First Committee Hears Introduction of Five Drafts, Detailed Accounts by Russian Federation, United States of Reductions in Nuclear Warheads, Ballistic Missiles

15 October 2009
GA/DIS/3392

First Committee Hears Introduction of Five Drafts, Detailed Accounts by Russian Federation, United States of Reductions in Nuclear Warheads, Ballistic Missiles

  • General Assembly
  • First Committee
15 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3392
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

First Committee

11th Meeting (PM)

First Committee Hears Introduction of Five Drafts, Detailed Accounts by Russian

Federation, United States of Reductions in Nuclear Warheads, Ballistic Missiles

Security Assurances for Non-Nuclear-Weapon States ‘Cost-Free’ for Nuclear

Powers, But They Have Refrained from Taking These Commitments, Committee Told

Concluding its thematic debate this afternoon on nuclear weapons, the Disarmament Committee heard the introduction of five related draft resolutions on a convention banning the use of nuclear weapons, reducing nuclear danger, measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, and on the follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Many speakers, from the Committee’s general debate onward, had commended the new United States Administration for its declarations of new commitments in the area of nuclear disarmament.  That delegation took the floor today and, in great detail, elaborated on those pledges, including for reductions, ongoing and planned, for its nuclear stockpiles.  By 2012 or sooner, the United States nuclear stockpile would be reduced by nearly one half from its 2001 level.  Those cuts would result in the smallest United States stockpile since 1950.

In just a sample of what he told the Committee today, he said that this year, the United States had met its Moscow Treaty (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty) reduction obligation and now had fewer than 2,200 operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads.  In the area of non-strategic or tactical nuclear weapons, the country, in consultation with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, had retired all United States nuclear artillery shells, nuclear warheads for short-range ballistic missiles and naval anti-submarine warfare weapons.  It had also retired more than 1,000 strategic ballistic missiles, 350 heavy bombers, and 28 ballistic missile submarines.  Four modern Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, carrying a total of 96 trident missiles had been removed from strategic service.

But noting that nations acquired nuclear weapons in order to promote what they saw as their national security, he said “if they are to give them up, they must be convinced that doing so would not harm their security and that of their friends and allies.  They must also have confidence in the strength and durability of the global non-proliferation system.”  While progress had been made on many fronts, it should be clear that the process leading towards the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons would require action to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and to address urgent non-proliferation challenges.

Similarly, the Russian Federation representative, whose statement followed that of the United States, said that progress towards the final goal of a gradual and stage-by-stage process of general and complete disarmament, or “global zero”, was possible only in an environment of strengthened strategic stability and strict compliance with the principle of equal security for all.  All nuclear-weapon States must continue their efforts in the area of nuclear disarmament, with respect to turning the Russia-United States dialogue into five-party negotiations, and those efforts should be joined by other States.

He also asserted that a situation where the nuclear-weapon States who were party to the NPT disarmed, while other States without relevant Treaty obligations maintained and built up their nuclear potentials was unimaginable.  Nuclear reductions could not be compensated by the building up of strategic offensive arms with conventional warheads.  Nuclear disarmament should also be accompanied by measures to ensure that the States did not have the so-called “upload nuclear potential”.  Nuclear warheads and their delivery means should be eliminated irreversibly, otherwise real nuclear disarmament was out of the question.  And unilateral steps to build up strategic anti-missile defence should be avoided, as should the weaponization of outer space.

Outlining some cuts in his country’s arsenal, the representative said that under the Soviet-American Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty), his country had totally destroyed 1,846 ballistic and land-based missiles of 500-kilometre to 5,500-kilometre range and their 825 launchers.  On the whole, more than 3,000 nuclear warhead vehicles with a total yield of more than 500,000 kilotons had been deactivated.  The Russian Federation had consistently called for making that Treaty global in nature.  His country had also completely removed its nuclear weapons from the territories of Eastern Europe and the republics of the former Soviet Union.

The Russian Federation had fully and before time completed its obligations under START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), he said.  Under that Treaty, it was to keep 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads, but the country had exceeded those obligations.  By 2009, Russia had eliminated more than 1,500 intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers, more than 3,000 intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, as well as dozens of ballistic missile nuclear subs and more than 50 heavy bombers.

