Nuclear Disarmament Tops Agenda in Disarmament Commission, But Speakers Call for Halt to Illicit Arms Trade, Creation of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Middle East

30 March 2010
DC/3216

Nuclear Disarmament Tops Agenda in Disarmament Commission, But Speakers Call for Halt to Illicit Arms Trade, Creation of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Middle East

30 March 2010
General Assembly
DC/3216
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Disarmament Commission

2010 Substantive Session

305th & 306th Meetings (AM & PM)

Nuclear Disarmament Tops Agenda in Disarmament Commission, But Speakers Call

for Halt to Illicit Arms Trade, Creation of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Middle East

Views Exchanged on Denuclearization of Korean Peninsula; Iran Expresses

Determination to Pursue Legal Aspects of Nuclear Technology for Peaceful Purposes

Although speakers in the Disarmament Commission continued to stress the urgent need for nuclear disarmament, some speakers during today’s debate, which concluded the formal exchange of views for the session, drew attention to the scourge of small arms and light weapons ‑‑ the equivalent of “weapons of mass destruction” in Africa ‑‑ while others emphasized the need to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

The representative of the Sudan said that, although African countries were strengthening border controls to limit the illicit cross-border transfer of small arms and light weapons, States where those arms were manufactured also had the responsibility to prevent sales to non-State actors.  Local groups often used those weapons in their competition for resources, such as water and grazing lands.  Those arms were also used in transnational-border organized crime and terrorism.

Among those from the Middle East region today lamenting the lack of progress in establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone there, Qatar’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, expressed concern over the silence towards Israel’s nuclear system, which led to loss of faith in the concept of nuclear non-proliferation.  He noted further that all States in the Middle East had acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) except Israel.

Libya’s representative added that the Middle East remained the only region that had not seen any real international efforts to rid it of nuclear weapons, which encouraged the Israeli entity to have military nuclear capabilities without any oversight.  The international community should exercise the necessary pressure on Israel to join the NPT and subject its facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguard system.

Iran’s representative stressed the right of all NPT States parties to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, without discrimination.  Non-proliferation or steps to strengthen safeguards must not prejudice national development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  “ Iran is determined to pursue all legal aspects of nuclear technology, including the fuel cycle, exclusively for peaceful purposes.  No one should cherish the illusion that any proposals or measures, which amount to cessation or even suspension of a lawful activity under the IAEA supervision, will be accepted,” he said.

The situation on the Korean peninsula was addressed by the delegations of both countries there.  Urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return promptly to the six-party talks, the Republic of Korea’s representative said his country had proposed a “grand bargain” initiative, aimed at a comprehensive agreement related to North Korea’s irreversible denuclearization.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, on the other hand, said that his country’s possession of nuclear weapons was an “inevitable outcome” of the half-century-long hostile policy of the United States, which had introduced nuclear weapons in South Korea, seriously endangering the sovereignty and right to existence of his country.  “The United States is leaving no means untried to bring down the DPRK including military threat, economic sanctions and ideological and cultural poisoning,” he said.

Emphasizing that denuclearizing the Korean peninsula was his Government’s goal, he said that replacing the armistice agreement by a peace treaty in 2010 was the only realistic way to achieve that goal.  If the United States pursued dialogue in parallel with sanctions, however, his country would counter with dialogue and the strengthening of its deterrent.

Statements were also made by representatives of Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Viet Nam, Nepal, India, El Salvador, Morocco, Venezuela, South Africa and Bangladesh.

The representatives of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea exercised their right of reply.

Concluding comments were made by the Commission’s Chair, Jean-Francis Régis Zinsou (Benin).

Background

The 2010 substantive session of the Disarmament Commission met today to continue its general exchange of views, which started yesterday.  (For details, see Press Release DC/3215.)

