SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY CHAIR OF MONITORING BODY CREATED TO COMBAT PROLIFERATION OF MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS

9 December 2004
SC/8265

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY CHAIR OF MONITORING BODY CREATED TO COMBAT PROLIFERATION OF MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS

09/12/2004
Press ReleaseSC/8265

Security Council

5097th Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY CHAIR OF MONITORING BODY CREATED

TO COMBAT PROLIFERATION OF MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS

 

Established in April by Resolution 1540 (2004),

Committee Now Set to ReviewState Domestic Controls Addressing Threat

The Security Council today took up the threat of the acquisition and use by non-State actors, particularly terrorists, of mass destruction weapons for the first time since the unanimous adoption of a wide-ranging resolution last April calling on all States to establish domestic controls and adopt legislative measures to prevent the proliferation of such weapons.

Briefing the Council was Mihnea Motoc (Romania), Chairman of the Committee created by the resolution to monitor its implementation.  He said that, since June the Committee’s efforts had been focused on making the Committee fully functional and operational before it started consideration of the first national reports submitted by Member States, as called for by the resolution.

While the Committee had been able to draw from the valuable experience of similar subsidiary bodies, Mr. Motoc said that the subject of its work had an added degree of complexity and sensitivity.  To a great extent, the Committee had been called upon to cover new ground.  With a structure now in place, which included four experts and two more to be nominated, the monitoring body was now ready to begin consideration of the 86 national reports it had so far received.

The Council had called for the establishment of the Committee under resolution 1540 (2004), adopted on 28 April, for a period of no longer than two years.  Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council, in addition to its call for all States to adopt relevant domestic controls and legislation, had also decided that all States should refrain from supporting any means attempted by non-State actors to acquire, develop, traffic in or use nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery means.

Following the briefing, speakers agreed that the acquisition of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery means by non-State entities was a serious threat to international peace and security, thus requiring urgent action to fill any gaps in the non-proliferation regime.  Most delegations were satisfied that the Committee was now fully operational and would begin its consideration of country reports.  They also stressed the value of fluid working relationships with international bodies expert in the non-proliferation field.

Concerned at the lack of agreed international standards in the areas to be examined by the Committee, Pakistan’s representative drew attention to the varying levels of adherence to the pertinent treaties.  The level of implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention was less than satisfactory, despite its properly constituted and fully functioning monitoring arm.  In the case of the Biological Weapons Convention, no means existed to determine violations by States parties.  Provisions in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) were, in several respects, “now unrelated to reality”.  Moreover, the Treaty did not recognize three nuclear-weapon States, including his own, whose cooperation was obviously essential to realizing the nuclear non-proliferation goals.  Also, there were no universally agreed norms for missiles and other delivery systems.

Calling the prospect that weapons of mass destruction might reach the hands of a terrorist “the ultimate nightmare”, the representative of the United Kingdom said the Committee’s work was urgent.  Terrorist groups had demonstrated their wish to use such weapons.  When the Council adopted resolution 1540, it had demonstrated its common determination to mitigate that risk.  That required an effort by all States to adopt robust legislation and to establish and enforce national controls to catch those who tried to evade the law.  Shutting down the complicated network of suppliers would require a joint effort.  Where there was leakage in the system, the weak points were exploited by the terrorist.  To be frank, he wondered why it had taken so long to reach today’s point; the need to expedite progress and achieve the resolution’s goals was quite apparent.

Statements were also made by representatives of France, Russian Federation, Philippines, United States, Brazil, Spain, Angola, Chile, China, Benin, Germany and Algeria.

The meeting was called to order at 10:25 a.m. and adjourned at 11:25 a.m.

Background

When the Council met this morning to consider the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction it had before it a letter dated 8 December 2004 from the Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) addressed to the Council President (document S/2004/958).  Annexed to the letter is the first report of the 1540 Committee covering the period from 11 June to 5 December 2004.

By adopting resolution 1540 on 28 April 2004, the Council affirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security.  Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council decided that States shall refrain from providing any support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery.  The Council also decided that States shall adopt and enforce appropriate effective laws in that regard.  The adoption of resolution 1540 imposes binding far-reaching obligations on all Member States to take legislative and administration actions in accordance with their national procedures.

The Committee began its work in June 2004, the report states.  In October, it decided to establish three subcommittees with a view to sharing the task of considering Member States’ reports submitted pursuant to the resolution.  Since its establishment, the Committee has worked to adopt the necessary initial documents to enable it to become fully operational.  The work performed in the period covered by the report was concentrated mainly on making the Committee fully functional and operational, before it starts the consideration of the first national reports submitted by Member States pursuant to resolution 1540.

