DELEGATES BLAME NON-COMPLIANCE WITH TREATY OBLIGATIONS, DOUBLE STANDARDS FOR HOLDING UP INTERNATIONAL DISARMAMENT, NON-PROLIFERATION EFFORTS
DELEGATES BLAME NON-COMPLIANCE WITH TREATY OBLIGATIONS, DOUBLE STANDARDS FOR HOLDING UP INTERNATIONAL DISARMAMENT, NON-PROLIFERATION EFFORTS
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-third General Assembly
5th Meeting (AM)
delegates blame non-compliance with treaty obligations, double standards
for holding up international disarmament, non-proliferation efforts
Non-compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had stymied the international disarmament agenda and left the prospects for a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East in limbo, representatives said this morning as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate.
Kuwait’s representative said the failure of some NPT signatories to follow up on their commitments, as well as their selectivity in determining the scope of their obligations, was a serious blow to the treaty’s credibility and created mutual distrust among States. Moreover, the inability to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East 13 years after the General Assembly’s adoption of the NPT showed how ineffective it was in achieving security.
He continued: “We demand that Israel -- the only country in the region that did not join the NPT, the only country in possession of nuclear weapons, in flagrant defiance of the resolutions of international legitimacy -- accede immediately to the Treaty, dispose of its nuclear arsenal and subject its nuclear facilities to the safeguards of the system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”
Reinforcing those sentiments, Syria’s representative said some States were not complying with global efforts to regulate and encourage transparency, in light of growing international concerns about weapons of mass destructions and nuclear stockpiling. In recent statements to the Committee, some delegates had stated their commitment to non-proliferation, but appeared to make a commitment to disarmament contingent on their own security and that of their allies.
Security was the right of all, he stressed, adding that it could not be wielded as a pretext for double standards. Israel was the only party in the region to possess nuclear weapons and installations, albeit without having complied with the IAEA. Syria had proposed a resolution in the Security Council, last December, to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, but the Council’s failure to adopt it displayed the application of double standards in the field of weapons of mass destruction. Israel had refused to sign up to the NPT, and regrettably, the recent IAEA general conference had not been able to adopt a text on the dangers that country posed in the region.
Also emphasizing the importance of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, Venezuela’s representative said it was essential that Israel accede to the NPT and rid itself of nuclear weapons. Venezuela urged Member States to support the Conference on Disarmament, and sought security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States, which faced a latent threat from their nuclear-armed counterparts, some of which had not ceased their “blackmail” threats to use those weapons. Venezuela also stood behind the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in South America and Central Asia.
The representative of Kyrgyzstan said disarmament could only be achieved by the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, adding that his country had been deeply involved in the creation of a regional nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia. A number of speakers shared that view, including the representative of Thailand, who expressed the hope that nuclear-weapon States would sign up to the Bangkok Treaty, which had established the decade-old Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.
But Cuba’s speaker said the mere existence of nuclear weapons and doctrines sanctioning their possession and use posed a grave danger to international peace and security. It was imperative to overcome the lack of progress in the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT Review process. Diverting bloated military spending in favour of development was also essential, since it had already reached $1.34 trillion, 45 per cent more than a decade ago. The military budget of the United States was equal to the combined military expenditures of the rest of the world.
Turning to other aspects of disarmament, Algeria’s representative said his country shared the concerns of many other African delegations regarding the proliferation of illicit arms, a great destabilizing force threatening international peace. To stem the flow, Algeria had joined the international community’s efforts to regulate the international transfer of arms. It had also fulfilled its promises to destroy anti-personnel mine stockpiles six months before the deadline set out in the 1997 anti-personnel landmines Convention. At the regional level, Algeria had worked hard to promote international peace and security through its foreign policy, and was pleased to submit an annual resolution on security and cooperation in the Mediterranean.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that while some progress made in destroying and reducing production of arms and ammunition through the United Nations multilateral framework, pitfalls and shortcomings remained. Military posturing and strategic deployments by major conventional military Powers were leading towards dangerous brinkmanship. Meanwhile, demand, supply and proliferation of small arms and light weapons continued unabated in the absence of an effective regime to govern conventional weapons. Expenditure on armaments continued to outstrip investments in economic and human development. The United Republic of Tanzania and others in the Great Lakes region continued to suffer from the effects of illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, which undermined law and order efforts and general stability.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Viet Nam, Malaysia, Ghana, Turkey, the Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 10 October, to continue its general debate.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate this morning on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly. (For background information and a summary of reports before the Committee, see Press Release GA/DIS/3361 of 6 October 2008).