“No State can attain its security through the insecurity of others,” Pakistan’s representative said.  South Asia provided a prime example of threats to regional and global peace and security, arising from regional disputes and power asymmetries pushing the region towards nuclearization.  Pakistan had been forced to respond to ensure its security in that environment based on minimum creditable nuclear deterrence, but it remained committed to pursuing stated proposals at ensuring regional stability and the resolution of outstanding disputes.

He said that, at the global level, recent disarmament commitments by the largest nuclear-weapon possessors were encouraging, but “the empty rhetoric of the past will no longer suffice”.  The major nuclear powers needed to demonstrate that their commitment to nuclear disarmament did not lag behind non-proliferation and arms control measures or the need to prevent new areas of an arms race, such as in outer space.  They also needed to address security concerns of non-nuclear-weapon States by giving assurances.  “The reality is that, despite the fact that such measures are cost-free for the nuclear-weapon States, they have so far refrained from undertaking any commitments in this regard.”

The world would not wait indefinitely for nuclear-weapon States to live up to their international obligations regarding their “unclear” weapons programmes, warned Iran’s representative.  The lack of implementation of the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament under article VI of the NPT was frustrating.  The limited bilateral and unilateral arms reductions in the past had not gone beyond mere decommissioning of nuclear weapons and putting them in store rooms.

Reductions in nuclear weapons, to be effective, must be irreversible, internationally verifiable and transparent.  As a result of blatant violations of legally binding commitments under Article VI of the NPT, the Treaty’s integrity had been endangered and the confidence of non-nuclear-weapon States in the Treaty’s credibility had been eroded.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that current efforts at nuclear disarmament were misdirected.  Today, the aim of the non-proliferation effort was to use it as a means to overthrow independent countries.  The clear example was the fabricating of information of existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to overthrow its Government by force.  The country with the largest nuclear arsenal in the world had been seeking to monopolize the possession of those weapons under the pretext of non-proliferation.  Today, the nuclear Powers were competing to strengthen their respective nuclear weapons through modernization.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, by possessing a nuclear deterrent, was now able to keep a nuclear balance in North-East Asia and deter a war on the Korean peninsula.  Its nuclear deterrence promoted the stability of the peninsula and further contributed to international peace and security, he said.

Additional statements in thematic debate on nuclear weapons were made by the representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Singapore, South Africa, Algeria, Slovenia, Iran, Philippines, Libya, Belarus and Austria.

Introducing draft resolutions were the representatives of India, Thailand, on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Iran.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 16 October, to begin its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic debate on nuclear weapons and the introduction and consideration of related draft resolutions.

Statements

ALI AHMED ALSHEHHI ( United Arab Emirates) said the existence of nuclear weapons created strategic tension and could lead to an arms race, thereby weakening international security.  He welcomed the resolution from the recent Security Council summit and hailed the progress made in that field.  The most important move was the reduction of nuclear weapons by the United States.  He hoped the results of all those efforts would encourage other States to put an end to the arms race and achieve the elimination of all nuclear weapons.  He called on all States to eliminate those weapons and to ban them.  He hoped the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) would advance the disarmament and non-proliferation goals.

He said there was a need to embrace multilateralism, to fully implement the NPT and for States to reduce existing arsenals.  He urged those countries that had not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to do so as soon as possible.  He supported the primary role played by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as the right of all countries to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  The United Arab Emirates had issued a law in relation to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which was supported by the international community under IAEA auspices.  Committed to transparency and to the protection of the environment, the programme was an ideal model for peaceful nuclear energy use.

GAROLD LARSON ( United States) said that, as noted by President Obama, the United States was pursuing a new agreement with Russia to substantially reduce its strategic warheads and launchers.  It was also seeking ratification of the CTBT and deeper cuts in its own arsenal.  It looked forward to the start of fissile material cut-off treaty negotiations in January and to an NPT Review Conference that strengthened the operation of that agreement.

He said that, as far as strategic weapons were concerned, the START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) reduced United States- and Russian-deployed strategic warheads from well over 10,000 to 6,000 each, by the end of 2001.  This year, the United States met its Moscow Treaty (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty) reduction obligation and now had fewer than 2,200 operationally-deployed strategic nuclear warheads.  In the area of non-strategic or tactical nuclear weapons, the country, in consultation with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, had retired all United States’ nuclear artillery shells, nuclear warheads for short-range ballistic missiles, and naval anti-submarine warfare weapons.  All of those weapons had been dismantled by 2003.  Those actions had reduced United States’ non-strategic weapons in NATO by nearly 90 per cent.

