NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONES, DUMPING OF NUCLEAR WASTE AMONG ISSUES AS DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE

3 October 2006
GA/DIS/3319

NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONES, DUMPING OF NUCLEAR WASTE AMONG ISSUES AS DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE

3 October 2006
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3319
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Committee

3rd Meeting (AM)

NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE ZONES, DUMPING OF NUCLEAR WASTE AMONG ISSUES

AS DISARMAMENT COMMITTEE CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE

 

As the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its week-long general debate this morning, many speakers expressed their disappointment that international disarmament efforts over the past year seemed stalled, but also pointed to a range of steps that could help build confidence as parts of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, including the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.

The representative of Mongolia told the Committee that establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones was a crucial element of the global non-proliferation regime, as well as an important confidence-building measure.  His country itself was such a zone, and he warmly welcomed the recent establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.

Iraq’s representative said it was important to have a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  He called on all States to adhere to non-proliferation treaties and to implement full-scope safeguards in the region.  He added that, through the acts of a previous regime, Iraq itself had faced conflict and lost its wealth.  A new Iraq would make its new regime an element of regional and international security, and make the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.

As part of efforts to make the Middle East, including the Gulf region, free of weapons of mass destruction, the representative of Kuwait called on the international community to halt selling scientific means and technology to any State that was trying to develop such a weapons program. 

He also encouraged all States to take part in a full-scope agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide assistance to other States in case of a nuclear accident or geological emergency. 

The representative of Nigeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, further called on States to take appropriate measures to prevent any dumping of nuclear or radioactive wastes that would infringe on the sovereignty of States.  He called for the effective implementation of the IAEA Code of Practice on the International Trans-Boundary Movement of Radioactive Wastes as a means of enhancing the protection of all States from the dumping of such wastes on their territories.

Indonesia’s representative said that some States wanted their global superiority in weaponry to remain untouched, while, at the same time, asked others to control their armament capabilities.  Catastrophic devices, such as nuclear weapons, were dangerous in anyone’s hands, not only terrorists and rogue states.  Existing stocks of such weapons should be outlawed and eliminated.  Furthermore, peace and disarmament leadership should be exercised by example.  A lack of such leadership on the part of the nuclear-weapons States needed to be reversed, in order to put the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons within reach.

The representative of Senegal said that the focus on nuclear weapons should not divert attention from the issue of small arms and light weapons, which remained a source of great concern for zones of tension, particularly in Africa.   He said it was urgent that additional measures be taken to implement the Programme of Action, as well as complete an instrument on the brokering of light weapons.

Kenya’s representative said that the Programme of Action provided a road map to address the problem of small arms, but needed to be backed by clear global principles governing arms transfers.  He noted that his country had co-authored a draft resolution that sought to establish an effective instrument regulating international trade in conventional arms, and invited all delegations to give it their support.

Statements in the general debate were also made by representatives of Colombia, Australia, Libya, Eritrea, Philippines, Iceland and United Arab Emirates.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 October to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items.

Statements

ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ( Indonesia) said that her Government fully aligned itself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement made yesterday.  She said that multilateral disarmament had experienced a series of setbacks in recent years.  That was a cause for great distress to all who aspired to a peaceful and stable world, but lessons were to be drawn from such setbacks. 

Some wanted their global superiority in weaponry to remain untouched, while at the same time asking others to control their armament capabilities, she continued.  In that context, it was important to note that symptomatic treatment and ad hoc solutions would not yield durable results.  Multilateralism should be at the heart of all disarmament efforts.  “We need to do better,” she added.

Thousands of nuclear weapons still existed and more sophisticated weapons were being developed, she continued.  Catastrophic devices such as nuclear weapons were dangerous in anyone’s hands, not only terrorists and rogue states.  “We should not try to develop new nuclear weapons,” she said.  On the contrary, the existing stocks of such weapons should be outlawed and eliminated.  Furthermore, leadership for peace and disarmament should be provided through example.  A lack of leadership on the part of the nuclear-weapons States needed to be reversed, and then the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons would be within reach.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remained the landmark for achieving nuclear disarmament and, as such, steps needed to be taken to strengthen that treaty and ensure its relevance to the present situation.  On the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), she said that her Government believed that the prohibition of nuclear tests was an effective measure towards nuclear disarmament.  She looked forward to the commencement of negotiations on the verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty without conditions.  Her delegation also reaffirmed the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones as an important step in strengthening global nuclear disarmament, and welcomed the signing of the treaty for a new zone in Central Asia this September.