NASER ABDULLAH M. AL-HAYEN ( Kuwait), supporting the statement delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the international community continued to witness increasing challenges that threatened international peace and security, as well as existing treaties and conventions. There was a tangible regression in efforts to achieve the universality of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The failure of some States parties to that instrument to follow-up on their commitments, as well as their selectivity in determining the scope of their obligations, represented a serious blow to the NPT’s credibility, and created mutual distrust among States.
The possession of nuclear weapons did not achieve security for any country, but only increased tension and conflict between peoples, he said, stressing his country’s grave concern over the current status of international security, especially since the Middle East continued to face threats and dangers from the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction. The inability to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region 13 years after the adoption of the NPT showed how ineffective it was in achieving security. It was to be hoped that all States parties would comply with their obligations.
Underscoring the importance of continuing the dialogue between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he added: “We demand that Israel -- the only country in the region that did not join the NPT, the only country in possession of nuclear weapons, in flagrant defiance of the resolutions of international legitimacy -- accede immediately to the Treaty, dispose of its nuclear arsenal and subject its nuclear facilities to the safeguards of the system of the International Atomic Energy Agency.” Kuwait demanded also that the international community work for the cessation of sales of all scientific and technological means which strengthened Israel’s nuclear weapons, or those of any other State that sought to do the same.
The capacity to ban the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was already available through the United Nations and associated treaties and instruments, but the problem lay in the political will of Member States, he said. Among other things, there was a need to settle contentious areas of the NPT. In addition, Kuwait reiterated the inalienable right of States to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, as well as the importance of an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Kuwait encouraged compliance with the IAEA and the pursuit of transparency to avoid double standards. It also welcomed the General Assembly’s adoption of the international instrument allowing States to identify and trace illegal small arms and light weapons.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said the world was at a historic turning point regarding multilateral action on disarmament issues. In the post-cold war era, a hopeful climate of cooperation had created an environment ripe for dialogue and a concerted effort to advance disarmament, but currently, hopes concerning weapons of mass destruction were in jeopardy. Algeria was deeply concerned by the standstill in that multilateral undertaking, which seriously compromised the hopes built up over the last three decades. However, the next NPT Review Conference and its preparatory meeting would be opportunities to revitalize the multilateral framework, and stimulate disarmament negotiations, which remained the priority, and to find lasting global solutions.
The total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee of security, for both non-nuclear-weapons States and nuclear-weapons States, he said. In addition, nuclear-weapon-free zones were important instruments that would contribute to regional and international peace. For its own part, Algeria had contributed to the adoption of the Treaty of Pelindaba, and remained deeply concerned about the absence of progress to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The international community should send a strong signal demanding that Israel conform to international law, as the current situation was an obstacle to achieving the important goal of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region. Israel should contribute to the reinforcement of peace and stability in the Middle East and the world.
While Algeria was committed to its obligations under regional and international instruments, he said, it shared the concerns of many other African delegations regarding the proliferation of illicit arms, a great destabilizing force threatening international peace. To stem the flow, Algeria had joined the international community’s efforts to regulate the international transfer of arms. It had also fulfilled its promises to destroy anti-personnel mine stockpiles six months before the deadline set out in the 1997 anti-personnel mines Convention. At the regional level, Algeria had worked hard to promote international peace and security through its foreign policy, and was pleased to submit an annual resolution on security and cooperation in the Mediterranean.
HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam), associating himself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that the process of achieving complete disarmament and arms control was undergoing major challenges and difficulties. The efforts of the United Nations had made little progress in recent years, and the Conference on Disarmament had not concluded its programme of work. Meanwhile, the 2008 substantive session of the Disarmament Commission had failed to reach agreement on the issues of nuclear disarmament and confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons. It was imperative that all Member States exhibit the political will and flexibility needed to advance disarmament further.
Emphasizing that the world must rid itself of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, he said the only absolute guarantee against nuclear disasters was the complete elimination of those weapons, an aim that Viet Nam supported fully. The country also attached special importance to the NPT, which constituted the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Viet Nam urged all Member States to adhere to their obligations under the Treaty.
Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he said, nuclear-weapons States should take further concrete steps to reduce and destroy their arsenals and take on the primary responsibility with regard to security assurances for non-nuclear-weapons States. A universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on such security assurances should be pursued as a priority. Viet Nam regretted that the CTBT had not yet entered into force, and he urged all States to make it a reality and refrain from carrying out testing and other acts that would undermine the Treaty.
