DELEGATES PRESENT VISIONS OF NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE WORLD AS DISARMAMENT COMMISSION REACHES AGREEMENT ON AGENDA, BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE
DELEGATES PRESENT VISIONS OF NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE WORLD AS DISARMAMENT COMMISSION REACHES AGREEMENT ON AGENDA, BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
2009 Substantive Session
295th & 296th Meetings (AM & PM)
delegates present visions of nuclear-weapon-free world as disarmament commission
reaches agreement on agenda, begins general debate
Fleshing out their visions for a nuclear-weapon-free world, delegates in the Disarmament Commission today charted a path towards its realization, stressing reliance on air-tight verification, reduction of nuclear stockpiles and of their role in military doctrine, and, in the meantime, global agreement on “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon States.
Having reached agreement on a substantive agenda this morning ‑‑ day three of its substantive session ‑‑ the Commission pressed ahead with its general debate, focusing on three items: recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade; and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons [to be taken up on conclusion of the elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade, preferably by 2010 and no later than 2011].
The United States delegate said that the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free world required assurance that the security of countries possessing nuclear weapons ‑‑ and that of their allies ‑‑ would not be impaired as they reduced the role of those weapons. Verification was more essential in the context of very low stock levels, or none at all. In such circumstances, any violation of the non-proliferation regime would be very serious.
Compliance mechanisms were also vital in ensuring that any nation breaking the rules would face serious consequences, he stressed, adding that States had to recognize the need for a new security paradigm as vital to creating conditions for a “nuclear zero”. It would be necessary to ensure that, as States sought to remove nuclear stockpiles, there would be no arrival of new nuclear-weapon States. In the search for common understanding, delegations should not propose concepts that they knew would not enjoy consensus.
With that, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the total elimination of nuclear weapons would be possible only as the ultimate goal of a step-by-step process involving the participation of all nuclear-weapon States and on condition that the principle of equal security for all States was “rigorously” respected. Reaching “nuclear zero” could not be considered separately from other international problems, such as the settlement of global conflicts, ensuring the viability of key disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, and the withdrawal of all nuclear weapons to the respective territories of possessor States.
“No one should have any doubt that a comprehensive agreement on strategic offensive weapons will require much time and serious effort,” he emphasized. There was an inseparable link between strategic offensive and defensive ‑‑ or anti-missile defence ‑‑ weapons and it would be impossible to succeed in nuclear disarmament if that link was undermined by the unilateral development of strategic anti-ballistic missile systems. The Government of the Russian Federation offered a constructive alternative to unilateral plans in that area: the unification of efforts by all States to prevent potential missile threats.
Focusing on steps for non-discriminatory disarmament, India’s representative called for a redoubling of efforts towards that end and urged, among other things, the adoption of measures by nuclear-weapon States to reduce nuclear danger; negotiation of a global agreement among nuclear weapon States on “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons; and negotiation of a legally binding pact on non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States. It was also important to strengthen international cooperation to address the threat of terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and technologies related to their manufacture. Several countries had launched initiatives that added new life to the global disarmament agenda. Such trends must be strengthened to achieve the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
Pakistan’s representative asserted that genuine global security could only be assured through a holistic approach wherein major Powers eschewed “picking and choosing” according to national agendas. Pakistan’s proposal to convene an international conference to create a new consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation stemmed from a desire to see a regime that reflected realities on the ground. Among other things, such a consensus should revive commitments by all possessor States to bring about complete and irreversible nuclear disarmament; make non-proliferation norms non-discriminatory; normalize the relationship of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with non-NPT nuclear-weapon States; and ensure fulfilment of every State’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the call for an international conference at the “earliest possible date” to achieve agreement on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified time frame. Global non-proliferation efforts should parallel those aimed at nuclear disarmament. The disarmament agenda had been stymied in recent years, but recent developments, including statements on nuclear disarmament by key States, had created an opening for progress. The nuclear goals of the first disarmament decade in the 1960s had languished, but the 1978 special session on disarmament had produced a strategy for general and complete disarmament under effective international control. That remained the only consensus document of universal acceptance in disarmament.
Nigeria’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the global financial crisis had increased the urgent need to redouble efforts to revive all disarmament machineries, with a view to breaking the nearly decade-long impasse. The African Group called on all Member States to demonstrate the political will and requisite flexibility to achieve concrete recommendations on disarmament. Nuclear-weapon States in particular should do their due diligence in implementing all their obligations under the NPT, and desist from developing new types of nuclear weapons. The African Group sought binding, unconditional security assurances against the use or threat of use of those loathsome weapons.
The representative of the Czech Republic’s, speaking on behalf of the European Union, felt that several positive developments had increased hopes of achieving tangible results in the disarmament sphere, but the recent launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the announcement that it was suspending cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) contravened that positive trend. The potential for clandestine military nuclear activities was particularly worrying, as was the proliferation of ballistic missiles of increasing range. Additionally, a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear question was of cardinal importance as acquisition of military nuclear capability by that country would be an unacceptable threat.
Others making statements were the representatives of Brazil, Philippines, Japan, Qatar, China, Algeria, Nigeria (in his national capacity), Bangladesh, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia (national capacity), South Africa and Mongolia.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan Republic of Korea and France.
The Disarmament Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 16 April, to continue its general debate.
The Disarmament Commission met this morning to begin the general debate of its substantive session for 2009, the first of a three-year cycle.
Adoption of Agenda
The Commission adopted its 2009 substantive agenda, which included three items: recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade; practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons [to be taken up upon conclusion of the elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade, preferably by 2010 and no later than 2011].
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that progress on all aspects of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was essential to strengthening international peace and security. The disarmament agenda had been stymied in recent years, but recent developments, including statements on nuclear disarmament by various States, had created an opening for progress. Notable efforts by the Russian Federation and the United States should reflect positively on progress in nuclear disarmament. The Non-Aligned Movement was optimistic that disarmament and non-proliferation goals might be fulfilled in coming years, and appealed to all States to intensify multilateral negotiations, as agreed by consensus in the final document.
