NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY BEING USED AS ‘COVER’ BY FOUR STATES FOR DEVELOPMENT OF WEAPONS PROGRAMMES, PREPARATORY COMMITTEE TOLD

27 April 2004
DC/2921

NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY BEING USED AS ‘COVER’ BY FOUR STATES FOR DEVELOPMENT OF WEAPONS PROGRAMMES, PREPARATORY COMMITTEE TOLD

27/04/2004
Press ReleaseDC/2921

Preparatory Committee                                      

 for 2005 NPT Review                                       

Third Session

3rd Meeting (AM)

nuclear non-proliferation treaty being used as ‘cover’ by four states

 

for development of weapons programmes, preparatory committee told

At least four non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) “were or are using the NPT as cover for the development of nuclear weapons”, States Parties were told today, as preparations for the 2005 NPT Review Conference continued this morning.

Speaking during the general debate, the United States representative added that during the “crisis of NPT non-compliance” –- maintained currently and in the recent past by Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iraq, and Libya -- the international community had to devise ways to ensure full compliance with the Treaty’s non-proliferation objectives.  Without such compliance by all members, confidence in the security benefits derived from the NPT would erode.  Stating that verification was not enough, he declared that the most airtight verification regime in the world was worthless if confirmed violations were ignored.  Thus, enforcement was critical.  The costs for violations must be increased and the benefits reduced.  “We cannot hope the problem will go away”, he said.

Equally concerned with challenges to the NPT regime, the representative of France asserted that the community of States parties to the NPT must adopt a “zero tolerance” policy on nuclear proliferation.  The slightest deficiency, the slightest suspicion, risked damaging the mutual trust upon which the Treaty’s equilibrium rested.  Failure to respond meant that the actions of a tiny minority of States neglectful of their commitments would swiftly undermine the system of collective security and of technology exchanges desired by the great majority of States.

Highlighting the “unsettling effects” of nuclear programmes in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he also drew attention to the three non-NPT States –- Israel, India, and Pakistan –- whose refusal to join the Treaty prevented its universality.  Revelations of the involvement in nuclear proliferation networks of non-State entities based in Pakistan had furnished a further example of the grave difficulties facing the non-proliferation regime.  Those States must, therefore, align themselves as closely as possible with international non-proliferation and export controls norms.

Representing the third nuclear-weapon State to participate in the debate this morning, the speaker from the Russian Federation said that special attention should be given to the problem of black markets in weapons of mass destruction, which were most dangerous.  Terrorists were smart and resourceful, and willing to go to any length to get hold of the weapons of mass destruction production components, in order to strike at innocent people.  The draft resolution being discussed in the Security Council should motivate States to prevent such acquisition by non-State actors.

Having been criticized by several speakers this morning, Iran’s representative noted that the United States had violated articles I, IV and VI of the NPT and undermined all multilateral forums on disarmament.  He also encouraged the United States to respond to the international community’s concern over the new types of nuclear weapons it was currently developing.  Noting its active nuclear proliferation activities, its lowering of the threshold of resort to nuclear weapons, even in conventional conflicts against non-nuclear-weapon States, and its support for Israel’s nuclear programme, he also criticized the United States for its extraterritorial legislation that had challenged international law and hampered Iran’s economic and technological development.

Regretting that the United States had launched a vicious disinformation campaign against Iran, he drew attention to the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which failed to provide evidence of any wrongdoing on Iran’s part.  Additionally, since the IAEA was already dealing with his country, there was no need for the United States to engage in baseless accusations.

The representative from Cuba added that it was unacceptable that the nuclear-weapon States had failed to make any progress on the commitment they made at the 2000 NPT Review Conference to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.  Such inaction showed a disturbing lack of political will.  Reminding delegates that the NPT rested on three pillars, he rejected any selective implementation of the Treaty.  Specifically, disarmament and cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy should not be pushed aside in favour of talks on horizontal non-proliferation.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Brazil, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Viet Nam, Myanmar, Ukraine, Morocco and Egypt, on behalf of the Arab Group, as well as the observer for the Holy See.

The Preparatory Committee will continue its debate at 10 a.m., Wednesday, 28 April.

Background

The Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), meeting in its third and final session before the Conference, this morning continued its general debate.  This afternoon, it was expected to hear statements from non-governmental organizations and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Statements

SÉRGIO QUEIROZ DUARTE (Brazil) cited growing challenges to multilateralism.  In light of those old and new risks, it was important not to view the present work of the Committee in isolation from recent developments in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Chief among the new threats were a disturbing lack of commitment to NPT-related obligations and a global black market network for nuclear materials and technology.  With regards to the former, he stressed that all articles of the Treaty were binding for all States parties at all times.  And, in that context, he urged the Committee to explore new methods to enforce compliance.

