CHALLENGES TO DISARMAMENT FORMIDABLE, BUT BENEFITS WIDE AND RICH SAYS UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS FIRST COMMITTEE BEGINS DEBATE

30 September 2002
GA/DIS/3224

CHALLENGES TO DISARMAMENT FORMIDABLE, BUT BENEFITS WIDE AND RICH SAYS UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS FIRST COMMITTEE BEGINS DEBATE

30/09/2002
Press ReleaseGA/DIS/3224

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

2nd Meeting (AM)

CHALLENGES TO DISARMAMENT FORMIDABLE, BUT BENEFITS WIDE AND RICH

SAYS UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS FIRST COMMITTEE BEGINS DEBATE

Speakers Call for Revived Multilateral Efforts to Address Global Threats

The administrative and substantive challenges to disarmament were formidable, but the benefits were as wide as they were rich, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this morning, as it began its general debate.

Everyone was a stakeholder in disarmament -- a core priority of the United Nations since its inception -- yet the amount of work remaining was sobering, he said.  His recent proposal to establish an expert international commission on weapons of mass destruction could stimulate some fresh thinking and inspire some concrete action that would lead the world out of the shadow of those weapons -- the possible use of which was "more likely today" than ever before. 

In announcements, he informed members that the States of the Central Asian region (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), which had previously hosted more than 700 tactical nuclear weapons and more than

1,400 former Soviet strategic nuclear weapons, had just agreed on the text of a treaty to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.  He also welcomed the recent decision by Cuba to ratify the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), leaving only three States outside that instrument.

Committee Chairman, Matia Mulumba Semakula Kiwanuka (Uganda) urged the Committee to rekindle the spirit of multilateralism, so vital to addressing global threats.  It must persist in the process of strengthening global norms to eliminate the world's deadliest weapons, promote controls over other weapons that threatened international peace and security, and explore measures to advance conflict prevention and the peaceful resolution of disputes.  The collective support for fixed principles and agreed global norms that had served Member States well over the years should be reaffirmed. 

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Denmark also stressed the challenges to global security and stability posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.  A major concern to the Union had been the lapse of three and a half years since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been able to implement its mandate in Iraq.  It was deeply concerned about the growing proliferation of ballistic

missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction, for which global norms and the increased involvement of the United Nations was urgently needed.

The lack of real progress in nuclear disarmament was more alarming in light of the steady erosion of the multilateral process, the Malaysian representative asserted.  Thousands of nuclear weapons were stockpiled in the arsenals of the nuclear Powers, while nuclear disarmament negotiations languished.  Indeed, in some situations and in the context of emerging security doctrines, the risks of armed conflict involving nuclear weapons might have increased.  Every effort should be made, therefore, to achieve the ultimate goal of the elimination of those horrendous weapons of mass destruction.

Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Mexico, Ireland (on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition), Canada, Peru, New Zealand and Jordan.  The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

(The New Agenda Coalition is a group of seven countries -- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa -- which introduced a resolution at the fifty-third General Assembly session aimed at a nuclear-weapon-free world.)

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) will meet at

10 a.m. Tuesday, 1 October, to continue its general debate. 

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items.  Under-Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala was expected to address the meeting, as well as the following delegations:  Mexico; Ireland on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition; Canada; Denmark on behalf of the European Union; Peru; Malaysia; New Zealand; Jordan; Qatar; and Republic of Korea. 

[The New Agenda Coalition is a group of seven countries -- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa -- which introduced a resolution, at the fifty-third General Assembly session, aimed at a nuclear-weapon-free world].

Statements

MAITA MULUMBA SEMAKULA KIWANUKA (Uganda), Committee Chairman, said that the international security challenges on the Committee's agenda were both wide and deep -- wide in encompassing issues of global scope, and deep in touching upon matters that affected human security at its very roots.  He appealed to the Committee to rekindle the spirit of multilateralism that was so vitally needed to address global threats.  That might be the greatest challenge of all, and one which members must not fail to overcome.

He said the Committee's goals must be to:  continue the process of strengthening global norms to eliminate the deadliest weapons the world had ever known; promote controls over other weapons that threatened international peace and security; and explore measures to advance conflict prevention and the peaceful resolution of disputes.  Several new issues would also be considered, including some that were not yet fully covered by any formal treaty obligations, or, in some cases, not covered at all, such as missiles, small arms and light weapons, information security, and the weaponization of outer space.

