NUCLEAR-WEAPON THREAT HAUNTS HUMANITY ‘AS INTENSELY AS EVER’, PREPARATORY COMMITTEE TOLD, AS GENERAL DEBATE CONCLUDES

28 April 2004
DC/2922

NUCLEAR-WEAPON THREAT HAUNTS HUMANITY ‘AS INTENSELY AS EVER’, PREPARATORY COMMITTEE TOLD, AS GENERAL DEBATE CONCLUDES

28/04/2004
Press ReleaseDC/2922

Preparatory Committee                                      

 for 2005 NPT Review                                       

Third Session

5th Meeting* (AM)

NUCLEAR-WEAPON THREAT HAUNTS HUMANITY ‘AS INTENSELY AS EVER’,

PREPARATORY COMMITTEE TOLD, AS GENERAL DEBATE CONCLUDES

Nuclear disarmament had “hit the wall”, the killing power of nuclear weapons had been augmented and the threat of the use of nuclear weapons haunted humanity as intensely as ever, the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was warned today, as it concluded a general debate dominated by recent proliferation challenges.  The third and final preparatory session will conclude 7 May.

Calling nuclear weapons the “most horrendous monsters” ever created, Nepal’s representative said that the nuclear-weapon States, with their empty paper commitments, had not done enough to disarm.  The emergence of new nuclear-weapon-capable countries and of dysfunctional multilateral disarmament forums had made the threat of nuclear annihilation as intense as ever.  Stagnating nuclear disarmament was leading to proliferation.  As long as those weapons continued to confer prestige on their owners, and as long as non-nuclear-weapon States felt threatened by them, the temptation to also acquire those weapons would persist.  In addition, non-State actors were now on the scene and in search of even deadlier arms.

Nigeria’s representative, regretting that the NPT had been weakened by non-compliance and misunderstandings, said that one of those misunderstandings had sprung from the belief that the obligation to abide by the Treaty rested only with the non-nuclear-weapon States.  That was not the case, since nuclear-weapon States also had certain duties, such as implementation of article VI on nuclear disarmament.  Stressing that developments such as the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, or the Moscow Treaty, between the Russian Federation and the United States, and the nuclear-testing moratorium had not resolved the nuclear disarmament problem, he criticized the notion, espoused by some developed countries, that vertical proliferation was under control and in trusted hands.

Concerned about the “creeping retreat” from nuclear disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States, Mongolia’s speaker hoped that that stance would not erode the credibility and effectiveness of the NPT regime, but rather serve as a wake-up call for urgent and resolute action.  He urged States with nuclear capabilities to accede to the Treaty and place their nuclear facilities under the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Recalling his country’s decade-old decision to render itself nuclear-weapon free, he called for the convening of an international conference of members of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones, and he encouraged the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.

Chile’s representative, similarly reaffirming the importance of the NPT and the complex political and technical system flowing from it, said that the binding obligation in article VI had been the basis of an unforgotten promise of a world free from nuclear weapons.  The Treaty also allowed for all States to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  It was imperative to revitalize the multilateral thrust of the NPT system.  The threat of the evil use of other devices had taken on new dimensions and challenged the world order.  If the world truly wished the scenario of the terrorist use of radiological weapons to remain the realm of fiction, it must resort to a set of multilateral and effective tools.

Also participating in the general debate were the representatives of Argentina, Jordan, Tunisia, Serbia and Montenegro, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, and Ecuador.

The Preparatory Committee will meet again at a date and time to be announced.

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, met to conclude its general debate this morning.

Statements

MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said nuclear weapons were the “most horrendous monsters the finest brains had ever invented”.  Agreements had operated with the hope that “the monsters would be locked out of the civilized world”, but, thus far, that had not happened.  Instead, the process of nuclear disarmament had “hit the wall”.  He acknowledged that there had been some progress.  For example, Libya and certain members of the Commonwealth of Independent States had abandoned weapons of mass destruction programmes.  However, the nuclear Powers, with their empty commitments on paper, were not doing enough to disarm.  Also, with new nuclear-capable countries arising and dysfunctional multilateral disarmament forums stagnating, “the threat of nuclear annihilation continued to haunt humanity as intensely as ever”.