Referring to the balance of rights and obligations that was a feature of the international non-proliferation regime, he reminded delegates that the majority of States had decided to give up their sovereign right to nuclear weapons in exchange for general support from their nuclear-weapon counterparts.  The non-nuclear-weapon States had not, however, forgone their right to develop peaceful nuclear capabilities.  An imbalance was currently affecting the world because the nuclear-weapon States seemed to be ignoring their duty to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.  In that context, he emphasized that those States’ possession of such arms was not legitimate under the NPT.

The Treaty could only survive if the upcoming Review Conference remained faithful to the original bargain enshrined within it, he said.  Success could not be measured by agreements on procedural matters, but rather by strong political will, aimed at creating a balance between nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and the promotion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

FRANCOIS RIVASSEAU (France) said that both nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States alike realized the degree of security afforded them by the NPT.  It limited the risk of the proliferation of nuclear weapons by encouraging nuclear disarmament within the framework of general and complete disarmament, and it guaranteed that transfers of nuclear assets for civilian use would not be diverted from their peaceful purposes.  The Treaty represented a multilateral response to the threat of nuclear proliferation and, hence, to the risk of nuclear war, which “hangs over us all”.

Throughout history, he said, the NPT had had to contend with crucial challenges, including:  respect for article VI during the cold war (article VI concerns nuclear disarmament); the question of its universality and its longevity; and the question of limits to the effectiveness of the safeguards system, with the discovery of Iraq’s clandestine programme in 1991.  The end of the cold war had set the scene for effective implementation of article VI.  The Treaty was extended indefinitely in 1995.  It achieved near universality in 2002, and the instruments available to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been reinforced.

On the eve of the 2005 review, the NPT faced a new challenge to its relevance and credibility, namely the circumvention of the non-proliferation standards it had established, he said.  Reviewing some of the breaches over the years, he noted that Libya had reached the point of engaging in a full-scale military nuclear programme.  He congratulated that country for having chosen to rejoin the international community by complying with its norms and principles.  Its decisions would enhance its security, as well as regional and international security.

In 1991, he noted, Iraq was effectively pursing a military nuclear programme.  A long-term inspection programme, interrupted in 1998, led to the dismantling of that programme.  The resumption of even more robust inspections, decided by the Security Council in November 2002, had confirmed that there had been no revival of the Iraqi nuclear programme.  When the time was right, the United Nations, mainly through the IAEA, must be involved in the certification of Iraq’s disarmament.

North Korea notified its intention to withdraw from the NPT, openly admitting to having a military nuclear programme, he went on.  That country might have built at least one nuclear explosive device already.  Faced with that challenge from North Korea, it was imperative to find a solution within a multilateral framework, involving all of the States concerned, particularly in the region, together with a “firm and coherent line” among all of the States parties present today.  The aim was the comprehensive, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of North Korea’s programmes.  Naturally, there must be a clear commitment by the Security Council to support a settlement of the crisis.

The succession of revelations regarding Iran’s nuclear programme since August 2002 and the serious breaches of its Safeguards Agreement had had a profoundly unsettling effect on the NPT community, he said.  France, Germany and the United Kingdom were currently seeking to assist Iran in restoring the confidence of the international community through full cooperation with the IAEA, implementation of the Additional Protocol, and suspension of activities connected with enrichment and reprocessing.  But, grave concerns remain, and it was up to Tehran to create the right conditions for its programme of construction of nuclear power plants to be able to proceed, in the future, in a climate of confidence.

He said he could not fail to mention the particular problem of the three non-NPT States.  Revelations of the involvement in nuclear proliferation networks of non-State entities based in Pakistan had furnished a further example of the grave difficulties facing the non-proliferation regime.  Those States must align themselves as closely as possible with international non-proliferation and export controls norms, and must draw the appropriate conclusions at home.

Meanwhile, he said, the community of States parties to the NPT must adopt a “zero tolerance” policy on nuclear proliferation.  The slightest deficiency, the slightest suspicion, risked damaging the mutual trust upon which the Treaty’s equilibrium rested.  Failure to respond meant that the actions of a tiny minority of States neglectful of their commitments would swiftly undermine the system of collective security and of technology exchanges desired by the great majority of States.  The action of the IAEA was a major element of the global reaction.