The United States had also retired more than 1,000 strategic ballistic missiles, 350 heavy bombers, and 28 ballistic missile submarines, he said.  Four modern Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, carrying a total of 96 trident missiles, had been removed from strategic service.  In 2004, in addition to the Moscow Treaty reductions in operationally-deployed strategic warheads, his country had decided to reduce the number of warheads in the overall United States’ nuclear stockpile, including both deployed and non-deployed warheads.  By 2012 or sooner, the United States’ nuclear stockpile would be reduced by nearly one half of its 2001 level and three quarters of its 1990 level, resulting in the smallest stockpile since 1950. 

He said his country had also stepped up the pace of warhead elimination.  It was already below the levels in its active stockpile that it had planned to reach in 2012 and it was retiring an additional 15 per cent of the stockpile below that planned level.  The United States was also making significant progress to eliminate fissile materials.  It had not enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons since 1964 and had not produced plutonium for nuclear weapons since 1988.  It had no plans to produce those materials for use in nuclear weapons in future.

Nations acquired nuclear weapons in order to promote what they saw as their national security, he said.  “If they are to give them up, they must be convinced that doing so would not harm their security and that of their friends and allies.  They must also have confidence in the strength and durability of the global non-proliferation system.”  While progress had been made on many fronts, it should be clear that the process leading towards the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons would require action to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and to address urgent non-proliferation challenges.  President Obama had laid out a comprehensive agenda for non-proliferation in Prague last April, calling for enhanced IAEA safeguards, cooperation to defeat proliferation networks, and improved security for vulnerable nuclear material.

The United States did not view progress in disarmament and non-proliferation as an either-or proposition, he said, adding that those elements were not in competition.  Rather, they should be treated as two sides of the same coin. If the non-proliferation system was weak, States having nuclear weapons would not move to eliminate their arsenals, nor would States not having nuclear weapons remain confident in the decision taken to forgo those weapons.  Of particular concern were the cases of Iran and North Korea.  Iran had an opportunity to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, and the United States hoped that the Government would seize it.  The United States also expected North Korea to live up to its commitment and abandon its nuclear programmes and return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards.  Resolving both of those challenges was a critical element of the push to realize a world without nuclear weapons.

VIKTOR VASILIEV ( Russian Federation) said that his country had been consistently fulfilling its obligations under article VI of the NPT in the area of nuclear disarmament.  The implementation of the Soviet-American Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) had allowed it to totally destroy 1,846 ballistic and land-based missiles of 500-kilometre to 5,500-kilometre range and their 825 launchers. On the whole, more than 3,000 nuclear warhead vehicles with a total yield of more than 500,000 kilotons had been deactivated.  Russia had consistently called for making that Treaty global in nature.

He said that his country had also completely removed its nuclear weapons from the territories of Eastern Europe and the republics of the former Soviet Union.  The Russian Federation had fully and before time completed its obligations under START.  Under that treaty, it was to keep 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads, but the country had exceeded those obligations.  By 2009, Russia had eliminated more than 1,500 intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers, more than 3,000 intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, as well as dozens of SSBNs (ballistic missile nuclear subs) and more than 50 heavy bombers.  Those facts clearly demonstrated that Russia was implementing its consistent policy towards nuclear disarmament.  Pursuant to its obligations under NPT’s article VI, it intended to continue to move forward towards further reductions of nuclear weapons.

Referring to the final goal of a gradual and stage-by-stage process of complete and general disarmament under effective international control, he said that “global zero” progress was possible only in a situation of strengthened strategic stability and strict compliance with the principle of equal security for all.  That meant that all States must implement a set of measures to ensure sustainable development of the disarmament process.  All nuclear-weapon States must continue their efforts in the area of nuclear disarmament, with respect to turning the Russia-United States dialogue into five-party negotiations, and those efforts should be joined by other States.

A situation where the nuclear-weapon States who were party to the NPT disarmed, while other States without relevant Treaty obligations maintained and built up their nuclear potentials was unimaginable.  Nuclear reductions could not be compensated by the building up of strategic offensive arms with conventional warheads.  Nuclear disarmament should also be accompanied by measures to ensure that the States did not have the so-called “upload nuclear potential”.  The nuclear warheads and their delivery means should be eliminated irreversibly, otherwise real nuclear disarmament was out of the question.  He added that unilateral steps to build up strategic anti-missile defence should be avoided, and it must be ensured that weapons were not placed in space.

