CUBA SAYS IT WILL ACCEDE TO NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY, AS DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE

1 October 2002
GA/DIS/3225

CUBA SAYS IT WILL ACCEDE TO NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY, AS DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE

01/10/2002
Press ReleaseGA/DIS/3225

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

3rd Meeting (AM)

CUBA SAYS IT WILL ACCEDE TO NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY,

AS DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE

Export Controls Over Sensitive Dual-Use Items,

Global Protection against Nuclear Terrorism among Other Issues Addressed

As a signal of Cuba's commitment to effective disarmament leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, it had decided to accede to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), its representative told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this morning during its general debate. 

He said his country also planned to ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).  He asked the Committee to imagine the impact of diverting half of the yearly annual $849 billion global military expenditure to a United Nations fund for sustainable development.  He rejected as “lies” assertions by senior United States government officials that Cuba was carrying out biological warfare development.  Unlike the United States, Cuba did not possess, nor did it ever intend to possess, any weapon of mass destruction. 

China’s representative told the Committee that, in response to emerging "non-traditional security threats", such as terrorism, his country was establishing a comprehensive system of export controls over sensitive items covering nuclear, biological, chemical and missile fields.  In March, it completed the legal procedures for the entry into force of the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement between it and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the first among the five nuclear-weapon States to do so.  It had also placed its export control of missiles and related technologies, as well as missile-related dual-use items and technologies, in a legal framework, and would further improve controls of chemical and biological dual-use items, he said.

The Holy See’s Permanent Observer said that, indeed, the world's security now depended on how well States could adapt to the threats posed by biological and chemical weapons, since rather small amounts could be pervasive and devastating.  The Holy See had decided in January to accede to the Biological Weapons Convention, but revitalizing the process to complete a verification mechanism was clearly required.  Other troubling signs had emerged:  momentum for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) appeared to have stalled; and the nuclear non-proliferation regime, with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear weapons (NPT) as its cornerstone, was in disarray.

3rd Meeting (AM)

Japan’s representative said that last month, Japan, together with Australia and the Netherlands, had issued a Joint Ministerial Statement urging the entry into force of the CTBT.  She hailed as other positive developments:  the initiative by the Group of 8 industrialized countries (G-8) to prevent the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, to which Japan would contribute more than $200 million; efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to upgrade global protection against nuclear terrorism, for which Japan would contribute $500,000; and the signing by her country and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of the Pyongyang Declaration pledging compliance with related global agreements, aimed at resolving the nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Qatar, Republic of Korea, Costa Rica, Algeria, Mozambique, and Singapore.

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

10 a.m. on Wednesday to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms control measures, as well as developments in international security. 

Today's debate was expected to focus on a number of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear-weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and towards that goal, to 13 specific steps. 

The United States has repudiated two of those steps –- support for the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), which it withdrew from in June 2002, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which it signed in 1996, but its Senate failed to ratify in 1999.

On 24 May, the Presidents of the United States and Russian Federation signed the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, or the Moscow Treaty, by which both sides would reduce the number of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200 by 31 December 2012.  It is significant because it commits two former adversaries with the world's largest nuclear arsenals to reductions of deployed weapons.

The CTBT opened for signature in 1996 and awaits ratification by 13 of

44 States before it can enter into force.  Of those pending, two are nuclear-weapon States -- China and the United States.  The others are Algeria, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Viet Nam.  (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan still have not signed the Treaty). 

Attention will also be focused on the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an independent intergovernmental, science and technology-based organization in the United Nations family that serves as a focal point for nuclear cooperation.  Among its tasks is verifying, through its inspection system, that States comply with their commitments under the NPT and other non-proliferation agreements to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes.

