THOUSANDS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS ON HIGH ALERT MAKES MOCKERY OF DISARMAMENT PROGRESS, WITH NON-PROLIFERATION THREATENED BY LOPSIDED APPROACH, FIRST COMMITTEE TOLD

6 October 2006
GA/DIS/3322

THOUSANDS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS ON HIGH ALERT MAKES MOCKERY OF DISARMAMENT PROGRESS, WITH NON-PROLIFERATION THREATENED BY LOPSIDED APPROACH, FIRST COMMITTEE TOLD

6 October 2006
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3322
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Committee

6th Meeting (AM)

THOUSANDS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS ON HIGH ALERT MAKES MOCKERY OF DISARMAMENT PROGRESS,

WITH NON-PROLIFERATION THREATENED BY LOPSIDED APPROACH, FIRST COMMITTEE TOLD

World Risks Return To Unregulated Competition

For Nuclear Weapons Unless Non-Proliferation Norm Reinforced

The absence of an even-handed and coordinated approach seemed to be plunging nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation into an irredeemable abyss, the representative of Ghana, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said today, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) wrapped up the first week of its general debate.

Although there had been a considerable reduction in nuclear arsenals, he said that the existence of 27,000 nuclear weapons -- some on high alert -- made a mockery of disarmament progress and had failed to lessen the general fear that the world remained insecure and vulnerable to mass destruction.  Disarmament and non-proliferation were complementary and mutually reinforcing.  Thus, the “prevailing lopsided relationship should be reversed to stem a looming accretion of nuclearism, with its attendant adverse ramifications on international security.  Without tangible progress in disarmament, the current emphasis on non-proliferation cannot be sustained,” he stressed.

Warning of another looming danger -- the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism –- India’s speaker said that the existence of networks of proliferators, aided and abetted by elements within State structures, had further aggravated that threat.  It was of paramount importance that States fully abided by their non-proliferation and disarmament obligations and took seriously measures to deny non-State actors access to such weapons and related equipment, materials and technologies.  India’s record on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction had been impeccable.  In fact, principles of restraint and responsibility were the anchor of India’s nuclear doctrine.  While maintaining a credible minimum deterrent, there had been no dilution of India’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, which remained a core objective of its foreign policy.

Looking ahead to 2007, the representative of Canada said that the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament field was facing several major challenges.  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had yet to come to grips with the challenges posed by the “defection” of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and concerns persisted over Iran’s nuclear program.  If the power and authority of the NPT were not reinforced, “we risk seeing the non-proliferation norm undermined and the world slip back into an unregulated competition for nuclear weapons”.  Canada had previously set out suggestions for revamping the review process, including holding meetings of States parties, at least annually, and having a standing bureau to provide stewardship and continuity.

Reviewing recent failures in the disarmament processes, Nepal’s delegate said that the world had sent a clear message that it was not serious about disarmament.  Noting that approximately $850 billion was spent each year on military expenditures, he said that such a “disarmament dividend” could significantly contribute to meeting the development needs of many developing countries.  As yet, no progress had been made on releasing that “disarmament dividend”.  There was also a potential danger of mass destruction weapons falling into the hands of non-State actors or terrorists.  In the absence of any global treaty to prevent that, the world was forced to rely on the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  Nepal supported Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) for preventing illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery and related materials.

The need to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was also underscored today, with Serbia’s representative emphasizing that his region was threatened by that illegal arms trade, which was directly connected to organized crime and terrorism.  For that reason, full implementation of the 2001 small arms Programme of Action was vital, particularly through strengthened export controls.  Calling for the control of the conventional weapons trade, he said a first step could be the establishment of an arms-trade treaty, which should be concluded without prejudice to the right of States to produce, acquire and maintain such weapons for self-defence.

Statements in the debate were also made by the representatives of Nigeria, Myanmar, Syria, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand, United Republic of Tanzania, Oman, Cameroon, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Azerbaijan.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 9 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

NAVA RAJ SUBEDI ( Nepal) said that the world currently spent approximately $850 billion annually on military expenditures.  Those resources could significantly contribute to meeting the development needs of many developing countries.  As yet, no progress had been made on releasing that “disarmament dividend” to the benefit of much-needed socio-economic development.