He said the Commission’s work could be very effective, as demonstrated by the consensus reached on guidelines for establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones and for conventional arms control, among other areas. As such, the Movement reaffirmed the Commission’s relevance as the sole specialized deliberative body within the United Nations disarmament apparatus. In light of its preference to address two agenda items in any given year, the Non-Aligned Movement encouraged all States to work diligently to conclude work on the “disarmament decade” as soon as possible, since the third item would be taken up at the conclusion of elements for a draft declaration.
Turning to the recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, he reiterated the Movement’s positions reflected in relevant documents. The principles contained in the final document of the Special Session on Disarmament-I remained relevant and all members should fulfil their disarmament obligations. The total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use, or threat of use, and efforts towards concluding a universal and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear weapon States should be pursued as a priority. The Non-Aligned Movement welcomed efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones, including in the Middle East.
Reiterating the call for an international conference at the “earliest possible date” to achieve agreement on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified time frame, he said international non-proliferation efforts should parallel those aimed at nuclear disarmament. The Movement also called for a total ban on nuclear testing. While the nuclear goals of the first disarmament decade in the 1960s had not been achieved, a 1978 special session on disarmament had concluded with a strategy for general and complete disarmament, with effective international control. That remained the only consensus document of universal acceptance in the disarmament field. The proposed fourth decade would seek to build on the progress made in the previous decades. Its elements should reflect a priority on nuclear disarmament and other relevant issues, including small arms and light weapons.
LAWRENCE O. OBISAKIN ( Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that nuclear weapons still represented the greatest threat to humanity. The African Group therefore called for the achievement, at the earliest possible time, of universality of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), with a view to promoting a nuclear-weapon-free world. All nuclear-weapon States should do their due diligence in implementing all obligations agreed under the NPT and other international commitments, and desist from developing new types of nuclear weapons. They should conclude legally binding, unconditional security assurances against the use or threat of use of those loathsome weapons.
Asserting that multilateral diplomatic negotiation remained the most effective means to achieve credible universal nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he said the current global financial crisis had increased the urgent need to redouble efforts to revive all disarmament machineries, with a view to breaking the nearly decade-long impasse. The Commission had failed to reach consensus on any substantive issue over two cycles, and the African Group called on all Member States to demonstrate the political will and requisite flexibility needed to achieve concrete recommendations on disarmament. Meanwhile, it welcomed the entry into force of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in Central Asia on 21 March and supported the establishment of a similar one in the Middle East.
PIRAGIBE DOS SANTOS TARRAGÔ ( Brazil) said that, since its creation, the Commission had produced several useful guidelines and principles that had prepared the ground for multilateral negotiations on disarmament issues. As a deliberative body with universal participation, it did not operate under the constraints that characterized negotiations on legally binding agreements and members should take advantage of that aspect. Nuclear disarmament was formally mandated under General Assembly decision 52/492, which established that at least one of the items on the Commission’s agenda would be nuclear disarmament. Recent statements by the highest-ranking authorities in nuclear-weapon States rekindled hope of full engagement in discussions on disarmament and non-proliferation. Brazil expected those positive signals to turn into concrete actions.
He said his country was encouraged by the possibility that the necessary ratification process of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would be concluded soon. Equally auspicious would be progress in negotiations on a verifiable treaty to end the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons. However, agreement on guidelines and recommendations with respect to confidence-building measures remained elusive, despite their importance in altering inaccurate perceptions and avoiding misunderstandings about military actions that might otherwise lead to conflict. They could even encourage initiatives to identify shared security interests. Progress on disarmament issues required a balanced and integrated approach.
In order to fulfil the Commission’s mandate to work on elements of a declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade, it should take stock of commitments made in previous decades, he said, adding that the Commission should also consider the challenges ahead. The declaration should reflect the priority that all Member States placed on nuclear disarmament and address other relevant issues in the field of conventional weapons, as well as small arms and light weapons. Further, adequate attention should be given to the conclusion of an effective arms trade treaty. It was necessary to reaffirm the indispensable role of the United Nations framework in dealing with peace and security issues.
ALEXANDER LIEBOWITZ ( United States) said the Commission was meeting at a particularly auspicious moment, just a short time after United States President Barack Obama had pledged in a ground-breaking speech in Prague that his country would seek peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons. The President had described the steps that the United States would take on the road to that goal. They included reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the national security strategy of the United States, negotiating a new strategic arms reduction treaty with the Russian Federation this year and pursuing immediate and aggressive ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. On the latter aim, the President had said: “It is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.” Also on the President’s list was the negotiation of a new treaty that would verifiably end the production of fissionable material intended for use in State nuclear weapons and strengthening the NPT.
Recalling that Mr. Obama had referred to the basic bargain contained in that instrument -- countries with nuclear weapons would move towards disarmament, those without would not acquire them and all countries could access peaceful nuclear energy -– he emphasized that the President had said there would be “real and immediate consequences” for States violating the rules and a new framework for civil cooperation would be built. The President had also stressed the need to ensure that terrorists never acquired nuclear weapons, and outlined the steps that the United Stats would take in that regard, such as securing all vulnerable nuclear material worldwide within four years. In that light, the United States saw a role for the Commission, and it intended to show, during the Commission’s consideration of the first nuclear item on the agenda, how members could begin to implement the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, focusing on the conditions necessary for such a world.
He said those conditions included ensuring that the security of countries possessing nuclear weapons and their allies would not be impaired as they reduced the role of nuclear weapons. Surely, verification was even more essential in the context of very low levels of nuclear weapons, or none at all. In such circumstances, any violation of the non-proliferation regime would be very serious. The Commission might also wish to consider compliance mechanisms, he said, recalling that the President had also said that a structure should be in place to ensure that any nation breaking the rules would face consequences. Considering the shape of such a structure, without which verification measures would be of little value, was another task for the Commission. It was doubtful that the Commission would arrive at definitive answers during the present session, or even in three years, but it might make a start.
As for the elements of a draft declaration for a disarmament decade, he said it should contain a small number of key disarmament and non-proliferation principles, and consider issues related to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as conventional arms. To be meaningful, such a declaration should take into account the need to establish a new security paradigm to replace nuclear deterrence as an essential step to creating the conditions for a “nuclear zero”. To replace the non-proliferation regime, it would be necessary to ensure that, as States sought to remove their nuclear stockpiles, there would be no arrival of new nuclear-weapon States. Delegations should seek a common understanding and not try to insert concepts that they knew would not enjoy consensus. The United States strongly regretted the lack of consensus to take up a conventional weapons item, because confidence-building measures in that field were of the greatest immediate interest to the majority of Member States.