In addition, he said, all States should endeavour to ensure a controlled limitation of conventional weapons, combined with parallel resolution of other international problems, including the settlement of regional conflicts.

He stressed the importance of not forgetting the close link between nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.  Russia called on States to promote measures to strengthen the NPT, increase the efficiency of IAEA verification activities, ensure the earliest entry into force of the CTBT, start the fissile material cut-off treaty negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament, resolve regional problems in the field of non-proliferation, and promote nuclear-weapon-free zones.  They should also promote measures to develop an effective international safety net to prevent nuclear weapons and nuclear materials from falling into the hands of non-State actors.

SIRIPORN CHAIMONGKOL ( Thailand) said that, although disarmament and non-proliferation goals had not yet been reached, States had shown determination towards that end.  The ongoing United States-Russian Federation negotiations aimed at reducing nuclear warheads would demonstrate a strong commitment from the two countries that possessed the most nuclear weapons.  The strong political will of the historic Security Council summit also boosted momentum.

She said that, with the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the world was at a critical junction, to move forward or stay where it was.  The Conference should also include discussions on confidence-building measures, negative security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament agreed at an earlier review.  The NPT was another key towards reaching the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  The next step would be a fissile material cut-off treaty, and she hoped the Conference on Disarmament would commence negotiations on that issue at its next session.

Thailand supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, which played an important role in disarmament and non-proliferation, and she welcomed the new zones in Africa and Central Asia.  Thailand also recognized the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  It was important to ensure that nuclear programmes were developed safely under IAEA auspices.  As nuclear terrorism was one of the most extreme threats to the international community, she hoped next year’s conference on nuclear security would address that issue.

HONG JE RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that nuclear disarmament was directly linked to the survival of humankind, even before it related to world peace and security.  Complete dismantlement of all nuclear weapons was the aspiration and demand of mankind; however, the current efforts at nuclear disarmament were misdirected.  Of all the weapons in the world, only nuclear weapons remained out of control, with no relevant instrument.  Those weapons were “increasingly exceptional”, although their very existence constituted a major source of nuclear proliferation, which there were continuous attempts to prioritize.  Today, the aim of the non-proliferation effort was clear ‑‑ it was used as a means to overthrow independent countries.

He said that the clear example had been the fabrication of information about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which had been used to overthrow its Government by force.  It was no longer a secret that the country with the largest nuclear arsenal in the world had been seeking to monopolize the possession of nuclear weapons under the pretext of non-proliferation.  That had been proved by the most recent instance in which the United States, in the document “Nuclear Posture Review”, advocated “extended deterrence” and committed itself to providing “a nuclear umbrella” to its allies.  The bilateral nuclear disarmament, which had been confined to only the two super-Powers during the cold war era, could no longer be a major mode of nuclear disarmament today.

At present, the nuclear Powers were competing to strengthen their respective nuclear weapons through modernization, he said.  Hence, the nuclear disarmament process should be of a multilateral nature and should be verifiable and irreversible.  Nuclear-weapon States should refrain from nuclear threats and should provide non-nuclear-weapon States with negative security assurances.

He rejected statements made by the representatives of Sweden, Australia, Turkey and others regarding the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, in which they had referred to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s satellite launch and second nuclear test as clear breaches of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1695 (2006) and 1718 (2006).  Describing those statements as serious provocations, he said that the satellite launch should not be controversial, as it fell within his country’s sovereignty and fully conformed to all necessary international law and procedures.  Exploration of outer space and its use for peaceful purposes was a legitimate right, equally entrusted to all countries; that should be deprived to none.

Regarding his country’s second nuclear test, he said that that had been a counter-measure necessitated by the Security Council’s action, which had made an issue of the country’s peaceful satellite launch under pressure from the United States.  Had the Council, from the very beginning, not made an issue of the country’s peaceful satellite launch in the same way that it kept silent over other satellite launches, the country would not have been compelled to take strong counter-action, such as its second nuclear test.

By possessing a nuclear deterrent, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was now able to keep a nuclear balance in North-East Asia and deter a war on the Korean peninsula.  Its nuclear deterrence promoted the stability of the peninsula and further contributed to international peace and security.