The Agency's safeguards system comprises extensive technical measures for independently verifying the correctness and completeness of the declarations made by States about their nuclear material and activities.  Since 1992 -- in the aftermath of the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme -- the Board of Governors of the Agency has adopted or endorsed measures to strengthen the safeguards system.  Under a Model Additional Protocol adopted in 1997 that includes short notice inspector access to any place on a nuclear site, the IAEA has continued to negotiate Additional Protocols with States to strengthen that system by verifying not only declared nuclear material and activities, but also the absence of undeclared material and activities.

Multilateral agreements banning the development of other weapons of mass destruction will also be discussed, such as:  the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention); and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).

The creation and consolidation of nuclear-weapon-free zones will also be considered.  Existing zones include the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok), and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).

At the opening of the session yesterday, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala announced that the countries of the Central Asian region -- 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.  He also announced a decision by Cuba to accede to the NPT and to ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

The Committee will also consider implementation of the programme of action adopted at the first-ever global Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held in New York in July 2001.

Discussions will also continue on the subject of landmines, in the context of the two instruments to ban or limit their use:  Protocol II of the Convention on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), a partial ban negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament; and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), a total ban agreed to in Oslo as part of the so-called "Ottawa process", which entered into force on 1 March 1999.

(For detailed background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3222 issued

27 September.)

Statements

JAMAL NASSIR AL-BADER (Qatar) said the question of proliferation was of primary concern to all countries and constituted a constant threat to sustaining human life.  The acquisition of unconventional weapons and the proliferation of their technology, as well as the danger of their falling into irresponsible hands, was a "Damocles sword" that could spin out of control.  The acquisition of those weapons and their technologies had occurred, in part, because of the relocation of many physicists around the world.  Such weapons technology might fall into the hands of gangs, which might sell them to anyone willing to pay their price.  The promotion of international peace and security, and confidence-building between States would go a long way towards controlling the spread of those weapons. 

He welcomed Cuba's accession to the NPT.  In the context of weapons of mass destruction, he drew attention to the dangers in the Middle East and the imbalance of power there, as a result of Israel's undeclared nuclear weapons.  All countries in the region had acceded to the NPT and undertook the obligations contained therein, but Israel had absolutely rejected accession and clung to its nuclear arsenal, flouting all international treaties and agreements, as well as appeals made by the international community to:  join the international coalition; sign the relevant treaties; place its nuclear installations under the IAEA safeguards system; and remove its stockpiles of nuclear weapons.  Regrettably, some States friendly to Israel continued to tolerate its behaviour.

Meanwhile, the international community was applying double standards, as pressure mounted on a certain country for allegedly acquiring mass destruction weapons, and the situation in Israel was ignored.  He called upon the international community and those countries that had influence with Israel to pressure it to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and promote efforts towards peace.  Conventional weapons were no less dangerous.  The world had suffered in the past from the dangers of conventional wars at the bilateral and multilateral levels.  Qatar had been one of the first countries to sign the Ottawa Treaty prohibiting the use of anti-personnel mines.  The Register of Conventional Arms was still weak, however, as it still did not cover weapons of mass destruction.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) called for multilateralism as well as bilateral, subregional and regional efforts to promote disarmament and non-proliferation.  Calling nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament international priorities, he wanted the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference to be put into practice as soon as possible.  He welcomed Cuba's decision to adhere to the NPT and encouraged the "other three states" to follow Cuba's example.

Acknowledging the important role of the IAEA, he urged all States parties that had not yet done so, especially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, to conclude and bring into force the IAEA safeguards agreements.  He maintained that North Korea's full cooperation with the IAEA was a prerequisite for the completion of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) light water reactor project, and also for peace between the two Koreas.

Calling nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament a "mutually reinforcing" processes, he welcomed the Moscow Treaty signed by the United States and the Russian Federation.  He hoped that the agreement would inspire other nuclear-weapon States to further reduce their nuclear arsenals and to adopt enhanced transparency and accountability measures.  He also welcomed the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction adopted by the Group of

8 industrialised countries (G-8).