He supported the call for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and joined the ASEAN member States in ensuring that their region was free of nuclear weapons. Nuclear-weapons States should be more forthcoming in negotiations to accede to the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Protocol, in order to achieve that goal. In addition, Viet Nam noted the outcome of the recent Third Biennial Meeting of States on the issue of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. International help would be needed to implement the agreed Programme of Action.
RODRIGO MALMIERCA DIAZ ( Cuba), supporting the Non-Aligned Movement statement, said the accelerating annual increase in military expenditures was unjustifiable. Spending had already reached $1.34 trillion, 45 per cent more than 10 years ago, and that of the United States was equal to the combined military expenditures of the rest of the world. Some 41 United States companies produced 63 per cent of global weapons sales, while European firms cornered 29 per cent of that market. Instead of promoting nuclear disarmament, that was the conduct of the United States and Europe.
He noted that, while global resources were being squandered on weapons, the modest Millennium Development Goals would not be met by 2015, because more than 100 countries of the south did not, or would not, have the $150 billion necessary to achieve them. The Millennium Goals could be achieved with just 10 per cent of current military expenditures. Cuba reiterated its proposal to devote at least half of the world’s current military expenditures to meeting the needs of economic and social development through a fund managed by the United Nations.
The mere existence of nuclear weapons and doctrines sanctioning their possession and use posed a grave danger to international peace and security, he said, stressing the importance of overcoming the lack of progress in that area in the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT Review process. Cuba rejected the selective application of the NPT and stressed the need to respect fully the inalienable right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Expressing regret over the impasse in negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament, he said his country was ready to support an eventual consensus on the so-called Proposal 1840, which, however, did not reflect the will of all members of the Conference. Cuba would continue to give the highest priority to nuclear disarmament, and reaffirmed its commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Conference on the Biological Weapons Convention was also a useful tool, but the only way to reinforce and perfect it was through the adoption of a legally binding protocol resolving the gaps within it. The Group of Governmental Experts had been unable to agree on whether a legally binding instrument establishing common international parameters for the export and import and for conventional arms transfers was feasible or not. Cuba also noted the General Assembly’s adoption last year of a resolution on the effects of ammunition containing depleted uranium.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) noted that some States were not complying with global efforts to regulate and encourage transparency, with regard to growing international concerns about weapons of mass destructions and stockpiling. Recently, some representatives had said their countries were committed to non-proliferation, but then, had said disarmament depended on their security and the security of their allies. Security was the right of all States, and could not be wielded as a pretext for double standards, which were obstacles to nuclear non-proliferation. Some, but not all, States had treated the NPT in a similar manner and supported Israel in promoting cutting-edge nuclear technology, while allowing the development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. They had provided protection to Israel, despite that country’s constant aggression in the region and its occupation of the territories of others.
He said there was a threat of nuclear weapons use in the Middle East, which sharply limited the other nations in the region from moving towards non-proliferation. The countries that set aside Israel’s nuclear weapons had, in effect, introduced nuclear weapons to the region, which remained far from becoming a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Israel was the only party in the region to possess nuclear weapons and installations, albeit without having complied with the IAEA. The United Nations remained the ideal forum for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Syria had proposed a resolution in the Security Council, last December, to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, but the Council’s failure to adopt it displayed the application of double standards in the field of weapons of mass destruction.
Noting Israel’s refusal to become a party to the NPT, he said it was regrettable that the recent general conference at the IAEA had not been able to agree on a text on Israel and the dangers it posed in the region. Syria should protect itself against Israel’s military expansion and development, as well as threats and potential threats to use nuclear weapons. That type of scenario invited an arms race and undermined the very idea of nuclear non-proliferation. If certain parties did not wish to implement the conclusions of the last NPT Review Conference and resolutions on the Middle East, the scenario would not improve. Syria called for the implementation of a legally binding instrument on nuclear weapons or the threat of nuclear weapons use. There should also be discussions on the issue of weapons in outer space, among other things.
ABDUL RASHID NGAH (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said his country maintained the principled position that general and complete disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, as well as measures to achieve that goal, should be carried out through the multilateral process. Malaysia hoped that States parties to the NPT would be able to reach agreement on all issues concerned in May 2009. The Treaty was the cornerstone of international peace and security, and the decision by Israel, India and Pakistan to remain outside it weakened its effectiveness.
