DANGER OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS USE AS HIGH TODAY AS DURING COLD WAR, DISARMAMENT COMMISSION TOLD, AS GENERAL DISCUSSION CONCLUDES

10 April 2007
DC/3064

DANGER OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS USE AS HIGH TODAY AS DURING COLD WAR, DISARMAMENT COMMISSION TOLD, AS GENERAL DISCUSSION CONCLUDES

10 April 2007
General Assembly
DC/3064
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Disarmament Commission

2007 Substantive Session

279th & 280th Meetings (AM & PM)

DANGER OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS USE AS HIGH TODAY AS DURING COLD WAR,

DISARMAMENT COMMISSION TOLD, AS GENERAL DISCUSSION CONCLUDES

Negative Developments Cited Include Lack of Inclination by Major Countries

To Foreswear Nuclear Weapons, Development of New Weapons, Danger of Terrorism

“The danger of the use of nuclear weapons today is as high as at any time during the cold war” due to “a failure of political will to advance on the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda”, Pakistan’s representative warned the Disarmament Commission today. 

As the general exchange of views of the Commission’s 2007 substantive session concluded today, he said the consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation had broken down due to several negative developments, including the fact that none of the five original nuclear-weapons States appeared ready to foreswear nuclear weapons, and some of them were seeking to develop new nuclear weapons.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) had no realistic prospect of coming into force any time soon.  There was growing fear that non-State actors and terrorist organizations might develop the skills to steal material for use in a “dirty bomb”.

In order to reach a new consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation, he said there should be a basic premise, namely recognition of the right to equal security of all States, which could only be promoted collectively and multilaterally.  Also, the motives and compulsion that drove States to acquire weapons of mass destruction must be addressed, among them perceived threats from superior forces, disputes and conflicts with more powerful States, and discrimination in the application of international norms and laws.

The Commission’s annual substantive session, expected to conclude on 27 April, is the second in a three-year cycle focusing on two agreed agenda items, namely, nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, and confidence-building in the conventional weapons sphere.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula was a direct product of the “hostile policy” of the United States towards his country, as the Bush administration had designated the country as part of the “axis of evil” and an “outpost of tyranny” and had threatened it with a pre-emptive nuclear strike.  In those circumstances, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had had no choice but to make nuclear weapons, and it had successfully carried out a nuclear test.  “This is a reasonable exercise of the sovereign right to defend the territory and population and social system from foreign attack and invasion,” he stated, and announced that his country would return to the six-party talks when the question of financial sanctions was fully settled.

Japan’s representative, however, said that, as the only country to suffer atomic bombing, his country had made nuclear disarmament its top priority.  From the perspective of promoting disarmament efforts, he reiterated Japan’s condemnation of the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  A nuclear armed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not be tolerated. 

Iran’s representative stressed the necessity of a critical balance between non-proliferation obligations and the right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) should be able to fully exercise their rights for developing and producing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under appropriate international monitoring and supervision.  The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was the sole competent international body to deal with the verification of compliance of States with their safeguard obligations; and United Nations bodies, including the Security Council, should not be abused as instruments of pressure to deprive States of exercising their inalienable rights. 

Noting that the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) would expire in 2009, meaning that all control over strategic nuclear forces would be terminated, the representative of the Russian Federation proposed to the United States to conclude a new agreement that would replace the START Treaty.  Mere political declarations on confidence-building and transparency measures would not suffice.  The risk of an arms race in outer space was another growing concern, and his delegation had prepared a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, which it was planning to submit shortly for consideration. 

He believed that enhancing the NPT should focus on three areas.  The first was to reduce the attractiveness of creating a complete nuclear fuel cycle by implementing multilateral approaches to the cycle.  The second was to enhance the IAEA safeguards system and universalize the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement.  The third area included measures in the field of nuclear disarmament and security assurances to non-nuclear States.  In that context, he supported the re-establishment at the Conference on Disarmament of an ad hoc committee with the mandate to negotiate with regard to security assurances to non-nuclear States. 

Addressing the issue of conventional arms, Nigeria’s representative said confidence-building measures in that field would provide a conducive atmosphere for arms control and disarmament negotiations.  The global arms trade had defied all efforts towards addressing the negative consequences of conventional arms proliferation in crises-ridden developing countries. 

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, echoing concerns of other speakers, said greater emphasis should be put on the illicit arms trade and its devastating human security consequences, especially in Africa, where small arms and light weapons were in effect weapons of mass destruction.  The ease of use, and the ease with which such arms could be spread, exacerbated insurgencies as well as civil, ethnic and regional conflicts.  The adoption in 2001 of the United Nations Programme of Action to combat small arms and light weapons proliferation was therefore very welcome, as was the United Nations Firearms Protocol of 2005.

Underscoring the inextricable linkage of security, development and human rights, the representative of Kenya asked, “How can we eradicate poverty when over $1 trillion is still spent on military expenditure?  How can we hope to achieve the Millennium Development Goals when over 70 per cent of the United Nations meagre $10 billion budget goes towards peacekeeping and other field operations?”  He emphasized that the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was through their total elimination. 

Also speaking today were the representatives of Canada, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Belarus, Sudan (on behalf of the African Group), India, Yemen, Andorra, Australia, Morocco, Nepal, Malaysia and Libya.  The Permanent Observer of the African Union also made a statement, and the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan and United States exercised their right of reply.

The Disarmament Commission will meet again in an open format at a date to be announced.

Background

The 2007 session of the Disarmament Commission met today to continue its general exchange of views.

Statements

CHRIS GROUT ( Canada) said that, on the subject of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, his delegation had reviewed the Chair’s non-paper and had provided comments.  It was his view that the Working Group should strive to produce a substantive document that was both comprehensive as well as focused.  “Our efforts would be best placed on developing principles and recommendations for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament as opposed to other related issues, which may also be important but need not be specifically addressed in this document.” 