He said that his country rejected Security Council resolutions 1695 (2008), 1718 (2008) and 1874 (2009) and would not be bound by them.  Those resolutions reflected the unilateral demands of the United States, in contravention of the United Nations Charter and international law, which provided for the principle of sovereign equality and fairness in international relations.  They would, therefore, have no legal force whatsoever.  The rejection by many countries of resolution 1887 (2009) was also because it failed to reflect fully the aspirations and will of the international community.  It ignored the obligations of nuclear Powers for such a crucial issue as nuclear disarmament, while dealing only with the non-proliferation obligations of the non-nuclear-weapon States.

ROBBIE POOR ( Singapore) said, with increasingly fluid trade, there was a threat that nuclear technologies could fall into the hands of terrorists.  Singapore had taken part in multilateral efforts to address that threat and other disarmament and non-proliferation issues.  National efforts and cooperation between States were crucial to combating proliferation.  As a port country, Singapore was part of the global supply chain, and had put in place security procedures to enhance safety, which helped to prevent materials from falling into the wrong hands.

Singapore had established a strict goods control act and a provision on controls over technology transfers.  More than 90 countries had endorsed the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was a commitment to prevent the transport of weapons of mass destruction and related materials.  However, national implementation of measures in support of wider multilateral initiatives was vital.

LUVUYO NDIMENI ( South Africa) said that it was imperative that recent positive statements were translated into concrete actions, in order to restore confidence in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, including reductions in the number of nuclear weapons and a review of security doctrines.  Despite the Security Council’s summit, which contributed to a new more balanced approach, South Africa had consistently argued that any presumption of the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons would only lead to increased insecurity and perpetuate the arms race.  Continuous and irreversible progress in nuclear disarmament and other related nuclear arms control measures were fundamental to non-proliferation.

The NPT remained the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he said.  States parties to the Treaty should avoid the temptation to selectively apply its obligations and commitments.  He was concerned about the lack of progress following the undertaking agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament.

He supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, welcoming the treaties put in place in Africa and Central Asia.  He hoped that such a zone would be created in the Middle East.  States had the right to pursue peaceful nuclear programmes, and he strongly believed the IAEA should be provided with the necessary means to carry out its verification mandate and to enhance its technical cooperation activities and assistance.  The Agency remained the sole authority responsible for verifying and assuring compliance with safeguards.  Its authority should not be undermined.

HAMID ALI RAO ( India) said that his country had consistently maintained a principled position:  it attached the highest priority to the goal of nuclear disarmament, both as a national position and as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.  The only document on nuclear disarmament adopted by consensus by the international community had been the final document of the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.  Nuclear disarmament could be achieved through a step-by-step process.

He said that India’s position on the NPT was well known.  There was no question of India joining the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State.  Nuclear weapons were an integral part of India’s national security and “will remain so, pending non-discriminatory and global nuclear disarmament”.  As part of its credible minimum nuclear deterrent, India had espoused a “no first use” policy and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon States.  India was also committed to participating in the fissile material cut-off treaty negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament.

He then introduced three draft resolutions.  The first was a draft resolution on a convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, which reflected the belief that a multilateral, universal and legally binding instrument would contribute to the process of the delegitimization of nuclear weapons.  The operative part of the draft reiterated the call on the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations, leading to agreement, on such a convention.

He then introduced a draft resolution on reducing nuclear danger, which highlighted that the hair-trigger posture of nuclear forces carried an unacceptable risk of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons.  The draft called for a review of nuclear doctrines as an immediate step towards that goal, including through the de-alerting and detargeting of nuclear weapons.

On behalf of the co-sponsors, India also tabled a draft resolution on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, which called upon all Member States to take measures aimed at achieving that goal.  The draft also underlined that the international response to that threat should be at national, multilateral and global levels.

MOHAMMED BELAOURA ( Algeria) said that nuclear disarmament was of particular importance because of their increasing threat to his country and to the entire world.  Because of that, Algeria subscribed to all major treaties against them, including the NPT.  The only effective response to that danger was the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  In recent months, the world had heard positive statements and declarations at the highest levels for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Within that framework were the START negotiations and President Obama’s statement in Prague of his desire to free the world of nuclear weapons.