Statements

MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania), Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), said that the efforts sustained in the period from 11 June to 5 December had been concentrated mainly on making the 1540 Committee fully functional and operational before it started consideration of the first national reports submitted by Member States pursuant to the resolution.  While the Committee had been able to draw from the valuable experience of similar subsidiary bodies, he ventured to say that the subject matter of the Committee’s work had an added degree of complexity and sensitivity.  To a great extent, the Committee had been called upon to cover new ground.

He recalled that, on 28 April, the Council had unanimously adopted resolution 1540 (2004), which affirmed that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their delivery means, constituted a real threat to international peace and security.  Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council decided that States should refrain from providing any support to non-State actors that attempted to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use mass destruction weapons and their delivery means.  The Council had also decided that States should adopt and enforce appropriate, effective laws which prohibited any non-State actor from manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, developing, transporting, transferring or using mass destruction weapons and their delivery means.  It further decided that States should take and enforce effective measures to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of such weapons and their delivery means.

Controls included measures to secure and protect such items, export and border controls, law enforcement efforts, and the development and improvement of appropriate legislation and administrative provisions, he explained.  The adoption of the resolution had been preceded by intensive consultations and discussions within and outside the Council.  Resolution 1540 (2004) imposed “binding far-reaching obligations” on all Member States to take legislative and administrative actions in accordance with their national procedures.

In that light, he went on, States had to present to the Committee a first report, not later than six months from the adoption of the resolution, on steps they had taken or intended to take to implement the text.  By 5 December, only 86 States and one organization had submitted their national reports.  With the Committee’s approval, therefore, the Chairman had sent two notes to States reminding them of their reporting obligations and encouraging them to submit their first national reports to the Committee.  With respect to demands for assistance in reporting, he trusted that the Committee would be able to address them and, by so doing, implementation performance would undoubtedly increase significantly.

Chaired by Romania and having appointed three Vice-Chairmen (Philippines, Benin and the United Kingdom), the Committee decided to establish three subcommittees, with a view to sharing the task of considering Member States’ reports, each covering an equal number of States according to alphabetical order, he explained further.  The 1540 Committee had also adopted guidelines for hiring the experts who would help it in its consideration of the national reports.  The Committee invited further nominations from experts in the necessary areas of expertise, and particularly from the Asian and African regional groups.  With the completion of the process of expert recruitment, the Committee became fully equipped to enter the substantial stage of its work, namely consideration of the national reports.

Concerning cooperation with international organizations, he informed the Council that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Zangger Committee had all made specific offers of future technical assistance.  He also noted that he had conducted outreach activities to the United Nations general membership and relevant international bodies.  He had also frequently made himself available to the media, and had attended several intergovernmental, regional and academic conference and symposiums, which enabled the Committee to keep various constituencies abreast of developments.  He also drew the Council’s attention to the upcoming availability of the Web page; a dozen national reports had been processed and translated and were awaiting posting on the Web.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) said recent proliferation crises had highlighted the need for coordinated action by the international community.  It had shown also the need to supplement international commitments of States with domestic, legislative and regulatory measures, and by effective control mechanisms.  The adoption of resolution 1540 was an important milestone in the international community’s efforts.  The Committee was now going to be able to start considering national reports.  Half of the Member States had already submitted reports, and those that had not done so must be encouraged to do as soon as possible.  It was also important that countries with technical difficulties receive assistance to draft their reports.

The reports already submitted were overall of good quality, he said.  There were some indications of the need for assistance in implementing the measures to meet the resolution’s obligations.  It was the Committee’s duty, therefore, to provide rapid follow-up to the reports when States had taken measures to be in compliance with the resolution.  When they had requested assistance, the Committee should help them receive such assistance from Member States.  The Committee should be able to start its work quickly, in order to obtain its goals.  To that end, France had begun considering reports received, particularly those considered by subcommittee three.  As the reports were translated, France would be submitting their observations to the experts for their information.