He recommended that the paper draw from the Thirteen Practical Steps towards nuclear disarmament as agreed by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) States parties at the 2000 Review Conference.  The majority of the steps remained relevant today and had yet to be fully implemented.  Particular attention should be given to achieving the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), universal acceptance and full implementation of comprehensive safeguards agreements and the Additional Protocol, and the successful negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty. 

Canada, he said, supported full implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms, and welcomed the adoption by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) last fall of the omnibus resolution on small arms and light weapons which, among other things, had scheduled a Biennial Meeting of States to be held no later than 2008.  The humanitarian impact of the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons required concerted attention at the global level.  To that end, Canada was working with other countries to host an informal meeting which would take place from 27 to 31 August in Geneva.  The informal meeting would complement the United Nations process on small arms by strengthening implementation of the Programme of Action and serving to increase the effectiveness of the next Biennial Meeting of States.

One recent measure that could build a considerable amount of confidence in the field of conventional arms, he noted, was the important and historic step taken by Member States in voting to begin a process which would lead to the negotiation of a legally binding arms trade treaty covering the international trade of all conventional weapons.  Canada fully supported that initiative and called on States to work together creatively and cooperatively to establish common parameters for the trade in conventional arms. 

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), associating himself with yesterday’s Non-Aligned Movement statement, said that some might say that the Commission had not lived up to its potential role, “but then this is so for the rest of the United Nations disarmament machinery.  …It is a failure of political will to advance on the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda”.  The consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation had broken down due to several negative developments, including the fact that none of the five nuclear-weapons States appeared ready to foreswear nuclear weapons, and some of them were seeking to develop new nuclear weapons.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had no realistic prospect of coming into force any time soon.  One State having left the NPT had demonstrated its nuclear explosives capability.  There was growing fear that non-State actors and terrorist organizations might develop the skills to steal material for use in a “dirty bomb”.

He said that, with the growth in number of States possessing nuclear weapons, rising regional tension and reliance on doctrines justifying “battlefield” use of nuclear weapons, “the danger of the use of nuclear weapons today is as high as at any time during the cold war”.  The Disarmament Commission should therefore seek to reverse, if not halt, some of the negative trends.  He then went on to identify some of the issues which might be considered to reach a new consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation.  First, there should be a basic premise, namely recognition of the right to equal security of all States, which could only be promoted collectively and multilaterally.  Also, the motives and compulsion that drove States to acquire weapons of mass destruction must be addressed, among them perceived threats from superior forces, disputes and conflicts with more powerful States, and discrimination in the application of international norms and laws.

It was in the long-term interest of the nuclear-weapons States to demonstrate a renewed commitment to achieve nuclear disarmament within a reasonable time frame, he said.  There was also a need to evolve an agreed approach for the promotion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in accordance with the international obligations of States and on a non-discriminatory basis.  Until disarmament was achieved, non-nuclear-weapons States should have the assurances that they would not be threatened with the use of nuclear or even conventional weapons, in the format of a universal, unconditional and legally binding treaty.  Nuclear-weapons States needed to commit that they would not develop and deploy “new” and “useable” nuclear weapons.

He said steps were needed to establish a stable and balanced security environment in sensitive regions such as South Asia, the Middle East and North-East Asia, involving nuclear restraints and non-proliferation measures, a stable conventional balance, and the resolution of underlying security problems and threats.  It was also important to normalize the relationship of the three non-NPT States with the non-proliferation regime and secure their support for a revitalized regime.  “Reality and legality should be reconciled.”  Such normalization could not be achieved by multiplying discrimination and double standards.

KENTARO MINAMI ( Japan) said that, as the only country to suffer atomic bombing, his country had made nuclear disarmament its top priority.  From the perspective of promoting disarmament efforts, he reiterated Japan’s condemnation of the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and emphasized that a nuclear armed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not be tolerated.  Although the agreement at the six-party talks in February constituted progress towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons programme, efforts for the full implementation of the Joint Statement in September should be continued. 

The necessity of confidence-building among States must be emphasized as an effective approach to tackling conventional weapons, which were actually causing much of the day-to-day destruction around the world, he stated.  Japan was pleased that the United Nations Conventional Arms Register had become well-established as one of the vital international instruments for promoting confidence among States.  In the first part of this year’s Conference on Disarmament session, vigorous discussions were carried out on transparency in armaments.  During those deliberations, his delegation had pointed out the relationship between the Arms Register and current efforts to create an arms trade treaty.  Ensuring the responsible transfer of weapons through an arms trade treaty, and duly registering those transfers through the Arms Register, would further improve the reliability of the Register itself. 

In that light, he continued, such a treaty and the Register were closely connected as practical measures for enhancing international confidence-building.  While continuing to work towards ensuring the responsible transfer of conventional weapons through an arms trade treaty, Japan was committed to cooperating with each country to build greater confidence among States.  He added that effective disarmament and non-proliferation would be secured through a multilateral approach that reached agreement among Member States, including those that produced and possessed weapons, particularly in the discussions on conventional weapons, which were closely connected to national security. 

ROMAN HUNGER ( Switzerland), recalling some of the growing challenges associated with nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, said the adoption of Security Council resolution 1747 against Iran constituted a new phase in the escalation of tensions concerning the Iranian nuclear programme.  At the same time, the situation on the Korean peninsula has shown signs of moving in a positive direction over the past few weeks.  He remained convinced that only diplomatic action -– multilateral efforts headed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- could resolve those issues in a manner that was acceptable to all parties and was in the interest of preserving world peace.