FARUKH AMIL ( Pakistan) said that, since the “epoch making” first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, the lofty ideals of disarmament had been frequently tested. The cherished goal of “equal security for all” had been eclipsed by unilateralism, narrow geographical groupings and inadequate attention to developing country security concerns. While there had been signs of improvement, more work was needed. Nuclear weapons continued to occupy a central place in military doctrines, and it was important to remember that the goal of their total elimination should not be “relegated to the sidelines”. At the same time, he urged avoiding discriminatory application of non-proliferation norms and the resort to military and coercive means to counter proliferation.
He said Pakistan’s proposal for convening a special international conference to create a “new consensus” on disarmament and non-proliferation stemmed from a desire to see a regime that was in line with realities on the ground. Such a consensus would be worthwhile only if it revived commitments by all possessor States to bring about complete, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament; made non-proliferation norms non-discriminatory; normalized the NPT relationship with non-NPT nuclear-weapon States; eliminated vertical proliferation; ensured fulfilment of every State’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy; and addressed the question of missiles in all respects.
He said it should also prevent the militarization of outer space; curb the numerical and technological escalation in conventional capabilities; ensure full implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons; rejuvenate the United Nations disarmament machinery; and address the question of fissile material on the basis of the Shannon mandate and the “Five Ambassadors” (A-5) proposal for a universal non-discriminatory multilateral treaty.
Genuine international security could only be ensured by a holistic approach wherein major Powers eschewed “picking and choosing” per national agendas and convenience, he said. While regional approaches to security questions could strengthen global efforts, such initiatives could be hamstrung by procedural difficulties. He urged delegations to remember that the solution to global security concerns lay in strengthening the United Nations disarmament machinery.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. ( Philippines) said his country saw a “new ray of hope in the long-moribund state of cooperation in the field of disarmament”. Now was the most propitious time for all nations to strive to achieve through disarmament the grand goal of global peace and even the survival of humankind. The most deadly swords and spears in any nation’s arsenal were nuclear weapons, and the Philippines believed that both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were essential to international peace and security. They were key building blocks to ridding the world of those fearsome weapons.
He said the Disarmament Commission remained a vital mechanism, and he reaffirmed its continuing relevance. He was concerned with the slow progress in the field of nuclear disarmament, and submitted that multilateral, regional and bilateral discussions should be continually pursued as the tools to success in that area. He called on States to pursue multilateral negotiations, as agreed in the final document of the 1978 first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.
The Philippines was also a staunch supporter of the Test-Ban Treaty and was host to three monitoring stations essential to its operation. However, he said, complete and total destruction of nuclear weapons was the best way to prevent their spread. The human family would not be satisfied by their mere reduction or non-proliferation. Those weapons’ existence constituted a continuing threat to human existence, and he called on States to fulfil their obligations in that regard. Moreover, all countries, especially those that possessed nuclear arms, must do all they could to prevent non-State actors from acquiring such weapons.
The Philippines supported the establishment of a universal, legally binding instrument on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States, he said, adding that it was also convinced of the need for nuclear-weapon-free zones. In that connection, he welcomed the creation of the Central Asian zone and looked forward to the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. An international conference would set the parameters for the elimination of nuclear weapons and prohibit their production, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and provide for their destruction.
Upon the commencement of a fourth disarmament decade, the work which had begun in the 1970s must be consolidated and built upon “aggressively and progressively”, he said, adding that the elements of a declaration should include relevant issues in the disarmament field so that it was not just a decade of mere promises. On confidence-building measures in the conventional weapons sphere, those established the climate of trust necessary to reduce tensions and eliminate hostilities, thereby leading to more disarmament progress.
NORIHIRO OKUDA ( Japan) said the international community was under threat from the development of nuclear weapons, as shown by one country’s unilateral declaration of withdrawal from the NPT. The world was also threatened by nuclear terrorism and the risks of covert nuclear weapons development under the guise of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The development and spread of ballistic missiles was a matter of concern and Japan, as the only country to have suffered nuclear bombings, believed that a first step towards their total elimination was for all nations to embrace the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. To achieve that goal, a practical and incremental approach was needed. Japan submitted an annual draft resolution to the General Assembly titled “Renewed Determination towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons”. To enhance the NPT’s credibility, it was vital that all nuclear-weapon States implement their nuclear disarmament obligations under article VI of the Treaty.
Regarding the NPT itself, he said the success of next year’s Review Conference was a short-term imperative, his country was making efforts to contribute to a positive outcome, notably by submitting papers to last year’s Preparatory Committee. The early entry into force of the CTBT was also important, and it was to be hoped that all Annex 2 countries ‑‑ including the United States and China ‑‑ would ratify the instrument as soon as possible. For the early start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty at the Conference on Disarmament, Japan called for cooperation among all Member States to that end. Pending the entry into force of such a treaty, it urged all nuclear-weapon States and non-NPT signatories to declare a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
Regarding regional non-proliferation and the development of weapons of mass destruction, he said the early realization of the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula through the Six-Party Talks was critical for peace and stability in North-East Asia. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launch of a rocket directly related to its ballistic missile development should be condemned as it contravened Security Council resolutions, and Japan urged that country to comply fully with its obligations under those resolutions. It also placed great importance on disarmament and non-proliferation in the fields of biological and chemical weapons and conventional weapons. In that context, Japan noted discussions in the Open-ended Working Group on an Arms Trade Treaty, and supported the idea of “responsible transfers”.