Statements

KIM BONGHYUN (Republic of Korea) said that, as the Commission had reached the middle of its three-year cycle, shortly before the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., and the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), he hoped deliberations would be able to facilitate global efforts on disarmament and non-proliferation.  Securing balance among the agenda items might help restore the relevance of the Commission, which had been unable to produce any recommendations since 1999.  Since 2009, the international community had witnessed positive developments in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation on a new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), as well as the five-point proposal by the Secretary-General and the comprehensive report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

He said that further progress in nuclear disarmament was required for the sake of the integrity, confidence and legitimacy of the NPT regime, for which the outcome of the Review Conference would be crucial.  In that regard, he also underlined the importance of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the early commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Welcoming Security Council resolution 1887 (2009), he expressed strong support for the universalization of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol as the best means to reinforce the Agency’s monitoring and verification mechanisms.

Highlighting the importance of an early resolution to the nuclear issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ‑‑ vital for lasting peace on the Korean peninsula ‑‑ he urged that country to return promptly to the six-party talks.  His President had proposed a “grand bargain” initiative, aimed at a comprehensive agreement related to North Korea’s irreversible denuclearization and corresponding measures by the five countries participating in the talks.

BUKUN-OLU ONEMOLA (Nigeria) said it was regrettable that the Commission had not reached consensus so far on the main substantive issues before it during the current cycle.  As nuclear disarmament should remain Member States’ highest priority, he called on both nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States to redouble their efforts in achieving the objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation in all its their aspects.  He was equally concerned at the growing expenditure of military hardware, which had contributed immensely to tarnishing the global security landscape.  Moreover, negative security assurances made by nuclear-weapon States to non-nuclear-weapon States should be unconditional, legally binding and unequivocal.  The current voting patterns, however, did not reflect such a trend, but had been marked by a high level of abstentions on the part of the nuclear-weapon States and their allies.

He said that pending the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world, he supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and urged Member States in existing zones to encourage other regions to do so.  Welcoming the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty) in July 2009, he called on African States and the two nuclear-weapon States that had not yet signed or ratified the Treaty to do so without delay.  He also remained concerned at the proliferation and illicit manufacture and transfer of conventional weapons and hoped that negotiations on an arms trade treaty in July would lead to adoption of a legally binding instrument that would eliminate the destabilizing effects of the illicit trade, circulation and transfer of those arms, now referred to by developing countries as “weapons of mass destruction”.  He supported the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its Aspects.

Elements of a draft declaration on the fourth Disarmament Decade, should emphasize, among other things:  the need to strengthen efforts to advance the goal of general and complete disarmament based on principles of verifiability, transparency and irreversibility; the importance of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions; expeditious entry into force of the CTBT; commencing negotiation on a non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable treaty banning production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices; and the significant roles played by civil society, the academic community and non-governmental organizations in raising awareness of and providing impetus for progress in the fields of disarmament and non-proliferation.

FEDERICO CUELLO CAMILO (Dominican Republic) said the Commission was starting its work in a different climate and a more positive spirit than in the past.  The Dominican Republic was a peaceful country.  It had never invaded another country nor did it produce or export arms.  It unequivocally supported disarmament.  He supported efforts by the United States and the Russian Federation to conclude a post-START agreement.  The multilateral disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime required preservation, improvement and comprehensive implementation of the NPT.  That Treaty was the linchpin and keystone to disarmament and non-proliferation, and it was an irreplaceable and unique framework.  It was essential to create the necessary political will and impetus to ensure that the upcoming NPT Review Conference strengthened related mechanisms.

He also supported the upcoming United States-sponsored summit on terrorism and nuclear security.  It was urgent to ensure that terrorists did not acquire nuclear weapons.  Transport of radioactive waste through the Caribbean Sea must respect the sovereignty of nations of the Caribbean Basin.  There was a need to minimize the risk of terrorist attacks, while also complying with international law.  In case of an accident, Caribbean nations we must be duly and adequately compensated.  The illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons exacerbated the fragility of the Dominican border with Haiti.  The ease with which criminal groups and looters had access to those weapons threatened peace, stability and security and impeded development.  The Dominican Republic had implemented a disarmament programme, which had considerably helped to reduce the number of victims.  But such efforts must be supported by the international community.  Any step to control the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons would enhance global peace and security, as well as increase the ability of developing countries to prevent conflicts.