He said the decisions by some States that possessed nuclear weapons to amend their nuclear doctrine and allocate funds for developing or replacing nuclear weapons were contrary to the spirit of article VI of the NPT.  On the one hand, those decisions could neutralize efforts implemented within the scope of article VI, and weaken the chances of achieving substantial nuclear disarmament.  On the other hand, they placed a greater degree of importance on nuclear armament, and that did not make it any easier to reduce the degree of attractiveness of nuclear weapons for countries that dreamed of possessing them. 

The production of energy from nuclear power plants, he noted, would increase in the future, especially in emerging and developing countries in which there was already a substantial demand for energy.  Switzerland was aware that that development could increase the risk of proliferation, and would call for the creation of new mechanisms that could simultaneously meet the requirements of non-proliferation and the inalienable right to peaceful use of nuclear energy as laid down in article VI.  He was sure that such challenges could be overcome, and that the international community had the necessary tools at its disposal for that purpose.

With respect to Working Group II and the question of confidence-building measures in the area of conventional weapons, he fully supported the idea of focusing on the last document submitted by the Chair within the scope of the Commission’s 2006 activities.  Switzerland attached particular importance to the United Nations Conventional Arms Register, and was especially pleased about the creation of a new standardized form concerning the transfer of small arms and light weapons, which could prove to be one of the most useful tools.  Since the exchange of data concerning confidence-building measures relating to conventional weapons was crucial, he welcomed the creation of a database containing information on that matter communicated by Member States and encouraged them to make the best possible use of that instrument.

TAREQ ARIFUL ISLAM ( Bangladesh), aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, despite multiple setbacks crippling the disarmament and non-proliferation machinery, not everything had been disappointing.  Modest progress had been made regarding the application of IAEA safeguards.  In 2006, the Commission had overcome impediments that had prevented substantive discussions in the two previous years.  “What we need is to look forward and build on these positive developments” in a multilateral framework.  The Conference on Disarmament should resume negotiations on a programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and on a verifiable treaty banning fissile material within a specified time frame. 

He said the NPT and the CTBT remained the cornerstones of the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime, and there was a need for full universality of those and other international instruments.  Regrettably, however, there was not sufficient ratification of the CTBT for its entry into force and the remaining annex-2 States should ratify it at the soonest opportunity.  “It is dismaying how lack of political will of some is eroding the entire NPT regime.”  Despite having nuclear neighbours, Bangladesh had “consciously and unconditionally” opted to remain non-nuclear and was party to almost all disarmament-related treaties.  It had concluded safeguards agreements with IAEA, including the Additional Protocols. 

Bangladesh remained deeply concerned at the “snail’s pace of progress” by the nuclear-weapons States in accomplishing the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, he said.  While some old warheads had been destroyed, it was alarming that the nuclear-weapons States were adding more precision capabilities to existing stockpiles and developing new weaponry in contravention of their own security assurances.  Possession of nuclear weapons could never enhance safety and security because a nuclear war could not be won.

He said that, in the fragile disarmament and non-proliferation regime, there was a real probability of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, falling into the hands of terrorist and non-State actors.  Moreover, precision capabilities made the acquisition and use of those weapons more lucrative to the terrorists.  “The only fool-proof measure to prevent terrorists from laying hands on weapons of mass destruction lies in the total elimination of such weapons.”  Appreciating existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and calling for establishment of more of them, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia, Bangladesh reaffirmed the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities.  It was also disconcerting to note the use of extraneous reasons and the imposition of undue restrictions by some nuclear-weapons States to deny non-nuclear-weapons States their rights to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. 

The proliferation of conventional weapons, which fuelled conflicts and claimed colossal death tolls each year, was no less a threat than that posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said, reaffirming the importance of practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.  Such measures could contribute significantly to the advancement of the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.

SERGEI RACHKOV (Belarus), aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, notwithstanding the difficulties the Commission faced in discussing all the items on its agenda, further deliberations in an open and transparent manner at the current stage were a necessary prerequisite for success in the future.  Efforts for nuclear non-proliferation should be made in parallel with simultaneous efforts for nuclear disarmament and should not conflict with the inalienable right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  It was important to maintain the integrity of the NPT, both in terms of promoting a balance between the obligations and responsibilities of Member States and in terms of attaching equal importance to all its key elements.  It was necessary not only to implement the Treaty itself, but also agreements reached at the NPT Review Conferences of 1995 and 2000.

Calling attention to last year’s signing of the Treaty on the Establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, he said it was necessary to provide legally binding assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.  However, Belarus welcomed unilateral declarations by the nuclear-weapon States rejecting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  A gradual movement from simple to more complex bilateral and multilateral measures and agreements would provide a good basis for preventing armed conflicts and strengthening national, regional and international security.  Confidence-building measures should, by definition, be based on openness and true cooperation, but they were neither a substitute nor a precondition for disarmament measures. 

He said his country had been pursuing responsible and consistent policies in the field of conventional arms controls.  Under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, Belarus had destroyed nearly 10 per cent of all its heavy military equipment, and had been the first member State of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to have ratified that Treaty’s Adaptation Agreement in 2000.  Belarus attached great importance to the elaboration of additional bilateral confidence-building measures on the basis of the 1999 Vienna Document.  It shared the international community’s humanitarian concerns relating to the illegal trafficking of small arms and light weapons as well as landmine problems.  With the cooperation of the European Union and other donors, Belarus had continued to eliminate around 3.7 million of its PFM-1 anti-personnel mines.

ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMMAD (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the most effective means of achieving nuclear disarmament would be the commencement of multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat of use or use of nuclear weapons, their means of delivery and related materials.  Among the first steps towards the realization of that objective would be a commitment by nuclear-weapon States to immediately stop the qualitative improvement, development, production and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems. 

Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he believed a legally binding international instrument should be established under which the nuclear-weapon States would undertake not to be the first to use such weapons and provide security guarantees to non-nuclear-weapon States.  He stressed that any meaningful disarmament process should be irreversible, transparent and verifiable. 