He said his country also attached significance to the meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts on the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, and the Group of Governmental Experts on the Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures. Regarding the entry into force of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Japan called on non-signatories to reconsider the importance of the mine ban, and hoped the Convention on Cluster Munitions would also quickly enter into force. Japan attached great importance to negotiations on the creation of a new protocol within the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. On small arms and light weapons, Japan was promoting the implementation of the relevant Programme of Action through its annual submission of a draft resolution to the General Assembly. In closing, Japan hoped that the elements of a draft declaration on a fourth disarmament decade would outline the broad areas of disarmament in a well-balanced manner.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the word “crisis” which was used to describe the financial malaise of the world today also characterized the current situation in the field of disarmament. There were serious problems in reaching consensus on the core issues, and although attempts of some like-minded States to address problems by bypassing existing disarmament forums could lead to some individual achievements, in the long-term, those would undermine established multilateral mechanisms and sow new elements of discord in the disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control realm, which was already “full of contradictions”.
While the world was forced to seek a new approach to the solution of existing financial problems to normalize the situation, so too must it search for new approaches in the disarmament field, he said. The deadlock could be overcome by stepping up multilateral diplomacy, strengthening active disarmament mechanisms, and establishing new ones as appropriate. Russia had always supported a strengthened central role for the United Nations, especially the Security Council, and the triad of disarmament in maintaining peace and strategic stability.
He said his country remained committed to establishing a global security system based on respect for international law and States’ compliance with their obligations. To set up such an equitable system, consistent and proactive steps in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation were required. Russia was ready, in cooperation with its partners, to look for universally acceptable approaches. It considered the Disarmament Commission to be an integral part of the United Nations multilateral disarmament mechanism, and agreement on the agenda would allow for a detailed discussion of the most pressing problems.
Reaffirming the Russian Federation’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, he said his country also believed that total elimination of nuclear weapons was possible only as the ultimate goal of a step-by-step process, involving the participation of all nuclear-weapon States, and on condition that strategic stability was strengthened and the principle of equal security for all States was rigorously respected. Russia was fully complying with its international obligations; it was reducing its nuclear arms “way ahead of schedule”. In 2001, it had reached the reduction levels for strategic delivery vehicles and warheads fixed in the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START).
In accordance with the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, Russia and the United States had totally eliminated two classes of such ground-based weapons. Implementation of the SORT Treaty (Russia-United States Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty) was also well under way. Russia favoured a legally binding agreement limiting, not only warheads, but also delivery means ‑‑ intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Additionally, he said the possibility of deploying strategic offensive weapons beyond national territory should also be excluded.
He recalled the London meeting on 1 April, at which the Russian and American Presidents had agreed to begin talks on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive weapons ‑‑ and to strive to reach strategic offensive weapons limits lower than those set by SORT (1,700 to 2,200 warheads). “Long and painstaking work awaits us,” he said, adding, “No one should have any doubt that a comprehensive agreement on strategic offensive weapons will require much time and serious effort.” He emphasized the inseparable link between strategic offensive and defensive or anti-missile defence weapons, stressing that it was impossible to succeed in nuclear disarmament if that link was undermined by the unilateral development of strategic anti-ballistic missile systems. That could both damage strategic stability and upset the system of checks and balances globally. Russia was offering a constructive alternative to unilateral plans in that area, namely the unification of efforts by all States, in order to prevent potential missile threats. Anti-ballistic missile issues required a well-balanced approach, as anti-ballistic missile defence might have a stabilizing, as well as destabilizing, impact on the strategic situation. “We deem it necessary to find a proper balance between politico-diplomatic and military-technical means for coping with threats.”
While constructive steps capable of extricating the disarmament process from the prolonged process were welcome, it was essential to create an international atmosphere favourable to complete renunciation of nuclear weapons, with strengthened strategic stability and universal security, he said. He expected to hold, during the upcoming NPT Review Conference in 2010, “frank talks” on what additional contribution other nuclear-weapon States members of that Treaty could make to that process. At the same time, intensification of disarmament efforts was crucial for States outside the NPT. Reaching “nuclear zero” could not be considered separately from other international problems. Those included: settlement of international conflicts; ensuring viability of key disarmament and non-proliferation instruments; withdrawal of all nuclear weapons to the territory of possessor States; renunciation of unilateral deployment of global anti-ballistic missile systems; the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space; and verifiable cessation of the development of conventional capabilities.
He was convinced that early entry into force of the CTBT was of crucial importance for strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear arms limitation regime. Russia welcomed the intentions of the new United States Administration to “review its attitude” towards that Treaty, with a view to submitting it for ratification. Russia had ratified the CTBT in 2000, and it called on all States, especially those crucial for the Treaty’s operation, to sign and ratify it as soon as possible.
He also supported development of a global agreement on security safeguards for the non-nuclear-weapon States, on the understanding that such an agreement should take into account cases when nuclear weapons could be applied in accordance with national military doctrines. And, Russia advocated the development of a fissile material cut-off treaty within the framework of a balanced work programme in the Conference on Disarmament. Another priority of Russian policy in enhancing strategic stability and international security was preventing the placement of weapons in outer space.
HAMID ALI RAO (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country attached great importance to the Commission, as it was of critical importance in efforts to create recommendations of universal acceptance. As such, India called for a redoubling of efforts to give a positive impulse to global, non-discriminatory disarmament. The key points of India’s working paper presented to the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) in 2006 called for concrete steps to achieve non-discriminatory disarmament based on the reaffirmation of commitments by all nuclear-weapon States to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
He said the commitments called for the inclusion of a reduction of “salience” of nuclear weapons in security doctrines; the adoption of measures by nuclear-weapon States to reduce nuclear danger, including the risks of accidental war; negotiation of a global agreement among nuclear-weapon States on “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons; negotiation of a legally binding agreement on non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States; and negotiation of a convention on the complete prohibition of the use ‑‑ or threat of use ‑‑ of nuclear weapons. It was also important to strengthen international cooperation to address the threat of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery and technologies related to their manufacture. Various countries had launched initiatives that had added new life to the global disarmament agenda. Such trends must be strengthened with efforts to achieve the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, rather than ad hoc steps in non-proliferation. The Commission must achieve consensus on the way forward.