HEIDI GRAU (Switzerland) said that, to raise credibility it would be useful for the Commission to review its working methods and open up to outside ideas.  The Commission’s difficulties in reaching consensus dated back considerably and called into question its usefulness and capacity to contribute to disarmament.  Since 1999, it had been unable to fulfil its mandate, but before that, it had been able to do so and had adopted consensus texts comprising principles, guidelines or recommendations.  That showed that the Commission was capable of helping to achieve progress on disarmament.  The Commission could add real value to the United Nations disarmament machinery, but to ensure that, a review of its working methods was needed.

She said that, following the difficulties in adopting the 2009 agenda, it was essential to advance the Commission’s work, leading to recommendations for achieving progress on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.   The same was true of the fourth disarmament decade.  Conditions were favourable for building momentum, owing to the solid work done by the chairs of the working groups.  Progress at the current session would ensure the credibility that the Commission needed.  However the upcoming NPT Review Conference affected the Commission’s climate, nothing should deter delegations from the shared objective of achieving disarmament to strengthen world peace and security.

NORIHIRO OKUDA (Japan) said that, while recent efforts around the world concerning nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation certainly advanced those objectives, ongoing nuclear issues, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear programme and the threat of nuclear terrorism, remained.  The first step to eliminating those threats was for the entire globe to embrace the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.  Substantial progress, therefore, in the implementation of the NPT’s article VI was necessary, as well as achievement of a meaningful agreement on all three pillars of the Treaty.  Commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons was also crucial.  Enhancing the effectiveness of security assurances not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States and relinquishing those weapons ‑‑ retained on the pretext that they deterred others from using them ‑‑ would be a first practical step towards a world without them.

He said that Japan had submitted annually to the General Assembly a draft resolution entitled “Renewed Determination towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons”.  In the context of the current Commission session’s discussion of a draft declaration for a fourth Disarmament Decade, he said the declaration should outline the most important principles of disarmament and non-proliferation within the broad areas of disarmament in a concise and well-balanced manner.

Japan also placed great importance on the issue of conventional weapons and welcomed discussions during the current cycle under the item “Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons”, he said.  It might be preferable in that regard to submit written comments concerning the outcome document during the intersessional period.  Also important was confidence-building through such measures as the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the instrument for reporting military expenditures.  The Commission, which in recent years had not had substantive outcomes, should draft recommendations from a perspective of seeking to recover its former important role, he said.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said the most effective way to remove the nuclear threat was the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Forty years since the NPT’s entry into force, the nuclear threat persisted and real progress towards nuclear disarmament had yet to occur.  More than 25,000 nuclear weapons existed.  Global public opinion was extremely weary of that and it rightly expected nuclear-weapon States to take swift, concrete action to fulfil their contractual obligations on nuclear disarmament.  Eradication of nuclear weapons must be the international community’s highest priority.  In the past decade, certain developments had given rise to the pervasive concern that some nuclear-weapon States had no genuine intention of complying with their NPT obligations.  If the NPT was to endure, such States must prove they were serious about their commitments.

He said that limited bilateral and unilateral arms reductions were far below international expectations for full eradication of nuclear weapons, and they could never be a substitute for it.  Such reduction should go beyond the decommissioning of nuclear weapons.  To be effective, reductions in nuclear weapons must be irreversible, internationally verifiable and transparent.  Full, universal and non-selective implementation of the NPT was the best guarantee for non-proliferation.  Some nuclear-weapon States were transferring weapons technology and materials to non-NPT parties, developing new types of weapons, and continuing weapon-sharing arrangements with non-nuclear-weapon States, particularly in European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  The Commission must study those challenges and recommend ways to address them.

“Nuclear-weapon States are sending conflicting signals on non-proliferation,” he said.  On the one hand, they said they wanted to prevent proliferation, but, on the other hand, they were spending billions of dollars to improve their arsenals.  “If further proliferation is to be prevented, the nuclear-weapon States have to take serious and systematic steps in de-emphasizing the role and importance of nuclear weapons,” he said.  Implementation of the 1995 resolution to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone was essential.  Israel was the only non-party to the NPT in the region.  Its unlawful nuclear weapons programme, assisted by France, seriously threatened regional and global peace and security and it blocked universal non-proliferation in the region.