Reviewing recent failures in the disarmament machinery, he said that the message was loud and clear:  the world was not serious about disarmament.  There was a potential danger of mass destruction weapons falling into the hands of non-State actors and even terrorists.  In the absence of any global treaty to prevent such proliferation, the world was forced to rely on the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  Nepal supported the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) for preventing illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, their means of delivery and related materials.

He said that there was growing concern over the increasing impasse on nuclear issues involving some aspiring nuclear States because some of them were outside the United Nations framework of negotiations.  All nuclear issues, including the peaceful use of nuclear technology, must be resolved through negotiations, preferably within the purview of the United Nations.  Nuclear and weapons of mass destruction issues could not be resolved, unless certain ground rules evolved at the United Nations were applied.  The principles of national sovereignty and the mechanism of collective security must be respected.  States must comply with relevant treaty regimes for non-proliferation, test-bans and the peaceful use of nuclear technology. 

As a country that had seen a decade-long conflict until recently, Nepal supported the non-proliferation and prevention of the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons, he said.  There had been little progress since the adoption of the Programme of Action in 2001 and efforts must be made to revive that process.  The role of Regional Centres for Peace and Disarmament was crucial to galvanizing the pace of disarmament and arms control at the regional level.  As a host for the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament on Asia and the Pacific, Nepal was fully committed to an early relocation of the Centre to Kathmandu.  Nepal was ready to sign the host country agreement and was committed to bearing the Centre’s operating cost, and to accord the privileges and immunities to its personnel.  He urged the Secretariat to complete the internal procedure of the host country agreement and Memorandum of Understanding at the earliest date for the relocation of the Centre to Nepal without any further delay.

NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) speaking on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that growing hotbeds of tension, militarism, terrorism and fears of cascading horizontal and vertical nuclear proliferation threatened to unravel the international security architecture.  In light of recent failures, international peace and security were at a critical crossroads, and, thus, innovative, bold, realistic and achievable solutions were required.  Because of the absence of an even-handed and coordinated approach, “nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation seemed to be plunging into an irredeemable abyss”, he said.  Disarmament and non-proliferation were complementary and mutually reinforcing.  Thus, the “prevailing lopsided relationship should be reversed to stem a looming accretion of nuclearism, with its attendant adverse ramifications on international security.  Without tangible progress in disarmament, the current emphasis on non-proliferation cannot be sustained,” he stressed.

He urged Member States to espouse multilateralism and exhibit the necessary commitment and political will to faithfully abide by the outcome of the Committee’s negotiations.  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remained the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and it was imperative that State parties undertook urgent measures to revive confidence and credibility in that instrument.  Although there had been a considerable reduction in nuclear arsenals, the existence of 27,000 nuclear weapons -- some on high alert -- made a mockery of the so-called progressive development and had failed to lessen the general fear that the world remained insecure and vulnerable to mass destruction.  It was difficult for nuclear-weapon States to take the moral high ground in preventing others from aspiring to join the “elitist club”, unless they themselves unambiguously abided by their disarmament obligations.  He called on those countries to exhibit sincerity and consider the call to conclude a legally binding agreement on negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States, as well as to support the strengthening of the nuclear-weapon-free zones.

As a country that had acquired an atomic reactor in the 1960s, Ghana advocated the peaceful use of nuclear technology, but it had also acknowledged that the use of nuclear energy should be pursued under the rubric of international agreements, and in a way that was both verifiable and transparent.  On a fissile material cut-off treaty, his Government had welcomed the debate within the Conference on Disarmament regarding the banning of the production of fissile material.  Such a prohibition would overcome the protracted stalemate on that issue.  Also of grave concern were small arms and light weapons, whose abuse had wreaked havoc and fuelled insecurity and instability across the globe.  Though the outcome of the recent Review Conference had not yielded positive results, it was imperative to resolve that issue by vigorously pursuing collective efforts.