Regarding the proposed fourth disarmament decade, he said such efforts would provide a broad agenda for the United Nations disarmament machinery to pursue over the next 10 years. What was now needed was a nuclear weapons convention, which would “close the loop” on weapons of mass destruction. While preventing an arms race in outer space was pertinent, there were other issues, such as implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action to Combat the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. The United Nations should also disseminate information aimed at changing basic attitudes about peace and security and disarmament. India welcomed a second round of discussion on the two topics that had remained inconclusive in the last cycle as they were critical to the disarmament agenda. Discussions on “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” and “Confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons” would be useful. During the fresh cycle, the Commission would be able to adopt guidelines and recommendations that would serve the disarmament agenda well.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER ( Qatar) said progress remained slow in achieving nuclear disarmament, the top priority of the global disarmament agenda. Some of the five nuclear-weapon States still refused to commit to implementing the most important provisions of the NPT, and he called for a review process to be conducted in light of the resolutions and decisions already taken in previous preparatory conferences, and for all States to take practical and sincere steps. The final disposal of nuclear weapons could not be waived, but until then, a binding international instrument to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of those weapons must be concluded urgently.
Qatar was eager to strengthen the NPT and activate its pillars, namely, non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. He emphasized the inviolability of the inalienable right of States parties to access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes; no obstacles should be put in the way of non-nuclear States parties in their quest to develop nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes. Qatar also supported the early operation of the CTBT.
He stressed the urgent need to activate the resolution on establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, which had been adopted in 1995 in exchange for the indefinite extension of the NPT and the accession of all Arab States to the Treaty. That resolution was reiterated in a decision of the Review Conference in 2000, and re-emphasized by the Doha Declaration of the twenty-first Arab Summit. States parties, particularly the three nuclear-weapon States that had adopted the resolution, must break the silence regarding Israel’s nuclear policy, which violated the NPT and threatened to push the entire region into an arms race, thereby jeopardizing regional and international security. Israel’s accession to the NPT would boost confidence, leading the way to solution to many of the problems in the Middle East.
As for the Commission’s session, the elements of a draft declaration must include the known core issues in the field of disarmament, including small arms and light weapons, as well as the priority issue of nuclear disarmament, in accordance with the terms of reference agreed in a previous session devoted to disarmament. The responsibility for the failure to review the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in a professional manner lay with the exporting countries, which lacked adequate oversight and restrictions. Another deep concern was the proliferation of landmines and cluster munitions, such as those planted by Israel in southern Lebanon. Dealing with the conventional weapons issue should not target specific countries to expose their defence capabilities at a time when other States were developing their own arms capabilities. That development only perpetuated the arms race and wasted resources.
KANG YONG ( China) said the world today was engaged in great changes and adjustments, and while it was indeed becoming more polarized, there was also a trend to seek development, peace and cooperation. The global financial crisis showed that the world’s plight had never been so interconnected. Such interdependence among countries was growing, particularly in the area of security, and only by maintaining mutual trust could nations address the variety of challenges and strengthen security. International arms control and efforts to prevent proliferation represented that common aspiration.
However, there was a lack of progress in international arms control and diplomatic efforts had encountered twists and turns, he said. It was heartening that, in addressing the financial crisis, the world had shown solidarity and that enthusiasm for promoting multilateral arms control, which had been “in the doldrums” in recent years, was showing signs of revival. China attached great importance to the Commission as the sole deliberative mechanism for promoting disarmament and arms control. As the current session represented the start of a new cycle, it was to be hoped that it would register positive progress and contribute to arms control and disarmament.
Recognizing the 2010s as a fourth disarmament decade was necessary and its proclamation would charter the road to progress for future multilateral arms control, he said. The proposed decade should draw upon past experience by summarizing the results of the three previous decades and taking stock of problems. At the same time, China called for an analysis of new challenges for international security and for the proposed declaration to insist on the principles of the United Nations Charter. In keeping with the characteristics of the new security situation, it should bring multilateralism to the fore and emphasize stability as a principle of undiminished security. In the area of international arms control, it should also develop provisions that would attract universal support.
Eliminating nuclear weapons represented a common aspiration, he said, welcoming the re-launching of talks between the Russian Federation and the United States to reduce strategic weapons. Complete nuclear disarmament could not be done “at one stroke”. Rather, it should proceed on the basis of maintaining global stability and make incremental and practical measures. China supported the Commission’s substantive work to be conducted in such areas as nuclear disarmament, prohibition of the production of fissile materials and comprehensive prevention of an outer space arms race. As a nuclear country, China had never shed its international responsibilities under the NPT, but had instead maintained a restrained attitude and would not engage in any nuclear arms race. The Government had implemented the CTBT, consistently supported its ratification and would work to ensure its entry into force.
Tackling nuclear non-proliferation should involve reliance on the United Nations Charter to foster an international environment conducive to peace and stability, he stressed. Efforts should ensure fair non-proliferation efforts; insist on dialogue and negotiated solutions; and promote international discussion to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. China had been engaged in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and had helped address the Iranian nuclear question, which was currently at a stalemate, a situation requiring patience. China supported confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, as conventional weapons had a bearing on major security concerns. In that context, it was necessary to take into account the circumstances of different countries into account. China had been engaged in regional confidence-building measures, including with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and posed no threat to any country. It was ready to work with all parties to ensure that the Commission achieved progress.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply, said all members knew how Japan had frantically attempted to have a “so-called” Security Council resolution on his country’s successful launch of a satellite. Japan had failed to have a resolution adopted, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea strongly rejected the Council statement, as expressed by its Foreign Ministry on 14 April. A detailed position would be clarified later today.
The representative of Japan, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, drew the Commission’s attention to the fact that there had been no “so-called statement” by the Security Council. What had been heard was the presidential statement of the Security Council, which had been adopted unanimously on the basis of agreement by each and every Council member.
MARTIN PALOUŠ (Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that several positive developments had increased hopes of achieving tangible results in the disarmament sphere, but the recent launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ‑‑ using ballistic missile technology ‑‑ and the announcement that it was suspending cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) went against that positive trend. The European Union strongly condemned that “experimental communications satellite” launch, which was in breach of Security Council resolution 1718 (2006), and urged an immediate suspension of all activities related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missile programme, as well as its complete, verifiable and irreversible abandonment of all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes.