He stressed the right of all NPT States parties to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, without discrimination.  Non-proliferation or steps to strengthen safeguards must not prejudice national development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  “ Iran is determined to pursue all legal aspects of nuclear technology, including the fuel cycle, exclusively for peaceful purposes.  No one should cherish the illusion that any proposals or measures, which amount to cessation or even suspension of a lawful activity under the IAEA supervision, will be accepted,” he said.  Responding to yesterday’s statement by Spain’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, he said Iran’s commitment to the NPT was steadfast.  He rejected the other comments by the Spanish representative.  He urged European Union members to abandon their false assumptions and rhetoric about Iran’s nuclear programme and respect Iran’s rights to nuclear technology, under the NPT.

KHALID AL-NAFISEE (Saudi Arabia) said that the only solution to achieve a secured life for future generations was to strengthen international peace and security, and reduce the nuclear threat, through treaties and conventions on disarmament and non-proliferation.  The most effective solution would be to declare the Middle East a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, without any exceptions.  All parties must commit themselves to a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.  He stressed the importance of cooperation with the IAEA in that regard, and especially that Iran always declare the peaceful purposes of its nuclear programme.

He said that risks experienced in the Middle East from the dangers of weapons of mass destruction were fundamentally caused by the deviation from the principles of international legitimacy, the provisions of international law and the requirements of international justice.  Despite efforts in the field of disarmament, there were shortcomings in implementation and enforcement in those States not willing to dispose of their weapons or to be subjected to monitoring by the IAEA.  Ignoring the Israeli nuclear programme did not invoke the production of electricity, but produced weapons of mass destruction.  It constituted an “original sin” that stimulated some countries to “move forward in the development of their nuclear capabilities”.  That double standard was used to justify non-compliance with resolutions of international legitimacy in this regard.

PHAM VINH QUANG (Viet Nam) said in order to overcome the stalemate caused by the inability to reach consensus on the core issues of the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, Viet Nam was of the view that multilateralism, with the United Nations central role, remained essential to any efforts to find sustainable solutions to the challenges to peace and security.  Accordingly, he reaffirmed support for the role of the Disarmament Commission as the sole specialized, deliberative body within the Organization’s multilateral disarmament machinery.

He reiterated Viet Nam’s longstanding position to fully support general and complete disarmament, with nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation awarded top priority.  With the special importance the country attached to the upcoming 2010 NPT Review Conference, he was of the view that the best way to advance the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation agenda was to enhance the effectiveness of the NPT itself, as the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Expressing deep concerns over the continued existence of nuclear weapons, which posed a destructive threat to mankind, he stated that the only absolute guarantee against nuclear catastrophe was the complete elimination of those weapons.  He reaffirmed the need for nuclear-weapon States to fully comply with all their obligations and commitments under the relevant treaties and resolutions, including those agreed at past NPT reviews.  Viet Nam believed the 2010 NPT Review Conference was an opportunity for Member States to review progress in implementation and renew their commitments to the NPT, as well as to find practical measures to strengthen the Treaty’s three pillars.

Viet Nam this year called on the Conference on Disarmament to swiftly agree on a balanced and comprehensive programme of work, stressing the importance of starting negotiations on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, within a specialized time frame and, in the meantime, to prohibit their development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and to provide for their destruction.  Also crucial was the immediate start and early conclusion of talks on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  His country fully supported the declaration for a fourth Disarmament Decade in that it would once again return to issues of disarmament the high priority they deserved.

ABDALMAHMOOD ABDALHALEEM MOHAMAD (Sudan) said the only way to consolidate and to contribute to international peace and security was to revitalize efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  It was, therefore, regrettable that several big Powers had developed biological and chemical weapons under the pretext of national security and deterrence.  International instruments could not be effective unless they were applied without double standards.  He welcomed the adoption by the IAEA of a resolution on Israel’s nuclear capability.  He hoped that issues of disarmament would be dealt with in a new perspective, taking into account the impact of the financial crisis necessitating budgets for arms to be used in favour of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.  Climate change tended to create tensions in some regions, which could lead to conflicts and the illicit spread of small arms and light weapons.