Concerning the item on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms, he remained convinced that the ultimate goal of such measures was to strengthen international peace and security and to contribute to the prevention of war.  Such measures should not be a substitute or a precondition for disarmament efforts, and should not divert attention from those efforts.  They should be developed and applied on a voluntary and reciprocal basis, and should have as an objective the principle of undiminished security for all.  He emphasized the importance of confidence-building measures at the regional level as crucial for enhancing regional peace and security. 

Noting with deep concern the recent trend of rising global military expenditures, which were likely to exceed $1 trillion this year, he called for the reduction of military expenditures in order to release funds needed for development, especially the development of the African continent.  The reduction of military budgets was an important confidence-building measure that could contribute to global peace and security.  Another important confidence-building measure was the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. 

PAK GIL YON (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that, today, the world was witnessing a yearly increase of military expenditure.  More than ever, the world felt insecure and uneasy as it watched “a powerful country threatening others with nuclear weapons and occupying weak and small countries by force”.  The reality showed that the responsibility for disarmament lay mainly with world Powers, as they were increasing military spending and profiting from arms trade.  They were inciting the arms race.  The United States was developing new types of nuclear weapons on the premise of obtaining a pre-emptive nuclear strike capability and expanding the arms race into space.  As long as there was the doctrine of use of nuclear weapons and monopolization of the weapons market, the United Nations debate on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation would be empty talk.

He said the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula was a direct product of the “hostile policy” of the United States towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Bush administration had designated the People’s Republic of Korea as part of the “axis of evil” and an “outpost of tyranny” and had threatened it with a pre-emptive nuclear strike.  In those circumstances, the People’s Republic of Korea had had no choice but to make nuclear weapons.  Last October, it had successfully carried out a nuclear test.  “This is a reasonable exercise of the sovereign right to defend the territory and population and social system from foreign attack and invasion,” he stated.  The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was one of the lifetime teachings of President Kim Il Sung and the consistent position of his Government.  His country remained firm in its will to implement the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005 and Agreement of 13 February 2007.

The resolution of the nuclear issue depended entirely on the attitude of the United States.  The 13 February Agreement had only been possible because the United States had promised to lift financial sanctions on his country within 30 days, he said.  However, that money had not reached the country.  “It is not simply a question of money, it is rather the question of credibility.”  The United States was now staging war exercises in “ South Korea” against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  “How can we trust the United States talking of ‘no intention to attack’?”  If the United States would implement faithfully its commitments on the principle of “action for action” as agreed by the six parties, the process of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would be smoothly pushed forward.  Above all, it should dismantle financial sanctions, the intensive embodiment of the hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He announced that his country would return to the six-party talks when the question of financial sanctions was fully settled.

JAYANT PRASAD ( India) said his country remained fully committed to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world, to be realized through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory disarmament.  During the course of the discussions last year, his delegation had spelt out India’s specific proposals to build a consensus that could strengthen the ability of the international community to move towards the goal of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.  In order to facilitate consideration of practical steps and recommendations for that purpose, his delegation had requested the Commission’s Secretariat to circulate the text of India’s Working Paper on Nuclear Disarmament as a working paper of Working Group I.

In Working Group II on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, he said it was necessary to be mindful of the need to reach consensus after four years of discussions on the issue.  Every effort should be made to build on the large measure of convergence achieved already.  India fully supported the adoption of bilateral, regional and global confidence-building measures, freely arrived at by the participating States.  The core objectives of such measures were risk reduction, prevention of accidental war, prevention of crises and management of dialogue in times of crises, mitigating misunderstanding and misinterpretation of military activities, thereby promoting a stable environment of peace and security between and among States.  India, he added, had initiated and concluded a number of unilateral and bilateral confidence-building measures in Asia to build trust and confidence and ensure greater transparency. 

AKRAM AL QASSEMY (Yemen), aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement statement, stressed the importance of turning the Middle East region into a nuclear-weapons-free zone and a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  That goal could not be achieved without the support of all countries party to the NPT, as well as Israel.  It could also not be achieved without controls through a non-proliferation system and the signing by all States in the region of the Treaty’s Optional Protocols and the IAEA Safeguards.  Double standards should be avoided.  He underlined the fact that all countries had the right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. 

He said his country had implemented measures aimed at the prevention of the introduction of fissile material in an illegal fashion and to prevent the illegal trafficking of conventional weapons.  His Government had implemented measures to control the illegal trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  In light of international realities, the international community must choose international peace and security.  He stressed the importance of transparency in that regard, as well as the importance of Article V in the Charter of the United Nations concerning the right of legitimate self-defence and non-interference in the matters of States.

PHILIP RICHARD OWADE (Kenya), associating himself with the statements on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that, in both his reports “On Larger Freedom” and the “2006 Report on the Work of the Organization”, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan had underscored the inextricable linkage of security, development and human rights.  That vision could not be achieved without tangible progress in the field of disarmament.  “How can we eradicate poverty when over $1 trillion is still spent on military expenditure?  How can we hope to achieve the Millennium Development Goals when over 70 per cent of the United Nations meagre $10 billion budget goes towards peacekeeping and other field operations…?” he asked.  Instead, he said, there had been an escalation in military expenditure, and efforts were being made to modernize nuclear arsenals and their systems of delivery.

He emphasized that the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was through their total elimination.  The status quo was certainly not an option, and a selective approach in addressing only one aspect -– non-proliferation –- would not work.  Disarmament and non-proliferation were two sides of the same coin and must be tackled simultaneously.  As a matter of priority, the nuclear-weapons States should unequivocally undertake to totally eliminate nuclear weapons.  Negotiations on a legally binding treaty should begin without delay. 