She looked forward to the next substantive session of the Disarmament Commission and hoped that, with enhanced political will, differences would be narrowed.  However, the focus on nuclear weapons should not lessen the attention to the reduction of conventional weapons.  Illicit small arms and light weapons, in particular, had seriously violated the peace in many regions.  As a signatory to the Ottawa Convention [Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction], Indonesia had been late in ratifying, but reaffirmed its commitment to the principles and objectives of the Convention.

BAATAR CHOISUREN ( Mongolia) said that there had been 17 major armed conflicts in 16 locations around the world in 2005, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook, which further ascertained that the 2005 figure was the lowest for the entire post-cold war period.  Despite those statistics, the world could hardly be characterized as a safer place to live in.  Violence, terrorist attacks and other security threats continued to ravage daily lives, and the recent conflict in Lebanon was a sad reminder of the vulnerability of human security and peace in today’s world.

He said that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or even the mere existence of arsenals of such weapons, as well as growing terrorist threats and continued access by non-State actors to ever more sophisticated weapons systems negatively affected world peace and stability.  Unfortunately, a general sense of disappointment prevailed among Member States over the current situation in multilateral disarmament efforts.  The world must avoid yielding to pessimism, and Member States must display renewed political will to overcome the present impasse.

He said that establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free world would enhance both global security and Mongolia’s own national security.  He called on all States that had not yet done so to accede to all international treaties and conventions relating to non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  In particular, 13 practical steps for implementing article VI of the NPT must be fully implemented.  He reiterated Mongolia’s strong support of the CTBT and the importance of its early entry into force.  It also supported an early conclusion to a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurance to non-nuclear-weapon States.

He said that, according to the Stockholm Yearbook, a majority of major conflicts in 2005 had occurred in Asia.  Nuclear programmes in Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been a source of concern.  Mongolia believed in the inalienable right of non-nuclear weapon States that had fully complied with their NPT obligations to participate in the fullest possible exchange of technology for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  It noted that the process for drawing a conclusion with regard to the absence of undeclared material and activities in Iran was an ongoing and time-consuming one.  It was important that Iran continued to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resolve outstanding issues.  Mongolia stood for a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula and attached vital importance to resolving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear issue by peaceful means through negotiations and an early resumption of the six-party talks. 

He said that North-East Asia was probably the only subregion that lacked a governmental mechanism for discussing security issues collectively.  The time might have come to look into the possibility of engaging in such a political-security dialogue at a track I level, as Mongolia had first proposed before the General Assembly back in 2000.  Mongolia had always been a strong supporter of nuclear-weapon-free zones, which were a crucial element of the global non-proliferation regime and an important confidence-building measure.  In that regard, he warmly welcomed the signing of the treaty, creating such a zone in Central Asia.

CLAUDIA BLUM DE BARBERI ( Colombia) said that her Government associated itself with the statement by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.  One year ago, she said her Government had been lamenting the worrying disarmament trend.  The lack of concrete recommendations on disarmament and non-proliferation at the 2005 Summit reflected the difficulties faced by multilateralism.  Since then, very little had changed.  On the contrary, backward steps, such as the failure of the NPT Review Conference and the stasis of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in recent years, were of great concern. 

Her Government was particularly concerned by the outcome last June of the Conference that reviewed implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.  As one of the countries most affected, Colombia deeply regretted that there had been no final document agreed upon.  The 2001 Programme of Action remained the cornerstone of future efforts to eradicate that illicit trade, which had every year claimed so many lives.  She hoped the daft resolution on the issue would be adopted by consensus.

In spite of discouraging panorama, multilateralism was the essential path to achieving disarmament and non-proliferation, she said.  To that end, it was imperative that the First Committee played a central role.  Colombia had signed all treaties on weapons of mass destruction.  Nuclear weapons remained the most destructive and, for that reason, nuclear disarmament was one of Colombia’s top foreign policy priorities.  She welcomed the Central Asia agreement for a new nuclear-weapon-free zone there.  Although Colombia could not ratify the CTBT because of constitutional impediments, it absolutely supported its spirit and contents.  Her Government would try its utmost to change that situation. 