States parties needed to look beyond the assurances provided by the Agency, however, he said.  They should think about sanctions for non-compliance with non-proliferation commitments, about the conclusions to be drawn in the event of withdrawal from the Treaty, and about extending the code of good behaviour to all potential nuclear goods exporters, especially with respect to the most sensitive technologies in the fuel cycle.  France had made concrete proposals within the framework of the Group of Eight (G-8) and the European Union.

He said that the savagery of the recent attacks was a constant reminder of the threat that international terrorism represented to all, and of the risk of terrorist organizations acquiring or developing mass destruction weapons.  At the Kananaskis Summit in June 2002, the G-8 adopted six principles aimed at preventing terrorists, or those who sheltered them, from obtaining those weapons and related materials.  France called on all countries to adhere to those principles.  The IAEA was playing a major role in preventing the risk of nuclear and radiological terrorism.  For its part, France was participating in activities to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction.  It was also necessary to reaffirm the role of the Security Council, which would hopefully soon adopt a resolution giving fresh impetus to national and international efforts to combat proliferation.

Another kind of crisis of confidence within the NPT related to the future of exchanges in the field of peaceful uses, he said.  Several developing countries were wondering about the likely consequences of measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime for their own nuclear electricity generation programmes, or for their civilian programmes involving the use of nuclear technologies.  Fifty years after the Atoms for Peace initiative, peaceful applications of the atom had largely demonstrated the benefits in terms of improving people’s lives and health, while respecting the environment and within a context of sustainable development.  It was important to keep up that momentum, he said.

CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer for the Holy See, stressed that any recommendations emanating from the present session should reflect a “common desire to protect the integrity of the Treaty”.  After all, although the NPT had contributed significantly to global peace and security, it was faced with challenges that needed to be addressed.  And a world with the widespread sharing of peaceful nuclear technology, but without nuclear weapons, as promised by the Treaty, was currently not a reality.  However, such a world would be more likely to exist if the original bargain enshrined in the NPT, by which the non-nuclear-weapon States agreed not to acquire nuclear arms in exchange for negotiations leading to the elimination of the nuclear-weapon States’ arsenals, was honoured.

Citing the threat posed by terrorists attempting to gain access to weapons of mass destruction, he said the non-proliferation regime’s status quo could not remain unchanged.  Instead, nuclear-weapon States had to provide evidence that they were indeed progressing towards the destruction of their nuclear weapons.  Unfortunately, however, the current situation was characterized by the development of new types of nuclear weapons and the modernization of old ones.  That was unacceptable.  The centrality of nuclear weapons in strategic security doctrines and the possibility of nuclear transfers from the nuclear suppliers’ group to non-nuclear-weapon States were also problematic.

Turning to the duties of non-nuclear-weapon States, he reminded delegates that such countries must not attempt to acquire, transfer, or manufacture such arms.  Recognizing that they had the right of access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he, nevertheless, warned that such know-how could be too easily diverted to weapons programmes.  In that regard, the role of the IAEA was important and needed to be strengthened.  He also criticized States that withdrew from or remained outside the global non-proliferation regime.  In that context, he suggested that various forms of political, economic, and security leverage be used to ensure compliance with the regime.

JOHN R. BOLTON, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, United States, said his country supported the NPT and was committed to its goals.  But, despite that strong support and the support of many NPT countries, as well as the best intentions of most in the room, at least four NPT non-nuclear member countries “were or are using the NPT as cover for the development of nuclear weapons”.  States like Iran were actively violating their treaty obligations and had gained access to technologies and materials for their nuclear weapons programmes.  North Korea violated its NPT obligations while a party, and then proved its strategic decision to seek nuclear weapons by withdrawing from the Treaty entirely.

He said that two States in the past -– Iraq and Libya -– had also violated the NPT.  Libya had taken the important decision to disclose and eliminate its weapons of mass destruction programmes, a paradigm that other nations now seeking nuclear weapons should emulate.  There was a “crisis of NPT noncompliance”, and the challenge now was to devise ways to ensure full compliance with the Treaty’s non-proliferation objectives.  Without such compliance by all members, confidence in the security benefits derived from the NTP would erode.  To address that serious problem, President Bush recently announced a series of proposals aimed at strengthening compliance with the obligations undertaken upon signing the Treaty.

Those proposals would address a fundamental problem that had allowed nations like Iran and North Korea to exploit the benefits of NPT membership to develop their nuclear weapons programmes, he said.  The President was determined to stop “rogue States” from gaining nuclear weapons “under cover of supposed peaceful nuclear technology”.  As the President said on 11 February, “‘proliferators must not be allowed to cynically manipulate the NPT to acquire the material and infrastructure necessary for manufacturing illegal weapons’”.  Countries whose nuclear programmes posed a serious threat to the Treaty must be dealt with “firmly and swiftly”.  States parties must send a signal to potential Treaty violators that their actions would not be tolerated.

