|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
4th Meeting (AM)
For First Time in Years, Notion of Nuclear-Weapon-Free World Supported by Leaders
of All Major Industrialized Countries, Disarmament Committee Hears in Debate
Concern Voiced over Unilateral Quest for Anti-Ballistic Missile Defence,
Build-Up of Small Arms, Constraints on Access to Nuclear Energy for Development
Highlighting the positive climate that had emerged for progress towards achieving the goal of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the representative of the Russian Federation today told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) that it was noteworthy that, for the first time in recent years, the idea of a non-nuclear-weapon world had near-unanimous support from the leaders of all major industrialized countries.
A particular responsibility in that effort lay with the nuclear-weapon States, including the Russian Federation, that country’s representative said, as the Committee continued its general debate. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had emphasized that the country was fully committed to achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. But it nevertheless believed that the elimination of those weapons resulted from a gradual process of general and complete disarmament.
Strategic defensive and offensive weapons were inseparably linked, he said, hoping that Russia and the United States would agree on lower levels of nuclear warheads and to a substantial quantitative reduction in the number of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles -– intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. But his country had consistently opposed any unilateral steps towards the build-up of a strategic missile defence system. Russia did not reject the anti-missile system as such. It believed, however, that the configuration of a global anti-ballistic missile system must be set out with due account of the interest of all States.
Several other speakers acknowledged the revitalization of the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, and hoped it would inform the scope and pace of progress in that long-stalled arena. Delegates underlined the continued relevance of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a key pillar of those efforts, stressing in particular the need to uphold the right it confers on all States parties to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. That was especially important to the non-nuclear-weapon States, which had agreed to renounce nuclear weapons in exchange for access to nuclear energy critical to their development.
States in full compliance with their International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards obligations under the NPT should have unhindered access to civilian nuclear technology, Turkey’s representative stressed. That would contribute to further strengthening and universalizing the NPT regime, which remained at the heart of international disarmament efforts. Reinforcing its integrity and credibility of the NPT was essential. He also advocated strengthening the IAEA safeguards system and promoting the Agency’s role in advancing the safe and peaceful use of nuclear technology. All steps must be taken to prevent diverting peaceful nuclear programmes into military ones.
While Jamaica remained resolute in its quest for a nuclear-weapon-free world, it also supported the right of all States to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as stipulated in article IV of the NPT, its speaker said, calling on States engaged in the development and use of nuclear energy to fully comply with IAEA verification, monitoring and safeguards. His concern also centred on the urgent need for decisive international action to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which facilitated violence and hampered every aspect of development. But all efforts to curb the illicit arms trade would “amount to nothing” if developing countries, like Jamaica, were not equipped with the apparatus necessary to satisfactorily implement their commitments.
“These weapons are no longer small or light,” warned the delegate from the Sudan, who stressed the importance of using international instruments to deal with that scourge. He noted that many countries in Africa suffered greatly as a result of those weapons, in situations that were exacerbated by natural disasters and climate change. A limit should be put on their accumulation, given their very damaging effects. There was a clear link between those weapons and organized crime and terrorism. Weapons manufacturers should bear responsibility with regard to preventing those weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.
Indeed, conventional weapons posed serious humanitarian threats, the representative of New Zealand said, urging the international community to give priority to meeting those challenges. A legally binding arms trade treaty would provide strong humanitarian benefits by establishing universal standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. For its part, New Zealand had taken a leading role in the negotiations on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an instrument whose good outcome stemmed from the trailblazing Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention).
Statements in the general debate were also made the by the representatives of Israel, Dominican Republic, Philippines, Egypt, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Congo, Belarus and Thailand.
The representatives of Iran and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 October, to continue its general debate.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly. (For background on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Release GA/DIS/3384.)
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that the current revitalization of the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda was undoubtedly a positive signal, but the pace of progress in that area was moderate. It was essential to reinforce and develop the emerging positive dynamics and move forward towards strengthening the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms. His country regretted that the Conference on Disarmament, having adopted its programme of work, had not yet started its implementation. Russia was convinced that the start of the negotiation process at that Conference was in the interest of all States. It hoped that, in 2010, the participants in that forum would be flexible and reach consensus on launching the Conference’s substantive work.
He said that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had emphasized that the country was fully committed to achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. It was noteworthy that, for the first time in recent years, the idea of a non-nuclear-weapon world had been practically unanimously supported by the leaders of all major industrialized countries. A particular responsibility in that effort lay with the nuclear-weapon States, including the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, the elimination of nuclear weapons should be a result of a gradual process of general and complete disarmament.