He expressed frustration at the States who had not signed and ratified the CTBT and at the Conference on Disarmament's failure to agree upon a programme of work.  He also wanted to ensure the universality of the Chemical Weapons Convention and strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.

He stressed that the enforcement of export controls was a key component of non-proliferation.  The fact that more non-State actors were engaging in the transfer of materials and technologies and that such transfers were becoming more diversified greatly concerned his country.  Thus, his Government had chosen to hold the plenary meeting of the nuclear suppliers group in Seoul in May 2003 and would undertake the chairmanship for the following year.  His Government would also host the 2004 General Conference of the Missile Technology Control Regime and co-host the International Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Issues with the United Nations Department of Disarmament Affairs this December.  Before concluding, he said that mine-clearing operations had begun in the Korean Demilitarised Zone in order to eventually re-establish cross-border roads and railways and build confidence between the two Koreas.

BRUNO STAGNO (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, embraced the idea of multilateralism as a means of maintaining peace and international security, as well as combating terrorism.  Calling the Rio Group a model of multilateralism, he said it had served for 15 years as a permanent mechanism for preserving peace, strengthening democracy and promoting development in Latin America.  He also lauded the South American Zone of Peace and Cooperation as a positive development.

Reaffirming the Rio Group’s commitment to the NPT, he congratulated Cuba for its decision to accede to it and called on the “the three States that are still operating nuclear installations without safeguards” to follow Cuba’s example.  He did, however, express concern over the failure to implement the 13 Measures on Nuclear Disarmament that had been included in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Conference.  Reminding the floor that the Rio Group members belonged to the first nuclear-free zone, he condemned any development of new nuclear weapons.  He welcomed the idea of Mongolia being a nuclear-free State and encouraged the Central Asian States to finalize negotiations that would establish a nuclear-free zone in their region.

With regard to radioactive waste and transport, he called attention to the Rio Group’s communiqué on the subject.  He also urged the international community to strengthen the legal regime applicable to the maritime transport of radioactive waste.  He called for the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction and expressed hope for the success of the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  With respect to conventional arms, he supported bilateral, regional and global confidence and security building measures within the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations.

He announced that in the San Jose Declaration, the Rio Group’s Heads of State and Government had decided to reduce their spending on defence and focus more on education, health, social programs and the fight against poverty.  With respect to anti-personnel mines, he supported the Ottawa Convention and pledged his commitment to making his region a zone free of mines.  On the subject of the illicit traffic of small arms and light weapons, he embraced the relevant United Nations Plan of Action and the Inter-American Convention against the Production and Illicit Traffic of Fire Arms.  He concluded by thanking the United Nations Regional Centre for Disarmament and Development for Latin America and the Caribbean for its work.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) reiterated his Government's announcement of 14 September that Cuba had decided to accede to the NPT.  That was a signal of the Government's clear political will and its commitment to an effective disarmament process that ensured world peace.  In joining that Treaty, Cuba had reaffirmed its hope that all nuclear weapons would be totally eliminated under strict international verification.  In addition, and despite the fact that the only nuclear Power in the Americas pursued a policy of hostility towards Cuba that did not rule out the use of force, his country would also ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which it had signed in 1995.

He said that the emergence of a unipolar world had clearly not resulted in greater security.  Despite the end of the cold war, military expenditures continued to increase at an accelerated pace.  How much could be achieved worldwide if only part of the $849 billion currently spent on the military globally was invested in assisting the 815 million hungry people and the

1.2 billion living in abject poverty? he asked.  Nearly half of the amount spent on the military was spent by one country alone.  That huge sum would be better spent on narrowing the gap between the richest and poorest countries.  He restated Cuba's proposal to divert 50 per cent of military spending into a United Nations fund for sustainable development, which would instantly raise more than

$400 billion.