SIMEON A. ADEKANYE ( Nigeria) said that the international community was facing increasingly divergent views on how best to address the issues of arms control and disarmament.  It had not made any appreciable progress on these issues since the beginning of the decade.  The most notable failures had been the outcomes of last year’s NPT Review Conference and the World Summit.  In addition, there was the perennial impasse at the Conference on Disarmament, as well as lingering ambivalence towards the negotiation of a fissile missile cut-off Treaty.  While Nigeria agreed that such a treaty should contain a reliable verification mechanism that did not exclude existing stockpiles, the debate over that issue should not be used as an excuse for inaction or delay on the commencement of substantive negotiations.

He said that the risk to international peace and security from the prevailing stalemate in multilateral disarmament negotiations was glaring.  Threats emanating from the excessive accumulation of weapons of mass destruction could stimulate others to do the same.  For that reason, the lack of compliance with the NPT regime was worrisome.  The mistaken impression that only non-nuclear weapon States were required to comply with the NPT could only be detrimental to the objectives of the Treaty.  States that possessed weapons of mass destruction could no longer continue to pretend that their weapons posed no threat to the global community.  In addition, concrete action in the area of nuclear disarmament was the most effective way of preventing such weapons from falling into the hands of non-State actors. 

In the West African subregion, the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons had fuelled conflicts and compromised efforts to bring peace, security and stability to many countries, he said.  Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had transformed a moratorium on the exportation of such arms into a landmark convention in June, by banning arms transfers and their manufacturing materials into, from and through Africa.  Particularly, it banned the transfers of small arms to non-State actors implicated in recurrent conflicts in the region.  An ECOWAS member State could be granted an exemption for such transfers solely for the purposes of legitimate national defence and security needs or participation in peacekeeping efforts.  He called on the international community, small arms manufacturers and brokering firms to respect the ECOWAS convention.

He, meanwhile, expressed disappointment over the failure of the Small Arms Review Conference to agree on a final document.  That failure, however, must not detract from the continuing relevance of the 2001 Programme of Action.  The review process should be kept alive and the follow-up arrangements adhered to.  He added that his delegation would again sponsor a draft resolution entitled “United Nations Disarmament Fellowship, Training and Advisory Services”.  Hopefully, other Member States would give it the widest possible support.

U THAUNG TUN (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that there was heightened disappointment over the lack of progress in arms control and disarmament.  The failure of the 2005 Review Conference and the impasse reached in the Conference on Disarmament had been serious setbacks, but it was imperative to move forward.  Daunting challenges and deep-rooted animosities called for the international community to join hands.  He welcomed regional and subregional cooperation and noted that ASEAN countries intended to co-sponsor a resolution calling on the nuclear-weapon States to cease the qualitative improvement and development of weapons of mass destruction.  The resolution would also call for an international conference on nuclear disarmament to identify and promote concrete measures.

Underscoring universal adherence to both the NPT and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), he reiterated the call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The tenth anniversary of the CTBT was near and the Treaty had near-universal support, but it still needed the ratification of 10 more countries for its entry into force.  The NPT, which was the cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation, required full and non-selective implementation.  He said that the entry into force of the 2002 Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions was an important step towards reducing strategic nuclear weapons.

He said that the Chemical Weapons Convention played a vital role, as well.  One hundred eighty States, representing 98 per cent of the global population had joined.  He urged those that had not signed to do so.  The same applied to the Biological Weapons Convention.  On small arms and light weapons, he recognized the need to control ownership of small arms, as well as the need for major producers to limit those weapons-supply.  Expressing disappointment over the inability of United Nations Small Arms Review Conference to have reached consensus on a final document earlier this year, he reiterated the importance of preventing their illicit trafficking.  He believed that nuclear-weapons-free zones, including the South-East Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, contributed to the strength of global nuclear disarmament efforts.  He welcomed the establishment of a new nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.