Failure to take action now would embolden more and more States to follow the lead of Iran and North Korea, by hiding behind the “cover of NPT legitimacy” while pursing nuclear weapons technology.  For its part, the United States was strongly committed to its article VI obligations.  Recent accomplishments in that regard had including the Moscow Treaty, the establishment of the Global Partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction, which President Bush had proposed expanding, and which would accomplish much towards ridding the world of those weapons materials and equipment.  Overall, the United States had a “very impressive” record of action that was making the world a safer place.

In order to address loopholes and the crisis of noncompliance with the NPT, he said that President Bush had announced four proposals to strengthen the Treaty and the governance structures of the IAEA.  The first was to limit enrichment and reprocessing plants to those States that now possessed them.  The second involved the creation of a special committee of the IAEA Board of Governors to focus intensively on safeguards and ensure that nations complied with their international obligations.  A third step was to urge States that were serious about fighting proliferation to approve and implement the Additional Protocol and, by the end of 2005, that would be a condition of supply for nuclear-suppliers group-controlled items.  Fourth was to stop States under investigation for NPT and IAEA violations from holding seats on the Agency’s Board of Governors, or on the new IAEA special committee.

Verification was not enough, he said.  The most airtight verification regime in the world was worthless if confirmed violations were ignored.  Thus, enforcement was critical.  The costs for violations must be increased and the benefits reduced.  “We cannot look the other way, out of fear or concern that the cost of enforcement will be borne by those objecting to the violation.  We cannot hope the problem will go away.  We cannot leave it to the other guy to carry the full measure of the challenge of demanding full compliance.  We cannot divert attention from the violations we face by focusing on article VI issues that do not exist”, he said.  If a party cared about the NPT, then there was a corresponding requirement to care about violations and enforcement.

In the context of the significant challenges from terrorist-sponsoring regimes that were developing weapons of mass destruction in many forms, he provided detail on three very different cases:  Iran; North Korea; and Libya.  He said that Iran had “concealed a large-scale covert nuclear weapons programme for over 18 years.”  That country’s continued “deception and delaying tactics” had not gone unnoticed by the international community.  Despite its massive deception and denial campaign, the IAEA had uncovered a large amount of information indicating numerous major violations of Iran’s Treaty obligations under its NPT Safeguards Agreement.

He said that, if Iran continued in its unwillingness to comply with the NPT, the Security Council could take up that issue as a threat to international peace and security.  If it was unable to do so, that would not only be a blow to efforts to hold Iran accountable, but also a blow to the effectiveness of the Council itself and to the credibility of the NPT regime.  That country’s “stalling tactics” clearly indicated that it had not fulfilled even the minimal steps to which it had agreed last September and again in February.  “If we permit Iran’s deception to go on much longer, it will be too late”, he warned, adding, “Iran will have nuclear weapons”.  Iran must “come clean” and answer satisfactorily all unresolved IAEA questions.

North Korea’s use of the NPT as a cover to hide its nuclear weapons ambitions and its subsequent withdrawal from the Treaty was the clearest example of a State “cynically manipulating the NPT to threaten the international community with its nuclear weapons programme”.  The world now faced the danger not only of a North Korea in possession of nuclear weapons, but the risk that it would export fissile material or weapons to other rogue States or to terrorists.  He urged all Member States to support the six-party talks aimed at achieving a peaceful, diplomatic end to North Korea’s nuclear programmes.

He recalled that, on 19 December 2003, Libya announced a number of “remarkable” steps, among them that it would voluntarily rid itself of its weapons of mass destruction equipment and programmes.  Libya had made enormous progress towards fulfilling those commitments, including dismantling its known nuclear weapons programme.  Last week, President Bush terminated application of the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act on Libya.  He was changing the Executive Order sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to enable trade with Libya.

In conclusion, he said that the time for “business as usual” was over, in terms of nuclear non-proliferation.  An irresponsible handful of nations not living up to their Treaty commitments were undermining the NPT’s mission.  Without full compliance by all NPT members, confidence in it as a non-proliferation instrument eroded.  What would eventually result was a world with an ever-growing number of States possessing nuclear weapons; where terrorists and rogue States would have expanded access to nuclear technology and expertise.  In such a world, the risk of catastrophic attacks against civilized nations would be far greater.