The lack of disarmament was leading to proliferation, because as long as all nuclear weapons were not outlawed and continued to confer prestige upon their owners, and as long as non–nuclear-weapon States felt threatened by nuclear powers, the temptation to acquire weapons would always exist.  Currently, the killing power of nuclear weapons was being augmented, and non-nuclear-weapon States were not receiving adequate security assurances from their nuclear counterparts.  Additionally, non-State actors, including terrorists, were now on the scene and in search of deadlier weapons and technology.  The situation was indeed dire, he said.

Representing a country that had neither the desire nor the resources to pursue a nuclear programme, he called on the nuclear Powers to work towards eliminating their arsenals and, thus, lead other countries by example.  In the meantime, the world should support nuclear-weapon-free zones, as effective ways to promote nuclear disarmament.  Declaring that universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) would be a positive step forward, he urged States to accelerate the process of joining the Treaty and making it effective.  Before concluding, he stated that the IAEA safeguards system should be strengthened, cooperation for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy must be promoted, and outer space should remain free of weapons.

ALFREDO A. LABBE, Deputy Director of Special Policy in Charge of Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile, reaffirmed the importance his country attached to the NPT and to the complex political and technical system flowing from it.  The NPT legally embodied, in article VI, a binding obligation, which was the basis of an unforgotten promise of a world free of nuclear weapons.  It also allows for all States to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  It was imperative to revitalize the multilateral thrust of the NPT system.  The threat of the evil use of other devices had taken on new dimensions and challenged the world order.  If the world truly wished the scenario of the terrorist use of radiological weapons to remain the realm of fiction, it must resort to a set of multilateral and effective tools.

Today, he said, the non-proliferation regime was not only important, it was urgent.  In the past year there had been three serious cases of proliferation.  That had necessarily led to a strengthening of State controls and the increased attention both of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Security Council.  The Additional Protocol of the IAEA should have an important place in the outcome text of the upcoming review.  As France’s speaker had stated yesterday, a “zero tolerance” policy was needed to counter proliferation.  Transnational terrorism had highlighted the weaknesses of the new order and forced the disarmament community to seek answers, without compromising free trade and the peaceful uses of technology, among other vital interests.  He, meanwhile, urged compliance with article VI and the entry into force of the CTBT.

Applauding the consolidation of the Treaty of Tlatelolco through Cuba’s recent accession, he called for the convening of a conference of nuclear-weapon-free zones, in which those zones would be highlighted as pragmatic paths to nuclear disarmament.  Indeed, their establishment promoted the realization of the main objective, namely non-proliferation and disarmament.  The international code of conduct on ballistic missiles, known as “The Hague Code”, dealt with the delivery systems of nuclear weapons.  Already, many Member States had subscribed to that, with nearly half those countries belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).  Chile presently chaired The Hague Code and, as such, he renewed the open invitation to all Member States to join that mechanism, which was fast approaching universalization.  He also appealed, for the “nth” time, for the Conference on Disarmament to resume its activities as soon as possible.

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) voiced support for non-proliferation and disarmament, while expressing a strong commitment to the NPT, multilateralism, and international law.  Calling for a world completely free of nuclear weapons, she said that even those States that had not acceded to the NPT should respect the global non-proliferation regime.  She also expressed concern that the nuclear Powers were not assuming their full responsibilities, as enshrined in the Treaty.  After all, although their commitments to irreversibly reduce their arsenals and to follow the 13 practical steps represented positive developments, more credible pledges were necessary to maintain full political support for the Treaty throughout the world.