On regional peace and the ASEAN countries, he said that the Bali Summit in 2003 had established a community based on three pillars; political and security cooperation; economic cooperation and sociocultural cooperation.  At an ASEAN Regional Forum last July, he had welcomed Bangladesh as the twenty sixth participating country.  He was confident that its participation would enhance regional stability.  The Treaty of Amity and Peace in South-East Asia was also an instrument of peace, and he welcomed Australia and France’s decision to accede to it.  Timor-Leste and the European Union had likewise indicated their intention to accede.  “Let’s turn small steps into larger strides and ensure that our work will be fruitful,” he concluded.

BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said that the extreme pessimism engulfing the present international political scene was of serious concern because of the attempts of some to impose short-sighted policies, which flouted the United Nations Charter and encouraged the language of false might, repression and subjugation.  Efforts must be intensified to respect the Charter and work within a multilateral framework to revive confidence in international organizations and restore balance to international relations.

He said that the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, was more urgent than ever.  Also important was to avoid the serious ecological and environmental dangers posed by military and nuclear reactors, and the burial of waste underground, which was being done by Israel, the occupying Power in the Syrian Golan.  Some would help an aggressor State to possess military and nuclear technology and provide the means of manufacturing nuclear weapons, thus flouting all international obligations and United Nations resolutions.  At the same time, those countries were pressuring certain States under “flimsy political pretexts” to prevent the use of nuclear technology for purely peaceful purposes.  Israel had set up eight nuclear reactors to produce plutonium to manufacture nuclear bombs on a piece of land that was only 20,000 square kilometres.  That must be dealt with decisively and quickly because of the danger it posed to all countries in the region.

Super-Powers had violated their non-proliferation obligations by having provided, and continuing to provide, Israel with reactors, plutonium, scientists, nuclear technology and the means of delivery of missiles, he said.  A European State recently gave Israel three submarines, which could be used to carry and launch nuclear missiles.  Another was participating in outer-space efforts through the Venus Project, a satellite used for military purposes.  Those States should question themselves regarding those policies, which undermined the credibility of their claims that they were trying to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.

He said that Syria wanted a permanent nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and, in 2003, it had submitted a Security Council resolution to that effect.  Regrettably, the initiative had not been adopted and was still before the Council, owing to one of the major States and the double standards of that delegation in matters of disarmament.  Because of the inability of the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to adopt such a resolution, Israel continued to challenge the international community as a whole through its continuing nuclear and military programmes, and through its objection to adherence to the NPT.

Indeed, Israel was a source of conventional and nuclear terror in the region, and was the main obstacle to security and safety there, he went on.  It violated all international norms on nuclear proliferation, harming the credibility and universality of the NPT.  The international community should call on Israel to adhere to that Treaty and subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection, while eliminating its arsenal, as required under Security Council resolution 487 (1981).  The United Nations and the IAEA should be endorsed as the best framework for talks on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone, he stressed.

CHEM WIDHYA (Cambodia), aligning itself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, while the world was overwhelmed by conflicts, serious threats, terrorism, environmental degradation, weapons of mass destruction and infectious diseases, it was imperative that the international community maintain its commitment to peace and security.  There had been much success in producing larger quantities of weapons, but there was much less success in reducing them.  Recent failures notwithstanding, both the NPT regime and CTBT needed to be reinforced for the long-term achievement of complete and irreversible disarmament.

He noted that Cambodia had ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention and he called on all States to become party to it.  His was a non-nuclear-energy producing country and it had ratified several Conventions, including the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Identification, International Convention for Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, and the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages.  His Government had also established a national authority as a positive step towards actively implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention.

On small arms and light weapons, Cambodia, after undergoing three decades of war, genocide and conflict, reiterated its unequivocal support for the implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action on the illicit small arms trade, he said.  It had developed a number of programmes, ranging from law enforcement on arms control to a programme of weapons for development, which had led to the destruction of 200,000 units of collected and surplus weapons in 1998.  He expressed deep appreciation to the European Union and Japan for their assistance in those programmes.  ASEAN had endorsed Cambodia as a lead shepherd country on small arms control, in Hanoi in 2005.  Further, Cambodia had come forward with the idea of establishing a centre to facilitate efforts and resources to combat the small arms scourge in South-East Asia.  That would contribute to the fight against transnational crime and terrorism, and his Government welcomed the support of the international community in its establishment.

ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that the commitment the international community made 35 years ago to rid the world of nuclear weapons had not been met.  On the contrary, a number of those weapons had grown tremendously, as had the number of nuclear-weapon States, all of which had increased the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists.  Efforts should be made, therefore, particularly by nuclear-weapon States to lead to disarmament in all its aspects.

He hoped that the Conference on Disarmament would soon conclude a treaty banning the production of fissile material.  He also called upon those States that had not yet ratified the CTBT, particularly those whose ratification was required for its entry into force, to do so.  His country supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in all regions of the world.  Also essential was for nuclear-weapon States to provide unconditional assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons to all States of those zones.  He also supported the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament and expressed the hope that the open-ended working group on that session would be reconvened at an early date.  Equally vital was universal adherence to the Biological Weapons Convention, especially its strengthening through a legally binding protocol.

ERIC WALSH ( Canada) said that the work of the Committee was of particular significance at the present juncture.  The outlook for multilateral arms control and disarmament remained very much an open question.  Three review conferences of major treaties or programmes were scheduled in 2006, and two of those were set to begin in November.  Following the outcomes of the 2005 NPT Review Conference and the World Summit, there was a need to get back on track.

He said that, in five weeks, the third Review Conference on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons would be under way in Geneva.  Following that Conference, the Review Conference on the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention would be held.  Against the backdrop of concerns about biological terrorism, it was crucial that that Treaty’s core prohibition against biological weapons be reaffirmed and reinforced.

Looking ahead to 2007, he said that there were additional challenges in the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament field.  The NPT had not come to grips with the challenges posed by the “defection” of North Korea from the Treaty and continued concerns over Iranian compliance with its obligations pursuant to the IAEA and Security Council resolutions.  The power and authority of the NPT should be reinforced in the face of those and other challenges, because otherwise “we risk seeing the non-proliferation norm undermined and the world slip back into an unregulated competition for nuclear weapons”.  Canada had previously set out suggestions for revamping the process, including holding meetings of States parties, at least annually, and having a standing bureau to provide stewardship and continuity.

He said that the protracted stalemate at the Conference on Disarmament had prevented it from undertaking purposeful negotiating work.  The “Six Presidents Initiative” had allowed for focused discussion of the seven agenda items, but had allocated only one week per agenda item and made no differentiation between those that enjoyed wide support and those with no current proposal for action.

The CTBT was among the key pieces of unfinished business of the nuclear weapon file, he went on.  The last 10 “Annex II” States needed to sign or ratify the Treaty.  Concern over the state of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament was not limited to the diplomats presently in the hall.  The “cross-regional grouping and the “Middle Powers Initiative” had recently launched its article VI forum as a means of promoting greater cooperation between civil society and Governments in pursuit of the NPT goals.  Canada continued to play a leading role in the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, aimed at expediting the fulfilment of disarmament commitments and preventing the threat of terrorists acquiring mass destruction weapons.  It had recently announced more than $150 million in contributions for projects in Russia and other States of the former Soviet Union.

KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand), aligning herself with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, expressed concern over the state of non-progress in the field of disarmament and its multilateral machinery.  To cap it off, the July Conference to review progress on implementing the Programme of Action on the illicit small arms trade had likewise not agreed on any substantive outcome document.  Nuclear weapons, along with the other weapons of mass destruction, did not discriminate between civilians and combatants, and had devastating and merciless impacts.  Thus, they should never be used, even as a last resort, she stressed.

As a non-nuclear-weapon State, Thailand believed that disarmament and non-proliferation were two faces of a single coin, and thus, should be addressed in a constructive and balanced manner, she said.  Both nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States shared equal responsibility in seeing that the NPT and the CTBT were fully implemented.  Thailand was in the process of amending its domestic laws and regulations so that the CTBT could be ratified, she announced. 

