Conference on Disarmament Chief Asks Member States in First Committee: ‘Do You Want Disarmament or Do You Want Consensus?’, as Nuclear Weapons Debate Begins
Conference on Disarmament Chief Asks Member States in First Committee: ‘Do You Want Disarmament or Do You Want Consensus?’, as Nuclear Weapons Debate Begins
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
9th Meeting (PM)
Conference on Disarmament Chief Asks Member States in First Committee: ‘Do You
Want Disarmament or Do You Want Consensus?’, as Nuclear Weapons Debate Begins
Says ‘You Can’t Talk about Anything Nuclear Without Having a Serious Treaty
On a Fissile Material Cut-Off’, Urges Members to Adopt Resolution, Break Deadlock
The “tyranny of consensus” was hampering the Conference on Disarmament, said that body’s Secretary-General today in the First Committee, putting the question to Member States: “Do you want disarmament? Or do you want consensus? Or do you want a little disarmament and a little consensus? We proposed a lot of ideas for you, but finally, it is up to you, the Member States, to make decisions.”
During the Committee’s high-level exchange ahead of a thematic debate on nuclear weapons, Sergei Ordzhonikidze said that the fact that the sole multilateral body for drafting treaties was not active was not big news. A “multilateral deadlock” had plagued the Conference for more than a decade. It finally adopted a work programme in 2009, but had been unable to do so, under the required consensus rule of procedure, again in 2010.
“Too much is expected out of consensus,” Mr. Ordzhonikidze said. Now was a good time to take a good look at whether the world had changed and whether or not the rules of procedure of the Conference should change. While there had been a lot of changes in the Security Council and the General Assembly, there had not been a single change in the Conference on Disarmament.
The Conference had an agenda and a programme of work, he insisted, adding that there was obviously the issue of the ready-to-negotiate fissile material cut-off treaty. “If we want to talk about things like non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, you can’t talk about anything nuclear without having a serious treaty on a fissile material cut-off,” he said.
Now it was up to Member States to adopt a resolution to break the deadlock, or else the Conference would be irrelevant, proffering a number of suggestions, including the adoption of more flexible rules, implementing the Secretary-General’s recent recommendations on the matter, and just beginning work without a programme of work. There was no need to seek a parallel forum for discussing those subjects. “Let us turn over a new leaf next year,” he said.
Sergio Duarte, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that the Conference on Disarmament, despite its many difficulties — past and future — remained a unique arena with the capability to ensure the advancement of national policy interests through the pursuit of multilateral cooperation for the benefit of all.
The deeper that understanding was shared within the Conference, the greater would be its potential contributions in the negotiation of future multilateral disarmament agreements, he said. That cooperation did not only involve States, however, but also the dedicated effort of a network of autonomous organizations that had mandates to promote specific disarmament and non-proliferation objectives.
At a time when many were questioning whether big forum and big treaties could work, said Tibor Toth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO), the system showed all that was possible. It was a system where verification data was gathered as a result of the unprecedented joint venture of 90 countries, proving that multilateralism could work even with 182 countries. The international community needed to take away from that the inspiration that negotiation and implementation were possible.
Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Uzumcu, said that as the international community looked forward to opening a new chapter in disarmament and non-proliferation, it could draw lessons and indeed confidence from achievements already made as epitomized in the success of the Chemical Weapons Convention. “The culture of adherence to multilateralism and consensus building through constructive engagement has led to the emergence of a concrete example of success of a multilateral disarmament regime.”
Sounding a warning, however, was Geoffrey Shaw, representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who said that 18 non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) had yet to bring into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement, making the Agency unable to draw any safeguards conclusions or provide any assurance that nuclear materials and activities in those States remained peaceful.
Regarding nuclear security, he noted that over the last week, the media had reported seizures by authorities of nuclear materials illicitly obtained by criminals. In fact, the Agency received, on average, a report every two days of a new incident involving the improper use of nuclear or radioactive material, including reports of theft or smuggling.
Speaking in the thematic debate on nuclear weapons were the representatives of Brazil (on behalf of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR)), Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Turkmenistan, on behalf of the Central Asian States, and South Africa.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 14 October, to continue its thematic debate on nuclear weapons.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to begin its thematic discussion on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly and to hear the introduction and consideration of draft resolutions. It was also expected to convene an exchange of views with the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and other high-level officials on the “Current state of affairs in the field of arms control and disarmament and the role of international organizations with mandate in this field”.
SERGIO DUARTE, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, recalling the thrust of a quote by Dag Hammarskjöld, said that the former Secretary-General had warned of two dangers for disarmament: on the one hand, the risk of disintegration of the international framework through a proliferation of organs; on the other hand, the risk of overloading one organization with ever-growing functions that it alone could not handle. The solution he had proposed had been to maintain an “optimum balance” based on arrangements that enabled the integration of activities among autonomous organizations. The challenge, he had said, was to allow for the delegation of powers within “this or that organization without a breaking up of its inner unity”.