The Committee was exploring ways to build and strengthen the architecture of international peace and security, while simultaneously seeking to reinforce the foundation upon which that edifice must rest, he said.  The ways and means of disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control must adapt to changing times, and the collective support for fixed principles and agreed global norms that had served Member States well over the years should be reaffirmed.  In the aftermath of the "shockingly brutal events" of 11 September 2001, observers around the world had sought to understand their occurrence and reduce the chances of similar events ever happening again.

He noted that much of the Committee's agenda had for decades been shaped by the recognition that "overarmament and underdevelopment" threatened international peace and security.  Now, more than ever, the world could see the great distance it still had to travel before it was free of weapons of mass destruction, and other weapons were only used to fulfil international obligations and maintain borders.  The Millennium Declaration stressed the importance of implementing disarmament treaties.  It was fitting, therefore, that nuclear weapons -- the deadliest of such weaponry -- should continue to receive the Committee's utmost attention.

JAYANTHA DHANAPALA, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said that although the substantive and administrative challenges were formidable, the benefits of disarmament were as wide as they were rich.  It could contribute to conflict prevention, regional confidence-building and promote the most precious human right -- the right to life.  Disarmament served the interests of economic development by channelling scarce human and financial resources into more productive pursuits.  It helped address the horrible environmental problems arising from past and ongoing weapons development and production activities.  Everybody was a stakeholder in disarmament -- a core priority of the United Nations since its inception.  Yet, the amount of work remaining was sobering.

Referring to his recent proposal to establish an international commission on weapons of mass destruction, composed of distinguished experts from many countries, he said such a body could examine problems relating to the production, stockpiling, proliferation and terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, as well as their delivery means.  It would produce a report for the international community designed to stimulate some fresh thinking and inspire some concrete action to lead the world out of the shadow of those weapons -- the possible use of which was "more likely today" than ever before.  The answer as to whether

2002 would be remembered merely for being the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the hydrogen bomb or for achieving something more positive for international peace and security was, to a significant extent, "in your hands", he told members.

The verdict on this year's efforts in the disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation fields was mixed, so far, he continued.  He announced that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan had just agreed on the text of a treaty to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia and that the signing should take place as soon as possible.  That region once reportedly hosted more than 700 tactical nuclear weapons -- plus more than

1,400 former Soviet strategic nuclear weapons, which Kazakhstan returned to the Russian Federation before joining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1995.

Recalling other positive developments, he said that eight more States had signed or ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) since the Conference last November facilitating its entry into force.  That brought to

166 the total number of signatories; 94 States had so far ratified it.  Cuba had recently decided to accede to the NPT and to ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).  Also, participation grew significantly last year in two important transparency measures:  the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures.  With respect to small arms, Member States had been responding well to the Programme of Action adopted by the small arms Conference in July 2001.  The landmines issue was also emerging as a success story, but additional efforts were needed in the years ahead in many countries.

Conditions remained "highly variable" with respect to other developments, including global efforts to reduce the risk of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.  The Secretary-General last month issued the report of his Policy Working Group on the United Nations and Terrorism, which contained

31 recommendations for action against that global threat.  Still, many important treaties to address that threat fell short of universal membership, including the NPT and the conventions governing biological and chemical weapons.  Regarding improved nuclear safeguards, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had noted that only 27 countries had brought into force the Model Protocol Additional to Safeguard Agreements.  Much more needed to be done to upgrade the physical security of nuclear materials worldwide and to improve nuclear safety.

He said that the situation with respect to the resumption of weapons inspections in Iraq was another challenge.  As a general principle, all disarmament obligations should be rigorously enforced, as compliance was an absolutely vital issue for the effectiveness and credibility of disarmament activities.  It was a welcome development that the Government of Iraq had unconditionally agreed to the return of international inspectors.  The sooner the world community could verify Iraq's compliance with its disarmament and other obligations under Security Council resolutions, the sooner efforts could proceed to implement another goal found in those texts, namely the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

With respect to missiles, it was gratifying that a panel of governmental experts from a diverse group of countries had succeeded in reaching a consensus on a report on the subject, however thin it might be, on concrete recommendations.  The fact that States were working on new confidence-building measures and codes of conduct with respect to missile production, development and exports was encouraging, although there were still regrettably few indications that that progress was extending into the disarmament realm -- arguably where that was needed most.  Efforts were continuing, however, to achieve a ban on the weaponization of outer space, which must be insulated from an arms race.

GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) said nuclear disarmament was a priority of Mexico’s foreign policy.  Thus, he expressed concern that nuclear-weapon States were not doing enough to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.  As long as such States held on to their nuclear weapons, the integrity and sustainability of the international non-proliferation regime would be undermined.

He was worried about the failure of India, Pakistan and Israel to become State parties to the NPT and the CTBT.  He was pleased, however, with Mongolia’s efforts to become a nuclear-weapon-free State and the Central Asian States’ steps to becoming a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  He also welcomed Cuba’s accession to the NPT and ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  He supported the idea of the Conference on Disarmament taking up the issue of nuclear disarmament.  With regard to missiles, he thanked Brazil for leading the panel of governmental experts charged with preparing a report on the issue of missiles in all its aspects.  The elaboration of legally binding international instruments on the issue should take place within a multilateral, universal and non-discriminatory framework.  Regarding biological weapons, he called for the negotiation of a verification protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.

He noted that this year marked the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, but added that there were still obstacles blocking transparency in weapons of mass destruction.  He called on Member States to find new ways for achieving such transparency.  He was pleased, however, with the Second Review Conference of the parties to the Conventional Weapons Convention, because it expanded its scope of application to include explosive remnants of war.  He called for early negotiations on a protocol that would prohibit or restrict the use of any munitions likely to become an explosive remnant of war that might cause humanitarian damage.

He reiterated Mexico’s commitment to destroying and eliminating the threat of anti-personnel mines and he appealed to States that had not done so to accede to the Ottawa Convention.  He maintained that, while the number of small arms and light weapons were increasing throughout the world, States and regions were not doing enough to reverse the trend.  He singled out States that produced and imported small arms and light weapons as having a special responsibility to combat the illicit trade and production.  Also, he warned that if international financial aid flows remained low, destruction of such arms would not progress as needed in the developing world.

Referring to nuclear-weapon States versus non-nuclear-weapon States, he criticized the double standard in the fulfillment of commitments undertaken by all Member States in the Millennium Declaration.  Before concluding, he said that Mexico would introduce two draft resolutions at the current session of the Committee.  The first, as a follow-up to resolution 55/33 E, would highlight the report of the group of experts containing a set of recommendations to promote disarmament and non-proliferation education.  The second, as a follow-up to resolution 55/34 A, would provide guidelines for the activities of the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme.

MARY WHELAN (Ireland) spoke on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (Ireland, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden).  She said that the Coalition would be presenting two draft resolutions to the First Committee.  The first was entitled “Towards a nuclear weapon free world:  the need for a new agenda.”

Stressing the need for a multilateral approach, she said that the fact that terrorists could possess weapons of mass destruction highlighted the need for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  She said that, although the NPT States parties had renewed their commitment to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament in 1995, they would not be holding a Review Conference until 2005.  Lamenting that continued indecision left the world in a vulnerable position, she called on international collective security to be reinforced.  She did, however, welcome Cuba’s decision to adhere to the NPT.

She gave an overview of the first Coalition draft resolution.  Specifically, it urged States to:  call upon the Conference on Disarmament to establish an ad hoc committee to deal specifically with nuclear disarmament; promote the CTBT; express deep concern about the three States who had not acceded to the NPT to do so; seek the resumption of negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons; take steps to prevent an arms race in outer space and call on the Conference on Disarmament to re-establish an ad hoc committee to deal with this issue; and call on nuclear-weapon States to respect their commitments.

Referring to the second draft resolution, she said it called for a reduction in tactical nuclear weapons to be given priority and carried out in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner.  It also called for the further reduction of the operational status of tactical nuclear weapons, so that the likelihood of their use would be made more remote.  She concluded by saying that the two draft resolutions were flexible enough to meet various concerns and could act as a “catalyst for meaningful progress and concrete action”.