The potential for clandestine military nuclear activities was of particular concern, as was the proliferation of ballistic missiles of increasing range, he said. A multilateral approach to non-proliferation was the best way to counter the threat to international peace and security resulting from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. It was thus of the utmost importance to ensure that all existing disarmament and non-proliferation agreements were effectively resourced, implemented and fulfilled. In view of the current proliferation risks, the NPT was more important than ever. Its authority and integrity must be preserved and strengthened.
Highlighting the IAEA’s indispensable role in verifying compliance by States with their nuclear non-proliferation commitments, he called for universal accession to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols. Europe’s security benefited from continuing global disarmament efforts and the European Union welcomed nuclear disarmament measures taken by two of its nuclear-weapon member States. The NPT was as essential to nuclear disarmament as it was to non-proliferation. New momentum in support of its entry into force was “being felt”, and in that regard, the European Union welcomed the decision by the new United States Administration immediately and aggressively to pursue ratification of the CTBT. Hopefully, that approach would inspire the remaining “Annex 2” States to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay. Also welcome had been the joint declaration on further nuclear weapons reductions by the United States and the Russian Federation.
Since European security was linked to that of Middle East security, the European Union placed particular importance on non-proliferation and disarmament issues in that region, he stressed. The establishment of a mutually agreed and verifiable zone in the Middle East, free of all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, would enhance regional security and stability. The proliferation risks presented by the nuclear programmes of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remained a matter of ongoing serious concern. A negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue was of cardinal importance as that country’s acquisition of military nuclear capability would be an unacceptable threat to regional and international security. With respect to conventional weapons, the European Union strongly supported the United Nations process towards a comprehensive, legally binding arms trade treaty to establish common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the current session was taking place after two fruitless cycles and on the eve of the third Preparatory Committee for the NPT Review Conference. The stalemate in multilateral disarmament forums had led to an absence of significant progress. Indeed, progress had been held hostage by a confrontation-based approach and, as a result, non-proliferation had gone unaddressed. Relations were under pressure, which in some cases had re-triggered the arms race. With the new session, positive signs had appeared, with a possible thaw in disarmament agenda.
The joint statement by the Russian and American presidents in London reflected a new approach to disarmament issues, fuelling hope that new perspectives were possible, particularly for nuclear disarmament, he said. Algeria called on all Member States to use that favourable context to achieve progress, and reiterated its position that the ultimate objective of nuclear disarmament was the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he said sustained involvement in that effort, particularly by nuclear-weapon States, was indispensable. There was a need for progressive implementation of article VI of the NPT, through implementation of the 13 practical measures adopted by the 2000 Review Conference.
Welcoming the entry into force of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, he noted that the establishment of a similar one in the Middle East had not yet come about, despite the 2005 decision of the Review Conference. It had been thwarted by Israel’s refusal to take part in the NPT and to submit all its installations to review by the IAEA. Regarding the draft declaration of a fourth disarmament decade, Algeria would provide its full contribution to the relevant draft recommendations. It was necessary to build on experiences from the last three decades, and the Commission should adopt a declaration with ambitious objectives. Algeria had spared no efforts to re-launch the Conference on Disarmament, which had been paralysed for 11 years by the nature of the questions to be examined.
BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA ( Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said he regretted the Commission’s failure, in two cycles, to have reached consensus on any of the substantive issues before it. Nuclear disarmament was the highest priority of Member States and multilateralism the best approach by which to address it. Despite renewed efforts to resolve the impasse over nuclear arms, there appeared to be little or no progress on the issue. Nigeria, therefore, called on both nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States to support current efforts to achieve disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects. The commitment made to non-nuclear-weapon States regarding negative security assurances should be unconditional, legally binding and unequivocal. However, even voting patterns on the relevant resolution had been marked by a high number of abstentions on the part of the nuclear-weapon States, which must reverse that trend in order not to revive the nuclear arms race.
He said his country welcomed the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones pending the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world. However, Nigeria was concerned about the proliferation of conventional weapons, as well as their illicit manufacture and transfer, and excessive accumulation. They fostered the culture of violence and had been a destabilizing factor in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries, where conflicts that hitherto would have been resolved internally had been externalized. The cumulative effects had hampered efforts to improve socio-economic aspirations, with calamitous humanitarian consequences. For those reasons, Nigeria actively supported the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and favoured the establishment of an arms trade treaty.
ISMAT JAHAN ( Bangladesh), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the disarmament agenda was enjoying momentum after a long stalemate. Recent statements by various States had stimulated disarmament talks, particularly on nuclear disarmament, and such efforts must be translated into practical action. Multilateralism was the only way to work effectively towards universal nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The Commission had a record of mixed results, but it was to be hoped that, this year, States would show the flexibility to adopt consensus recommendations on those issues. Bangladesh reaffirmed the need for universality of the NPT and the CTBT, the most important instruments of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Effective measures to that end must be taken without delay.
On regional initiatives, she said the formation of nuclear-weapon-free zones marked significant progress, and welcomed the zone recently established in Central Asia. The NPT guaranteed the rights of all States to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. As such, resources must be mobilized to provide technical and financial assistance for compliant States in need of nuclear energy for such uses. For its own part, Bangladesh had played its role towards complete disarmament and non-proliferation, and remained under the safeguard measures of the IAEA, including the additional protocols. The total elimination of nuclear weapons could be done in phases and in parallel with a legally binding instrument on security assurance to non-nuclear-weapon States.
ZOYA KOLONTAI ( Belarus) called for preventive measures to halt the escalating race to acquire weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms. Any recommendations or declaration emanating from the Commission should include a provision prohibiting the production and development of new types of weapons of mass destruction. Of course, it was the result of the work that was important, but with the Disarmament Commission the process itself was no less valuable. As a specialized deliberative body, the Commission allowed delegates to voice positions and hear new ideas.
She said her delegation was satisfied that the Commission’s agenda included the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and believed there was a need for the Commission to continue its work on such recommendations. Indeed, it was difficult to overcome the gravitational pull of national positions on nuclear matters that had been in place for decades, she acknowledged. However, there were some practical issues on which views could be exchanged and possible mechanisms “tried out” for resolution, such as existing agreements on shorter-range missiles. There was a need to conclude legally binding assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States on the non-use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Practical steps towards nuclear disarmament would be effective confidence- and security-building measures and the most effective way to counter non-proliferation, she said. The development of bilateral and multilateral controls over conventional weapons would create a stable basis for preventing armed conflicts and strengthening national and regional security. As possessor of the seventh largest arsenal of anti-personnel mines, Belarus advocated universal access to the Ottawa Convention. It continued to dispose of more than 3 million anti-personnel mines and to develop control measures for the arms trade in order to prevent the acquisition of weapons by non-State actors.