BRUCE BAIRD ( Australia) said that strengthened political will was essential for dealing with non-proliferation challenges.  Fresh thinking would be needed to avoid a repeat of the failed 2005 Review Conference and to better orient the NPT review process to deal with current proliferation threats.  “In today’s complex security environment, no single tool can meet the challenges presented by States and non-State actors of proliferation concern,” he said.  For that reason, Australia supported a multifaceted approach to proliferation, disarmament and arms control issues, including through participation in export control regimes.

He encouraged a firmer and more active role for the Security Council on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Resolution 1540 (2004) demonstrated that such a responsibility fell squarely within the Council’s mandate.  Australia supported the Council’s engagement on Iran’s nuclear programme and on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s missile activities, particularly in light of the latter nation’s announcement today that it planned to conduct a nuclear test.

He said Australia was actively promoting the entry into force of the CTBT and would reintroduce a resolution on the Treaty during the Committee’s current session.  Australia would also reintroduce a resolution on landmines.  Australia was one of the original signatories to Ottawa Convention and had initiated a strategy to make the treaty universal.  It had also committed $75 million over five years to mine action.

He said the existing multilateral proliferation and arms control framework must also be complemented by coordinated and practically focused measures.  Australia was a strong supporter of the Proliferation Security Initiative, and had long advocated measures such as the Additional Protocol, the fissile material cut-off treaty and The Hague Code of Conduct.  Australia was also co-author of a new Committee resolution that would provide the foundation for work towards an arms-trade treaty.

ZACHARY DOMINIC MUBURI-MUITA ( Kenya) urged all States parties to the NPT to fully cooperate with the IAEA, and encouraged those who had not joined to do so.  That way, wider support of the Treaty could be secured, and thereby prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. 

On the issue of small arms and light weapons, Kenya had been unequivocal in the battle for a comprehensive, sustained effort towards preventing, combating, and eradicating the trade in illicit small arms.  It attached great importance to reducing the demand for small arms both internally and in the region.  He said that the Programme of Action provided a road map to address the problem, but needed to be backed by clear global principles governing arms transfers.  If those principles were adopted, they would provide a sound basis for a global, legally binding document.  There were clear areas of commonality amongst major regional and multilateral initiatives, and consensus on some specific criteria that effective transfer controls should cover.  However, global standards were lacking.   A set of international transfer control guidelines was required -- one that would be applicable globally.  Section II, paragraph 11 of the Programme of Action provided the ideal institutional basis for such an accord, he noted.

Expressing deep disappointment over the recent failure of the Review Conference, he said that Kenya had co-authored a draft resolution that sought to establish an effective instrument regulating international trade in conventional arms.  That would discourage conflict, crime and terrorism, and Kenya invited all delegations to join in reaching that important outcome.  Kenya was one of the six nations to propose re-energizing disarmament diplomacy at the Conference on Disarmament, and would continue to explore that initiative.

CHUKA CHIDEBELEZE UDEDIBIA ( Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said nuclear weapons posed the greatest danger to mankind.  Multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a convention prohibiting development, testing, use of such weapons and their total elimination had become a necessity.  Among the first steps towards that objective should be a commitment by nuclear-weapon States to immediately stop the qualitative improvement, production and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems.  Pending the total elimination of those weapons, a legally binding international instrument should be established, under which the nuclear-weapon States would not use, or threaten to use, such weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  Any nuclear disarmament process must be irreversible, transparent and verifiable in order to be meaningful.

He said the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament had been a turning point in multilateral disarmament efforts, and he expressed regret at the non-implementation of that session’s final document 28 years after its adoption.  He underscored the need for convening a fourth special session in order to give real meaning to the nuclear disarmament process.

He endorsed the 13 practical steps adopted by the 2000 NPT and reiterated the African Group’s long-standing support for the total elimination of all nuclear testing.  It was important to achieve universal adherence to the CTBT, including by all nuclear-weapon States, which, among others, should contribute to the process of nuclear disarmament.  Pending the Treaty’s entry into force, it was important to maintain the moratorium on nuclear-weapon test explosions or explosions of any other nuclear device. 

He reiterated the African Group’s support for internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free zones established on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among States in the regions concerned.  He recalled January’s decision by the Executive Council of the African Union, which had called on States that had not signed or ratified the Treaty of Pelindaba on an African nuclear-weapon-free zone or its Protocols to do so without further delay.  Further, he also called on States to take appropriate measures to prevent any dumping of nuclear or radioactive wastes that would infringe on the sovereignty of States.  He also called for the effective implementation of the IAEA Code of Practice on the International Trans-Boundary Movement of Radioactive Wastes as a means of enhancing the protection of all States from the dumping of radioactive wastes on their territories.