He expressed hope that the forthcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review in Vienna would agree on a programme of work that would constructively tackle its three components:  disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The tendency by nuclear-weapons States to denigrate that third component must be resisted.  In its Plan of Action, the African Union had underscored the inalienable right of African countries to the free access to nuclear energy and technology for peaceful purposes.  As part of confidence-building measures, the international community must agree on practical ways to control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which continued to cause havoc to thousands of civilians, especially in Africa.

He said Kenya had joined six countries across the continents to co-author the resolution on an arms trade treaty during the last session of the Assembly.  It was important that the international community put in place a mechanism for responsible trade in those weapons through a legally binding instrument that would establish international standards on the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. 

MEHDI DANESH-YAZDI ( Iran) said the current session of the Commission should intensify efforts to adopt concrete recommendations in achieving the objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Its endeavours should be guided by the following principles:  to maintain and strengthen the integrity of the existing non-proliferation instruments; to reject attempts to undermine the inalienable rights of the States parties; to preserve fully the achievements reached at the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences; and to emphasize the authority and credibility of relevant international organizations such as IAEA regarding the verification of compliance. 

For many years, he noted, the Conference on Disarmament had failed to adopt a programme of work due to the lack of political will for negotiations on nuclear disarmament.  To overcome that problem, the Commission should recommend the early establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament.  The threat of use of nuclear weapons by some States possessing such weapons was increasingly alarming.  The Commission should not turn a blind eye to such dangerous threats and should send a strong message to those States by rejecting such illegal and inhumane policies. 

The negation of nuclear disarmament obligations was not the only challenge facing the NPT, he said.  Certain nuclear-weapon States, under the pretext of non-proliferation, had attempted to establish new mechanisms and precedents to restrict and deny the inalienable rights of States parties under article IV of the NPT to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Such attempts would only exacerbate the existing inequalities that were inherent in the NPT, and consequently would lead to the erosion of the integrity of the Treaty and the benefits of its membership.  Ironically, the same States were proliferating nuclear weapons horizontally and vertically by either transferring the nuclear weapons technology and materials to non-parties to the NPT or by developing new types of nuclear weapons or modernizing them. 

Thus, he stated, the Commission should reflect on non-proliferation in all its aspects and recommend certain measures to ensure the critical balance between non-proliferation obligations and the right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Among other things, the Commission should reflect on the following:  enabling the NPT States parties to exercise their full rights for developing and producing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under appropriate international monitoring and supervision; the authority of IAEA as the sole competent international body to deal with the verification of compliance of States with their safeguard obligations; and avoiding abusing United Nations bodies, including the Security Council, as instruments of pressure to deprive States of exercising their inalienable rights. 

Turning to confidence-building measures, he said such measures should not be seen in isolation from the international security environment.  As long as some nuclear-weapon States persistently sought absolute security by relying on their nuclear arsenals, it was unrealistic to believe that the common goal towards general and complete disarmament could be realized in the foreseeable future.  Therefore, confidence-building measures should be coupled with simultaneous concrete steps towards elimination of nuclear weapons.  To attain such a noble goal, the international community must pursue and advance disarmament in practice rather than in words. 

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) noted that the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) would expire in 2009.  At the same time, article II of the Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions, which provided for using the START Treaty to ensure control in the field of strategic nuclear forces, would cease to be effective.  That meant that all control over strategic nuclear forces would be terminated.  For that reason, he proposed to the United States to conclude a new agreement that would replace the START Treaty.  Mere political declarations on confidence-building and transparency measures would not suffice. 

Special emphasis should be placed on the relationship between offensive and defensive strategic weapons, he said.  An apt observation to that effect was made in the preamble to the now defunct Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.  The logic behind that was quite clear:  any increase of missile defence capability by one side would impel the other side to respond by building up its strategic offensive weapons.  “Because of this vital element, we cannot view the United States global missile defence system out of context, as a purely defensive measure:  it upsets the strategic balance and leads to the development of a first strike capability.”  The United States missile defence system was being extended beyond its national territory, involving some Eastern European countries and, according to United States military officials, Transcaucasia.  “Deployment of strategic components of the United States military infrastructure in countries adjacent to Russian borders raises legitimate concerns and requires that we take adequate measures.”

The risk of an arms race in outer space was another growing concern, he said.  His delegation had prepared a draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, which it was planning to submit shortly for consideration.  He called on nations that possessed outer space weaponization potential to follow suit with his country and other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization by pledging not to be the first to place weapons of any kind in outer space. 

The Russian Federation, he said, strictly observed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which provided for the elimination of two types of land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 1,000 kilometres and between 1,000 and 5,500 kilometres.  He was concerned that, despite the provisions of that Treaty, intermediate range missiles were being manufactured by the United States as target missiles.  Furthermore, such missiles were being developed and adopted for service in some other countries.  In that connection, he proposed considering the elaboration of a universal international legal instrument on that matter to reflect the current realities.  Another priority was enhancing the non-proliferation regimes for weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials. 

He believed that enhancing the NPT should focus on three areas.  The first was to reduce the attractiveness of creating a complete nuclear fuel cycle by implementing multilateral approaches to the cycle.  The second was to enhance the IAEA safeguards system and universalize the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement.  The third area included measures in the field of nuclear disarmament and security assurances to non-nuclear States.  In that context, he supported the re-establishment at the Conference on Disarmament of an ad hoc committee with the mandate to negotiate with regard to security assurances to non-nuclear States.

LILA HANITRA RATSIFANDRIHAMANANA, Permanent Observer of the African Union, aligning herself with the statement made on behalf of the African Group, said that, against the background of the continuation of internal wars, inter-State conflicts, increased terrorist acts, mercenaries and crime on the continent, the African Union stressed the linkage between disarmament, peace and security, development, democracy and good governance.  The African Union had been continuing the actions of its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, regarding a denuclearization of Africa, the elimination of anti-personnel mines and the proliferatio0n and trafficking of illegal small arms and light weapons.