Senior officials of the United States Government had issued "slandering accusations" against Cuba, alleging that it carried out biological warfare development, he pointed out.  His country rejected those lies.  In contrast to the United States, Cuba did not possess, nor did it ever intend to possess, any weapon of mass destruction.  It was the United States that had opposed strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention with a verification protocol.  Multilateral disarmament was at a critical juncture.  The unilateral trend must be reversed.  He cited as examples the collapse of negotiations on the Biological Weapons Convention, abrogation of the ABM Treaty, and opposition to the CTBT and to the inclusion of key proposals in the small arms action programme.

He also noted the nuclear posture review of the United States released earlier this year.  In it, he said, the potential uses of nuclear weapons were enhanced, and it also tried to legitimize the indefinite possession of those weapons.  Now the United States was seeking to impose a so-called "pre-emptive war" doctrine, which violated the United Nations Charter.  At the same time, Iraq was being threatened by a unilateral military action, if the Security Council did not yield to the pressures to endorse that new war.  Under greater threat than ever, Cuba strongly supported the need to preserve multilateralism and prevent unilateralism from eroding the role of the United Nations.

KUNIKO INOGUCHI (Japan) said that since the events of 11 September 2001, the international community had made significant progress in its fight against terrorism, but it must do more.  The recent initiative launched at the G-8 Summit, to prevent the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, had great relevance.  Japan would contribute more than $200 million to that initiative.  Also commendable were the efforts of the IAEA to upgrade global protection against terrorism of nuclear and other radioactive materials.  Her country would contribute $500,000 to the special fund set up for the implementation of the IAEA's Action Plan for Protection against Nuclear Terrorism.

She said that the resolution of unresolved regional conflicts involving the possible use of mass destruction weapons was another high priority.  Regarding the situation in North East Asia, the leaders of Japan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea recently signed the Pyongyang Declaration, under which both sides confirmed that, for an overall resolution of the nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula, they would comply with all related international agreements.  They also confirmed the need to resolve all security problems, including nuclear and missile issues, by promoting dialogues among the countries concerned.  On Iraq, she urged that country to comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions and allow immediate and unconditional inspections, as well as the disposal of all mass destruction weapons. 

As the only country to have experienced the devastation of nuclear bombs, Japan fervently sought the realization of a safe, nuclear-weapon-free world, she said.  The most effective way to achieve that was through practical and concrete steps in nuclear disarmament.  She highly valued the signing of the Moscow Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States and expected it to serve as an important step towards nuclear disarmament efforts.  At the same time, she was gravely concerned about the obstacles to the entry into force of the CTBT.  Last month, Japan, together with Australia and the Netherlands, issued a Joint Ministerial Statement on the CTBT.  So far, 18 Foreign Ministers from all geographic regions had joined the list of countries seeking that Treaty's success. 

Among Japan's other priorities, she cited the need to immediately begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, which would be a significant step for nuclear non-proliferation and an essential building block for further nuclear disarmament.  The international community must also address the proliferation of ballistic missiles, which was increasingly threatening international and regional peace and security.  States must make genuine efforts to restrain and reduce missile activities and prevent their proliferation.  Her country supported the draft International Code of Conduct on missiles.  A norm must be established, which would truly contribute to preventing the proliferation of ballistic missiles. 

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) referred to the new international order that had emerged after the end of the cold war.  Competition between nuclear powers was a thing of the past.  The current era was one that rejected military strength as a guarantee for national security and instead embraced collective security.

He said that optimism for a new peaceful era, however, had been thwarted by the slow nuclear disarmament process.  The great impetus originally given to disarmament by bilateral and multilateral treaties had diminished.  Insisting that nuclear disarmament was the only choice for freeing mankind from the scourge of war, he maintained that such disarmament had to be accompanied by concrete steps.  And, unilateral action could not be used as a substitute for multilateralism.  He went on to say that article VI of the NPT should be binding.

Drawing up treaties on fissile materials, nuclear disarmament, or the prevention of a nuclear race in outer space was what was needed, he continued.  Binding, legal instruments and safeguards were a necessity.  The principle of irreversibility was essential for the control and reduction of nuclear weapons.  Saying that the traditional nuclear doctrine was completely “obsolete and anachronistic”, he said that it was important to promote an international order that was not based on the possession of arms.