Small arms and light weapons were another serious threat to peace and security, she said.  It was estimated that those weapons caused 60 to 90 per cent of the deaths in violent conflicts.  Those weapons were also linked to terrorism and transnational organized crimes, including drug trafficking.  While Thailand had achieved satisfactory progress in the implementation of the 2001 small arms action programme, there were States whose progress required technical and international financial assistance, and she called on the international community to help them.

On landmines, she asked the international community to assist her own country, specifically in the areas of stockpile destruction and mine clearance, as well as in the provision of humanitarian assistance to mine victims and their families.  More than 500,000 people were exposed to the risk of landmines in Thailand.  Her country was a party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), and despite its limited resources, it was doing its best to fulfil its commitment to the treaty.  Concerning terrorism, only the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction would ensure that those weapons did not fall into the wrong hands.

AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania), aligning itself with the statements made by the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group, and the Southern African Development Community, called upon the international community to continue working towards building a legal regime that could guide the import, export and transfer of small arms and light weapons at the regional and global levels.  Small arms and light weapons were the weapons of choice in most conventional conflicts today.  In some developing countries, they were the “real weapons of mass killing”.

Deeply concerned over disappointing outcomes and the resulting stalemate in the field of disarmament, the United Republic of Tanzania was fully committed to the NPT and to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa, he said.  His Government had ratified the CTBT and signed the IAEA Additional Protocol.  Furthermore, it had passed legislation ratifying the Convention on the Protection of Nuclear Material. 

He said his country saw no merit in upgrading existing nuclear weapons and the precision of their delivery systems.  It also condemned the illegal transfer of nuclear technology to individual and non-State actors, a nightmare scenario that could enable terrorists to acquire weapons of mass destruction.  Meanwhile, he called on the nuclear-weapon States to conclude a legally binding document on negative security assurances.  Signing Protocols establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones was neither adequate nor legally binding.  Even the negative security assurances were only temporary measures, pending the complete eradication of nuclear weapons.

On the CTBT, he said he regretted that it had not entered into force, as 10 of the required 44 nuclear-weapon-capable States had yet to ratify it.  The CTBT stood to play a key role in the prevention of nuclear proliferation, and its entry into force, therefore, was crucial.  Also of critical importance were the three pillars of the NPT.  He also underscored the role of the IAEA in the verification and safeguards of nuclear weapons programmes.  All States should offer the IAEA the necessary support to improve its performance, including by signing the Additional Protocol.

SALEH ARAFA ASTANBOOLI ( Oman) said that delegations needed to show the necessary flexibility and political will to get out of the present situation of pessimism.  A number of States were outside the NPT regime, the CTBT was not in effect, and the Conference on Disarmament was stalemated. 

He said that Oman had adhered to all relevant conventions and agreements, including the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, the NPT and the CTBT.  Last May, it had ratified the Additional Protocol.  He encouraged all States to adhere to the NPT, while emphasizing the legitimate right of all States under that Treaty to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under the supervision of the IAEA.

He said that serious calls for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction had not yielded any developments worth mentioning.  Among the reasons were the double standards and the absence of transparency by influential States.  The NPT needed serious review, because events had passed it by.  Small arms and light weapons should be given to Governments or authorized parties by Governments only, and legal restrictions on trade and possession of such weapons must be respected.

No country in the region could hide its concern about the presence of any nuclear programme in Iran, regardless of its use, he said.  It was essential to make sure that such technology did not pose any harm to man or the environment.  As a case in point, the Chernobyl reactor had killed tens of thousands and destroyed the environment.

He called for a zone, free of weapons of mass destruction, in the Middle East, to control the arms race there.  He called on all parties to keep negotiations open.  Such a zone needed international support.  The fact that Israel was outside the NPT regime resulted in an insecure situation.  He called on Israel to immediately adhere to the Treaty and subject all of its facilities to the full scope of the IAEA.