NURBEK JEENBAEV ( Kyrgyzstan) said that a mechanism for preventing the dissemination of nuclear weapons and materials and ensuring the safe application of nuclear energy had entered into force in February 2004, and two years later, Kyrgyzstan had joined the IAEA’s Additional Protocol. More recently, the establishment of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty had been an important step towards strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and disarmament process, promoting cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and in the environmental rehabilitation of territories affected by residual uranium tailings and radioactive contamination. It also enhanced regional and international peace and security. The area of the zone ‑‑ the first to have been created in the northern hemisphere ‑‑ was approximately 3.8 million square kilometres.
Concerned that inadequate attention had been given to the serious issue of mitigating the environmental consequences of nuclear-weapons programmes, he said there had been exceptional instances in which serious environmental consequences had resulted from uranium mining and associated nuclear-fuel cycle activities in the production of nuclear weapons. Several different uranium tailings and other toxic radioactive waste had been left on Kyrgyz territory by mining companies, requiring effective efforts at all levels to prevent further contamination. To respond to those challenges, the Government of Kyrgyzstan, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was organizing a regional conference, to be held in Bishkek next week, and a high-level international forum on uranium tailings and other radioactive wastes, to be held in Geneva on 29 June.
He said his country also considered the problem of information safety to be extremely important. Kyrgyzstan supported the development of a multilateral dialogue on banning the manufacture of splitting materials, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and nuclear disarmament. The Chemical Weapons Convention was an effective tool for strengthening international peace and security, and Kyrgyzstan supported its universality. Also important was Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), which sought to counteract the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as related technologies and materials. The Kyrgyz Government was strengthening export controls. States possessing verification mechanisms for preventing the distribution of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery were obliged to prevent their proliferation as they could become “weapons of mass defeat” in the hands of non-State actors. Kyrgyzstan was also concerned about small arms proliferation and was taking measures to combat it at the national level.
KIM BONGHYUN ( Republic of Korea) said the international environment concerning nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation had changed substantially in the past few years. While challenges to the NPT regime were largely the same, new initiatives were emerging in the sphere of nuclear disarmament, including new policies introduced by nuclear weapon States. It appeared clear that the outcome of the 2010 Review Conference would be crucial to the future of that regime. The key for success depended on whether all States Parties could achieve a visible, irreversible commitment for nuclear disarmament, he said.
The further reinforcement and institutionalization of the global regime for nuclear non-proliferation was equally important, and he strongly supported the universalization of the IAEA Additional Protocol as the best means to reinforce the Treaty’s monitoring and verification mechanism. To reach the dual task of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation more effectively, the first goals to be addressed involved an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and start of negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. He welcomed the United States President’s remarks for an immediate and aggressive pursuit of that Treaty’s ratification, and encouragement of all signatories ‑‑ especially Annex II countries ‑‑ that had not yet ratified the Treaty to do so.
The global community expected progress, welcoming deliberation on the issue of declaring the 2010s as the next disarmament decade. That declaration should not be pursued as a goal; rather, discussion should focus on how the international community could garner broader political will to enhance peace and security. He fully supported proposals on the discussion of the Commission’s working methods, which were due for an overhaul.
Finally, he said the early resolution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear issue was vital to securing lasting peace on the Korean peninsula and in wider North-East Asia. His Government had exerted efforts to achieve the verifiable denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in a peaceful manner through the Six-Party Talks. He regretted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, following its rocket launch, further announced on 14 April it would never participate in the Talks, and would restore the nuclear facilities it had begun disabling. He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully comply with Security Council resolution 1718 (2006), and implement the 19 September 2005 Joint Statement and subsequent consensus documents adopted at the Six-Party Talks.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, despite setbacks to substantive agreement, the Commission should strive to get back on the path of productivity. The current session occurred at a time of opportunity, whereby positive signals had been exchanged among States. Regarding “recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”, major nuclear possessors had made positive signals in the direction of achieving core nuclear objectives, including reference to article VI of the NPT. A more ambitious diplomatic effort was needed that would include deep reductions leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and encourage all States to commit to non-proliferation obligations.
He said the question of nuclear disarmament took into account the balance of interests. As for the proposed declaration of the fourth disarmament decade, the Commission should take into account the experience of the three previous disarmament decades. It needed to build on existing initiatives and capitalize on political will. The proposed fourth decade could play an important role in efforts to reverse current trends in arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. The wide range of disarmament issues could be considered for inclusion in the draft declaration. Given the diverse interpretations of resolution 61/67, Indonesia called on the Commission to work towards the successful conclusion of the elements of a declaration as soon as possible.
BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said his country remained guided by the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, informed by the principle that the only credible guarantee against their use or threat of use was their total elimination. The new cycle of the Commission’s work was marked by both important new developments and enduring challenges in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Added to that, the world was witnessing an increasing number of countries considering the nuclear energy option as part of their national energy mix. “We are, however, not starting the important work on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation with empty hands.” The elements of the Secretary-General’s five-point proposal on a world free of nuclear weapons formed a balanced platform from which to launch deliberations.
The NPT remained the most important global nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation tool, he said. The most advanced weapons and the growth of huge armies had only led to numerous arms races and conflicts, including two devastating world wars. The excessive accumulation of conventional weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons, beyond legitimate self-defence purposes, had the potential to create or perpetuate the vicious cycle of instability and conflict, on the one hand, and poverty and underdevelopment on the other. Confidence-building measures, including transparency and other elements, could play an important role in preventing or addressing that downward spiral. South Africa, therefore, welcomed the inclusion of the item on the Commission’s agenda. It also welcomed the inclusion of the elements for a draft declaration for a fourth disarmament decade, which would allow the collective development of a broader vision on a common purpose. It would also allow the disarmament community to benefit from recent positive developments while addressing the substantial challenges in disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced support for the new agenda and her delegation’s commitment to the principles of the Commission as a deliberative and universal body in the United Nations disarmament architecture. Mongolia underscored the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones for nuclear-disarmament goals. This year, a positive development had been seen in the entry into force of the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone. Such zones covered more than 50 per cent of the world’s land mass and strengthened the international rule of law in the area of disarmament. Their effectiveness could be further promoted by closer coordination and cooperation among the existing zones.