ANDREY DENISOV (Russian Federation) said that the recent documents governing the Committee’s working methods would enable it to get down to the practical work of analysing the reports of States on measures they had taken to implement 1540.  He joined in the appeal made by France’s representative to countries that had not yet submitted their reports to do so as soon as possible.  Having weapons of mass destruction fall into the hands of non-State entities, primarily for terrorist purposes, was one of the major threats to international peace and the national security of States.  He was convinced that the struggle against the proliferation of such weapons must be waged on a collective basis, and in strict accordance with international law.  The Committee must work in close coordination and make use of the expertise of leading organizations and structures active in non-proliferation, primarily the IAEA and the OPCW.  Later, perhaps the Committee could follow the model of the Counter-Terrorism Committee in terms of holding regular meetings between it and the relevant regional and international organizations.

LAURO BAJA (Philippines) said that, at this stage, the Chairman’s report had focused on the Committee’s organizational activities.  As it began consideration of the national reports, it would be useful for Member States to be regularly updated on both positive developments, as well as difficulties encountered in implementation of the resolution.  He welcomed the Committee’s approval of the recruitment of the first four experts and looked forward to the start of consideration of the national reports.  He fully supported the Committee’s decision to invite further nominations of experts in the necessary areas of expertise, particularly from Asia and Africa.  Those were the two regions with the most developing countries, and the perspectives of their experts would certainly be constructive in the Committee’s work.

CHARLES NICHOLAS ROSTOW (United States) stressed that the resolution reflected a conviction that States must keep weapons of mass destruction and materials and delivery systems out of the hands of non-State actors and terrorists.  President Bush had made that point in his address to the General Assembly in 2003 and called on all Member States to act.  The resolution was supposed to enhance everybody’s security, which was why the United States was committed to making it an effective non-proliferation tool.  The resolution highlighted the challenge of preventing non-States and terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and more generally the threat of the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.  The resolution also made reference to catch-all, or end user, controls to ensure that States adopt them to prevent misuse of the devices and materials.

He thanked the Chairman and the Committee’s members for a job that had not always proven easy.  He commended the Chairman for organizing and leading the Committee.  The Committee’s work was important, and it should help to ensure the implementation of resolution 1540.  He was pleased that many countries had submitted reports and welcomed all efforts in that regard to date.  He encouraged those who had not submitted reports to do so as soon as was practicable.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the scope and purpose of the resolution was clearly defined in its preambular paragraphs.  Operative paragraph 2 was also self-explanatory.  All States were required to adopt, enforce and report to the committee on steps taken in accordance with their national legislative and administrative procedures.  Those measures had to be achieved by Member States through national measures.

He said the Committee had gotten off to a good start.  With the adoption of the necessary guidelines and the submission of many reports, the Committee was well placed to do its substantive work in earnest.  By its very nature, however, the Committee’s work would be complex and difficult.  There were no agreed international standards in areas in which the Committee would be examining actions to be taken by Member States.  There were various levels of adherence regarding the implementation of regimes pertaining to nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and their delivery means.  The level of national implementation in the context of the Chemical Weapons Convention was less than satisfactory, despite the fact that the OPCW was a fully functional organization.  The OPCW had found it difficult to raise the level of implementation of obligations by States, even after seven years.

The case of the Biological Weapons Convention was even more difficult, he continued.  At present, there were no means to determine violations of that Convention by some States, especially in the context of the alleged research and development of defensive biological weapons.  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was an important instrument.  Its provisions were, however, now unrelated to reality.  There were three nuclear weapons States, including Pakistan, which were not recognized by the NPT, but whose cooperation was essential to realizing the objectives of nuclear non-proliferation.  In the area of means of delivery, it was the most difficult to define.  There were no agreed norms, let alone an international treaty on missiles and other delivery systems.

The Committee would have to grapple with the unresolved issue of definitions that would leave many legal and technical loopholes, but would create problems about where, when and how the resolution’s provisions would be implemented.  Other important questions would arise, such as the capacity of States in terms of resources, manpower and expertise.  All knew of the vast differences in the financial situation of the various States.  Their administrative, legal and law enforcement capacity also varied considerably.  It was not surprising that over 100 States had not been able to submit their national reports.

There were also valid questions regarding the capacity of the 1540 Committee itself, he said.  Could the Committee do its job with only four experts?  He hoped the Committee would approve the hiring of more experts to assist in its work.  That would help dispel the impression that the whole process of drafting the resolution was being led by the developed countries, to the exclusion of a large number of developing Member States.  The provision of technical assistance would have to be sought from other States and not from the Committee itself.

The Committee would have to ensure that it did not erode authority or complicate the work of established treaty regimes, he said.  It would have to recognize the differentiated nature of the obligations of Member States.  He hoped the Committee would keep those complexities in perspective, while it proceeded with the consideration of national reports.  Those would be compounded if attempts were made to enlarge the Committee’s scope beyond its mandate.  He hoped that the Committee, when considering reports, would keep its focus on the specific scope and objective of the resolution.