She said that, since its inception in 2002, the African Union had stressed the strengthening of institutions and policies in the areas of peace and disarmament, as well as coordination with subregional organizations.  She mentioned in that regard the establishment in Algiers of an African study centre for terrorism.  In January, the African Union Summit had decided to endorse a common African position regarding the review process of the United Nations Programme of Action for the Prevention and Elimination of the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. 

The African Union said no to nuclear weapons and appealed to all producers of nuclear-related materials to fulfil their commitments, she continued.  The African Union also said no to the alarming proliferation of conventional weapons, in particular of small arms and light weapons.  Despite African vigilance, the continent remained a favoured destination of those arms, which were often used for the destabilization of regimes, usurpation of power and repression.  She supported proposals for confidence-building measures as well as the ongoing search for transparency and a code of conduct for armed forces, and underlined the importance of multilateralism in the area of disarmament. 

She said that efforts against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and conventional arms required the full awareness and commitment of the international community.  With strong controls on arms production, trade and transfer, as well as a rapid detection of violations of those controls, the goal of general and complete disarmament could be reached.  She underscored the importance of lasting cooperation between regional organizations and the United Nations regarding arms transfer and control.  She further stressed the need for rapid implementation of all international instruments and mechanisms, in particular the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and underscored the need for entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  The African Union also encouraged the establishment of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices and a treaty on arms trade and transfer.

Statements in Right of Reply

SIN SONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said he wanted to respond to some points made earlier by Japan.  Due to the hostile policy and nuclear threats of the United States and Japan towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, his country had been compelled to build its own nuclear deterrent and conduct nuclear tests.  Japan sought to give the Commission the falsified impression that Japan was serious about the ongoing six-party talks.  In actuality, Japan persisted on issues irrelevant to the subject of the talks and sought to obstruct the implementation of recent agreements.  Japan kicked up a ruckus by politicizing a minor issue in order to scuttle the six-party talks.  Participants in the talks should honour their commitment to serve the purpose of the talks, namely the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 

The talks could not be successful if any one party insisted on focusing on irrelevant issues.  Japan’s intention was to scuttle the talks, as it was feared by the circle around the Japanese Prime Minister that denuclearization of the peninsula might deprive them of their justification for going nuclear.  Japan was not interested at all in the talks.  Rather, it sought to revive its blood-stained past. 

Mr. MINAMI ( Japan), responding to those comments, underlined Japan’s determination regarding the six-party talks.  The points raised by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were groundless.  Japan had been and would continue to make every effort with other relevant parties for the success of the talks, in order to re-establish peace and stability in the region. 

Statements

JULIAN VILA-COMA ( Andorra) said his country had no army and had lived in peace for seven centuries.  It neither produced, nor exported arms.  Its devotion to peace was a source of pride.  That was why his country, supporting disarmament, was very concerned at the lack of political will in the implementation of agreements regarding disarmament and non-proliferation.  The Commission’s current session would allow for the consideration of several points of view regarding nuclear disarmament and confidence-building measures in all areas.  He hoped the session would yield concrete results and precise recommendations.

His country welcomed the adoption of Assembly resolution 61/257 that established the post of a High Representative for disarmament affairs, thereby giving priority to that issue.  “Let’s not spare any efforts as we negotiate a consensus leading towards effectiveness,” he said. 

ROBERT HILL ( Australia) said his country had readily embraced the Proliferation Security Initiative as an important means to strengthen international cooperation on combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and was pleased that support for that Initiative continued to grow.  He encouraged those States that had not expressed support for the Initiative to look again at the practical ways it could contribute to everyone’s security.  Like others, Australia considered that balanced and progressive steps towards nuclear disarmament were vital to the continued political strength and vitality of the NPT.  But it should be clear that the burden of responsibility was not the nuclear-weapon States’ alone.  All States must contribute by ensuring an environment conducive to nuclear disarmament.  A world free of nuclear weapons would not be achieved without complete and permanent assurances of non-proliferation. 

Of serious concern in that context were the cases of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said.  Iran had committed serious violations of its NPT nuclear safeguards obligations and was continuing development of its uranium enrichment programme in defiance of the IAEA Board of Governors and the United Nations Security Council.  Iran must comply with the IAEA Board and the Security Council’s resolutions, including by suspending all uranium enrichment-related activities.

Australia, he said, strongly condemned the nuclear weapon test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in October 2006.  However, he joined many others in welcoming the statement released on 13 February following the six party talks in Beijing, which committed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to move quickly to begin resolving the serious international concerns over its nuclear programme.  He looked forward to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea matching its commitments with practical action.  The cases of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were not just a challenge for the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  They also detracted from the environment of confidence essential for progress on nuclear disarmament.

The irresponsible or illicit transfer of conventional arms and their components was of such grave and pressing concern that it could only be adequately addressed through the establishment of a legally binding treaty, he stated.  Australia was proud to be one of the co-authors of the General Assembly resolution on an arms trade treaty, and welcomed the overwhelming majority which supported the resolution.  He encouraged all States to respond to the Secretary-General by 30 April with views on the scope, feasibility and parameters of an arms trade treaty.

HAMID CHABAR (Morocco), aligning himself with the statements on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said his country welcomed the fact that, in 2006, the deliberations of the Commission had been put back on track, and he hoped that the current session would also result in progress.  Working Group I had undertaken a great deal, and its efforts pointed to the need to reiterate the importance of multilateralism, and to reinvigorate the Conference on Disarmament and existing major international instruments such as the NPT.  The balancing of rights and obligations of all in the NPT must be maintained, including the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes; the obligations of non-nuclear States to respect non-proliferation; and the obligation of nuclear Powers to engage in negotiations to achieve complete disarmament. 

