.8 The Arab Group attached great importance to disarmament issues, particularly nuclear disarmament, out of a sincere desire to create security, stability and peace at the international and regional levels.9 The Group underscored that over the past three decades, the Arab States had adopted clear policies on disarmament, ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and launched several initiatives to rid the Middle East region of WMD, particularly nuclear weapons, including the setting up of a committee of government experts in the League of Arab States to prepare a draft treaty to make the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. The Group believed that, in the light of the situation in the Middle East, it was now more important than ever for the international community to consider adopting effective and practical alternatives to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction.10 In that regard, Syria recalled that on behalf of the Arab Group it had presented an initiative to the Security Council in April 2003 concerning the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.11
The United States suggested that States should enact and enforce effective domestic laws and controls that supported non-proliferation. It noted that the NPT sought to strike a balance between preventing proliferation and permitting maximum scope for States to pursue peaceful nuclear programmes. It maintained that resolving the problem of proliferation would not be quick or easy as terrorists and outlaw regimes would not be dissuaded by high-minded speeches or written agreements. It stated that the first step could be fostering an environment in which outlaw behavior would be met with universal condemnation and with real consequences that would make the cost of proliferation unsustainable.12
The United Kingdom declared that the greatest contribution that non-nuclear-weapon States could make to nuclear disarmament was to continue to renounce nuclear weapons and to assure that their partners did the same. It added that the existing nuclear-weapon States could greatly contribute by refraining from testing and manufacturing fissile material and by continuing to reduce their arsenals to the minimum level.13 It declared that while the existing nuclear-weapon States had reduced their arsenals and were continuing to do so; proliferation still continued.14 It considered that the inevitability of gradualism would continue to operate for obvious reasons and that once the perception of threat was eliminated, the salience of nuclear weapons in security policies would lessen.15
Both the United States and United Kingdom spoke extensively on the issue of counter-proliferation. The latter read out a recent statement by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, while Ambassador Sanders of the United States cited the practical steps identified by President Bush, in his 11 February 2004 address to discourage proliferation.16
Nigeria felt that the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament had generated certain impressions around the world that questioned the bona fide non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament commitments of the nuclear powers. The continuing technological sophistication of those weapons in violation of the commitment under Article VI of the NPT reinforced those impressions. It believed that the five major nuclear powers, as permanent members of the Security Council (P5), should recommit themselves to genuine nuclear disarmament, because any presumption of their indefinitive possession of nuclear weapons would not be compatible with sustaining global non-proliferation. As a first, tangible step in that direction, the P5 should take the lead to ensure the early entry into force of the CTBT, as a demonstration of good faith in that regard.17 Nigeria stressed the need for the Conference on Disarmament to take into account the interrelationship between disarmament, global security and common development in order to see their way through in the Conference.18
Bangladesh strongly supported regional approaches to nuclear disarmament, including the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in South Asia, in the Middle East and in other parts of the world.19
Japan underscored its efforts to promote nuclear disarmament by aiming to achieve a peaceful and secure world, free of nuclear weapons. Its resolution to the UN General Assembly on nuclear disarmament entitled "A path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons", garnered 164 affirmative votes last December, the largest since its first adoption in 2000.20
Ireland considered that preserving the integrity of the NPT meant respecting all its provisions and the commitments freely undertaken at the previous NPT Review Conferences. Together with the other New Agenda Coalition partners, it worked to implement Article VI of the NPT to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear arsenals.21
The Netherlands and Canada explored "innovative" approaches to expanding the legal framework of the non-proliferation regime, including the elements referred to by IAEA Director General El Baradei and President Bush, namely a rigid system of export controls, international control of the nuclear fuel cycle and the Proliferation Security Initiative.
The Netherlands, on behalf of the European Union, presented a comprehensive approach on key emerging threats, namely: terrorism, WMD proliferation, organized crime, State failure and regional conflicts.22 To address those threats, the EU based its approach on multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, non-proliferation mainstreaming in other policies, support of the multilateral institutions charged with verification of compliance with relevant instruments, enhanced consequence management capabilities and coordination, and national as well as international export controls. Furthermore, the EU placed emphasis on regional solutions for regional problems as well as on an international order based on the rule of law and effective multilateralism. That approach was translated into active policies, which, inter alia, included fostering the role of the Security Council with regard to implementing resolutions 1373 and 1540.

Fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices

In 2004, as in previous years, difficulties over reaching an agreement on a comprehensive programme of work which would take into account the negotiating priorities of all Member States, prevented the Conference on Disarmament from re-establishing the Ad Hoc Committee which worked shortly in 1998. The issue of the prohibition of the production of fissile material for weapons purposes was addressed during plenary meetings, as well as an informal plenary meeting devoted to considering issues under item 1 of the agenda of the Conference - "Cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament".
During the first half of the session, delegations reiterated their well-established views on the subject. In addition, the Republic of Korea was of the view that nuclear -weapon States might voluntarily declare a moratorium on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons even before the conclusion of negotiations. It also advocated the broadest participation in the negotiations, including non-parties to the NPT. Poland, recalling that in its 1998 report the Conference recommended the reestablishment at the beginning of its 1999 session of the Ad Hoc Committee on the prohibition of the production of fissile material, was of the opinion that the re-establishment of this committee was a key element in rebuilding the credibility of the Conference. The Netherlands recalled its contributions to an informal process over the last few years to keep the FMCT alive in Geneva. The NAM States, and particularly Bangladesh and Syria emphasized that any treaty on the prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons must include the existing stockpiles of such material. Algeria was of the view that a convention prohibiting the production of fissile material for military purposes, with verification and controls over existing stockpiles, should be an element of a global approach to nuclear disarmament. It added that a convention should also include an instrument to assure the NNWS against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, a convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and a treaty to eliminate them. In such an approach, the fissile material ban would be restored to the framework of nuclear disarmament, achievements in limiting and reducing nuclear stockpiles would be incorporated in a multilateral process and the legitimate fears of the NNWS would be taken up in a legally-binding regime that would build confidence among nations.
The issue of the prohibition of a production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices was discussed in a more detailed way at the informal plenary meeting devoted to the item "cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament". Later, the President of the Conference on Disarmament, drew attention to a proposal on the establishment of an expert group to address technical issues related to the prohibition of the production of fissile materials. Recalling similar expert groups dealing with the verification of the prohibition of nuclear weapon tests, the President believed that such a mechanism would facilitate better understanding of the complexities involved in a ban on fissile material. Norway noted that during the informal plenary meeting several delegations regarding negotiations on an FMCT as their priority also expressed their willingness to address other issues in the Conference as well. On the other hand, those who advocated the prominence of nuclear disarmament or PAROS did not reject the importance of an FMCT. Norway considered it to be an encouraging development.
At the beginning of the third part of the session, the United States announced its new position on an FMCT. Reaffirming its commitment to the negotiations in the Conference of a legally-binding treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, it announced that its policy review had raised serious concerns that realistic, effective verification of an FMCT was not achievable. The United States also emphasized also that an FMCT was ripe for negotiations and achievable, but it must have a clean mandate that was not linked to any other unrelated proposals for the Conference's ad hoc committees.
Many delegations welcomed the statement by the United States and offered some preliminary comments. The United Kingdom, reiterating its support for negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament and recalling its view that an FMCT should be effectively verifiable, stated that it would approach the United States proposal with an open mind in the hope that it would permit early agreement to start work in the Conference. It also confirmed the maintenance of the moratorium on producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom believed that an FMCT should be approached separately on its own merit and not as a part of a comprehensive package. France, reiterating its support for negotiations on an FMCT, emphasized its openness to proposals which could help re-launch them. Accordingly France was ready to consider the United States proposal. The Netherlands welcomed the finalization of the review of an FMCT by the United States and was looking forward to having a substantive debate on the verifiability concerns of such a treaty. In this connection, the Netherlands hoped that discussions on verifiability could be conducted without any premature conclusions. Japan, welcoming the United States statement, believed that it opened a new window of opportunity for the Conference to start negotiations on a legally-binding FMCT. Japan maintained that the treaty should be effectively verifiable, since an effective verification mechanism was essential for the transparency and accountability of fissile material production, thus ensuring the credibility of the treaty. Similarly, Australia believed that an FMCT should include appropriate verification arrangements. Australia recalled its so-called "focused approach" for effective and cost-efficient FMCT verification. Under this approach, verification measures would apply to fissile material produced after the treaty's entry into force, and to the enrichment and reprocessing plants. Australia was ready to work with the United States and others to ensure effective FMCT verification and emphasized that the first objective was to secure a start to FMCT negotiations so that verification and other issues could be taken forward. China attached importance to the United States proposal on an FMCT, and hoped for further clarification of issues, particularly those related to the mandate of the ad hoc committee on an FMCT, verification and the content of the treaty framework. Argentina was convinced that the United States support for FMCT negotiations combined with the broadly expressed support from members of the Conference offered hopes for speedy approval of the Conference's programme of work. Germany noted that it would thoroughly examine the results of the United States review of an FMCT. Germany also emphasized that a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons was the next logical step in the process of multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It felt that the negotiations should be based on the Shannon mandate, which was also contained in the revised A-5 proposal and which called for a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable FMCT.