Russia and the United States were working on the elaboration of a comprehensive, legally binding agreement to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), he stated. Russia hoped that the two countries would agree on lower levels of nuclear warheads and to a substantial quantitative reduction in the number of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles -- intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Russia also believed that the strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and intensification of the nuclear disarmament process could be achieved if strategic stability was maintained and the principle of equal security was ensured.
In that regard, he said his country had consistently opposed any unilateral steps towards the build-up of a strategic missile defence system. Such activities substantially complicated progress in the nuclear disarmament field. Strategic defensive and offensive weapons were inseparably linked. Russia did not reject the anti-missile system as such. It believed, however, that the configuration of a global anti-ballistic missile system must be set out with due account of the interest of all States. Russia called for a broad dialogue with countries, which shared its assessments regarding missile proliferation, adding that his country prioritized a joint analysis of the existing risks and the elaboration of political and diplomatic methods in response to those risks.
RODICA RADIAN-GORDON, Director, Arms Control Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, said that the achievement of a comprehensive peace between her country and its neighbours should be accompanied by confidence-building measures and conventional weapons arrangements, culminating in the eventual establishment of the Middle East as a mutually verifiable zone free of ballistic missiles and biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. That zone should emanate from, and encompass all, States in the region, by virtue of free and direct negotiations among them.
She said it was her country’s policy to support, and wherever possible, to join those arms control and other international treaties that did not undermine Israel’s narrow margin for security. In that context, Israel reiterated its unequivocal support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It had continuously demonstrated its support for the Treaty, including its active participation in the Preparatory Commission. At the same time, several gaps needed to be bridged in the effort to move expeditiously towards the Treaty’s entry into force. Those included the need for a universal commitment not to carry out any nuclear test explosions, efforts to complete the CTBT’s verification regime, and completion of all international monitoring system stations, with a special emphasis on current gaps, especially in the Middle East region.
Israel attached great importance to the global non-proliferation regime, she went on. It considered the prohibition of nuclear testing an indispensable element of that regime, especially in view of the non-compliance and the cases of gross violations of international obligations related to non-proliferation in the Middle East, as well as the two nuclear explosions conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The development of nuclear weapons by Iran posed an enormous threat to the stability of the Middle East, and to global peace and security. The possibility that terrorists would “enjoy an Iranian nuclear umbrella” or that they would actually receive nuclear weapons from an Iranian regime was a real threat. Iran’s hostile policies and statements, its aggressive pursuit of nuclear technology and its active involvement in support of terrorism gravely exacerbated the situation in the region. Israel, in particular, had consistently been the target of Iran’s vicious anti-Semitic campaign, notably statements made by Iran’s President calling for the destruction of Israel.
Israel’s view was that the prevention of arms transfers to terrorists should be addressed as a matter of high priority by the international community, she urged. A clear norm banning such transfers should be created, with a demand for concrete steps to be taken against their continuation. Nothing could justify the practice of certain States condemning terrorism on the one hand, and, at the same time, condoning the transfer of arms to terrorist groups, on the other hand.
FRANCISCO TOVAR MORILLO ( Dominican Republic) said efforts to ensure international peace and security must put general interests above those of individuals, and the international community should seize the current positive atmosphere. He also recognized the obvious links between disarmament and development, and suggested that efforts should also be made to divert arms funds to development. To address disarmament, all articles of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) must be implemented, and the inalienable rights of all States to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should be respected through the strict enforcement of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
Regarding illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, he urged stronger action to ensure national safety and social stability. The Dominican Republic had adopted a Safe Neighbourhood programme, which had already resulted in reduced homicide rates, from 26 per 100,000 to 22 per 100,000. In addition, with help from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), border security efforts had mitigated illicit arms trafficking. However, international measures and legally binding treaties must be enforced to combat that scourge.
Protecting the Caribbean Sea was another concern of the region, he said. Economic security and tourism were important, and the sea’s protection was a matter of national security. He hoped the international community would be supportive in preventing the transport of radioactive materials through the Caribbean Sea, via IAEA guidelines and the adoption of standards to complement those measures.
ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said the United Nations should play a more effective role in international disarmament efforts and that the NPT remained the heart of those measures, as relevant today as it was 40 years ago. Despite progress in the field of disarmament, reinforcing the integrity and credibility of the NPT regime and achieving its universality was essential. He also advocated strengthening the IAEA safeguards system and promoting the Agency’s role in advancing the safe and peaceful use of nuclear technology. Turkey firmly believed that States in full compliance with their safeguards obligations should have unhindered access to civilian nuclear technology, which would contribute to further the strengthening and universalization of the NPT regime. All steps should be taken to prevent diverting peaceful nuclear programmes into military ones.
He said that the time of nuclear weapons deterrence was over. “Nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction cannot provide additional security for any country in this era,” he said. “On the contrary, the possession of and the pursuit of such weapons undermines regional security and stability.” In that light, Turkey attached great significance to, and endorsed steps for, the establishment of effectively verifiable zones free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, particularly in the Middle East. The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was a regional and global priority, and Turkey, which currently chaired the Security Council Sanctions Committee concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, hoped that conditions could be created for that country to return to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon member. Issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme should also be addressed, with haste. As Iran’s neighbour, Turkey was ready to continue facilitating the diplomatic process on that issue.
Turning to the Conference on Disarmament, he said that recent progress must be met with flexibility to carry forward the process and permit the Conference to resume its fundamental role in promoting global peace and security as an arms control negotiating forum. There should be wider adherence to the implementation of the Conventionon the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention). Those treaties were also important components of a global system against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Turkey was concerned over the increase in the range and accuracy of ballistic missiles and considered the Hague Code of Conduct to be a practical step towards a legal framework in that field. The spread of weapons of mass destruction was alarming in the context of terrorism, and Turkey supported international efforts to prevent their acquisition and use by terrorists, and to enhance the safety and security of radioactive materials and sources.
The accumulation and uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons posed a significant social and security threat, he said. The Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects should be strengthened, and conclusion of an arms trade treaty should be geared towards halting the unregulated and uncontrolled trade of those weapons worldwide and establishing common trading standards. Turkey was continuing to destroy its stockpiled anti-personnel mines in the Turkish Munitions Disposal Facility, and urged States to accede to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention). Turkey also shared the humanitarian concerns behind international efforts to limit the use of cluster munitions. It also supported the role of the United Nations regional disarmament centres, which were instrumental in promoting the implementation of existing international disarmament and arms control norms. The United Nations Register on Conventional Arms and the standardized instrument for reporting military expenditures as a transparency and confidence-building measure also had his country’s support.
To build on the positive momentum in the field of disarmament “we have to reinvigorate the culture of compliance with the existing disarmament and non-proliferation agreements to begin with, but also codification of and compliance with new instruments that will turn our planet into a safe and more secure place,” he concluded.
HILARIO DAVIDE, JR. (Philippines) said the scene was set in the Committee for progress based on recent developments, including statements from world leaders concerning their work towards a nuclear-weapon-free world, the successful Third Preparatory meeting of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the Conference on Disarmament’s progress, the Security Council summit, the United States-Russian Federation talks and the adoption of the IAEA resolution on applying safeguards in the Middle East.
He said that in order to build on this momentum, NPT States parties must seize the opportunity to move forward in the coming review, mindful of the tremendous challenges ahead. The Philippines supported a number of suggestions that would contribute to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world, including strengthening and implementing the NPT by giving importance to all three pillars of the Treaty -– non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy -– to reach a successful outcome, achieving universality of that Treaty, and taking the lead of the United States and the Russian Federation in arms reduction. A concrete action plan should be issued to outline specific steps for phasing out nuclear weapons and creating more nuclear-weapon-free zones. The Philippines also called on the remaining nine CTBT Annex 2 States to sign and ratify that Treaty, which should readily enter into force.
The Philippines was concerned over the uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons and emphasized the need to implement the 2001 Programme of Action to stem that flow, he said. The adverse humanitarian impact caused by landmines and cluster munitions should be addressed through the full implementation of conventions dealing with those arms. He meanwhile welcomed the successful outcome of the 2006 Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference and called on States to meet their deadlines on the Chemical Weapons Convention.
He stressed the importance of the Committee’s current session. “No difficulty is insurmountable as long as we are all guided by our good faith and our sincerity to cooperation and readiness to be flexible, not only for our national interests, but, more importantly, for our collective survival as neighbours in a common habitat –- the small planet Earth now endangered by the climate change crisis,” he said.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that his country looked forward to the successful conclusion of the ongoing negotiations between the United States and the Russian Federation, aimed at a new treaty on strategic arms reduction, before year’s end. It also hoped that the conclusion of such a treaty would provide a strong incentive to other nuclear-weapon States to follow suit in their efforts to implement their nuclear disarmament commitments.