CHRISTOPHER WESTDAL (Canada) said that when the Committee last met one year ago, it was in the shadow of horror that made everyone feel vulnerable to new security threats.  Without a vote, it endorsed multilateralism as a core principle in the fight against terrorism.  The disarmament community knew it must make multilateralism work to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Now, one year later, it met again with the urgent responsibility to set new standards for common, practical action to strengthen vital non-proliferation and disarmament treaties and procedures.  Many States had taken decisive action. 

He noted that the Group of 8 industrialized countries (G-8) had launched a Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction to prevent terrorists or those who harboured them from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological or biological weapons, missiles, and related materials, equipment and technology.  The Group committed to raising up to

$20 billion over the next 10 years to destroy chemical weapons, dismantle decommissioned nuclear submarines, dispose of fissile materials and employ former weapons scientists.  The Group of 8 leaders invited other States to contribute towards universalizing and fully implementing multilateral treaties designed to prevent the proliferation or illicit acquisition of weapons or materiel of mass destruction, missiles and related technology. 

Noting that making the NPT universal was a key priority, he welcomed Cuba's decision to adhere to it, as well as to the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  That reinforced rules-based multilateralism to contend with old and new threats to international security.  He called on India, Israel and Pakistan, still outside the NPT, to join it.  At the heart of the NPT, non-proliferation and disarmament were bound to each other.  Canada thus welcomed the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, or Moscow Treaty, which committed the United States and the Russian Federation to reduce their nuclear arsenals. 

On the CTBT, he said encouraging progress had been achieved, with 94 States now on board and an impressive international monitoring system in place to deter and detect explosive nuclear tests.  He urged all States to ensure its continued funding and support for the vital work of the Provisional Technical Secretariat and to sign and ratify the Treaty.  It was, meanwhile, crucial to sustain the moratorium on tests.  The events of the last year also reinforced the case for a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Of similar concern was the lack of effective verification for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention).

He said that an old threat -- chemical weapons -- haunted the world still.  The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the verification mechanism of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention), still struggled to fulfil its vital mandate with inadequate resources.  On landmines, he appealed to all States to join the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention).  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons took a key step forward by extending its scope to armed conflict with, as well as between, States.  Canada was also committed to preventing an outer space arms race.  The risk inherent in any notion of war in space was utterly compelling, as that would forever deprive humanity of the immense economic, social and security benefits of peaceful use. 

ERLING HARILD NIELSEN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the security and stability of the international community was being challenged, both globally and regionally, by the risks of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.  The terrorist attacks of

11 September 2001 had motivated an even greater sense of urgency to the common efforts needed from all States to prevent those weapons and their delivery means from reaching terrorists.  The Union had responded quickly to the challenge of international terrorism, starting with the adoption on 21 September 2001 of a plan of action to give the necessary impetus to the Union's actions to combat terrorism.

He said that the NPT remained the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  The preparatory work for the 2005 Review Conference should pay due attention to implementation of all of the Treaty's aspects, including nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The Union welcomed the signing by the United States and the Russian Federation of a new treaty to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals.  On the CTBT, the Union had spared no efforts in promoting its early entry into force and universal accession.  It called on States to sign and ratify that Treaty without delay and without conditions, in particular those States whose ratification was required for its operation.

An essential stage in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament was a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear devices, he continued.  The IAEA's international safeguards system was the fundamental pillar of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.  He shared its concerns that 48 States parties to the NPT had not yet entered into comprehensive safeguards agreements with that Agency and called upon them to do so.  The

1997 Model Protocol Additional to Safeguards Agreements was also an integral part of the safeguards system and the Union accorded a high priority to its implementation.  All Member States of the Union had committed themselves to enter their Additional Protocols into force simultaneously, and as soon as possible.

He said it was a matter of major concern to the Union that three and a half years had elapsed since the IAEA had been able to implement its mandate in Iraq under the relevant Security Council resolution, and that the Agency remained unable to provide any assurances regarding that country's compliance with its obligations under those resolutions.  The Union noted with interest the letter of 16 September from Iraq's Foreign Minister to the Secretary-General on its decision to let the weapons inspectors return.  The Union strongly urged Iraq, without conditions, to implement in full and without any delays all relevant Council resolutions and to enable the IAEA and the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to carry out its mandate in Iraq.