The most appropriate method of combating nuclear terrorism was complete nuclear disarmament, she said.  And a treaty governing fissile material would help, by reducing the possibility of dangerous surpluses falling into the hands of non-State actors.  She acknowledged that, after the 11 September attacks, export controls had increased, and that was a helpful development.  She also maintained that the inalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should be respected, since it was recognized by the NPT.

BISHER H. AL-KHASAWNEH (Jordan) applauded adherence to the NPT by the Arab countries, as that Treaty was the cornerstone of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.  He called on its parties to reconfirm their commitment during the preparatory session, as well as during the Review Conference itself.  Jordan was fully committed to disarmament in all its aspects, and it had ratified all international conventions banning the use and proliferation of mass destruction weapons.  It had also supported the indefinite extension of the NPT, based on the understanding at the time that the accompanying 1995 resolution on the Middle East was an integral part.

He said that that text had sought to render the region free of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.  And, that had served as an incentive to Arab countries to accept the Treaty’s indefinite extension.  The text should be given the time it needed for in-depth deliberations during the preparatory process, in order to be able pass along recommendations on its implementation to the Review Conference.  Israel should accede to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Non-accession and non-compliance by Israel had been the main impediment to implementation of that resolution.  He also called for a discussion of negative security assurances.

ANOUAR BEN YOUSSEF (Tunisia) said the large number of States parties to the NPT showed the great importance the international community attached to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  That was a good thing, considering that such weapons could destroy the world several times over.  Nevertheless, he drew attention to the lack of progress in implementing article VI, on nuclear disarmament, under strict and effective international control.  He also lamented the lack of credible security assurances for the majority of United Nations Members, which had voluntarily renounced their nuclear military options.  Declaring that the nuclear Powers had special obligations, he voiced concern over the fact that the CTBT had not entered into force because it had not been ratified by certain nuclear-weapon States.  He also called for a treaty governing fissile material, and lamented that negotiations had not even started on such an instrument.

Turning to the Middle East, he pointed out that Israel, despite repeated appeals from the General Assembly since 1974, remained the only State in the region not to accede to the NPT.  Thus, the efforts of the States in the region to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone there were blocked by that country.  Calling Israel “obstinate” and accusing it of preventing lasting peace in the region, he said that peace could only arrive through the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  And the international community must take this opportunity to allow future generations to benefit from a nuclear-weapon-free world.

TAMARA RASTOVAC (Serbia and Montenegro) said that, in the context of the current weapons of mass destruction challenges, attention should be focused on strengthening and improving international instruments, which provided a good framework to efficiently deal with that global threat.  In addition to attaching great importance to the NPT, her country also highly valued the activities of the IAEA and its safeguards regime, which should also be strengthened further.  Early in 2002, Serbia and Montenegro renewed its Safeguards Agreement with the Agency.  In December 2003, it signed the Framework Agreement on Technical Cooperation.  It had also reaffirmed its commitment to follow the guidelines contained in the Code of Conduct, which had been adopted by the Council of Governors of the Agency in September 2003 and later confirmed by its General Conference.

She supported the provision of all necessary funds to the IAEA, so that it might fulfil its mandate.  In view of the importance of strengthening nuclear safety, she appealed for an increase in the Agency’s funding to increase such protection.  She also supported the Agency’s efforts to strengthen international cooperation in the field of the management and transport of nuclear waste.  In that respect, she supported the tripartite initiative by the United States, the Russian Federation and the IAEA, through which 80 per cent of the enriched fresh nuclear fuel from her country had been safely transported back to the Russian Federation, as a country of origin, for enrichment-level reduction.

Given that her country, along with many others, was facing certain challenges in the management and disposal of nuclear wastes, she sought funding assistance for States, in order to find long-term solutions to that problem.  In that respect, she thanked the United States Government for the financial support it had already granted to her country.  At the same time, she was fully committed to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but that should be coupled with a strict control regime to prevent its misuse.  Highlighting other points, she called for the early entry into force of the CTBT, conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty, and adherence to The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.