BALASAHEB VIKHE PATIL ( India) said that today’s threats were global in character and required global solutions.  Collective security, however, remained only an idea, with the security of States being largely predicated on national capabilities, imperilling and weakening the international security system.  An important component of international security was energy security.  As the global economy expanded, spurred by high growth rates in emerging economies, the global demand for energy would dramatically increase.  Given the imperatives of sustainable development and the risks from climate change, nuclear energy offered an environment-friendly source for meeting global demand.  There was an immense opportunity for international cooperation, combined with national efforts, to ensure a diversified energy mix for sustainable development.

He said that another looming danger was the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism.  The existence of networks of proliferators, aided and abetted by elements within State structures, had further aggravated that threat.  It was of paramount importance that States renew their commitment to fulfil their responsibility to fully abide by non-proliferation and disarmament obligations and take seriously measures to deny non-State actors access to such weapons and related equipment, materials and technologies.  India’s own impeccable record on non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons had been recognized.  India would continue to ensure that it would never be a source of proliferation.

He said that it was important not to lose sight of the goal of nuclear disarmament, which should remain the international community’s highest priority.   The very first General Assembly resolution in 1946 sought the elimination of atomic weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.  The international community commemorated the anniversary of that vision by renewing its commitment to disarmament.  In 1978, at the first General Assembly special session Member States embraced their vision unanimously.  Another General Assembly Special Session devoted to disarmament might provide the much-needed impetus to proceed in that area.

The principles of restraint and responsibility were the anchor of India’s nuclear doctrine.  While maintaining a credible minimum deterrent, there had been no dilution of India’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, which remained a core objective of its foreign policy.  India had thus continued to observe a voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive tests and was ready to join negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material.

Reaffirming India’s commitment to global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament, he presented a working paper that outlined concrete steps to get there.  Those included, among other things, reaffirming the commitment of all nuclear-weapon States to eliminate nuclear weapons; reducing the salience of such weapons in security doctrines; de-alerting such weapons to prevent their unintentional or accidental use; negotiating a “no first use” agreement among nuclear weapon States; and negotiating an agreement on the non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU ( Cameroon) expressed concern over the lack of progress in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Cameroon continued to believe that nuclear weapons constituted a grave threat to peace and international security. Of particular concern was the possibility of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  It was urgent that Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) be implemented.

On the NPT, he urged the international community to redouble its efforts towards the Treaty’s universality.  He remained convinced that diplomatic means was the best way to resolves-crises in Iran and the Korean Peninsula.  He urged all parties to engage in constructive dialogue, while maintaining the inalienable right of countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Biological and chemical weapons also remained of grave concern and he called on all States not yet party to the relevant Treaties to join them.  He specifically underscored the danger that chemical weapons stockpiles posed to humankind and the environment.

Turning to the situation in Darfur, he said that it affected the security and stability of Central Africa.  He called for financial and logistical support for the African Union’s mission there, while expressing Cameroon’s support for the activities of the United Nations Permanent Consultative Committee, which dealt with Central Africa’s security issues and played a key role in the confidence and promotion of disarmament there.  The United Nations Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa also needed assistance, in light of the Centre’s financial difficulties, in order to continue its important work in the disarmament field.

ARMEN MARTIROSYAN ( Armenia) said that adoption of the small arms programme of action five years ago had been an important milestone that reflected the shared understanding of the common responsibility to stop the proliferation of such weapons, which had fuelled many conflicts throughout the world.  Like many other delegations, Armenia had great expectations from the Review Conference held during the summer and it was deeply disappointed at its failure to produce an outcome.

He said that Armenia attached the utmost importance to conventional arms control at regional and subregional levels, since it was situated in a region where a number of “frozen conflicts” persisted.  The unconditional and complete observance of the provisions of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe played a pivotal role for the maintenance of stability and peace in the South Caucasus.  Azerbaijan had violated that Treaty.  According to information submitted within the framework of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), it had imported 44 battle tanks and 83 large-calibre artillery systems, thus having violated the established ceilings under the Treaty.  During the last two years, Azerbaijan had not declared any arms reduction. Therefore, it had exceeded the established ceilings for battle tanks and large-calibre artillery systems.