He said it was imperative that the international community deal with the threat posed by illicit small arms trade.  He expressed regret at the failure of the first Review Conference on the Programme of Action to agree on a final document and called on Member States to find a solution to that impasse.  Considering that arms brokering played a significant role in the illicit arms trade, the African Group continued to support the establishment of a group of governmental experts on brokering.

JASEM IBRAHIM AL-NAJEM ( Kuwait) said failure to reach consensus twice last year on disarmament and non-proliferation issues had shown a growth of international indecision in that area.  The international community understood the danger of weapons of mass destruction.  Progress to end those dangers had not been achieved because of a lack of political will and a lack of adherence to treaties.  It was important to revive multilateral conventions. 

He stressed the importance of collective actions to ratify treaties, from the NPT to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Besides the CTBT, he encouraged all States to take part in a full-scope agreement with the IAEA to provide assistance to other States in the case of a nuclear accident or geological emergency.  He also expressed the hope that all States parties to the NPT would work closely with the IAEA to implement the Additional Protocol.

He called upon Israel, the only State in the Middle East that was not a party to the NPT and possessed nuclear weapons, to adhere to the Treaty; get rid of its nuclear arsenal; and subject all its facilities to the full safeguard regime of the IAEA.  Kuwait wanted to make the Middle East, including the Gulf region, free of weapons of mass destruction.  He called on the international community to halt selling scientific means and technology to any State that was trying to develop such a weapons program, and emphasized Kuwait’s support for the conclusion of a fissile material treaty. 

He urged Iran to continue cooperating with the IAEA to end all fears concerning the nature of its nuclear program, in order to reach a diplomatic solution that would avoid another crisis.  The environmental dangers posed by building a reactor on the coast should also be taken into account, since other countries depended on desalinated seawater.  Many capitals would not be far from the reactor.  He said he wished to emphasize the final declaration of the NPT, which called upon non-ratifiers, especially those States whose signatures were required for the Treaty to enter into force, to put an end to all nuclear testing until the Treaty was in effect.

ALI BERBASH ( Libya) said that his delegation would cooperate in carrying out the great duties of the First Committee.  It aligned itself with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group.  Establishment of international peace was a noble effort, and complete and total disarmament, starting with weapons of mass destruction, was essential.  Transparency and good will were required of all members.

He said weapons of mass destruction and non-proliferation should not be confused with peaceful uses of atomic energy for scientific purposes.  Libya supported negotiations and allowing time for fair solutions, instead of the recourse to threats on the use of force or sanctions.  Ultimately, those did not solve any problems; rather, it made them more complex.  Libya had pursued cooperation with international agencies.  His Government was trying to adapt to international conventions and had also signed the Convention on Repression of Terrorist Acts in 2005.  His Government was transforming installations to carry out development programmes in peaceful areas and he thanked the Group of Eight (G-8) for their readiness and cooperation.

In 2004, his delegation had taken practical measures to exercise control over the export of materials in accordance with Security Council resolution 1540.  It had also complied with the Code of Conduct against ballistic missiles, being among the first to sign that Code in 2002.  He hoped that other States would follow suit as soon as possible.

His Government supported efforts in the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  He wanted to see further such zones throughout the world but, unfortunately, the Middle East could not establish one because of Israel’s attitude.  Israel continued to possess nuclear weapons and, thus, represented a threat to peace in the region and the world as a whole.  Israel must join all international instruments on disarmament.  A double standard was present and it was necessary to give assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States, which would ultimately prevent them from manufacturing such weapons themselves.

He said the existence of a large number of mines, which had killed and wounded millions of innocent lives, was also a matter of concern.  That was an obstacle to investment in the region, and he asked those States responsible to give Libya technical assistance for the removal of mines.  He also renewed Libya’s appeal to make the Mediterranean a “lake of peace”, but said that would require the dismantling of foreign bases.  Non-intervention in the internal affairs of States was imperative.  He called upon countries with weapons of mass destruction to eliminate them, so that the international community could be brought closer to a world where peace and tranquillity reigned.