Following up on the first Conference on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, hosted by Mexico in 2005, Mongolia’s focal point had held consultations with those of other zones alongside the General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security). Based on those talks, Mongolia had agreed to host a meeting of focal points on nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties in April, the goal of which was to promote cooperation among the zones. In addition, the Mongolian Government was pursuing a policy of institutionalizing its nuclear-weapon-free status and had begun talks with its neighbours to conclude the required legal instrument. Last March Mongolia, China and the Russian Federation had held a first meeting in Geneva to discuss a draft trilateral treaty on nuclear-weapon-free status, which had proved very useful for understanding each country’s views.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, recalled that on 5 April his country had successfully launched its communications satellite into orbit, in accordance with its long-term State plan for the development of space and its peaceful use. Today, the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were celebrating the launch, the second of its kind since 1998. Surprisingly, only a few countries were “making a fuss” about the launch “as if something serious had happened”, and forcing the adoption of a “so-called” Security Council presidential statement. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterated its principled position ‑‑ total rejection of that statement. The satellite launch was just like those undertaken by other countries, including Japan. Thus, there had been no justification whatsoever to have discussed it in the Security Council.
The peaceful launch of a satellite while ignoring the militarization of outer space was a selective approach and a total denial of existing international law, he said. Today, Japan’s delegate had again condemned the satellite launch, branding it a missile launch. Japan was incapable of differentiating between the two. It was drawing attention away from its own “going nuclear”, which, if that was true, would be extremely dangerous. Japan called for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, but it had no say about the Six-Party Talks. In fact, none other than Japan was impeding those talks, and now they were dead, as Japan had wished. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would no longer participate in the talks. Other parties had prejudiced them by adopting the Council statement. Japan had driven the talks to collapse.
He urged the European Union to take a balanced and fair position with regard to the Korean peninsula, lest it damage its own credibility and aggravate the situation. The South Korean delegate and authorities in his country should follow the path of reconciliation and reunification on the basis of the 15 June North-South Joint Declaration, rather than joining foreign forces. Broadly speaking, the satellite launch had been a common achievement. South Korea was planning to launch a satellite in the coming days, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea sincerely looked forward to its success, hoping that the Security Council would not take issue with it.
The representative of Japan, speaking in further exercise of the right of reply, said that, as far as the claim that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched a satellite was concerned, he was not aware of any country or international organization that had come forward with evidence of a satellite now in orbit. Whether there had been a successful launch or not was not a core issue as every country had a right to use space for peaceful purposes. Security Council resolutions 1695 (2006) and 1718 (2006) did not deny the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea its freedom to use outer space; they included provisions requiring it to suspend activities related to its ballistic missile programme. To claim that the launch had not violated those resolutions reduced their meaning “down to zero” and was, therefore, unacceptable.
Moreover, the claim that his country was planning to go nuclear was totally false, he continued, categorically rejecting it. In line with its Constitution, Japan adhered to a defensive security policy on the principle that it should not become a nuclear Power. It was not planning to have any nuclear weapons and nor did it export any such weapons. Japan’s peaceful security policy was confirmed. It was regrettable that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea raised issues unrelated to the day’s agenda ‑‑ disarmament ‑‑ in order to avoid engaging in serious discussions on the important issues at hand. Japan hoped the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would adhere to the presidential statement adopted by the Security Council this week.
Then, the representative of the Republic of Korea reminded the delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that in October 2006 that country had conducted a nuclear test. The Security Council, adopting resolution 1718 (2006), had imposed sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and decided that it should suspend all activities relating to its ballistic missile programme and re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launches. The resolution further decided that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear weapons programmes, other weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missile programme, completely, verifiably and irreversibly. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s long-held ballistic missile programme and violation of Security Council decisions, combined with its nuclear weapons programme was a matter of utmost concern to the Korean peninsula and the region beyond. It also clearly contravened 1718 (2006).
He asked the delegate from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea about the implication of the combined long-range rocket and nuclear weapons programme. That country argued that the launch of the long-range rocket was for peaceful purposes. That was not true. The intention was clear ‑‑ it was to develop a delivery system for nuclear weapons of North Korea. The delegate had mentioned the peaceful space launch project of the Republic of Korea. Yes, his country was planning to launch a space vehicle in July. But its peaceful use of outer space project was fundamentally different from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s long-range rocket.
The Republic of Korea did not have a nuclear weapon programme and it was under the full verification programme of the IAEA and had been among the initial signatories of the Additional Protocol. If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea complied with IAEA safeguards and was transparent about its nuclear programmes, then it could believe that its long-range rocket “might be for peaceful purposes”. But at this moment, he did not understand the intention to launch a long-range rocket under that country’s very difficult economic conditions.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, once again exercising the right of reply, recalled the mention by representatives of the Republic of Korea and Japan of Security Council resolution 1718 (2006), saying his Government had stated clearly at that time that it strongly rejected that resolution as a product of the hostile United States policy against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. As such, the Government was not bound by it. As for the implication of the satellite launch, it was clear: a great contribution to global space technology. The representative of the Republic of Korea had said he could not understand the real intention of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. If that were true, he should try several times until he did understand. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea strongly rejected the statements by those two representatives and would never accept them.
The representative of France, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, drew the Commission’s attention to Article 25 of the United Nations Charter, which clearly asked all Member States to comply fully with the Security Council resolutions.
The representative of Japan said he was not ready to repeat his position on the launch and had just heard the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s intention to totally disregard Security Council resolutions. The Council was a core instrument of the United Nations, and Japan really hoped that that kind of total disregard of the Organization, and the Security Council in particular, would be redressed. Otherwise, there was no need for Member States to talk about denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in the United Nations. Japan assumed that all Member States at least respected their own Organization.
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