Negative security assurances

Many non-nuclear-weapon States reaffirmed their active interest in the issue of negative security assurances (NSA).
Syria affirmed the need for a binding instrument on effective international arrangements and measures to assure NNWS against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.23
Nigeria stated that the lack of seriousness in nuclear disarmament had unfortunately generated certain impressions around the world, questioning the bona fide commitment of the nuclear Powers to non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Moreover, the refusal to conclude a legally-binding multilateral agreement to extend negative security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons to NNWS only reinforced those impressions.24
For its part, the DPRK also asserted that nuclear non-proliferation could only be meaningfully sustained if the NNWS were assured, under legally-binding commitments, that their independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty would be safeguarded against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.25
Norway stated that NWS should deal with NSA issues seriously.26 The Netherlands maintained that legally-binding negative security guarantees by the NWS would strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime by taking away one rationale for some countries to seek nuclear weapons.27
Bangladesh affirmed that NNWS parties to the NPT had a legitimate right to receive an unconditional assurance from the NWS that they would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against them. It was therefore critically important that renewed and vigorous efforts were taken on a priority basis to conclude a universal, unconditional and legally-binding instrument to provide security assurances to NNWS.28

1CD/1693, 23 January 2003. This and all subsequent documents of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) are available from http://disarmament.
2CD/PV.941 (20 January 2004).
3CD/PV.946 (12 February 2004).
4CD/PV.962 (29 July 2004).
5 CD/PV.944 (29 January 2004).
6CD/PV.941, op. cit., p. 3.
7CD/PV.944, op. cit., pp. 2-5.
8CD/PV.958 (3 June 2004).
9Ibid., p. 6.
11CD/PV.943 (10 August 2004).
12CD/PV.948 (26 February 2004).
13CD/PV.968 (7 September 2004).
14Ibid., p.4.
16CD/PV.948 (26 February 2004).
17CD/PV.950 (11 March 2004).
18Ibid., p. 10.
19CD/PV.951 (16 March 2004).
20CD/PV.950 (11 March 2004).
21CD/PV.951, op. cit., p. 10.
22CD/PV.963 (5 August 2004).
23CD/PV.943, op. cit., p.3.
24CD/PV.950, op. cit., p.9.
25CD/PV.951, op. cit. p.22.
26CD/PV.962 (29 July 2004)
27CD/PV.952 (17 March 2004)
28CD/PV.951, op. cit., p.14.