He said that Hammarskjöld’s observations 50 years ago remained valid today, and he would have been pleased to see the extent to which that “optimum balance” had been maintained with respect to the diverse intergovernmental organizations with significant responsibilities in the fields of disarmament and non-proliferation. That balance was, of course, not static but was continually evolving and required constant care and attention, Mr. Duarte said. It was, in some respects, similar to the balance that should be maintained throughout the United Nations disarmament machinery among the specific national interests of Member States and the common interest of the international community.
He said that the Conference on Disarmament, despite its many difficulties — past and future — remained a unique arena with the capability to ensure the advancement of national policy interests through the pursuit of multilateral cooperation for the benefit of all. The deeper that understanding was shared within the Conference, the greater would be its potential contributions in the negotiation of future multilateral disarmament agreements. That cooperation, however, did not only involve States, but also the dedicated effort of a network of autonomous organizations that had mandates to promote specific disarmament and non-proliferation objectives.
The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs had maintained close relations with all organizations represented on today’s panel, he went on. It had continued to work in partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in organizing workshops to assist States, upon their request, in the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004). The activities of the Office this year had included capacity-building workshops hosted by Kenya, Croatia and Viet Nam, which had focused respectively on biosecurity and issues relating to export and border controls. A meeting of international, regional and subregional organizations in cooperation with his Office would be held from 15 to 16 December, in Vienna.
He said his Office’s cooperation took place within a rational division of labour that balanced general and specific interest. That approach would be needed in the years ahead because the challenges of eliminating weapons of mass destruction and of regulating conventional armaments were among the most complex on the agenda of international peace and security. They were complex politically, technologically and organizationally, and those challenges would only be met through a combination of enlightened national leadership, extensive multilateral cooperation among Member States, and persistent advocacy, support and understanding from civil society.
AHMET UZUMCU, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said that the First Committee had an important role to play towards productive outcomes. The conclusion of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) and its entry into force in 1997 had signified a major milestone in the progress towards a world free from weapons of mass destruction.
Detailing the progress made towards realizing the Convention’s objectives, he said that 62 per cent of declared stockpiles had already been verifiably destroyed and, with that, three of the six declared possessors, including Albania and India, had completed elimination of their stockpiles. Two of the biggest possessor States had destroyed much of their stockpiles, with the Russian Federation having destroyed half of its 38,000 metric tons of chemical warfare agents, and the United States having destroyed 22,000 metric tons, or 80 per cent of its declared stockpiles. However, those two States had indicated that they would not be able to meet the 2012 deadline set under the Convention. Libya and Iraq continued to work with the Organisation as well.
As the completion date approaches for the destruction of declared arsenals, attention must be focused on three areas, he said. First, a crucial element in the non-proliferation regime of the Convention concerned its effective domestic implementation. Compared with other relevant disarmament conventions, the member countries of the Chemical Weapons Organisation had performed better, with 96 per cent having designated or established a national authority, and almost 50 per cent having enacted legislation covering all key areas of the Convention. Yet, there was still a need for half the membership to make further progress.
Second, he said, the Organisation would need to continue refining and taking to an adequate level the number and intensity of industry inspections, so as to ensure that all categories of relevant facilities were adequately covered by its verification regime. Since 1997, more than 1,900 inspections had been carried out on the territory of 81 States parties. Third, the surveillance of transfers and trade in chemicals would need to be made more rigorous.
In the context of terrorism, the Organisation fully participated in activities organized to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, he reported. In addition to its core disarmament and non-proliferation obligations, the Convention also established for all its States parties the right to seek assistance and protection against chemical weapons. A major exercise on the delivery of assistance was under way in Tunisia, and would involve 400 participants and observers from States parties, international organizations and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
He stressed that international cooperation in the promotion of the peaceful uses of chemistry was a matter of particular significance to Organisation member countries that were developing or with economies in transition.
The Convention had received near-universal support, with 188 members and only seven United Nations Member States remaining outside the instrument. “Universality is indispensable to the success of the Convention,” he said. “Only thus can there be an assurance that all countries of the world have legally accepted the prohibition on chemical weapons. Given the inhumane nature of chemical weapons and the fact that they are no longer regarded of much military value, the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention] should be accepted by all nations as a moral imperative.” That kind of acceptance of the Convention could also serve as an important confidence-building measure, especially in the Middle East.
He noted that the 2010 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had decided to convene a conference in 2012 on a Middle East weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone. That review’s final document envisaged the contribution of organizations such as his in terms of sharing experiences and lessons learned. Given the importance of that initiative to regional peace in the Middle East, the Organisation looked forward to its contribution to that endeavour.