He said that the adoption by the Conference on Disarmament of a work programme, after a 12-year freeze of its negotiating role, allowed for the initiation of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and opened the way for collective international effort to deal with all other issues on the agenda of the Conference, top of which was nuclear disarmament. That development would enhance global cooperation within the multilateral framework in a way that would allow nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States to verify the implementation of each other’s commitments and, thereby, promote confidence-building.
The mere convening of the recent Security Council summit had reflected the international community’s increased awareness of the current crucial stage of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, he said. The summit had also stressed the importance of restoring the NPT’s credibility, especially as the parties had not implemented their commitments, particularly those relating to nuclear disarmament, under strict international multilateral control, and in view of the obvious lack of action in achieving the Treaty’s universality -- which was the main guarantee for enhancing its effectiveness at the regional and international levels. Although Security Council resolution 1887 (2009) had reiterated that the NPT was a key pillar of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and that the balanced implementation of its three pillars was the key to enhancing the Treaty, it included elements which did not reflect consensus and restrictions not stipulated in the NPT, which would limit the ability of the non-nuclear-weapon States to enjoy their inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. It also failed to even mention the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Despite the adoption of resolution 1887 (2009), the responsibility of implementation and review of the NPT remained, and would continue to be, that of the Treaty’s membership alone. Egypt encouraged the Council to compel implementation of its previous resolutions relevant to nuclear disarmament. Topping that pile was resolution 687 (1991) adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which stipulated that the elimination of Iraqi nuclear weapons capability -– which later proved not to exist –- was a step towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Israel still persistently rejected joining the NPT, while it daily enhanced its ambiguous nuclear capabilities outside the IAEA safeguards system, he went on. A former Israeli Prime Minster even admitted his country’s possession of nuclear weapons outside the legitimate framework of the NPT. Despite that, Israel led an international campaign against Iranian nuclear capabilities, claiming that they represented a threat to regional and international peace and security and constituted a violation of Iran’s commitment to the NPT. Israel linked dealing with the Iranian nuclear file with achieving progress in the Middle East peace process. That amounted to a flagrant practice of double standards and excessive politicization of the issue of acquisition of nuclear weapons. That was implicitly supported by the lack of any real effort on the part of the three nuclear-weapon States, which were the depositories of the NPT and which had proposed and sponsored the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, in order to eliminate the ambiguous Israeli nuclear capabilities, to get Israel to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State, leading to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
MARTY NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) commended the initiative taken by the Security Council to convene a summit on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation last month. The adoption of resolution 1887 (2009) by consensus signified a historic moment to further nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues on the global agenda. It was Indonesia’s expectation that the resolution’s implementation would not contravene States’ obligations and commitments under the non-proliferation regime under the NPT, IAEA and other nuclear-weapon-related conventions.
He said that the conclusion of the fifty-third IAEA General Conference in September marked a historic achievement. After almost two decades, the General Conference finally adopted a resolution on Israeli nuclear capabilities, which, among other things, expressed concern about the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons to Middle East security and stability. It called upon Israel to accede to the NPT and to place its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. Indonesia remained fully committed to the peace process in the Middle East and attached high importance to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region. It appreciated the overwhelming support for the resolution on Application of Safeguards in the Middle East by the General Conference. That showed the commitment of all States to the establishment of such a zone. Indonesia shared the concern expressed by the IAEA Director General that in order to face the many shortcomings of the global non-proliferation regime, the Agency needed to be strengthened with the necessary legal authority and financial support.
The proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons was another deadly menace, he said. Those weapons were the weapons of choice in violent conflicts with devastating multidimensional consequences on societies. Efforts at the national, regional and international levels must be increased to address arms brokering, marking and tracing, transfer control, collection and destruction, prior to the next Biennial Meeting of States in June 2010. In less than two years after Indonesia had ratified the Mine-Ban Convention, it had managed to destroy all its stockpiled anti-personnel mines. That was part of its commitment to the full implementation of the Convention and to global efforts towards a mine-free world. The forthcoming Second Review Conference of the Convention, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia, in November, would be very important in reviewing past achievements and challenges, and to setting the course for effective collective efforts to implement the Convention for the next five years. Indonesia would continue its active participation for achieving the Convention’s goals.