JOHAN LØVALD (Norway) said it was the joint responsibility of the international community to ensure that the Non-Proliferation Treaty remained an effective tool in the efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and to reduce stockpiles.  The task of the meeting over the next two weeks should be to ensure that the 2005 Review Conference reconfirmed that joint commitment to protect, preserve and strengthen the integrity and authority of that vital instrument.

He told the meeting that outstanding compliance matters with a number of countries posed a serious challenge to the integrity of the Treaty.  Recent disclosures of clandestine networks capable of furnishing equipment for developing complete nuclear-weapon programmes underscored, more than ever, the urgent need for strengthening compliance with the obligation and commitments under the Treaty.  Verification mechanisms should be strengthened, and violators made to suffer the consequences, he said.  The Security Council had an important part to play in all those activities.

Looking forward to next year’s Conference, Mr. Løvald said the forum should confirm that only countries that had signed and implemented the Additional Protocol would be allowed to import materials and equipment for civilian nuclear programmes.  International cooperation on export controls of sensitive materials should be strengthened.  Additionally, the meeting should consider concrete measures to enhance physical protection and ensure that all loopholes for illicit trafficking of nuclear materials were sealed.  He said it was the responsibility of all nations to develop credible national security systems, and regretted that the CTBT had not yet entered into force.

GHOLAM ALI KHOSHROO, Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs of Iran, said that, despite the end of the cold war, some nuclear-weapon States seemed to think that they were too powerful to concern themselves with disarmament.  Even worse, they were developing new types of nuclear weapons to be used in conventional warfare.  Without the cold war’s “balance of terror”, the possibility of nuclear weapons being used against non-nuclear-weapon States seemed very real.  And for that reason, the NPT review process needed to establish a subsidiary body to monitor the disarmament progress of nuclear-weapon States.

He also criticized States outside the non-proliferation regime that continued to acquire nuclear weapons.  Such countries, especially when their political affiliations protected them from sanctions, represented the “most important threat to the credibility of the NPT regime”.  In that context, he drew attention to Israel, the State that prevented the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  So long as the countries of the region were threatened by Israel, which was bolstered by the unconditional support of one nuclear-weapon State, the NPT review process would have to remain seized of the matter.

Turning to security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States, he said that recent developments and the actions of a certain nuclear-weapon State had proved that unilateral statements could never take the place of legally binding assurances of no threat or use of nuclear weapons.  In that regard, he called for the establishment of a subsidiary organ to focus on such assurances.  That would contribute greatly to the potency of the Treaty.

He told delegates that article VI of the NPT was very clear in underscoring the inalienable right of all parties to develop, research, produce, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  He also acknowledged the Treaty’s stipulations that a verification process had to be put in place to prevent the diversion of nuclear energy to the military arena.  However, he denounced the fact that such verification procedures were based on the political whims of certain countries and failed to respect the economic and technological development of other States.

After years of being denied its right to develop peaceful nuclear energy, Iran was attempting to make up for lost time, while still respecting its obligations under the NPT, he said.  And when faced with politically motivated criticism, it had, in the spirit of cooperation, submitted to IAEA inspections and signed that body’s Additional Protocol.  In that context, he expressed satisfaction that the inspections were showing that his country’s nuclear programme was purely peaceful.  Emphasizing that the credibility and relevance of the NPT regime rested upon the will of all States parties to uphold the Treaty’s fundamental tenets, while respecting the rights of all fellow States parties, he also stressed that there was no place in the regime for ulterior political motives.

Before concluding, he responded to allegations from the United States representative, who had spoken before him.  Specifically, he noted that the United States itself had violated articles I, IV and VI of the NPT and undermined all multilateral fora on disarmament.  He also encouraged the United States to respond to the international community’s concern over the new types of nuclear weapons it was currently developing.  Noting its active nuclear proliferation activities, its lowering of the threshold of resort to nuclear weapons, even in conventional conflicts against non-nuclear-weapon States, and its support for Israel’s nuclear programme, he also criticized the United States for its extraterritorial legislation that had challenged international law and hampered Iran’s economic and technological development.

Stating that the United States had launched a vicious disinformation campaign against Iran, he drew attention to the IAEA’s findings, which failed to provide evidence of any wrongdoing on Iran’s part.  Additionally, since the IAEA was already dealing with his country, there was no need for the United States to engage in baseless accusations.

ANATOLY ANTONOV (Russian Federation) said that special attention should be given to the problem of the “black WMD markets”, which were most dangerous.  Terrorists were smart and resourceful, and willing to go to any length to get hold of the weapons of mass destruction production components, in order to strike at innocent people.  The draft resolution being discussed in the Security Council should motivate States to prevent such acquisition by non-State actors.  Several initiatives had been tabled this year to bridge the “gaps” in the non-proliferation regime.  Those should be studied seriously and, if adopted, should really strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime without affecting NPT integrity or permitting loose interpretations of its articles.