Deeply concerned about the growing proliferation of ballistic missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction, the Union saw an urgent need for the development of globally accepted norms and practices in support of ballistic missile non-proliferation, he said.  The International Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation would be an important first step.  The Union welcomed increased United Nations involvement in the missile issue, aimed at achieving quick results of a truly substantive nature.  All States were urged to join the International Code of Conduct and attend its launching conference on

25 and 26 November at The Hague.  Another key instrument, the Biological Weapons Convention, was extremely important in light of the actual use of those weapons for terrorist purposes over the past year.  The Convention must be strengthened.

OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said the terrorist attacks that shook New York proved that the world was dealing with a new threat to international security.  Referring to this new threat as “the asymmetric conflict”, he said that it rendered useless large, expensive nuclear and conventional weapons systems. After all, such systems did not deter terrorism.  In that respect, he questioned why his region’s armed forced were not being converted into smaller and more operative forces, since the possibility of a war between Latin American States was highly unlikely.  Threats to Latin American security did not lie with neighboring States, but rather with the asymmetric conflict and natural disasters.

He said that Peru was heading and promoting various initiatives designed to reduce military spending, while still addressing threats to security.  The first of those was the creation of the Andean Zone of Peace, an area including Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela.  The second was the designation of the South American continent as a Zone of Peace and Cooperation.

The third initiative, he continued, involved a proposal for regional governments to move funding away from defence and redirect it towards combating poverty and promoting social development, health care and education.  That proposal was supported by the Organization of American States, the Ministerial Declaration of the Non-Aligned Movement and the heads of State and government of the Rio Group.  The fourth initiative entailed negotiating a ban on missiles in Latin America.  The fifth involved strengthening the United Nations Regional Center for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said he viewed with concern the lack of real progress in nuclear disarmament over the past year.  The situation was made more alarming by the changed international climate, which was characterized by the steady erosion of the multilateral process.  Thousands of nuclear weapons were stockpiled in the arsenals of the nuclear Powers, while nuclear disarmament negotiations languished.  The world should not be lulled into complacency in the post-cold war period, since the threat of nuclear war had not disappeared.  Indeed, in some situations and in the context of emerging security doctrines, the risks of armed conflict involving nuclear weapons might have increased.  Every effort should be made, therefore, to achieve the ultimate goal of the elimination of those horrendous weapons of mass destruction.

He said that the first preparatory meeting for the 2005 NPT Review had been held against the backdrop of the formulation by one nuclear-weapon State of a new nuclear posture review, which expanded the role of nuclear weapons beyond their deterrent function.  With grave implications for international peace and security, that had been perceived by many as a clear rejection of the 13 steps towards nuclear disarmament agreed by the nuclear-weapon States at the 2000 NPT Review Conference.  He urged those States not to renege on their obligations, as that would deal a serious blow to the viability of that Treaty and the disarmament process as a whole.  He warmly welcomed Cuba's decision to accede to that Treaty and hoped that decision would prompt the three remaining non-Treaty States to re-examine their position. 

The international community had not yet recovered from the shock of the withdrawal of the United States from the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), he stressed.  The Moscow Treaty, signed by the United States and the Russian Federation, would not replace the ABM Treaty because, while that was viewed as a step towards reducing the deployment of strategic nuclear weapons, it had not addressed the issue of irreversibility and verification of nuclear disarmament.  Another disappointing setback had been the suspension last November of the Fifth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention.  Hopefully, the "cooling off" period would enable States parties to reach agreement to strengthen that instrument.  He continued to work tirelessly with his partners in the ASEAN towards the creation of a South-East Asia nuclear-weapon-free zone.

DEBORAH PANCKHURST (New Zealand) began by affirming her support for multilateral initiatives, saying “collective problems required collective solutions”.  She emphasized New Zealand’s call for a world free of nuclear weapons.  She welcomed Cuba’s intention to accede to the NPT and urged all States who had not already done so to follow Cuba’s example.  She expressed concern, however, that the entry into force of the CTBT was still not within sight.