He welcomed Cuba’s decision to accede to the NPT.  He also lauded the concept of nuclear-weapon-free zones as great maintainers of international peace and security.  He was pleased by Central Asia’s efforts to become a zone free of nuclear weapons, but called for something similar in the Middle East.  He criticized Israel for not having eliminated its weapons of mass destruction and for not placing its arsenals under safeguards regulations.  He called the disarmament regime discriminatory in that regard.

He stated that Algeria would work tirelessly with the other countries of the Maghreb to establish a stable region and with other African States to build a more peaceful African Union.  He was very supportive of the New Partnership for Africa's Development and also liked the idea of the Mediterranean being a “lake of peace” as described by the Declaration of Barcelona.  Calling the world increasingly interdependent, he referred to agreements between the European Union and Algeria and was pleased by the idea of interstate cooperation in a Euro-Mediterranean space.

HU XIAODI (China) said that non-traditional security threats posed a grave challenge to international security.  The tragic events of 11 September 2001 were a stark manifestation of that development.  Although global efforts to combat terrorism had made significant headway, that threat was far from eradicated.  In both the traditional and non-traditional security dimensions, instability and unpredictability were increasing.  Creating peace and prosperity meant fostering a new security concept based on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, the consideration of diverse security problems, and fresh thinking.

He said that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means had complex causes and was directly related to the regional and global security environment.  Its solution required the overall improvement of international relations and lay in political, legal and diplomatic efforts. Use or threat of use of force was counterproductive.  China supported efforts by the IAEA and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to prevent terrorists from acquiring mass destruction weapons.  Also welcome was the valuable report of the United Nations Panel of Governmental Experts on Missiles.  The necessary amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials should be made. 

In March, China completed the legal procedures for the entry into force of the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement between it and the IAEA, the first among the five nuclear-weapon States to do so, he said.  His Government had also placed its export control of missiles and related technologies, as well as missile-related dual-use items and technologies, into a legal framework.  Moreover, with recent improvements in export controls of chemical and biological dual-use items, China would soon promulgate administrative rules thus establishing a comprehensive system of export controls over sensitive items covering nuclear, biological, chemical and the missile fields. 

He said his country welcomed the Moscow Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation and hoped the two countries would continue to drastically reduce their nuclear weapons in a verifiable and irreversible way.  The CTBT was an important step towards nuclear disarmament and he supported its early entry into force.  Pending the Treaty's operation, it was critical that all nuclear-weapon States maintained the nuclear testing moratorium.  China had actively participated in the work of the Preparatory Committee of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO).  It was carrying out domestic preparations for the Treaty's implementation and was ready to work with the international community to facilitate its early entry into force. 

A major purpose of arms control was to prevent new arms races in new fields, and today that preventive function was most salient in outer space, he said.  While looking back with regret at the historical mistakes of the cold war in competing for nuclear advantage, the world should be wise enough to avoid the same mistakes and prevent the “weaponization” of outer space.  The Conference on Disarmament should re-establish the relevant ad hoc committee and begin negotiating an international legal instrument to prevent that occurrence at an early date.  Towards that goal, China, together with the Russian Federation and some other countries, submitted to the Conference in June a working paper entitled "Possible Elements for a Future International Legal Agreement on the prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, and the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects".

BERNARDO ZAQUEU (Mozambique) called international efforts with respect to nuclear disarmament “unimpressive”.  He also said it was unfortunate that negotiations on a treaty on fissile materials remained deadlocked.  He was pleased, however, that Cuba had decided to accede to the NPT, and he welcomed the signing of the Moscow Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation.