He said that, despite all the difficulties and growing scepticism, efforts should not slacken towards universalizing the NPT.  For its part, the Russian Federation was demonstrating its continued commitment to strict compliance with its nuclear disarmament obligations, particularly those contained in article VI.  Another step forward had been its ratification of the Russian-United States Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions, which called for reciprocal cuts in the aggregate number of strategic nuclear weapons by each side, down to 1,700 to 2,200 before 31 December 2012.  In other words, those weapons would be reduced approximately three-fold against the level envisaged under the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty (START I).

Stressing that all of its nuclear weapons were stationed within the territory of the Russian Federation, he said he expected reciprocity.  It was essential that nuclear weapons should be pulled back to national territories of the nuclear Powers.  That would be a major step towards enhancing international stability and providing additional favourable conditions for further nuclear arms relations.  General and complete disarmament was a goal to which the world should move in a phased manner, on the basis of a comprehensive approach and without putting forward unrealistic goals or targets.  Nuclear disarmament, including non-strategic nuclear arms reductions, cannot be pursued in isolation from other types of weapons or outside the overall political situation globally and in Europe, in particular.

On regional issues, he said that, despite continued tensions around North Korea’s nuclear problem, he was convinced that the situation could only be resolved by political and diplomatic means.  North Korea’s return to the NPT was not only necessary, but “realistically possible”.  He was seriously concerned over Libya’s violation of its NPT obligations.  In that context, he positively assessed its renunciation of its weapons of mass destruction programmes and the measures taken by Libya, together with some States and the IAEA, to terminate its work in that area.  The situation with the Iranian nuclear programme was not an easy one, although there had been some progress.  He hoped for more active cooperation with the IAEA, as well as the signing by Iran of the Additional Protocol, thereby making it possible to soon close the “Iranian” file.

Today, as never before, the issue of close interrelationship and balance between the commitments and the rights of the NPT member States was becoming all-important.  That was fully true with regard to expanding international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  He called attention to President Putin’s initiative, proposed at the Millennium Summit, to develop nuclear technologies that were resistant to proliferation.  The first phase of the project was under way, under IAEA auspices, and he urged all interested countries to join it.  He was concerned about the lack of progress in creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  At the same time, he was pleased to note the work under way to create such a zone in Central Asia.  Preventing an outer space arms race was also essential in the NPT context, as that guaranteed sustained global stability.

Abdulaziz Al Shamsi (United Arab Emirates) said as a party to the NPT, his country was very concerned about the international community’s leniency towards Israel’s refusal to accede to the Treaty.  It was the only State in the region that possessed nuclear weapons.  Its possession of those weapons contributed to the perpetuation of the present tension and conflict in the region, tension that was also caused by its occupation of the Arab and Palestinian territories.  He was convinced that the transparency and universality of multilateral disarmament were for the benefit of economic and social development of humanity.

Therefore, while welcoming the decision by Libya to subject its nuclear facilities to the safeguards of the IAEA, he called on the international community to deal with what he termed “the nuclear weapons exceptionalism of Israel”, which, if not corrected, posed a direct threat to regional and international peace and security and would result in a disaster.  To that end, he called on the meeting to recommend that the 2005 Review Conference establish a subsidiary body to explore ways of effective and serious implementation of the 1995 Review Conference resolution on the Middle East, which was an inseparable provision of the NPT.  He stressed the responsibility of States parties to the Treaty to exert all efforts to compel Israel to accede unconditionally to the NPT and comply with the provisions on the Middle East resolution.

That compliance, he went on, included:  dismantling all of Israel’s military nuclear facilities and subjecting them to the safeguard of the IAEA, like other countries in the region; refraining from delivering to that country all financial and technical assistance used in nuclear activities; and ensuring its compliance, thus making the region free of nuclear weapons.

NGUYEN DUY CHIEN (Viet Nam) said that implementation of the NPT would not be complete if the international community aimed its effort only at one or another aspect of the problem.  All States parties were obliged to live up to their commitments, including those that had emanated from the review conferences.  It was also universally recognized that the NPT was the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament; its coming into existent had been dictated by the final objective of achieving the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The nature of the relationship between the NPT and nuclear disarmament required that the promotion of nuclear non-proliferation be undertaken hand-in-hand with corresponding progress towards nuclear disarmament.