She referred to the two draft resolutions already mentioned by her fellow New Agenda Coalition partner, the representative of Ireland.  Reminding the floor that the 2000 NPT Review Conference’s Programme of Action called for the “further reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons”, she explained that the second Coalition draft resolution would be the first move towards addressing that issue.  Non-strategic weapons could actually pose a greater threat than their strategic counterparts, as they could be launched by accident or in the confusion of war, she said.

On the issue of nuclear-weapon-free zones, she said that they existed in New Zealand and the South Pacific.  She welcomed Brazil’s initiative to join the southern hemisphere zones in creating a southern hemisphere free of nuclear weapons.  On small arms and light weapons, she said they were the “real-time killers”.  She thus voiced her support for the Programme of Action dealing with such arms.  With respect to biological weapons, however, she was distressed that States had not been able to complete negotiations for a system of verification and a compliance mechanism for the Biological Weapons Convention.  On the subject of chemical weapons, she recognized challenges faced by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, but expressed confidence in its new leadership.

While she called the failure of the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a programme of work a “major disappointment”, she was heartened by the international cooperation displayed by the Ottawa Convention.  And, whereas she expressed concern over the work that had yet to be done to solve the problem of explosive remnants of war, she was pleased to support the United Nations Experts Group on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education.

RAMEZ GOUSSOUS (Jordan) began by observing some achievements.  He was pleased, for example, that 82 States parties had ratified the Ottawa Convention, the ad hoc group continued to work at establishing a verification and compliance regime for the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention had been signed by 165 States and ratified by 146, and the CTBT had been ratified by 93 States.

 He was bothered, however, by Israel’s reluctance to adhere to the NPT and to place its nuclear installations and facilities under full-scope safeguards of the IAEA.  He also criticised nuclear-weapon States for their reluctance to meet their obligations, as stated in article VI of the NPT.  Additionally, the following issues were problematic:  the lack of agreement on the verification protocol of the Biological Weapons Convention; the absence of genuine intentions to convene the 4th special General Assembly session devoted to disarmament, and the fact that the United Nations Conventional Arms Register did not address military holdings, procurement through national production, and nuclear weapons.

He warned that economic inequality was leading to conflicts in several regions and that small arms, because of their availability and ease of use, were today’s weapons of choice.  Emphasising Jordan’s commitment to a peaceful settlement to the Middle East conflict, he stressed that peace in the region required confidence-building measures and ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.  He reiterated that Israel was the only regional State that was not a party to the NPT.  He reminded delegates that the 2000 NPT Review Conference had called upon all States party to the NPT, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to help establish a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  Yet, there had been no indication of such an effort being made in the region.

He was encouraged that negotiations were underway to develop a fissile material cut-off treaty, he said.  He regretted, however, the failure of the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a programme of work.  He concluded by saying that Jordan’s Queen Noor, as patron of the Landmine Survivor’s Network, was leading and contributing to an international campaign to rid the world of anti-personnel mines.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply, in view of some statements made this morning concerning his country's implementation of the IAEA safeguards agreement.  The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had strongly demanded nuclear disarmament and had made all possible efforts towards nuclear disarmament and the elimination of nuclear threats.  Those efforts had stemmed from the physical threats on the Korean peninsula.  His country stood for the total withdrawal of all nuclear weapons and for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the peninsula.

He said that, on the issue of NPT safeguards, the Committee should understand the essence of the nuclear issues with regard to his country.  The so-called nuclear issue had originated from the intention and purpose of destroying his country, against a background of the newly emerging international political environment in the early 1990s.  That was, in essence, the product of the hostile policy of the United States towards his country.  The issue of implementing the safeguards agreement would automatically be resolved once those hostile relations were resolved and the Agreed Framework between his country and the United Sates was implemented. 

The core element contained in that Framework, which had been agreed on

21 October 1994, was the provision of light water reactors in his country in view of the freeze on its nuclear activities, he said.  The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had so far fulfilled its obligations "100 per cent" on the Agreed Framework, but the United States was far from meeting its target to complete construction of light water reactors by 2003, as it had promised to do.  Hence, relations between the two were hostile and not based on confidence. 

He said that the commitments of the two sides under the Agreed Framework should be implemented on the principle of simultaneous action.  The United States should drop its hostile policy towards his country and implement the Agreed Framework, as pledged.  Hopefully, the Committee would view all related issues in that light.

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