His country was committed to playing an important role in combating anti-personnel mines, he said.  He urged all States that had not yet done so to accede to the Ottawa Convention.  With respect to small arms and light weapons, he called them the main source of violence and instability in the developing world.  He, therefore, called for the swift implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to eradicate the illicit trade in small arms.  The time had come for words and promises to be translated into concrete actions.  Mozambique, for its part, was committed to disarmament, he said.

YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) suggested that the First Committee should perhaps conduct a strategic review of its work and re-examine its course.  The Committee seemed, after all, to not have kept up with actual security developments in the world.  That was problematic, because the issue of disarmament was central to the United Nations.  In fact, the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946 had called for the elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction.

He criticized the Committee for its historical “obsession” with nuclear disarmament, since the majority of conflict-related deaths in the world were actually attributable to small arms and light weapons.  He found it ironic that the Committee, a key player in disarmament, had only begun to deal with conventional weapons after non-governmental organisations had pushed it to do so.  In the ”post-9/11 world”, new threats demanded a new approach to disarmament.  He acknowledged the Programme of Action of the United Nations Conference on small arms, but claimed that it did not specifically address the flow of weapons to terrorists.

He insisted that disarmament had to be evaluated on a country-by-country basis.  Using Afghanistan as an example, he said that States had a duty to protect their citizens against acts of terror.  Turning to weapons of mass destruction, he maintained that they did not make the world a safer place and were always at the risk of falling into the hands of terrorists.  Destruction and the curbing of the proliferation of such weapons, whether they be nuclear, chemical or biological, were thus highly important.  Before concluding, he said that many of the First Committee’s initiatives were indeed relevant to today’s changing world.  He did, however, believe that interactive discussions and a resulting “strategic re-think of its work” could make the Committee more effective in the post-9/11 era.

RENATO R. MARTINO, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, noted that the threats posed by biological and chemical weapons had received much attention, partly because rather small amounts of material could have such pervasive and devastating effects.  Because those threats respected no border, multilateral efforts towards their elimination was absolutely necessary.  The world's security now depended on how well States could adapt to those new circumstances.  The Holy See decided in January to accede to the Biological Weapons Convention.  Revitalizing the process to complete a verification mechanism for the Convention was clearly required.

He said that two recent conferences -- on facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT and the 2000 NPT Review -- had seen troubling signs of discord.  As

stated in its Declaration of accession to the CTBT in June 2001, the Holy See was convinced that, in the nuclear weapons sphere, the banning of tests and the further development of those weapons was closely linked with disarmament and non-proliferation, and must be achieved as quickly as possible under effective international controls.  The momentum to the CTBT’s early operation appeared to have stalled.  Resistance to attaining the required number of ratifications threatened to collapse the architecture of the non-proliferation regime that had been painstakingly built over many years. 

The hopes raised in 2000 at the NPT Review Conference were dashed in 2002 when it became clear that the nuclear-weapon States were not adhering to the 13 agreed steps towards nuclear disarmament, he said.  The ABM Treaty, now abandoned, and the CTBT, were both integral to those steps.  Genuine multilateral efforts were required to achieve nuclear disarmament.  Those, by their very nature, had the potential to guarantee universal and permanent norms, which bound all States.  The NPT remained the centerpiece of the global non-proliferation regime and its value depended on all parties honouring their obligations.  It played a critical role in efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, especially to terrorists and States that supported them. 

Yet, he continued, the non-proliferation regime, with the NPT as its cornerstone, was in disarray.  The old policies of nuclear deterrence must now lead to concrete disarmament measures based on dialogue and multilateral negotiation.  There could be no moral acceptance of military doctrines that embodied the permanence of nuclear weapons.  Those "instruments of death and destruction" were incompatible with peace, and could not be justified.  Turning to the Ottawa Treaty, he said that the cooperation among governments, humanitarian organizations and other civil society representatives in implementation efforts had been exemplary.  For its part, the Committee had done valuable work over many years in raising the norms and standards for disarmament.  It must remain focused now on the goal of reducing the causes of war.

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For information media. Not an official record.