He said that Algeria believed that the multilateral framework was the only forum in which to deal with the nuclear-weapon challenge, and the international community should strengthen that framework.  The progress achieved at the Conference on Disarmament with the adoption of a programme of work represented an important change; it was a major achievement and a source of optimism.  The work programme had been adopted under Algeria’s presidency of the Conference.  His country restated its commitment to the work with the Conference and stressed its determination to undertake every possible effort towards ensuring the implementation of the work programme in 2010.  That would make it possible to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, among other topics agreed in the working groups.  The fissile material cut-off treaty was important because it was one of the 13 practical steps aimed at strengthening the NPT and would go far to halting production of nuclear weapons.

The high-level meeting held to promote the entry into force of the CTBT was very important, since that instrument had not entered into force so many years after its adoption, he said.  Although Algeria welcomed the United States’ announcement that it would move towards ratification, it stressed the need for all other States that had not yet ratified that instrument to do so immediately.

On the NPT Review Conference to be held in May 2010, he said that Algeria had great expectations because of the optimism arising from the positive statements and commitments that had been made by several States.  His country was committed to the NPT and was resolved to implement and promote its objectives.  The Review Conference was an important opportunity to work to guarantee the treaty’s universality.  Algeria could not effectively apply the treaty’s provisions on disarmament when other countries were not yet signatories, particularly Israel.

SANJA ŠTIGLIC( Slovenia), welcoming the renewed momentum in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation, said that the window of opportunity was here and now, and should not be missed.  The impetus provided primarily by the statements of United States President Barack Obama and others should advance the achievement of goals in that field.

She said that, to capitalize on that opportunity, concrete steps should be taken, including the further consolidation of the NPT and the entry into force of the CTBT, as quickly as possible.  “Early entry into force and full completion of its verification regime are now within reach”, she said.  “We should redouble our efforts to reach this goal and fully use this valuable instrument in order to achieve our common goal of a world free of tests of nuclear weapons.”  Another step forward should be the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, which should contain an effective verification mechanism, where the IAEA could play a vital role.

A “renaissance of nuclear energy” and the application of its technology to health, food production and other fields, offered a great hope for humanity, she said.  However, the irresponsible spread of nuclear technology was a great concern.  To meet the expectations of the great hope, it was vital to preserve and further strengthen the global non-proliferation architecture.  Commitments by all sides were needed to increase the responsible use of civil nuclear power and prevent the spread of sensitive technologies.

REZA NAJAFI ( Iran) said that lack of implementation of the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament under article VI of the NPT was frustrating.  Despite limited bilateral and unilateral arms reductions in the past, such efforts were far below the international expectations for real and effective steps and could never be a substitute for the obligations of nuclear-weapon States.  Those reductions had not gone beyond mere decommissioning of nuclear weapons and putting them in store rooms.  To be effective, reductions in nuclear weapons must be irreversible, internationally verifiable and transparent.  As a result of blatant violations of legally binding commitments under article VI, the integrity of the NPT had been endangered and the confidence of non-nuclear-weapon States in the Treaty’s credibility had been eroded.  The world would not wait indefinitely for nuclear-weapon States to live up to their international obligations regarding their “unclear” weapons programmes.

He stated that the yet to be changed United States “Nuclear Posture Review” and the so-called “UK Trident project”, which provided for the development of new types of nuclear weapons and modern delivery means, the possible use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States and the targeting of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT, were in contravention of the NPT and the assurances given by the nuclear-weapon States at the time of its indefinite extension.  More worrisome had been the announcement by France regarding the addition of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine, while keeping the 300 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.  Those weapons, which were considered by its possessor as minimum deterrence, could destroy at least 300 cities and kill 300 million people.  Iran considered the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use nuclear weapons.  It continued to believe in the need for negotiations on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, within a specified time limit, including a nuclear weapons convention.

For a long time, he said, some European Union members had been in non-compliance with their obligations undertaken under the NPT, which provided that non-nuclear-weapon States parties should not receive nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or have control over such weapons or explosive devices, directly or indirectly.  Those countries had violated the NPT by receiving hundreds of nuclear weapons from the United States, under the NATO umbrella.  Deploying hundreds of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear-weapon States and training the fighter-bomber pilots of the hosting-European Union countries to prepare for handling and delivering nuclear bombs against other States, contravened both the letter and spirit of the NPT.  The hosting States were in clear non-compliance with the NPT.

HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR. (Philippines), aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee against the use or threat of those weapons.  The international community, therefore, must act in concert with “all the political will it could muster”, to rid the world of nuclear weapons once and for all and “save this planet Earth and humanity”.  The present political climate presented countries with the best opportunity to make progress towards that goal.

He said that the elimination of nuclear weapons was not going to happen overnight, but the objective was within reach in the immediate future, given the political will of countries and a heightening sense of common destiny for all.  Countries should be aware that nuclear weapons did not “provide real security”, but rather, heightened fears and insecurity, and caused destruction, owing to miscalculations and accidents.  He supported the call for the irreversible and complete elimination of nuclear weapons, under international supervision, and said that his delegation was prepared to examine proposals for a phased process, leading to total nuclear disarmament.

He commended the Russian Federation and the United States for agreeing to a follow-on agreement to START, and looked forward to its conclusion.  He further called on all other possessors of nuclear arms to take urgent steps to reduce and eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenals.  Since there could “be no peace without trust”, the international community could only expect those with nuclear weapons to disarm if there was a climate of confidence and trust prevailing among them.  However, that climate required both a common understanding regarding the respective stockpiles of nuclear arsenals and delivery systems and the presence of reliable and accurate reporting to an accepted international entity of action on global nuclear disarmament.

While he welcomed the statements and pronouncements made on 24 September during the Security Council summit, he said his delegation would welcome even more concrete action and definitive plans on how to achieve global denuclearization.  He called for the holding of an international conference to identify ways and means to eliminate nuclear dangers, along with a legally binding instrument on security assurances.  Stressing the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones, he urged the nine “Annex 2” States to ratify the CTBT.

The NPT was the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime, and progress could only be achieved through the three pillars of nuclear disarmament; nuclear non-proliferation; and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he said.  Hopefully, the 2010 NPT Review Conference would be able to “right the NPT ship”, and chart a course to that desired destination of a world free of nuclear arms, and where nuclear energy was employed solely for peaceful uses.

SOAD SHILLI ( Libya) said that Security Council resolution 1887 (2009) had only considered the issue of non-proliferation, but that issue went hand in hand with disarmament.  She called on nuclear-weapon States to renew their commitments to meet that objective, as outlined in the NPT, including ensuring the considerable reduction of nuclear arsenals.

She said that the United States and the Russian Federation negotiations to limit strategic weapons, as well as progress to ratify the Test-Ban Treaty and the pending negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty were good signs, and she hoped those steps would be accompanied by concrete action, so the world could be assured that nuclear weapons would not be used.  Non-proliferation should include horizontal and vertical elements, keeping in mind that the biggest threat was the non-observance of the NPT.  That was evident in the Middle East situation.  Israel’s refusal to comply with resolutions countered progress and was a serious drawback to peace.  The Security Council was not fulfilling its mission.

Highlighting the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, she said that the IAEA was the centre of technical cooperation and the only authority in the area of verification.  However, the NPT’s universality was endangered when objectives and principles were flouted.  Cooperation between States was imperative.  For its part, Libya had cancelled all programmes that could have led to the production of prohibited weapons.

ZAMIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said that general and complete nuclear disarmament would first require establishing an environment conducive to peace and security by resolving the underlying causes of the nuclear and conventional arms race at regional and global levels.  “No State can attain its security through the insecurity of others,” he said.  South Asia provided a prime example of threats to regional and global peace and security, arising from regional disputes and power asymmetries pushing the region towards nuclearization.  Pakistan had been forced to respond to ensure its security in this environment based on minimum creditable nuclear deterrence, but it remained committed to pursuing stated proposals at ensuring regional stability and the resolution of outstanding disputes.

He said that, at the global level, recent disarmament commitments by the largest nuclear-weapons possessors were encouraging; however, the realization of the disarmament goal required concrete actions.  “The empty rhetoric of the past will no longer suffice,” he said.  “We hope that at long last, the renewed emphasis on nuclear disarmament reflects a genuine desire of the major Powers to work towards this objective and their conviction that the time is ripe for meaningful action.”

Major nuclear Powers should demonstrate that their commitment to nuclear disarmament did not lag behind non-proliferation and arms control measures or the need to prevent new areas of an arms race, such as in outer space, he said.  They should also address the security concerns of non-nuclear-weapon States by giving assurances.  “The reality is that, despite the fact that such measures are cost-free for the nuclear-weapon States, they have so far refrained from undertaking any commitments in this regard.”