U WUNNA MAUNG LWIN ( Myanmar) said 2009 was the year of hope for global disarmament, but encouraging signs to address nuclear challenges were contradicted by the lack of recommendations emanating from the Third Preparatory meeting for the 2010 NPT review and the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to have begun substantive negotiations. The international atmosphere conducive to arms reduction, nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament must be maintained in the coming years, and promises must be followed by concrete actions. Myanmar sought the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament to negotiate a phased programme of nuclear disarmament, leading to the total elimination of those weapons within a specified time frame. He also hoped activities taken in line with article VI of the NPT and decisions at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference would lead to further reductions involving all nuclear-weapon States and to the eventual elimination of nuclear arsenals.
He said his country welcomed the Secretary-General’s five-point proposal for disarmament. The NPT was the cornerstone of international efforts to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament and to promote cooperation and ensure access to nuclear energy, and a successful conclusion to its 2010 review was imperative, as was implementation of the 13 practical steps agreed at the 2000 Review Conference. The Conference on Disarmament would negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material, which he hoped would be internationally and effectively verifiable. Efforts aiming at nuclear non-proliferation should be parallel to simultaneous efforts aimed as disarmament.
Turning to outer space issues, as existing legal instruments failed to unequivocally prevent testing, deployment and use of all kinds of weapons in outer space, he said there was a need for a comprehensive treaty that would accomplish that ban. Document CD/1839 containing a draft treaty was a good basis for the Conference on Disarmament’s work in that field. Security assurances for non‑nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons were essential. Unilateral declarations did not fulfil the requirements, and many States were not covered by the security assurances provided by nuclear-weapon-free zones or military alliances. Lack of progress on such assurances undermined the NPT in the eyes of non-nuclear-weapon States. Moreover, an internationally and legally binding instrument on nuclear security assurances was long overdue and a prerequisite for a nuclear-weapon-free world.
While the Conference on Disarmament had been able to reclaim its rightful role as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiation forum, that breakthrough, after years of stagnation, had yet to be complemented by a further decision by the Conference on implementation of modalities. Political will by member States of the Conference must be demonstrated. Security concerns could be best addressed only through negotiations. “Disengagement is the enemy of progress,” he said, adding that the Conference should build on this year’s momentum as 2010 approached.
AMRIT BAHADUR RAI ( Nepal) said that the ever-growing military expenditure reminded the world that disarmament was still bundled with rhetoric; a strong and shared political commitment to divert resources from dreadful armaments was needed to bolster prosperous development. The vicious cycle of the arms race and security threats could be broken by creating an atmosphere of common understanding and a heightened level of confidence built through bilateral, regional and multilateral mechanisms.
As examples, he said that IAEA safeguards and verification mechanisms should prevent the development of nuclear energy for military purposes, and efforts should be redoubled to make the 2010 NPT review more fruitful. The Conference on Disarmament’s progress this year should follow with concluding negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. Weapons should also be prohibited from outer space for the good of all humankind. To stem the alarming rate of proliferation of conventional weapons, the Programme of Action on those arms should be effectively implemented. A fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament would take discussion to a new height and create the ambience of confidence for starting true multilateral disarmament negotiation.
The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones were also confidence-boosters, he said. Nepal had become host to the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament, and he urged Member States to generously contribute to the Centre’s programmes, which, among other things, worked to build confidence among States in the region. He applauded the talks between the United States and the Russian Federation to reduce their nuclear arsenals. “True strength of negotiations hinges on optimum utilization of United Nations mechanisms, such as the Conference on Disarmament,” he said, urging the international community to launch meaningful deliberations with renewed commitment.
RAYMOND SERGE BALÉ ( Congo) said that his country was convinced that efforts to address current challenges in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation should be undertaken in a multilateral framework. True consensus was necessary in order to achieve results, and the international community must continue its efforts, keeping consensus at the heart of all endeavours. He stressed the urgency of concluding an arms trade treaty, which must be legally binding and wide-reaching in scope. Congo encouraged the continuation of consultations leading to its creation. It also supported the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms. Given the humanitarian and other impacts of landmines, all States should work together to assist affected countries.