He said that, in 1996, the international community had taken an important step through the creation of the CTBT.  A complete ban of nuclear tests was fundamentally important, as they promoted proliferation of nuclear weapons, and he called for the entry into force of the Treaty.  Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones must be promoted, and the Pelindaba Treaty that made Africa such a zone could serve as an example for other regions where there were tensions, in particular in the Middle East.  There was also need for a treaty banning the production of fissile materials. 

The risk of terrorist groups using nuclear equipment in an urban environment was frightening.  In 2006 and on the initiative of the Group of Eight, his country had hosted an international meeting as part of the global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism.  He added that the problem of proliferation of delivery systems must be given greater attention.  Morocco, as part of the group of States that had subscribed to the Code of The Hague, underlined once more the need to promote achievement of all objectives in that Code and to combat the proliferation of delivery systems, which were a threat to international peace.  

Addressing the issue of confidence-building measures, as considered by Working Group II, he underlined a few cardinal principles, including those contained in the United Nations Charter:  the non-use of force in international relations, peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for the sovereignty and integrity of States.  Regional disputes must be resolved through dialogue and negotiations. 

Conventional weapons had had a disastrous impact on civilian populations, especially in developing countries, he said.  Sustained international efforts were therefore necessary to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  There was a need for follow-up to the 2001 Programme of Action after the disastrous 2006 Review Conference, but, on the positive side, an international instrument on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons had been concluded. 

NARAYAN DEV PANT ( Nepal) said the fact that the world had a stockpile of thousands of tons of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium, which was enough to produce more than 100,000 nuclear weapons, was a stark reminder that international peace and security was in absolute crisis.  Only the total elimination of nuclear weapons would provide the absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of those weapons.  As an interim measure, initiatives must be taken for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.  He also believed the proposed fissile material cut-off treaty had to be concluded in earnest, while strengthening the IAEA’s safeguards system so as to reinforce the existing verification mechanism for the non-proliferation regime. 

The trend of global trade in conventional weapons, he said, was equally alarming.  One modest way to mitigate the negative effects of conventional weapons was through the development of practical confidence-building measures.  Such measures created a congenial atmosphere among the stakeholders to enter into meaningful cooperation in carrying forward the objectives of disarmament at all levels.  He shared the view that dialogue, transparency and voluntary sharing of information contributed to lessen threats.  Likewise, increased interactions as part of confidence-building measures promoted a sense of ownership which enhanced the chances of success for common initiatives.  Lasting success, however, required that the special needs of the participating countries were given due considerations. 

In that context, he also emphasized the importance of regional initiatives as effective ways to achieve the goals of disarmament by way of consolidating the confidence-building measures at the regional level.  He hoped that the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament for the Asia and Pacific would become fully operational from Kathmandu after its proposed relocation from New York, as mandated by General Assembly resolutions. 

FELIX ANI ANIOKOYE (Nigeria), aligning himself with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said he attached great importance to the current session of the Commission, not only because it was the second year of the three-year cycle, when substantive discussions were expected to commence, but also since the session interfaced with the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee of the 2010 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  As nuclear weapons posed the greatest danger to humanity, he supported the effective elimination of those weapons through multilateral negotiation that would lead to the conclusion of a convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons.  He further supported the establishment of a legally binding international instrument on security assurances. 

He said confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms created a conducive atmosphere for negotiations of arms control and disarmament.  The implementation of the guidelines for appropriate types of confidence-building measures was therefore important, taking into account prevailing political military and other conditions.  The global arms trade had defied all efforts towards addressing the negative consequences of conventional arms proliferation in crises-ridden developing countries.  It was of serious concern that developing countries accounted for 63.2 per cent of the value of international arms delivery, estimated at over $1.1 trillion in 2006.  He called therefore for a drastic reduction of military expenditure so that resources saved could be channelled towards fighting poverty and improving other conditions. 

He was also concerned that illegal trade in small arms and light weapons and their easy accessibility to non-State actors continued to threaten peace, stability, security and the economies of development countries.  His country had consistently advocated international measures to check the proliferation of those weapons at national, regional and international levels.  The Moratorium by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the importation and exportation of those arms, adopted as a Convention last June, could serve as a useful instrument in that regard.

RIEDZAL ABDUL MALEK ( Malaysia) said the selective implementation of the NPT was appalling.  The lack of commitment on the part of nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligation to pursue and bring to conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international verification was woeful, and hardly consistent with the decision of non-nuclear-weapon States which had voluntarily foresworn the nuclear weapon option.  In that regard, the non-nuclear-weapon States should be accorded multilateral, legally binding and unconditional assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon States. 

Another issue, he noted, was the growing emphasis on strengthening non-proliferation regimes, particularly through the Security Council, while progress in achieving nuclear disarmament remained elusive, which was disheartening.  The only way to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security, including ensuring that nuclear weapons did not fall into terrorist hands, was through the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  In that regard, he underlined the need for the Conference on Disarmament to commence in the near future multilateral negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.  He strongly agreed with the report of the Blix Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction that it was time to move from the current stalemate and revive discussions and the work on disarmament.

He said the danger posed by conventional weapons, particularly in conflict situations, was also of concern.  The number of deaths and injuries inflicted by conventional weapons was staggering, qualifying it as “de-facto” weapons of mass destruction.  In that regard, confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons which were voluntarily implemented could contribute to strengthening international as well as regional peace and security.  Malaysia had completed its stockpile destruction of anti-personnel landmines on 23 January 2001 and accordingly fulfilled its obligations under article 4 of the Ottawa Convention.  He considered the working paper circulated by the Chairman of Working Group 2 as a good basis for the Commission’s discussion.

SALIM IBWE (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the statements on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said a candid assessment of the root causes of the setbacks encountered in the Commission pointed to the political and security sensitivity and complexity of the subject on the one hand, and to the inherent weaknesses deeply embedded in the multilateral arms control process on the other.  Attaining full and complete disarmament should remain the goal. 