He expressed concern about recent developments involving bilateral deals in civil nuclear cooperation with States that did not have a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, saying such deals undermined the foundations of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and were a manifestation of double standards and discrimination. Developing non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT should be allowed preferential treatment to access nuclear facilities over non-signatory States. Non-proliferation activities could not be achieved without the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, and efforts to conclude a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States should be pursued as a matter of priority.
The enhancement of nuclear-weapon-free zones would enhance global and regional peace, strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and realize the objective of nuclear disarmament, he said. Nuclear-weapon States should provide unconditional assurances regarding the non-use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States belonging to nuclear-weapon-free zones. Malaysia supported the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.
Recalling that his country had submitted its instruments for ratification of the CTBT in January, he called upon Member States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify that instrument and enable it to enter into force. Malaysia strongly supported adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. It also supported international and humanitarian efforts to ban anti‑personnel mines, regulate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and eliminate cluster munitions totally.
JORGE VALERO BRICENO ( Venezuela) said that the world, facing increasing economic and social instability, was suffering under an unjust economic model. Widespread uncertainty had caused a certain paralysis that had affected nuclear disarmament. The standstill could be attributed to the stance maintained by several imperial forces wishing to impose hegemonic rule and refusing to negotiate through dialogue. The existence of more than 10,000 nuclear warheads ready for use and over 20,000 warheads in reserve represented a “Kafkaesque” threat to the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
He urged Member States to support the Conference on Disarmament and grant security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States, as they faced a latent threat from nuclear-weapons States, some of which had not ceased their “blackmail” threats to use those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States. Venezuela was concerned about the negotiations on the fissile material cut-off treaty, but pleased with the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in South America and Central Asia, while urging the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. It was essential that Israel, the only country in that region that was not party to the NPT, accede to it and rid itself of nuclear weapons.
Reaffirming the inalienable right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy without discrimination, he also noted concerns over the prospect of an arms race in outer space. Venezuela called for the strengthening of the international legal framework to safeguard the peaceful nature of research in outer space, and supported efforts to combat the illicit trade in small and light weapons. Venezuela was committed to a safer and more peaceful world, and supported a multilateral approach to achieving that goal.
NURBEK JEENBAEV ( Kyrgyzstan) expressed support for strengthening the NPT and the CTBT, noting that his country had had acceded last year to the global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism. Disarmament could only be achieved by the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, and Kyrgyzstan had been deeply involved in establishing one in Central Asia. The 2005 NPT Review Conference outcome document contained ideas on nuclear-weapon-free zones, and this year, regional States intended to table a related resolution in the First Committee.
Expressing great concern about nuclear weapons and materials, including the appropriate storage of nuclear waste, he said his country advocated a multilateral approach to the prevention of fissile material production, to preventing an arms race in outer space, and to disarmament. In addition, Kyrgyzstan was concerned with preventing non-State actors from acquiring nuclear materials and weapons, and the Government was working towards an export-control system.
Producers of hi-tech weapons of mass destruction should prevent their technology from falling into the wrong hands, he stressed, adding that his country was fighting illicit arms trafficking, and supported a proposal for a legally binding instrument that would include the marking and tracking of such weapons. There was a need for a climate of universal understanding and cooperation in addressing conventional weapons issues, which should naturally lead to disarmament. Other worrying issues concerned information security.
LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN (Ghana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, called upon Committee members to examine whether the goals they had set in dealing with the challenges to global peace and security had been realized. Developments in the past year had raised concern for the already fragile international security environment. Member States should embrace the values of cooperation and flexibility, to save the disarmament and non-proliferation regime from plunging into an irredeemable abyss.
He said that while some progress had been made on disarmament over the years, such as a reduction in nuclear weapons stockpiles and the closure of test sites, he was concerned about the existence of 27,000 nuclear warheads, some on high alert, and threats of nuclear weapons proliferation. Ghana urged nuclear-weapon States to show leadership by scrupulously abiding by their treaty obligations. Otherwise, a prediction made, about 50 years ago, that the world could witness 20 or more nuclear-armed States could come to fruition in the not-too-distant future.
Noting the decision by some States parties to the NPT to disavow their obligations under that instrument, he said the international community could not, and should not, allow the erosion of the treaty’s credibility. Ghana was surprised at the lukewarm reaction of some countries promoting the non-proliferation cause to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, and urged nuclear-weapon States to support them. Ghana supported the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and welcomed efforts to combat the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons.