ELSA HAILE ( Eritrea) said her delegation fully aligned itself with the statements given on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, and that it was not surprising that there had been mixed results in the past year.  Achievements had been countervailed by challenges.  Expressing regret over the failure of an outcome document on the Programme of Action on small arms, the climate for agreement on arms control and disarmament had actually deteriorated.  While changing the somewhat strained international climate overnight could not be expected, Eritrea believed that action could be taken to preserve and build international confidence.  The cause of international disarmament and non-proliferation could be advanced by reaffirming the collective commitment to preserve the sanctity of international agreements and by recognizing collectively the need to pursue progress concurrently, on both fronts of disarmament and non-proliferation.

She reiterated that Eritrea was deeply committed to arms control and non-proliferation, which was evident in its being party to many conventions, including the Chemical Weapons Convention, the NPT and the CTBT.  Her Government had also signed the African nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), while being a subscribing State to the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.  Eritrea was also an active member of the IAEA and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, she added.

She said that her Government was ready to implement the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, while it was also currently engaged in the collective negotiation efforts to promote peace in the Sudan.  Eritrea was hosting the Eastern Sudan Peace Talks between the Sudanese Government and the Eastern Sudan Front.

She strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms.  Eritrea had acceded to the Organization of African Unity Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.  Eritrean law enforcement authorities had already been cooperating with the Interpol in the exchange of information on prevention and suppression of terrorism.

HAMID AL BAYATI ( Iraq) said it was axiomatic that proliferation led to arms races and that the absence of transparency led to conflicts.  It was important to commit to disarmament and non-proliferation.  A world without controls was a dangerous one.  The Middle East was facing the problem of insecurity and the danger of the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, in addition to an increase in terrorism.

It was important to have a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, in the Middle East, he continued.  He called on all States to adhere to all treaties in the non-proliferation regime and to implement full-scope safeguards in the Middle East.  Israel should adhere to the NPT and submit to international inspection.

He said that, through the acts of a previous regime, Iraq itself had faced conflict and lost its wealth.  A new Iraq would make its new regime an element of regional and international security and make the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.  The present regime was committed to all agreements and conventions.  The implementation of Iraq’s commitments to non-proliferation and prohibiting the development of weapons of mass destruction was widely supported by the population.  Iraqi authorities had studied the conventions the country had not yet adhered to.  The Cabinet had agreed to adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which it had given to Parliament to ratify.  At the moment, the Additional Protocol was under study.

He said Iraq had faced the most brutal forms of terrorism and was trying to build a new Iraq among civilized nations, an Iraq that understood the lessons of history and was returning to hope.

PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said Senegal aligned itself with the statements of Nigeria and Indonesia, made on behalf of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, respectively.  He underlined that there was great concern over the continued deadlock in the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation process.  The most important mechanisms –- the Conference on Disarmament, the Commission on Disarmament, the NPT and the CTBT -- were all in deadlock.  Likewise, there had been difficulty in agreeing on a consensus document on small arms and light weapons.  Those blockages occurred at a time when the international community faced challenges in maintaining international peace.  The sole body able to change that was the First Committee, and its work was important, as the process had broken down.

The success of discussions would depend on a spirit of openness and compromise, he continued.  Courage and clear-sightedness were also required.  He said the NPT needed to be strengthened through universalization and support for its three pillars.  That could be facilitated by the arrangement of negative security guarantees, as fears could then be dissipated and an era of confidence inaugurated.  The NPT was not the only way to achieve disarmament goals, however.  Though it was the treaty with the most support, it needed to be supplemented by the CTBT on the one hand, and on the other by banning the production of fissile materials for military purposes.  These two instruments would further enable the international community to take decisive steps forward.

Attention given to nuclear weapons should not divert attention from conventional weapons, he added.  Senegal was honoured to be a participant in the Group of Experts on the Conventional Arms Register.  The Register improved transparency and confidence in the transfer of weapons.  However, the issue of small arms and light weapons remained a source of great concern for zones of tension, particularly in Africa.  It was a matter of urgency that additional measures be taken to implement the Programme of Action on Small Arms, as well as to complete the instrument on the brokering of light weapons.  The strengthening of the biological and chemicals treaties was also required to decrease risks on this front.  Security could not exist unless it was collective, and that would happen through inclusive and unimpassioned dialogue, when the security concerns of all were taken into account, he concluded.

BAYANI MERCADO ( Philippines) said that proliferation and the uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons posed a serious threat to peace, safety and security, and even to sustained economic growth and development.  He added that developing countries were more vulnerable because of fuelled armed conflict in some parts of the world.