He said that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones was widely seen as one way of consolidating international peace and security.  Although such zones now covered 50 per cent of the globe, the Middle East region was not covered because of Israel’s refusal to subject itself to the IAEA regime.  He appealed to Member States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify as soon as possible the Pelindaba Treaty, which established such a zone in Africa.

In addition to the priority of nuclear disarmament, attention should also be paid to the issue of small arms and light weapons, which had affected many African countries including his own, he said.  Local groups often used those weapons in their competition for such resources as water and grazing lands.  Small arms and light weapons were also used in transnational-border organized crime and terrorism.  Although many countries in Africa, including the Sudan, were taking border-control measures to prevent the illicit spread of those weapons, manufacturing States also had a responsibility and should prevent their spread to non-State actors.  In conclusion, he emphasized the right of all countries to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, without any restrictions.

GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal) said, despite continued commitment to disarmament, the stocks of conventional and non-conventional weapons had not shrunk substantially and military expenditures continued to increase.  That paradoxical state of affairs challenged the international community’s moral standing and contributed to the arms race and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  “Disarmament is not a choice; it is a compelling security imperative,” he said.  “Global peace and security lies in collective prosperity, not in armaments.”  A peaceful, stable world would materialize in the midst of grinding poverty and hunger, disease and disparity.  It was necessary to redouble efforts to use the Commission as a platform for disarmament, and to strengthen the NPT regime and steadily move forward to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide.

In that context, he commended the Security Council Nuclear Summit in September 2009 and the recent efforts by the United States and the Russian Federation to conclude a post-START agreement.  It was befitting that nuclear-weapon-States lead on disarmament.  He supported the Secretary-General’s five-point proposal for nuclear disarmament.  The forthcoming NPT review must provide a concrete plan of action to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Nepal was firmly committed to that goal.  Creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone helped non-proliferation in the region.  He welcomed the entry into force of such treaties in Central Asia and Africa in 2009.  He called for the elimination of chemical, biological and bacteriological weapons in order to achieve full disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction.  The scourge of small arms and light weapons had devastating effects on many developed countries and it required urgent action, notably implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action.  The Conference on Disarmament should revive its role as a global negotiation forum and earnestly begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

HAMID ALI RAO (India) said that, pending global and non-discriminatory elimination of nuclear weapons, it was important to reduce nuclear dangers.  Efforts for expansion of nuclear energy and reduction of proliferation risks must go hand in hand.  The possibility of terrorist and extremists groups gaining access to nuclear materials was real.  A General Assembly resolution in that regard had stressed the need for national and international cooperative measures to prevent terrorists from gaining access to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  His country was committed to a voluntary and unilateral moratorium on nuclear explosive testing, he said, reaffirming his country’s policy of no first-use and non-use of those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.

He said that India, as a nuclear-weapon State, was prepared to negotiate, within the Conference on Disarmament, a multilateral and internationally verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty.  The obstacles to launching those talks were a cause for disappointment.  Meanwhile, the Commission must address the priority task of nuclear disarmament, and India had proposed several measures in that regard.  Those included:  reduction of the salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines; negotiation of a global agreement among nuclear-weapon States on “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons; negotiation of a convention on the complete prohibition on the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; and negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and on their destruction.

He said that the deliberations of working group II on elements for a fourth Disarmament Decade declaration should aim for consensus on elements that upheld the priority for nuclear disarmament and complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction; addressed other dimensions of global security such as space security; and strengthened the international framework for addressing conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons, and prevented their use by terrorists.  A new idiom for conducting the international discourse was also needed, which was now no longer confined to States.  It must take into account the voices of non-governmental organizations, peace activists and academicians.