He added that the excessive accumulation of nuclear weapons was a source of concern. There was, however, room for cautious optimism in light of the recent developments in the disarmament and non-proliferation arena. The adoption of a programme of work by the Conference on Disarmament had also created a basis that could allow for the opening of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. The entry into force of CTBT was another key element of the nuclear non‑proliferation effort. In that regard, Congo urged all States that had not done so to ratify it as soon as possible.
RAYMOND O. WOLFE ( Jamaica) said that the recent welcome developments in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation had undoubtedly ignited high levels of expectation, which must be translated into concrete actions. Those actions, at the very least, should begin with the resolutions and decisions of the First Committee, if they were to be taken at their word and if the opportunity presented by their pronouncements was not squandered. After all, they were at the centre of the current wave of positive developments. The signals sent in the present deliberations would bolster the present scenario that the international community was indeed engaged in a new beginning, a renaissance of commitment and ideas.
He said that, while Jamaica remained resolute in its calls for a nuclear-weapon-free world, it supported the right of all States to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as stipulated in article IV of the NPT. It called on all States engaged in the development and use of nuclear energy to fully comply with IAEA verification, monitoring and safeguards, in order to provide the guarantee necessary to build confidence and uphold the NPT’s integrity. At the same time, his country was concerned about recent events on the Korean peninsula, which threatened to undermine the NPT regime and the stability of the region and beyond. Jamaica supported a diplomatic resolution to the situation and urged the States involved in the six-party talks to return to the negotiating table and work towards a long-term solution that addressed the concerns of all parties.
There was urgent need for decisive international action to curb the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which facilitated violence and hampered every aspect of development. It was estimated that small arms killed at least 300,000 people each year, in both conflict and non-conflict situations, and injured or disabled many thousands more. That ignoble fact could not be ignored, especially when an increasingly high percentage of those impacted was the result of the illicit trade in those weapons. The successful outcome last year of the Third Biennial Meeting of States to consider the implementation of the Action Programme would amount to nothing if developing countries, like Jamaica, were not equipped with the apparatus necessary to satisfactorily implement their commitments. Requests for technical and financial assistance should not go unheeded. The international community should commit to take effective action now.
VLADIMIR GERASIMOVICH, Head of the Department for International Security and Arms Control, Belarus, said the new vitality in the negotiating process must be maintained. He highlighted as an example the Security Council’s summit on non‑proliferation and disarmament. That new spirit was critical now, especially at a time when some confidence had been lost on the NPT, which was the cornerstone of disarmament. The international community’s highest priority should be to strengthen that instrument, and Belarus hoped for a successful outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. To build on that atmosphere, the CTBT should have a speedy entry into force, and he appealed to States that had not signed and ratified that Treaty to do so, with haste.
He said that an important confidence-building measure was binding assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States. As a State that had taken a decision against possession of nuclear arms, Belarus applauded the United States-Russian Federation arms reductions decision. On the topic of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, each State had an inalienable right to the production of nuclear energy and access to technology, and this access should not be hampered or discouraged. Concerning other positive developments, the Conference on Disarmament’s work was progressing, and Belarus hoped that that positive tone would continue. Belarus, for its part, would support a constructive negotiating atmosphere at the Conference, as well as a ban on fissile material for weapons.
The topic of weapons of mass destruction and the prevention of their proliferation was another important objective, given the threat of terrorism, he said. Belarus was working on controls in that field and had joined the global initiative to combat terrorist acts, which could build international cooperation. There should also be strong restrictions on weapons in outer space. He hoped the discussions on the control of small arms and light weapons would advance efforts in that regard and that the coming review on implementation of the Action Programme would continue the forward-moving trajectory. A good example of an initiative to control those weapons was the successful implementation of the joint measure, incorporating safe storage, undertaken jointly by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD ( Sudan) said the world was witnessing regional issues that spilled over from growing concerns in the field of disarmament. The Sudan believed that a multilateral approach was the way forward. Issues to be addressed included how States developed and justified nuclear weapons as a deterrent, as well as the selectivity and lack of equality in the area of disarmament. At the same time, the Sudan was pleased to see the attention to arms conferences and greeted efforts that had led to the adoption of the Conference on Disarmament’s work programme in May. Priority, however, should be given to development issues and to reducing arms budgets. There was a pressing need to reduce nuclear arms, which was the only and fastest way to bring about disarmament and to foster peace and international security.