He said that, in the context of the “very slow” progress towards nuclear disarmament in recent years, it had become more pertinent and justified that the nuclear-weapon States should strictly undertake their obligations to stop the improvement, development, production and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems and, as interim measures, de-alert and de-activate them and gradually reduce them.  Nuclear-weapon States must fully implement the unequivocal undertaking they had given at the 2000 review and, pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, those should conclude internationally and legally binding security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States, as a matter of priority.  He emphasized the legitimate right of all States parties to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination, in conformity with article VI.

Nuclear-weapon-free zones not only significantly contributed to achieving regional and international security, but also strengthened the NPT regime and the process of total nuclear disarmament, he said.  Reiterating Viet Nam’s strong support for those zones, he said his country was working closely with other member States of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ensure that South-East Asia remained a region free from nuclear weapons.  He hoped the Committee would be able to produce a consensus report containing recommendations and procedural arrangements for the upcoming 2005 Review Conference.

KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said the only way to respond to the emerging threats of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was through stronger multilateral efforts.  Lamenting that, in light of recent proliferation-related developments, the future of the NPT regime had been “pushed further into greater uncertainty”, he called for universal adherence to the Treaty.  In that context, he called on the one State party that had withdrawn from the NPT to rejoin the fold.

Highlighting the link between nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, he criticized the policies of some nuclear-weapon States that undermined that bond.  Specifically, certain countries were showering attention on horizontal proliferation, while effectively ignoring the vertical.  He also expressed regret over the fact that certain nuclear-weapon States appeared to be ignoring facets of the existing multilateral disarmament system, including the Conference on Disarmament.  Turning to the Moscow Treaty, he welcomed it as a positive step forward.  Nevertheless, he regretted its lack of irreversibility, verifiability, and transparency.

Regarding his own region, he drew attention to the nuclear-weapon-free zone there and stated his view that such zones represented effective measures to combat proliferation and promote disarmament.  In that context, he expressed hope that a nuclear-weapon-free zone would be established in the Middle East.  He also touched upon security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States, declaring that such promises should be legally binding and negotiated in a multilateral setting.  Additionally, time needed to be officially set aside during the current session to consider such assurances.

ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba) said that, despite the NPT having been around for many years, it was becoming weaker.  It was unacceptable that the nuclear-weapon States had failed to make any progress on the commitment they made at the 2000 Review Conference to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.  Such inaction showed a disturbing lack of political will.  Also, strategic military doctrines based on the possession of nuclear weapons were unsustainable.  Reminding delegates that the NPT rested on three pillars, he rejected any selective implementation of the Treaty.  Specifically, disarmament and cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy should not be pushed aside in favour of talks on horizontal non-proliferation.

Referring to the work of the present session, he said it should focus on nuclear disarmament, security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States, and the Middle East.  On security assurances, he maintained that they should be enshrined without delay in an unconditional, legally binding, and universal international instrument.  In the meantime, a new subsidiary body should be created to address such a mechanism.

Concerned over the inaction in the Conference on Disarmament and Disarmament Commission, as well as the impotence of the First Committee, he criticized dangerous unilateral efforts to combat horizontal proliferation.  Even the Security Council, which was not at all representative of the international community, was giving too much attention to a draft resolution on weapons of mass destruction, which happened to be authored by a Government that possessed nuclear weapons and had done nothing to promote nuclear disarmament.  He criticized the Council for considering the resolution, since it could be used to justify unilateral abuse against certain States.  That was especially worrying to his country, which had been unfairly accused of developing biological weapons by the United States.

LESYA GAK (Ukraine), delivering the statement of Anatoliy Scherba, said that, given the global security situation, his country viewed the preparatory process and the upcoming review as vital to identifying ways to efficiently counter the grave threats flowing to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and the NPT, itself.  The NPT remained a key tool in the prevention of nuclear proliferation and for monitoring strategic stability.  It had been 10 years since Ukraine acceded to that Treaty.  Its decision to forswear its nuclear capability and accede to the NPT had contributed significantly to enhancing the international non-proliferation regime and global security.

She said that, unlike in the mid-1990s, when some progress had been achieved in countering both horizontal and vertical proliferation, the world today continued to be challenged, both globally and regionally, by the increasing risk of the spread of materials, equipment and expertise for manufacturing nuclear weapons.  Concern was also growing about the terrorist acquisition of those weapons.  Such circumstances made it imperative to preserve the NPT’s viability and enhance its efficiency.  That could be accomplished by ensuring the unequivocal implementation by all NPT member States of the decisions made at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences, including the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and the 13 practical steps to achieve it.