CARMEN MARÍA GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ (El Salvador) noted encouraging signs towards concrete steps to strengthen the disarmament and non-proliferation regime and to build confidence in terms of conventional weapons.  Last September’s summit on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament breathed new life into the arms reduction process, as well as the Commission’s agenda.  The verbal commitments of the main nuclear Powers to reduce the risk or threat of use of nuclear weapons were received very enthusiastically by the international community.  It was time to open a new stage in deliberations that would make it possible to work towards fulfilling those commitments.  El Salvador was firmly committed to eradicating the threat of nuclear weapons due to political and moral principles, as well as the imminent threat that the use of those weapons posed.  In that context, she stressed the importance of multilateralism in promoting nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

She lauded the recent decision by the United States and the Russian Federation to formulate a post-START treaty.  Its ratification would be a major step towards encouraging other countries to conduct similar negotiations.  She was confident that the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington would mark substantive progress and new commitments in disarmament and non-proliferation.  The May NPT Review Conference was essential to consolidate that Treaty.  She called on the nuclear-weapon States that were not part of or had revoked their participation in the NPT to adhere to it as a matter of good faith.  As for the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, most Member States had signed and ratified it, but nine Annex II countries had yet to ratify it.  Meantime, States must commit to a moratorium on nuclear tests.  She was awaiting the United States Government’s commitment to ratify the CTBT.  Small arms and light weapons were an issue of high priority because of their impact on citizen safety.  Their illicit trafficking and use for organized crime and gangs also severely affected socio-economic development.  Strong efforts were needed to eliminate that illicit trade.

HONG JE RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the highest priority in the field of disarmament was nuclear disarmament.  The first nuclear weapons had been developed by the United States, which had used them in warfare without hesitation.  The number of nuclear-weapon States had now grown to nine, with the United States the ringleader of nuclear proliferation.  Although that country was advocating for a nuclear-weapon-free world, its ambition to monopolize nuclear weapons was manifested by its policy of “extended deterrence”.  The NPT had played no role in nuclear disarmament and elimination of nuclear threats, but instead had justified the current exclusive status of nuclear Powers.  The Treaty was extremely discriminatory, unfair and deceptive.  The nuclear Powers, including the United States, should not seek a monopoly of nuclear weapons, but embark on dismantling them without further delay and should at least provide negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.

He said that his country’s possession of nuclear weapons was an “inevitable outcome” of the half-century-long hostile policy of the United States, which had introduced nuclear weapons in South Korea, seriously endangering the sovereignty and right to existence of his country.  In 2000, the United States had designated his country as part of “an axis of evil” and “a target of pre-emptive nuclear strikes”.  “The United States is leaving no means untried to bring down the DPRK including military threat, economic sanctions and ideological and cultural poisoning,” he said.

The goal of his Government’s policy was to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, he said.  It had proposed to the parties concerned to start talks for replacing the armistice agreement by a peace treaty in 2010, 60 years since the outbreak of the Korean War.  The six-party talks for denuclearizing the peninsula had witnessed repeated frustration and failures because of a lack of confidence.  No issue could ever be settled without confidence.  “Then, how much more should we say about the DPRK-US relations now in state of war where they level guns at each other for more than 60 years?” he asked.  The conclusion of a peace treaty was the only realistic way for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.  If a peace treaty was concluded, nuclear and war threats eliminated and a vision of the United States President for a nuclear-weapon-free world realized, his country would not need even a single nuclear weapon.  If the United States pursued dialogue in parallel with sanctions, his country would counter with dialogue and the strengthening of its deterrent.

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said there was mounting international concern over the growth in nuclear weapons in the past decade.  Despite the NPT, there had been development of lethal weapons in more than one country.  There were double standards in the area of nuclear non-proliferation and the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes and scientific advances.  He expressed concern over the lack of implementation by Israel and other Member States of the NPT-generated resolution on the Middle East.  He supported recent statements by several nuclear-weapon States to revitalize international efforts to move from nuclear non-proliferation to nuclear disarmament.  He hoped that such statements would be translated into action.