BAATAR CHOISUREN (Mongolia) said multilateralism was a concept based on shared responsibility and full compliance with international obligations.  In that context, he expressed concern over the nuclear-weapon States’ “creeping retreat” from nuclear disarmament.  He hoped that the retreat would not erode the credibility and effectiveness of the NPT regime, but rather serve as a wake-up call for urgent and resolute action.  Addressing States that were currently “processing nuclear capabilities”, he urged them to accede to the Treaty and place their nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  He also called on all States that had not yet done so to become parties to the CTBT.

Voicing support for nuclear-weapon-free zones, he told delegates that, for its part, his country had declared itself a nuclear-weapon-free State over 10 years ago.  Since then, it had cooperated with the nuclear-weapon States and various United Nations bodies to adopt national legislation to consolidate its status.  Currently, he supported the idea of convening an international conference of the members of nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout the world.  He also encouraged the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.

Extolling the virtues of multilateral approaches to disarmament and non-proliferation, he regretted the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament.  After all, it was extremely important to commence negotiations on a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  He also advised the present Committee to propose specific recommendations on how best to establish a subsidiary body devoted to security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States.

NAIF AL-SUDAIRY, Disarmament Officer, Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and implementation of the General Assembly resolution of 1974 on the subject.  Undoubtedly, Israel’s acquisition of nuclear armaments had been a big obstacle to the achievement of peace and stability in the region.  Israel’s justification of the development of mass destruction weapons was a crystal clear contradiction to its claim that it wanted peace with the peoples of the region.  Real peace should be built on confidence and good intentions between States.  That should not be based on the acquisition of nuclear weapons and the use or threat of use of those weapons, or on a policy of “fait accompli” or hegemony, which threatened both regional and international peace and security.

He lauded Libya’s decision last December to rid itself voluntarily of all of its weapons of mass destruction programmes and to place its nuclear activities under IAEA guarantees, to be used expressly for peaceful purposes.  He also acknowledged the cooperation of the Iranian Government with the IAEA, and hoped that Iran would continue to move forward in that approach.  That was a step in the right direction towards achieving stability and security in the region, which could not be brought about by the acquisition by some States of mass destruction weapons.  Security and stability required cooperation, understanding, respect for each other’s rights, and the rejection of hegemony.  Preference should also be given to common interests over narrow ones.  The elimination of nuclear weapons was the “only and absolute” guarantee against their use or threat of use.

KAINARBEK TOKTOMUSHEV (Kyrgyzstan) said that, in order to avoid undermining the credibility of the NPT review process, the Committee would have to adequately address the threats facing the NPT regime today.  Additionally, innovative and practical measures had to be used to promote the Treaty’s full implementation and universality.  Currently, the situation did not look good, he said.  For example, little progress had been made vis-à-vis the 13 practical steps for nuclear disarmament.  Also, the Conference on Disarmament remained mired in a stalemate, the CTBT had not entered into force, negotiations had not begun on a fissile material cut-off treaty, and nuclear weapons seemed to be becoming more prominent in some nuclear-weapon States’ security policies.

Acknowledging that the Moscow Treaty was a positive first step, he, nevertheless, regretted that it did not address the serious threats associated with non-strategic nuclear weapons.  On a more positive note, however, the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout the world represented an important development.  Regarding Central Asia, his own region, he updated the Committee on the zone that was coming into being there.  Specifically, the Central Asian States were now actively consulting with the nuclear-weapon States on the final text of the relevant treaty, as well as the modalities of implementation.

In light of the 11 September attacks, he stressed the importance of preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists.  To achieve that goal, he suggested greater physical protection of nuclear facilities and a stronger IAEA safeguards system.  He also urged the international community to recover and securely dispose of so-called “orphaned radiation sources”, which could be used by terrorists to develop radiological weapons.  Finally, to improve the global disarmament and non-proliferation situation, he proposed greater education on the topic.  After all, education was always preferable to using or threatening to use force.