FAZLIÇORMAN ( Turkey) said his country favoured overall global disarmament and supported all efforts towards increased international security and stability through arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament. Turkey supported the revitalization of the international disarmament agenda through coordinated efforts in which the United Nations played a central role. It also supported the early entry into force of the CTBT and was dedicated to the NPT regime. Turkey would continue working towards a substantive outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and efforts of the IAEA.
Welcoming the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones across the world, he said his country supported, in principle, the establishment of an effectively verifiable such zone in the Middle East. Turkey also supported efforts to help the Conference on Disarmament resume its role as the world’s single multilateral forum, given its major role on nuclear issues, on a fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as parallel advances on negative security assurances and prevention of an arms race in outer space. The proposal concerning the programme of work for the Conference on Disarmament was a good means towards resuming its negotiating role.
He stressed that the situation regarding the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme must be resolved peacefully, adding that his country shared the IAEA’s continuing concern in that regard. Turkey encouraged Iran to implement all measures required to build confidence in the peaceful nature of its programme. Additionally, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula remained a global priority, and Turkey hoped conditions could be created for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to NPT at the earliest possible date, and for the resumption by the IAEA of comprehensive safeguards.
The Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention were two important components of the global system against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said, noting that the proliferation of the means of delivery for weapons of mass destruction was also a pressing issue. In addition, Turkey would continue to contribute actively to efforts to establish norms and rules for the eradication of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. Anti-personnel landmines were also a concern, and Turkey urged States that had not yet done so to accede to the Ottawa Convention. It also welcomed the Convention on Cluster Munitions and urged delegations to show more flexibility and political will in addressing that issue.
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) said there was a clear lack of international security when looking over the world’s hotspots, and disarmament would not take place while major Powers continued to produce weapons of mass destruction and carry out tests. Mechanisms to address those issues continued to languish at a standstill. Recent setbacks over conventions and protocols were due to the major Powers having shirked their responsibilities.
No serious progress had been made in terms of United Nations action on disarmament, he said, noting that the Secretary-General’s recent report indicated that military spending had increased 37 per cent, showing that countries were directing resources towards building and developing weapons, instead of targeting the Millennium Development Goals. There was a greater need today, than ever before, to create nuclear-weapon-free zones to promote non-proliferation, but many hotspot regions lacked such zones, notably the Middle East, where Israel deflected efforts to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The failure to establish a nuclear-free zone in the region was a strategic threat to international and regional peace and security.
In a similar vein, he also voiced support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa, and encouraged other countries to follow the Sudan in acceding to the Pelindaba Treaty. However, the agreement on small arms and light weapons was paradoxical when the magnitude of their existence in Africa, and the Sudan’s active role in fighting their proliferation, were taken into consideration. Likewise, the Sudan had undertaken efforts to bring about a legally binding convention on trafficking in weapons and organized crime, but unfortunately, some States had stymied those efforts.
ISMAIL MOHAMED YAHYA ALMAABRI ( Yemen) reiterated his country’s sincere belief in the principles and purposes of eliminating weapons of mass destruction and its support for nuclear non-proliferation, as evidenced by Yemen’s signing of all related treaties in 1995. On the national level, the country had also made efforts to regulate the possession and carrying of weapons, end the right to bear arms in cities, shut down weapons vendors and enhance licensing policies. Advances made regarding the small arms and light weapons must work to prevent them from reaching terrorists and other non-State actors.
He urged countries producing and exporting weapons to uphold their moral and humanitarian responsibilities towards those States where all kinds of weapons were dumped. It was to be hoped that a universal commitment to multilateral treaties would move towards a resolution of those issues. Yemen supported all efforts to stem the flow of weapons to States parties. Coordination and cooperation were needed to combat the weapons flow and stop extremism and transnational organized crime. Despite its limited resources, Yemen had achieved some success in that area.
AUGUSTINE P. MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the world continued to face threats and challenges in the area of disarmament, which had a negative bearing on international peace and security. The threats and challenges were global, regional and national in nature, and required a multilateral approach in addressing them.
Some progress had been made in destroying and reducing production of arms and ammunition through the United Nations multilateral framework but pitfalls and shortcomings remained, he said. The Conference on Disarmament had made no progress, while nuclear proliferation and technological sophistication were pushing new frontiers. Military posturing and strategic deployments by major conventional military Powers were leading towards dangerous brinkmanship. Meanwhile, demand, supply and proliferation of small arms and light weapons continued unabated in the absence of an effective regime to govern conventional weapons.