He said that the recently announced agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation to reduce their nuclear arsenal was a step forward towards earnest comprehensive international nuclear disarmament.  Despite that and other positive developments, some nuclear disarmament commitments were not taken seriously.  The most glaring evidence of that was the continued cooperation of some countries with Israel in the nuclear field.  Some NPT members gave exemptions to non-NPT members.  The failure by some international parties to implement the outcomes of the NPT Review Conferences jeopardized the NPT’s credibility.  The indefinite extension of the NPT would not have been achieved without consensus on setting a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

He expressed concern over the silence towards Israel’s nuclear system, saying it made people lose faith in the concept of nuclear non-proliferation.  He supported moves to reduce nuclear weapons in a verifiable and irreversible manner, while emphasizing the need for a legally binding formula to ensure the safety of non-nuclear-weapon States.  He stressed the right of States to acquire nuclear technology as inalienable under the NPT’s article IV.  The only way to achieve universality of the NPT was for all Member States to accede to it and implement article III, which called on them to develop comprehensive safeguard systems in accordance with the IAEA.  All States in the region had acceded to the NPT except Israel.  The international community must recognize the anxiety of the Middle East region over Israel’s nuclear capabilities.

As the international community prepared to declare 2010 the start of the fourth Disarmament Decade, the initiatives and elements agreed upon must reflect the permanent priority of nuclear disarmament, reducing arms and non-proliferation in a universal, balanced and non-discriminatory manner, he said.  The treaties creating nuclear-weapon-free zones in Central Asia and Africa were positive, important steps to bolster nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  He reminded delegations that the Middle East resolution was part of the package agreed at the NPT Review and Extension Conference in 1995.  Israel’s occupation of Arab territories was supported by major arms exporters.  Some were helping Israel to develop weapons used in those territories.  That discouraged Israel from accepting the hand of peace extended by the Arab Group.  He called for full compliance with the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.

SIHAM MOURABIT (Morocco) said the Commission was meeting with a feeling of uncertainty, despite a glimmer of hope stemming from recent statements by some nuclear-weapon States.  There was a need to overcome the negative legacy of the United Nations disarmament machinery.  Welcoming the decision of the United States and the Russian Federation to sign a new START agreement, she said the accord was a historic step towards achieving complete nuclear disarmament.  With today’s growing threats of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear terrorism, the entry into force of the CTBT, a fundamental instrument in the international architecture for nuclear disarmament, was a priority.  She appealed to all countries that had not yet done so to accede to that Treaty.

Calling for respect for article VI of the NPT, she urged States to conclude an international convention for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and to create a subsidiary body on nuclear disarmament.  Regarding the draft declaration for the 2010 Fourth Disarmament Decade, she said her country would welcome the inclusion in it of recommendations for both nuclear disarmament and conventional weapons disarmament, particularly of small arms and light weapons, as those were a threat to development efforts in Africa.  The lack of regulations regarding those weapons contributed to their proliferation.

DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa) supported the NPT as the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime.  He stressed the importance of the upcoming NPT Review Conference and a forward-looking outcome that advanced all three pillars of the Treaty in a balanced manner without losing past gains.  It was important to leave the next Review Conference with a common agreement on advancing full elimination of nuclear weapons.  Established instruments in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament could effectively address the weapons of mass destruction threat.  Universal adherence to, full implementation of, and compliance with, those international agreements, as well as complete, early elimination of those weapons, would guarantee they would never be used.

He said that the entry into force of the CTBT was a pressing goal and a non-negotiable commitment.  South Africa would work with all concerned to achieve its earliest entry into force.  He lauded positive developments in the Conference on Disarmament that had led to the consensus adoption of a programme of work, but expressed disappointment that the Conference could not have agreed on methods to implement it.  He called upon Conference members to ensure an early start to substantive work.  Negotiations on a verifiable fissile material treaty could hopefully soon be a reality.  The excessive accumulation of conventional weapons beyond legitimate self-defence purposes could create or perpetuate both the vicious cycle of instability and conflict, and poverty and underdevelopment.  Confidence-building measures could play an important role in preventing or addressing that downward spiral.  The omnibus small arms resolution, introduced by South Africa, Colombia and Japan in the Assembly last year, established a forward-looking programme of work through 2012.  There was still room for improved cooperation on the international tracing instrument, as well as on illicit brokering.