He said that Member States should demonstrate political will, commitment and sincerity to initiate negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament.  General and complete disarmament should be the central theme of the Conference.  To make the proposed fissile material cut-off treaty a real disarmament measure, it should address past, present and future production at regional and global levels.  Simply cutting off production would freeze and formalize existing asymmetries in stockpiles, which neither furthered the cause of disarmament nor the objective of international and regional stability.

The current positive climate should not mask unfortunate realities, including that the gravest threats to the non-proliferation regime were double standards and discriminatory approaches followed by States that promoted the NPT, he warned.  That double standard had been compounded further by the recent actions of those States, in a complete reversal of their own so-called non-proliferation norms.  That had undermined the non-proliferation regime and turned the NPT into a farce, and had created a dangerous environment by undermining strategic stability in South Asia.

“It is indeed ironic that in such a discriminatory and dangerous environment, Pakistan is being advised to join the NPT and eschew its nuclear deterrent capability, as has been proposed by some delegations in this Committee,” he said.  “These ideologues of non-proliferation seldom raise their voices against the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert possessed by their allies.”  Moreover, while offering prescriptions for other States, those “priests of proliferation” were neither themselves prepared to give up their nuclear security umbrellas nor to prohibit the stationing of nuclear weapons on their territories, he said.  States with a history of wilful complicity in nuclear test explosions seemed hardly qualified to pontificate on non-proliferation.

He said that treaties banning certain types of weapons, test bans and moratorium on fissile material production had only been negotiated and agreed by certain States once those weapon systems had lost their relevance or when their national reviews led to certainty of the reliability and sufficiency of existing arsenals for future defence needs.

The restricted nature of certain export control arrangements was an impediment to the global implementation of non-proliferation standards, he said.  The objective of non-proliferation would be better served by the adoption of multilaterally negotiated export control standards and a cooperative approach, based on non-discriminatory and inclusive partnerships.

ALEXANDER PONOMAREV ( Belarus) said that his country had been among the first to renounce the right to possess nuclear weapons.  Those issues were now in the forefront, with recent accelerated efforts, including the Security Council summit and the adoption of resolution 1887 (2009).  Yet another opportunity to advance further along on the road of progress would be a successful conclusion to the 2010 NPT Review Conference, where an atmosphere of trust should be fostered.  Effective steps by a number of States on the speedy entry into force of the CTBT were another positive development, and he called on States that had yet to sign the treaty to do so.

He said that the most important confidence-building measure, however, was binding security assurances.  The United States and the Russian Federation negotiations was another gain, as was Conference on Disarmament’s progress.  The coming negotiations to ban fissile material for weapons provided an opportunity for the logical next step to enhancing transparency and to reaching the goal of reducing the nuclear-weapon threats.

NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), introduced a draft resolution on the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok), which would contribute to the promotion of regional and international peace and security and further reinforce regional community security.  The draft included cooperation with other such zones.

He said that the draft resolution had been submitted within the global context of renewed, but cautious, optimism.  The draft would achieve the objectives of the treaty, and its adoption would contribute to global disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

ALEXANDER MARSCHIK ( Austria) said the new momentum over the past months had put disarmament and non-proliferation back in the spotlight.  The international community and civil society must ensure that the recent messages were not forgotten.  The NPT was at the core of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  Austria supported the idea of a global nuclear weapons convention to ensure cuts in arsenals, but until such a treaty entered into force, the NPT remained the cornerstone.  He called for the early entry into force of the CTBT, and encouraged all States who had not done so to sign and ratify the Treaty.

He said that what was needed was a strong reliable disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The tests in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the current issues with Iran’s nuclear programme were challenges.  He applauded the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa, saying that such a zone would be helpful in the Middle East.  He also hoped implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) should be strengthened.  The total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee for non-use and the only solution.

Mr. NAJAFI (Iran) took the floor again to introduce a draft resolution on the follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/64/L.6).  He said that 14 years after the NPT’s extension, the nuclear disarmament obligations had yet to be accomplishment and serious concerns had been expressed over the development of new types of nuclear weapons.  This draft urged States parties to follow-up on their obligations and commitments agreed at the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences.

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