While she hailed Libya’s landmark decision to roll back its programmes, she said that the situation on the Korean peninsula remained a cause for concern.  Her country shared a deep conviction that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should relinquish its nuclear ambitions and resume its cooperation with the IAEA.  It should return to compliance with its obligations under the NPT and the IAEA Safeguards Agreement without delay.  The international community should keep searching for ways to finally put an end to that crisis in order to prevent a “hard blow” to the NPT-based regime.  To meet current challenges overall, existing legal and institutional mechanisms should be employed, especially the United Nations machinery.  Also, new ways should be sought to inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons, related materials, equipment and technologies.  She highly appreciated efforts to expand global cooperation with the Group of Eight Global Partnership, in which his country wished to play a part.

Touching on several other key points, she said that recent developments highlighted the urgent need to enhance the IAEA’s verification capability.  She also noted with satisfaction the entry into force of the Moscow Treaty.  Unfortunately, however, progress in implementing the practical steps towards nuclear disarmament had not met the target, and prospects of the CTBT’s operation still looked “gloomy”.  Also, no effort should be spared to surmount the protracted political impasse in the Conference on Disarmament.  In that regard, the conclusion of legally binding security assurances would significantly strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  She, meanwhile, strongly encouraged the nuclear-weapon States to reconfirm their commitments contained in the relevant Security Council resolutions and the decisions of the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences.

LOTFI BOUCHAARA (Morocco) said the NPT was in a state of crisis.  After all, despite enjoying broad international support and having established an international norm, it was not being uniformly interpreted across the globe.  Also, it was suffering from new challenges, including difficulties related to verification and the trafficking of sensitive materials, as well as old ones, including the failure of nuclear-weapon States to meet their disarmament obligations.  When it was created, the NPT had been based on clear ideas and provided precise definitions.  It was, therefore, necessary to understand what had gone wrong.

Explaining recent developments that had hurt the NPT regime, he pointed out that national perceptions on collective security had shifted, because of the risks of nuclear terrorism and proliferation.  Additionally, some countries no longer excluded the possibility of using nuclear weapons from classic military theatres.  One of the biggest challenges to the non-proliferation regime was the lack of international trust.  In order to restore it, nuclear disarmament had to be undertaken.  In that context, he called on nuclear-weapon States to use innovative and decisive measures to reduce their nuclear arsenals.  After all, the NPT must continue to meet the security needs of all of its States parties.

Expressing concern over the trafficking of sensitive materials, he told delegates that deterrence no longer had an effect on terrorists.  After all, nuclear technology and materials were now available on the Internet.  Stressing that it was essential that non-State actors be prevented from acquiring nuclear arms, he said the best way to achieve that goal was to completely eliminate such weapons.  It was also urgent to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Making the NPT universal would greatly increase its potency.  Currently, however, in the Middle East, Israel’s refusal to accede to the Treaty was creating much discord.  As the only State in the region to possess nuclear weapons, its transgressions needed to be addressed during this session and the Review Conference.  In that context, he called for a stronger role for the IAEA.  He also called for more dialogue, vigilance and solidarity, which would prevent the erosion of the NPT regime.

MOHAMED EZZELDINE ABDEL-MONEIM, Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Egypt, on behalf of the Arab Group, said the meeting was taking place in difficult and complex circumstances, with major challenges to international relations.  Even the effectiveness of multilateral institutions was being called into question.  As a result, member States should reaffirm that the NPT was the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime and of nuclear disarmament.  The Arab countries were still firmly committed to the international collective security regime and those States, for some time, had been adopting measures to promote nuclear disarmament and had all ratified the NPT.  Israel was the only country in the region that had not adhered to the NPT, thus threatening security and jeopardizing the regime.

He pressed all countries possessing nuclear weapons to undertake efforts to find a solution to the “Israeli situation”, by reaffirming its non-adherence to the NPT, as well as its failure to agree to the commitments flowing from it.  Efforts should be intensified to compel Israel to adhere to the NPT and comply with the resolution on the Middle East, which had been adopted at the 1995 Review Conference as part of the package allowing for the Treaty’s indefinite extension, and leading to the creation of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.  The upcoming review must emphasize the importance of Israel’s adherence to the NPT, since such a step would bring the parties closer to realizing a solution of the situation there.  Also, the transfer to Israel of know-how and technologies, as well as of equipment, must cease.

The Arab States, which did not have nuclear weapons, were playing a role in the security of the region, while those that had those weapons, instead of working to eliminate them, were intending to develop a new generation of nuclear arms, he said.  In that connection, the Arab States joined with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in wishing to establish a body for the 2005 review that would consider issues specifically pertaining to nuclear disarmament.

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For information media. Not an official record.