HENRIQUE VALLE (Brazil) welcomed the submission of the first national reports and encouraged Member States that had not yet done so to submit their reports as soon as possible.  Brazil was committed to the objectives set forth in 1540, which had been adopted with a view to address the gap in international law –- namely, the risk that terrorists and non-State actors might acquire, develop, traffic in, or use weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.  That objective should be promoted on the basis of international cooperation and by safeguarding the integrity of multilaterally negotiated instruments, in particular the rights and obligations of their States parties.  He reaffirmed his country’s unequivocal commitment to the cause of a safer world, and one in which weapons of mass destruction no longer existed.  He expected that, in parallel, concrete actions towards effective disarmament by States possessing those arms would also be pursued in good faith.

JAVIER COLOMINA (Spain) shared the concern of those who believed that the acquisition of non-State actors, particularly terrorists, of mass destruction weapons or related materials constituted a serious threat to international peace and security.  Thus, action was necessary on an urgent basis to ensure that gaps in the non-proliferation and disarmament treaties were filled.  In the global struggle against terrorism, and given the process initiated under resolution 1373 (2001), Spain had decided to co-sponsor 1540 (2004).  He thanked those States that had submitted national reports and called on all others to do so, or report their technical difficulties to the Committee.  A considerable number of reports had been received and he had been pleased that the Committee had been given the necessary tools to begin to study those reports, including the appointment of four experts, and the contracting of two more in the near future.

He stressed the importance for the Committee to establish a fluid working relationship with the organizations and systems at the international level with expertise in the area of the non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons, as well as other competent bodies of the Security Council in the field of counter-terrorism.  He echoed the suggestion made today by the speaker from the Russian Federation that the Committee follow the same course as the Counter-Terrorism Committee and convene periodic meetings with the relevant international, regional and subregional organizations.  He also welcomed that the Committee’s functioning was following the same course as the Counter-Terrorism Committee, in that it was governed by the same principles of cooperation, equal treatment and transparency.  He was convinced that, as the Committee made headway, technical assistance from Member States would become apparent.

JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that the Council, by adopting 1540, had decisively addressed the critical aspect of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The goal of denying terrorists access to weapons of mass destruction must be met by strengthening existing international regimes aimed at disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.  Adoption of guidelines by the Committee, as well as the provision of guidance to Member States in the preparation of reports, had been significant steps forward.  By recruiting the remaining experts, the Committee was ready to enter the substantive stage of its work.  He hoped that the principles of equitable and geographical representation were strictly enforced in the context of experts’ recruitment.

He said that resolution 1540 (2004) had called on States to present national reports, and more than 80 reports had been received.  That had demonstrated the concern and importance attached to the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists and non-State actors.  The very large number of States that had not presented reports was indicative of the difficulties many were encountering in complying with the provisions of the text.  Angola had taken a number of legislative and administrative measures to comply with the binding legal obligations under the Treaties to which it was a party and to other relevant commitments.  Only international cooperation could strengthen the capacity to implement the goals of 1540.

ARMIN ANDEREYA (Chile) welcomed the detailed information provided by the Committee Chairman.  Among the relevant activities accomplished by the Committee, he emphasized the efforts by the Chairman and the Committee’s membership to ensure that it fulfils its mandate.  He appreciated the decision to initially contract four experts to consider States reports, as well as the preparation of letters of reply to reports.  Resolution 1540 demonstrated the Council’s decision to take decisive action to thwart threats to international peace and security by the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.  The compliance of Member States with the resolution’s obligations was important, as it would contribute to their security, as well as that of the international community.  Each MemberState should set forth its own controls on equipment and their knowledge of such weapons.  States without the necessary legal measures must ensure domestic control to comply with the provisions of the resolution.  Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a challenge to all States.  Unity and cooperation in combating terrorism had also been reflected in the cooperative nature of the Committee’s work.  Encouraging cooperation with the other committees would be an added challenge for the 1540 Committee.

LI SONG (China) said that over the past seven moths since the resolution’s adoption the 1540 Committee had made encouraging progress with some 90 countries having submitted initial reports.  Resolution 1540, among other things, would enhance international commitments to addressing the illicit trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, and in preventing the further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  He hoped that, with the resolution’s implementation, countries would enter into international cooperation on the basis of equality and trust.  He also hoped the Committee would consider national reports in a fair and transparent manner, and that it would hire more experts from developing countries to assist with its work.

JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU (Benin) said the Committee had established its structure, taking into account the complexity of its task.  Constructive discussions had taken place on the adoption of the resolution, and the international community was very aware of the text’s relevance in helping to fill the gap in domestic legislation to ensure the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  He confirmed his country’s commitment to the goal of urging States to take appropriate measures in a collective effort to thwart the dangerous threat of the acquisition of mass destruction weapons by non-State actors.  He urged member countries to follow up on the resolution and to ensure proper domestic measures.

He said that adoption of the text had made Member States further aware of what was at stake and the challenge confronting them.  He trusted that all would be actively involved in promoting cooperation to prevent any illegal movements of weapons of mass destruction.  He thanked those countries that had submitted their reports.  The Committee would now have critical information with which to begin assessing the situation and mobilizing States to implement the text, which would be in everyone’s interest.

WOLFGANG TRAUTWEIN (Germany) said that the full engagement of every MemberState was needed for the successful implementation of that important resolution.  He highly appreciated the help from the Department for Disarmament Affairs in the recruitment of the four experts and he welcomed the nomination of two more, on as wide a geographical basis as possible.  The Committee was now well-equipped to fulfil its mandate.  He encouraged States in a position to do so to offer assistance to others to fulfil their obligations under the resolution.  As the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and the high-level panel had noted, the Committee should assist Member States in achieving effective implementation of 1540, including by offering model legislation and strengthening export controls.

He said he also welcomed the recommendations contained in those two reports aimed at developing minimum standards for implementation.  A determined effort and further steps were required in nuclear disarmament and in the implementation of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, as well as in the area of delivery means, in order to effectively close existing gaps in the non-proliferation regime and prevent the further proliferation of mass destruction weapons and related materials and their delivery means, including to non-State actors.  He encouraged the Committee Chairman to deepen contacts with the IAEA and the OPCW, as well as with other relevant bodies.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said work by the Committee remained urgent.  The prospect of weapons of mass destruction reaching the hands of a terrorist was the ultimate nightmare.  Terrorist groups had demonstrated their wish to use such weapons.  When the Council adopted resolution 1540 it had demonstrated its common determination to mitigate that risk.  That required an effort by all States to adopt robust legislation and to establish and enforce national controls to catch those who tried to evade the law.  Shutting down the complicated network of suppliers would require a joint effort.  Where there was leakage in the system, the weak points were exploited by the terrorists.  He was fully behind a collaborative approach to the resolution’s implementation, with all States working together.

He said he had to be frank, however, in wondering why it had taken so long to reach today’s point.  The need to expedite progress and achieve the resolution’s goals was quite apparent.  Welcoming the large number of States that had already submitted reports, he called on those that had not done so to report, as a matter of priority.  Reporting was not the goal of the exercise, however.  Without the information provided by the reports, it would not be possible to plug the gaps in national and international systems.  The 1540 Committee had put in place the essential foundations for its work.  Much remained to be done.  He looked forward to getting down to business.  The presence of experts should allow for swift progress in the analysis of national reports.  The emphasis on expertise must be the priority.  He looked forward to the Committee developing contacts with Member States and international, regional and subregional organizations.  They had a key role in promoting the understanding of standards.

Technical assistance was also important, he said.  The United Kingdom would be ready to provide assistance where it could.  The Committee had a busy time ahead.  It had to carry on its responsibilities, undaunted by the task, but committed to achieving results.  It must work to assure that each State was doing all it could to prevent the worst nightmare from becoming true.  That was why the relationship between the Committee and the MemberStates was important.  If States needed help, concrete help must be provided.  The coordination and cooperation between the 1540 Committee and those established under resolutions 1373 and 1267 (1999) was very important.  Those committees should pool their skills and knowledge.  There had been an excessive emphasis on process rather than substance.  He was encouraged that the Secretary-General, in presenting the high-level report on threats, challenges and change expressed his intention in early 2005 to offer to the Assembly a concerted strategy to combat terrorism.  It was long overdue.  He should be encouraged in efforts to shape that proposal.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said considerable progress had been made since the resolution’s adoption in eliminating the danger of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors.  The resolution and its implementation would be a collective response to that danger.  The best way to eliminate the peril was total elimination of such weapons.  The three subcommittees, together with national reports, created the machinery for implementing the resolution.  He thanked States that had submitted reports.  The Committee should be able to ensure assistance for States that needed it.

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For information media. Not an official record.