IBRAHIM DABBASHI (Libya) underlined the need for a balanced and non-discriminatory approach in considering the three pillars of the NPT.  Restricting the peaceful use of nuclear technology caused concern and doubt about the Treaty’s credibility.  Libya, which had voluntarily renounced its programme for weapons of mass destruction, emphasized that the NPT remained the cornerstone to achieve nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

He said the NPT’s credibility could only be realized by the commitment of all its parties, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to fulfil all their obligations.  Although he acknowledged the statements of the United States and the Russian Federation regarding their intention to conclude a new START agreement, he was awaiting the translation of those declarations into practical measures that would realize the reduction of nuclear arsenals in a verifiable and transparent manner.  It was necessary to strengthen efforts to universalize the NPT and to seek application of the IAEA safeguard system in a non-discriminatory manner.  With the approach of the NPT Review Conference, the time had come to strengthen the NPT through enhancing the Treaty’s text itself, he said, announcing that Libya had prepared a working paper that included amendments for the text.

While welcoming the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa and Central Asia, he said that, regrettably, the question of such a zone in the Middle East was still at a standstill as a result of the Israeli intransigence.  The Middle East remained the only region that had not seen any real international efforts to rid it of nuclear weapons, which encouraged the Israeli entity to have military nuclear capabilities without any oversight.  The international community should exercise the necessary pressure on Israel to join the NPT and subject its facilities to the IAEA safeguard system.  He emphasized that confidence-building measures must be balanced and take into consideration the right of Member States to self-defence and to resist occupation.  The situation in the Middle East underlined that confidence-building measures could not be implemented unless the Palestinian people exercised all their inalienable rights.

ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) called for adopting a balanced approach in addressing the three pillars of the NPT ‑‑ nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy for all.  He also called on States to refrain from conducting nuclear test explosions and to sign and ratify the CTBT. He expressed support for the five-point proposal of the Secretary-General on nuclear disarmament.  His country was constitutionally committed to general and complete disarmament and was party to almost all United Nations disarmament and non-proliferation instruments.  Although supporting all non-discriminatory efforts towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, his country recognized the inalienable right of the NPT States parties to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

He said that, while work on eliminating weapons of mass destruction from the face of the earth must continue, the proliferation of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, continued to pose a perennial threat.  Bangladesh, therefore, supported global efforts to conclude an arms trade treaty in order to ensure transparent transfer of conventional weapons.  He also called for ending the use of anti-personnel landmines as many civilians, including children and women, had fallen victim to them in conflict and post-conflict situations.  He called on all States that had not yet done so 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), and noted that assistance should be extended in mine-clearance operations, as well as in rehabilitation of victims in the affected countries. --eob

Rights of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea, addressing the “false statements” of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that the military exercise mentioned by that country’s representative consisted of annual joint exercises of a purely defensive nature.  As for the peace treaty, he said that all issues of the peninsula should be discussed by the core parties, including the Republic of Korea, as had been articulated by a joint statement of participants in the six-party talks.

Also exercising his right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the statement by the South Korean Government that was used to claim that its joint military exercises were defensive were of no value.  If those military exercises were really defensive in nature, what were they defensive against?  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a peace-loving country.  Only the United States would support an attack against it.  The military exercises aimed at other countries were part of the United States’ strategy in North-East Asia.

When the armistice agreement was concluded, South Korea was strongly against it, he said.  Pointing to the statement by the Republic of Korea’s representative earlier today, he said that delegate had highlighted the importance of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear issue.  However, should his country’s possession of nuclear weapons become an issue, then so should other countries’ possession of those weapons.  Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula did not mean the unilateral abandonment of nuclear weapons by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It should mean, first and foremost, the withdrawal of nuclear weapons by the United States from South Korea.  It should cover the total elimination of nuclear threats against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Apart from that, there were many issues to be covered, he said.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was also urged to return promptly to the six-party talks.  But the countries that had called for the resumption of talks had forced them to collapse on the presumption that the satellite launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a threat to international peace and security.  He asked about the satellite launches of South Korea and other countries and why they were not considered threats.  He totally rejected Security Council resolutions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which contravened the United Nations Charter and international law.

Closing Statement

In concluding comments, the Commission’s Chairman, JEAN-FRANCIS RÉGIS ZINSOU (Benin) highlighted the concerns and views expressed by delegations and welcomed the finalization of the agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation on reducing their nuclear arsenals, which would be signed on 8 April.  The signing would mark a clear turning point away from the immobility that had characterized disarmament deliberations during the past decade.

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