He said that the gross violation of the Treaty was a serious concern.  It was obviously a result of the recent policy by Azerbaijani authorities to unleash an arms race, accompanied by endless militaristic and aggressive rhetoric that contained the explicit threat of force and an attempt at a military solution to the conflict.  In the last few years, Azerbaijan’s military budget had drastically increased.  That enormous growth in military expenditures, being pumped up by petrodollars, undeniably testified to the intention of the Azerbaijani authorities to break the existing military balance and derail the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation process.

Those steps contradicted the letter and spirit of the Treaty and were in conflict with various United Nations documents and resolutions, he said.  There was no doubt that such policies could not yield any positive result.  Quite the contrary, it would lead to an increased threat to the fragile security and stability in the region, resulting in a stalemate in resolving existing disputes in the South Caucasus.

PAVLE JEVREMOVIC (Serbia), aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said that the role of international verification and effective multilateralism in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation should be highlighted, and the Security Council should act as final arbiter.  Efforts to consolidate global treaties, like the NPT and the Biological Weapons Convention, required improvement, and bringing the CTBT into force would also contribute to non-proliferation.  Likewise, negotiating a global treaty to stop the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons would eliminate the source of new material and help prevent a possible arms race.

He said that Serbia had formally acceded to the Ottawa Convention in 2003, and it planned to clear all areas contaminated with mines by the end of 2008.  On small arms and light weapons, he noted that their proliferation had a direct connection to organized crime and terrorism, and, therefore, posed a real threat to peace and security.  Serbia’s autonomous province of Kosovo, currently under United Nations interim administration, suffered from large-scale illegal trade and smuggling of small arms and light weapons.

The NPT was the cornerstone of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime, he said, adding that the efforts of the IAEA were highly valued as the Agency prevented the weaponization of nuclear material.  As a non-nuclear-weapon State, Serbia saw the need to accelerate the CTBT’s ratification process.  Concerning the Chemical Weapons Convention, his Government called for its support and urged all countries possessing such weapons to destroy their stocks within the time frame called for in the Convention.  As a strong supporter of effective international control of the conventional arms trade, he called for the elaboration of an arms-trade treaty.  Such an instrument should seek to prevent conventional weapons from being used for illicit purposes, such as organized crime or terrorism, while maintaining the rights of States to produce, acquire and maintain those weapons for self-defence.

NURBEK JEENBAE ( Kyrgyzstan) said he wished that the First Committee would be able to meet the great challenges it was currently facing.  He reaffirmed the importance of the three pillars of the NPT, disarmament, non-proliferation and the right of all States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  His Government looked forward to the entry into force of the CTBT, which was both a key instrument of the disarmament regime and an important tool for strategic stability.

He said that the recent establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia, with a Treaty signed by five Central Asian countries, was evidence of successful disarmament in the region.  It spelled an end to the arms race there and to spent uranium fuel stocks.  The Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention were also useful in achieving success in the field of disarmament and, therefore, required further support.  He welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  On small arms and light weapons, Kyrgyzstan was taking all appropriate measures to prevent their trade, he said.

OGTAY ISMAYIL-ZADA ( Azerbaijan) said that he wished to respond to the bold statement made by the representative of Armenia.  Armenia’s 316 battle tanks, 322 artillery systems, and 5,000 people in its Armed Forces exceeded the allowable standards, as had been reported by OSCE.  That also exceeded all standards for that country in the framework of treaties in relation to the country’s number of inhabitants.

He also drew attention to the anti-personnel mines placed by Armenia in the region, specifically by Armenian separatists in the so-called period of war to free Nagorno-Karabakh.  As a result, many people of Azerbaijan nationality had suffered in areas bordering the region.  Armenia was a country that did not respect its obligations under international law, did not respect Security Council resolutions and acted as an obstacle to peaceful developments in the region.

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