Pointing out that expenditure on armaments continued to outstrip investments in economic and human development, he said several countries in Africa were showing positive signs of recovery from the internal conflicts in recent years, owing to confidence-building measures in peacekeeping efforts. However, the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo was still unstable and required multiple approaches to address it. The African Union and the United Nations had a crucial role to play in that situation.
He said his country and others in the Great Lakes region continued to suffer from the effects of illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, which undermined law and order efforts and general stability. The United Republic of Tanzania welcomed the outcome of the Third Biennial Meeting of States on that issue. The implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its aspects should pay particular attention to the transfer of ammunition, especially to non-State actors in conflict situations.
HAMID AL-BAYATI ( Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said Security Council resolution 1762 (2007) had terminated the mandates of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the IAEA in his country. It was no longer necessary to verify Iraq’s compliance. The country had acceded to the CTBT in August and the landmines Convention. Iraq was concerned about the slow pace of nuclear disarmament and underlined the need for all Member States to fulfil their obligations in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
He urged nuclear-weapon States to refrain from nuclear sharing for military purposes under any kind of security arrangements, in conformity with their obligations. The NPT was a key instrument in disarmament and ending the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Iraq supported the call for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and stressed the need for Israel to accede to the NPT. It also reaffirmed the inalienable right of all States to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination, and noted the role of the IAEA as the competent authority to verify and assure safeguards.
CHIRACHAI PUNKRASIN ( Thailand) expressed grave concerns about the illicit trade, proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, which were the tools used in transnational crime, drug trafficking and terrorism. Violence stemming from the use of those weapons took devastating tolls on human rights, development and security. Thailand cooperated with other ASEAN countries in preventing transnational criminal syndicates and terrorists from acquiring small arms and light weapons, and believed the International Tracing Instrument was an effective mechanism.
“Armed violence negatively impacts conditions conducive to development,” he said, stressing that in order to stem the illicit flow of arms, Thailand and Switzerland, with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) assistance, had organized the Asia-Pacific Meeting on Armed Violence and Development, held in Bangkok in May. A month later, 85 countries had participated in the Ministerial Review Summit on Armed Violence and Development, held in Geneva, which had highlighted the indispensable role of national, regional and international development policies in the prevention of armed violence. “It goes without saying that small arms and light weapons can have as equally a devastating impact on global peace and security as weapons of mass destruction.”
Noting that Thailand had joined all key treaties and conventions, in addition to complying with all related obligations, he expressed the hope that review conferences would pave the way for further consensus on the NPT. While the second review conference on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) had achieved progress, the failure to destroy all chemical weapons before 2015 would erode the Convention’s credibility and effectiveness. Thailand called on all countries possessing those types of weapons to eliminate stockpiles within the time frame.
Turning to safeguards and verification issues, he voiced support for international efforts to find a peaceful diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue, and called on that country to cooperate fully with the IAEA. Thailand urged all parties concerned to continue with constructive dialogue and refrain from confrontation. Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Thailand shared the international community’s interest to see a peaceful, stable and denuclearized Korean peninsula. However, the recent decision to reactivate its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon was a regrettable step backwards. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should allow IAEA inspectors back into the country to continue their verification work. Diplomatic efforts through the six-party talks were urgently required to avert further worsening of the situation.
At the tenth anniversary of the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone, Thailand had hoped that nuclear-weapon States would soon become parties to the Bangkok Treaty that had established the zone, he said. Recognizing the threat of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction, Thailand had joined an international effort to counter their proliferation. Later this month, the country would organize, with the United Nations, a regional workshop in Bangkok on Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).
KANIKA PHOMMACHANH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said lagging progress in international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, coupled with setbacks in the multilateral disarmament machinery, were undermining international peace and security, and would continue to do so unless political commitments and collective efforts could overcome the stalemate. The NPT was vital to global security and the non-proliferation regime, but the international community must maintain a proper balance between nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. There was an urgent need for States parties to the NPT to comply fully with it, and it was to be hoped that they would demonstrate greater political commitment.
Nuclear-weapon-free zones helped promote disarmament, prevent proliferation and enhance peace and security at the global and regional levels, she said. Likewise, the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty contributed to strengthening disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, but it was important that nuclear-weapon States accede to the protocol annexed to the Treaty, so as to ensure its full operation. The illicit transfer, manufacture and circulation of small arms and light weapons remained a major threat to human security, causing casualties in the hundreds of thousands, a matter addressed at the Third Biennial Meeting of States on Small Arms in July. The harmful effects of cluster munitions created untold suffering, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic supported the landmark adoption of the Cluster Munitions Convention.
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