He noted that many States -- more than half the countries of the world -- had entered into nuclear-weapon-free zone arrangements. Some conflict-prone areas should be included in that list, and he pointed to the Middle East as a case in point. Such a zone could be established in the region if Israel had not refused to subject its nuclear programme to IAEA safeguards. That was a real threat in that powder-keg region, and beyond. Africa’s Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty) was a positive step. For its part, the Sudan was a pioneer in joining the Pelindaba Treaty, the NPT, and the CTBT, among other international instruments. He stressed the need for countries to be able to use nuclear energy only for peaceful means.
He also stressed the importance of using international instruments to deal with small arms and light weapons, and emphasized the Sudan’s participation in the relevant conferences. “These weapons are no longer small or light,” he said, adding that many countries in Africa suffered greatly from the problem, in situations that were exacerbated by natural disasters and climate change. “It was now a tradition in certain tribes to acquire these weapons.” A limit should be put on their accumulation, given their very damaging effects. The Sudan had established a bureau to combat the spread of small arms and light weapons, as there was a clear link between those weapons and organized crime and terrorism. As a member of the African Union and Sahara and Sahel groups, the Sudan had made strides on border issues to control those weapons. The weapons manufacturers were also responsible, and, thus, it was not just a country that could prevent those weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said the rationale behind disarmament was simple and clear: the more numerous and powerful the weapons become, the greater the risks to peace and stability. “Science had given man the power to wreak devastation on an unprecedented scale, through weapons of mass destruction,” he said, adding that conventional weapons, though much less powerful, accounted for most combat injuries in the world. Despite progress made in 2009, it was time to bring about concrete actions on the eve of the NPT’s fortieth anniversary. Measures towards the Treaty’s full implementation were needed. Nuclear-weapon-free zones complement it, as did the IAEA’s verification and compliance work.
He said that the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions were key instruments to combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons, and the threat of their acquisition by non-State actors, was a major concern, as was the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, which were linked with armed violence, transnational crime and terrorism. He hoped the coming Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on those weapons would provide further impetus to combating their illicit trade and trafficking.
To address arms in general, Thailand favoured an arms trade treaty, but pending that, States that manufactured, exported and imported arms should hold discussions on ways to forge cooperation through exchanges of experiences and knowledge. However, he concluded, debate, discussions and actions on resolutions were not ends in themselves; further progress in disarmament was only achievable through joint action.
DELL HIGGIE ( New Zealand) welcomed forward steps already taken towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons, including the United States and Russian Federation talks, the Security Council summit and the Conference on Disarmament’s broken deadlock. On the eve of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, it was clear that a collective effort was needed to ensure a meaningful outcome.
She said that the IAEA was at the centre of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and its safeguards were an essential element of its verification work. She urged all States that had not done so yet to conclude the additional protocols, without delay. Regarding the Iranian nuclear programme, she urged Iran to comply with the IAEA and to give the Agency full and transparent access to facilities. Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear test earlier this year, New Zealand urged that country to return to the six-party talks.
Conventional weapons posed serious humanitarian threats, and she urged the international community to give priority to meeting those challenges. A legally binding arms trade treaty would provide strong humanitarian benefits by establishing universal standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. For its part, New Zealand had taken a leading role in the negotiations on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an instrument whose good outcome stemmed from the trail-blazing Mine-Ban Convention. This year was a year of promise. “The onus is on all of us to live up to this historic opportunity.”
Right of Reply
ASAYESH TALAB TOUSI ( Iran), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected statements by Israel regarding allegations made against Iran. He said that that regime lacked legitimacy and, therefore, he would not dignify the comments it made, other than to reject them.
ABDULLAH HALLAK (Syria), also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that two weeks ago, the IAEA had adopted two important decisions on the Israeli nuclear arsenal. Those two decisions called upon Israel to subject its nuclear facilities to the Agency’s supervision and to join the NPT as a non‑nuclear-weapon State. The decisions called upon the IAEA Director General to promote the implementation of that international request. The Israelis rejected the decisions, with the head of the Israeli nuclear agency saying that Israel would not cooperate with these two decisions.
He highlighted Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), which aimed to stop Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006, adding that the Security Council had pointed to ongoing violations by Israel, which continued to occupy Lebanese territories and had dropped bombs indiscriminately, all of which violated international law. It was well known that the biggest weapons traders were retired Israeli officers working for Israeli weapons manufacturers. Israel was the fourth-largest weapons exporter and it was known that Israeli weapons fanned the flames of conflicts. That encouraged international terrorism and protected drug gangs and separatists in the world.
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