OMAR BASHIR MOHAMED MANIS (Sudan) said the Sudan had been among the first countries to sign and ratify the NPT, which was the cornerstone of multilateral action aimed at achieving nuclear disarmament.  Present challenges confronting the Treaty involved the level of commitment of the nuclear-weapon States, to ensure that the Treaty not become a discriminatory instrument dividing the world into the “haves” and “have nots”.  He warmly welcomed the courageous initiative taken by Libya, which was a serious step forward in nuclear non-proliferation.  That had compelled him to ask all States possessing nuclear weapons to follow Libya’s example and fully implement the outcomes of the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences immediately, through well-defined, time-bound programmes, leading to the total elimination of all nuclear arsenals, including strategic weapons and their delivery means.

Turning to the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said that had been impossible owing to the presence of a single State, namely Israel, which had impeded those efforts constantly by refusing to adhere to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Both the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences had emphasized the importance of States in that turbulent region adhering to the NPT, without distinction.  Meanwhile, the progress achieved in the multilateral nuclear disarmament sphere had been very meager.  International instruments would remain a dead letter if countries, especially the nuclear-weapon States, did not show seriousness and determination.

NDEKHEDEHE EFFIONG NDEKHEDEHE (Nigeria) expressed regret that the NPT had been weakened by non-compliance and misunderstandings.  One of those misunderstandings had sprung from the belief that the obligation to abide by the Treaty rested with only the non-nuclear-weapon States, particularly the developing countries.  That was not the case, he insisted, since nuclear-weapon States also had certain duties.  For example, they were required to abide by article VI.  Stressing that such developments as the Moscow Treaty and the moratorium on nuclear testing had not resolved the nuclear disarmament problem, he criticized the notion, espoused by some developed countries, that vertical proliferation was under control and “under trusted hands”.

Endorsing the 13 practical steps for nuclear disarmament, as laid out in the 2000 NPT Review Conference’s Final Document, he expressed regret that they had not yet been met.  He also called for increased transparency vis-à-vis countries’ nuclear-weapon capabilities, more ratifications of the CTBT, and negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Voicing support for nuclear-weapon-free zones, he, nevertheless, reiterated his delegation’s belief in the inalienable right of States to develop, research, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Before concluding, he emphasized that multilateralism should be the core principle behind disarmament and non-proliferation.

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) agreed with other delegations that the current preparatory session should not limit itself to dealing only with procedural matters.  It must also consider substantive issues related to the implementation of the NPT.  States with nuclear capability, in particular, should report on progress made in dismantling their nuclear weapons, pursuant to the obligations of the Treaty and the commitments entered into during the last two review conferences.  The NPT was the basis for achieving a peaceful and safer world, and it required total and unconditional compliance.  With respect to the States outside the Treaty, especially those with nuclear capability, he insisted on their prompt accession.

Viewing with great concern the little progress made towards nuclear disarmament, he called for a more serious commitment by the nuclear-weapon States to comply with their obligations under article VI of the Treaty.  He condemned the development of new types of nuclear weapons, as that undermined international peace and security and weakened the global disarmament regime.  Highlighting the importance of establishing and maintaining nuclear-weapon-free zones, including in the Middle East, he appealed to the only country in that region that had not joined the NPT to do so and to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  The Tlatelolco Treaty, consolidated by Cuba’s accession, could serve as a model for other regions.  Also essential was for the nuclear-weapon States to provide security guarantees against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

Pending the CTBT’s operation, he said he supported the nuclear-testing moratorium.  He also advocated more care in the transport of radiological material, such as the constant exchange of information to avoid unnecessary accidents.  Contingent measures for their eventuality, however, must also be put in place.  The peaceful use of outer space was another concern.  Also, he noted the inability of the Disarmament Commission last week to reach consensus on its agenda.  That had been due largely to a lack of flexibility on the part of certain States to face up to their disarmament obligations.  In addition, attempts by certain States to selectively apply the provisions of the NPT was incompatible with the sustainability of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, as that related to both the vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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*     The 4th meeting was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.