He expressed disappointment that the 2006 Review Conference on the Programme of Action on small arms had failed to reach an agreement.  At that meeting, his Government had reiterated four points of particular interest:  international cooperation; the need to promote dialogue and a culture of peace in the implementation of the Programme of Action; the important role of civil society; and follow-up mechanisms.  He also underscored the important role civil society played in efforts to address the scourge of trafficking in small arms through the promotion of a culture of peace, while recognizing the role faith communities and interfaith cooperation could have in implementation.

Echoing what the Secretary-General had said in Tokyo five months ago, he noted that miscalculations, sterile debates and the paralysis of multilateral mechanisms had led to a current deadlock in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Urgent progress was needed, and all Member States must muster the political will to break the current impasse and achieve the goals of disarmament and non-proliferation.

His Government also recognized the danger of weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands.  The world had seen how far terrorists were willing to go in wreaking havoc, just to bring their message of hate.  The Philippines would actively engage itself in efforts to strengthen all relevant international initiatives to prevent non-State actors from acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction.  That problem could be addressed immediately through creative and proactive approaches, including the adoption of domestic, legislative measures.

As the current chair of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines welcomed the recent ratification of the CTBT by Viet Nam.  Now, 17 of the 32 countries from Asia-Pacific, including the Philippines, had completed the ratification process.  His Government reiterated its call on the 10 remaining “annex II” States that had yet to sign or ratify, to do so as soon as possible.

HJALMAR HANNESSON ( Iceland) said that, for a small country like Iceland, a world where relations among States were governed by the rule of law was of fundamental importance.  Disarmament and arms control treaties and conventions which had been negotiated over recent decades formed an integral part of that system.

He said ratification of the CTBT was crucial in halting and reversing the reliance on weapons of mass destruction, and he called on all States that had not yet ratified the Treaty to do so.  Credible and effective verification was a key component of the non-proliferation regime.  Iceland supported efforts to find diplomatic solutions to the many questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme.  Iranian authorities must fully comply with the IAEA requirements for transparency in the development of their nuclear programme.

He said that the toll taken by small arms and light weapons was widespread and complex, threatening the stability of States and the security and well-being of people.  It was deeply disappointing that an agreement had not been reached on tackling such weapons during last summer’s Review Conference.  Iceland favoured an international treaty to establish common standards for the global trade in conventional arms.  It supported the initiative of a group of Member States that would be introduced in the course of the Committee’s current session to establish a group of governmental experts to examine the feasibility for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.

Finally, he said Iceland attached great importance to reforming the United Nations.  That included improvements in the working methods of the General Assembly and its Main Committees.  It was important to implement resolution 59/95 on improving the effectiveness of the working methods of the First Committee.

ABDULAZIZ NASSER AL-SHAMSI ( United Arab Emirates) said the international arms race continued to represent the most dangerous threat to international stability and economic development.  The magnitude of confrontations and dangerous conflicts that could break out due to that race, as well as the possibility of diverting arms to irresponsible groups, made it essential to strengthen international cooperation in all areas of disarmament.  Such efforts should be in accordance with international law and those United Nations resolutions, treaties and conventions that did not differentiate among States and that ensured transparency with regard to respect for the sovereignty and security of States, non-interference in their internal affairs and their legitimate right to self-defence.

He called for exercising self-restraint and resolving regional conflicts through peaceful means instead of escalating tensions and confrontations.  Those confrontations were usually exacerbated by States that insisted on keeping their nuclear arsenals and others that attempted to possess and test such weapons.  The United Arab Emirates supported the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and encouraged technological and scientific exchange under the permissible limits of the non-proliferation system supervised by the IAEA.

In the meantime, he said he hoped that ongoing negotiations on Iran’s nuclear question would lead to a lasting and peaceful settlement that ensured safety and security of the countries in the region and their protection from the threat of any unnecessary confrontations.  The international community must deal with that question in a transparent manner that ensures the implementation of resolutions calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  That made it incumbent upon the influential States in the United Nations to exert pressure on Israel to subject its nuclear facilities to the complete control of the IAEA.  He called upon all States to abide by the resolution calling for the suspension of all scientific, technological and financial assistance directed at developing those facilities.

He renewed his support for a universal and unconditional binding instrument that provided security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.  He further expressed the hope that serious negotiations would be initiated among nuclear-weapon States, ultimately leading to the fulfilment of their commitments, including the gradual elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.