He said the primary responsibility for putting in place an effective, non-discriminatory control regime that went hand in hand with other universally agreed global values lay, in the final analysis, with the nuclear-weapons States and those aspiring to join the nuclear arms club.  Unless nuclear States demonstrated their readiness to allow transparent verification, compliance and enforcement measures, the effectiveness of the NPT would remain doubtful.  The increasing demand for more rigorous regimes was dictated by changing security circumstances.  The work of the Commission was therefore more necessary today than ever before, given the increasing terrorist threats emanating from some radical non-State actors.

As for the conventional aspect of the problem, he said the Great Lakes region, of which his country was a part, had concluded a regional Pact on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in December.  The non-proliferation of small arms and light weapons was a major component of that Pact.  Addressing the CTBT, he appealed to those who had not yet signed or ratified the Treaty to do so, as the Treaty still lacked enough ratifications to become fully operational.  Differences amongst Member States were not beyond compromise, and a consensus could be reached.  He urged nuclear Powers to exercise leadership.  Regional nuclear-free zone agreements, such as the Pelindaba Treaty, could be important measures towards the strengthening of global non-proliferation efforts.

He said greater emphasis should be put on the illicit arms trade and its devastating human security consequences, especially in Africa, where small arms and light weapons were in effect weapons of mass destruction.  The ease of use, and the ease with which such arms could be spread, exacerbated insurgencies as well as civil, ethnic and regional conflicts.  The adoption in 2001 of the United Nations Programme of Action to combat small arms and light weapons proliferation was therefore very welcome, as was the United Nations Firearms Protocol of 2005.

ATIA MUBARAK ( Libya) said there was still an urgent need to ensure balance and avoid selectivity in the implementation of the NPT, so as to break the impasse in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  The current impasse in disarmament efforts was due to a lack of political will.  In December 2003, Libya had decided to eliminate all equipment and programmes that could result in the production of internationally prohibited weapons.  That decision had been praised by the international community, and was based on the country’s conviction that the arms race could not serve its security or that of the region.  

While Libya believed its initiative could be a catalyst to other countries that would follow its example, it was also of the view that the decision would only serve Libya’s national security if a number of major concerns were addressed.  Among those concerns was the non-selective implementation of the NPT’s provisions, particularly what was mentioned in article VI having to do with nuclear disarmament, as well as article IV having to do with facilitating and not restricting the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Also, it was necessary to respect the principles mentioned in the outcome documents from the tenth special session of the General Assembly and the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences, especially regarding the Thirteen Practical Steps towards nuclear disarmament.  He emphasized the fact that any progress made in nuclear disarmament would help improve international security.  Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones in all regions would facilitate that goal.  Despite the efforts of the international community to transform the Middle East into such a zone, Israel’s possession of nuclear reactors and other equipment was a dangerous threat not only to the peace and security of the region but also of the entire world.  Israel was the only country in the Middle East region that still refused to join the NPT.

In addition, he said it was important to implement guarantees for non-nuclear-weapon States through an international legally binding instrument.  Furthermore, efforts were needed for the implementation of the CTBT as quickly as possible, through the signing and ratification by countries that had not yet done so, especially by countries listed in annex II of the Treaty.  On confidence-building measures, he insisted on the importance of adopting effective measures that would strengthen international peace and security, while respecting the right of countries to have the necessary weapons for their self-defence, as well as take into account the specificities of any region and its security needs. 

Statements in Right of Reply

Exercising the right of reply, JOHN A. BRAVACO ( United States ) addressed the “misleading and false statements” regarding the United States’ strong record of compliance with its non-proliferation obligations under the NPT.  Although the steps taken were a matter of public record, he highlighted some of them, saying the United States had made extraordinary progress in reducing the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile.  It had dismantled more than 13,000 nuclear weapons since 1988, dismantled more than 3,000 non-strategic nuclear weapons, reduced non-strategic weapons deployed in support of NATO in Europe by 90 per cent, removed all non-strategic nuclear weapons from surface ships and naval aircraft, and withdrawn from Europe and retired all nuclear artillery shells, Lance missile warheads and naval nuclear depth bombs.  His country was now in the process of drawing down its operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by the year 2012.  In parallel, his country had also been reducing its nuclear delivery systems.  It had cancelled the Midgetman missile and had halted the production of the B-2 Stealth bomber. 

He said the reductions in the nuclear arsenal had been a continuing priority of the Bush administration, which had recently announced the elimination of 400 advanced cruise missiles.  His country had not enriched uranium for nuclear weapons purposes since 1964 and had not produced plutonium for the same purpose since 1988.  It had also observed a moratorium on nuclear testing and advocated a treaty to ban further production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.  In May 2006, the United States had been the first, and only, nation to introduce a treaty to that effect.  The United States was also moving to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.  Strategic deterrence no longer relied exclusively on nuclear weapons but on a combination of nuclear and non-nuclear strike capabilities and a robust defence infrastructure. 

The United States and the Russian Federation had also taken bilateral steps by which his country was helping the Russian Federation move away from its nuclear posture, including an agreement to facilitate the shut-down of the last three plutonium-producing reactors, he said.  The two States were engaged in broad ranging strategic dialogues designed to work out the nature of their strategic relationship after expiration of the START I in 2009. 

In conclusion, he said the United States was proud of its record of compliance and engaged in an honest dialogue.  For that dialogue to remain honest, however, Member States must not engage in efforts to distort the facts.  He rejected the comments of Iran.

SIN SONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said he wanted to comment on the remarks made by the representative of Australia.  The nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula was the direct result of the hostile policies of the United States towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had no choice but to develop nuclear capability to counter the threats against it from the United States.  The resolution of the nuclear issue depended entirely on the attitude of the United States.  His delegation believed that, if Australia sincerely desired the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it should exercise its influence on the United States –- which was its ally -– to fully implement its commitments under the principle of reciprocity.

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