“As the international community looks forward to opening a new chapter in disarmament and non-proliferation, it can draw lessons and indeed confidence from achievements already made as epitomized in the success of the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention],” he said. “The culture of adherence to multilateralism and consensus building through constructive engagement has led to the emergence of a concrete example of success of a multilateral disarmament regime. The same spirit can lead to yet greater achievements and progress towards realizing the UN [United Nations] Charter’s vision of a peaceful and secure world.”
TIBOR TOTH, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO) said that recent progress in the work of the organization had shown that it was possible to create a democratic system for an international treaty. The defining characteristic of the monitoring system of the CTBTO was that it was all-inclusive and involved more than the mere sharing of information; it was a new standard of verification that showed multilateralism at its best.
He said that at a time when many were questioning whether big forum and big treaties could work, the system showed all that was possible. It was a system where verification data was gathered as a result of the unprecedented joint venture of 90 countries, proving that multilateralism could work even with 182 countries. The international community needed to take away from that the inspiration that negotiation and implementation were possible.
Turning to the nexus between the CTBT and nuclear-weapon States, he said that it was important to conceptualize the Treaty with the strong involvement of the nuclear-weapon States. In a “post-new START” (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) period, it was gratifying to see that a treaty could be negotiated with nuclear-weapon States as defined by the NPT and going beyond that. The nuclear-weapon States had been signing on to the Treaty, with the exception of two States. They had also been sharing the same obligations as other States. For the first time, those States were undertaking the same verification obligations as others. That development was an inspiration that it was doable and that it worked.
An important issue confronting the international community concerned capacities, he said. The last 10 to 15 years had been characterized by an exodus of experts dealing with arms control and nuclear disarmament. In planning for the next 20 to 40 years, it was time, therefore, for the international community to think about the next generation of experts. There was a need to reverse the exodus of the experts and to train the next generation of experts. He highlighted that the CTBTO was launching a trial test of training through a “webstream” course. That training would breach frontiers and reach any and every country and would train hundreds of people. The trial would start next week. Countries and organizations were encouraged to participate.
SERGEI ORDZHONIKIDZE, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, said there were serious problems with multilateral strategic disarmament. Although problems existed in other areas, such as small arms, the problems surrounding strategic disarmament showed that the world was nowhere near the end of the cold war. In today’s world, at least in the Euro-Atlantic area, there was no thought of war, with Governments, media and non-governmental organizations that were calm, as though disarmament was not a huge problem.
With that in mind, he said, first, world military expenditures were continuously growing, reaching their current $1.5 trillion. There were also thousands of people working in the arms sector, the second most lucrative business in the world after pharmaceuticals. However, those sitting in other rooms, in meetings or in the Conference on Disarmament, were unable to break the deadlock. He asked why. Indeed there were certain deficiencies and problems, the foremost being geopolitical. However, in the Euro-Atlantic region, the problem was more technical in nature, he said.
That the Conference on Disarmament, the sole multilateral body for drafting treaties, was not active was not big news, he said. Considering why it was inactive, he said the first area concerned the way decisions were made. Too much was expected out of consensus. The Security Council had its rules, but the Conference on Disarmament had been formed during the cold war, when consensus was important to keep the balance between the super-Powers. At the moment, a decision had to be made about whether consensus on all matters or just substantive issues was required.
Due to the deadlock, the Secretary-General had convened a high-level meeting to “revitalize” the work of the Conference, he recalled, adding that it was now up to the Member States to make a decision. Many foreign ministers and high-level officials attending the meeting had cheered the Secretary-General’s comments about the Conference’s inactivity. It had become self-evident at that meeting that the stalemate was not the problem of the Conference’s 65 Member States, but a concern for all United Nations Members States and of the entire international community.
The Conference was trying to adopt its programme of work, he said, but for someone who wanted to make fun of the United Nations and its organs, the Conference was perfect material. Now was a good time to take a good look at whether the world had changed and whether or not the rules of procedure of the Conference should change. While there had been a lot of changes in the Security Council and the General Assembly, there had not been a single change in the Conference on Disarmament.
The “tyranny of consensus” was hampering the Conference, he said. It was up to the States. The question was clear: “Do you want disarmament? Or do you want consensus? Or do you want a little disarmament and a little consensus?” he asked. “We proposed a lot of ideas for you, but finally, it is up to you, the Member States, to make decisions.”
Continuing, he said that the Conference had an agenda and a programme of work, and there was obviously the issue of the ready-to-negotiate fissile material cut-off treaty. “If we want to talk about things like non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, you can’t talk about anything nuclear without having a serious treaty on a fissile material cut-off,” he said. Other issues in the programme of work also needed to be discussed and developed — for instance, negative security assurances.
The multilateral deadlock was a stark contrast to bilateral disarmament, he said. The Washington Nuclear Summit and the Security Council meeting on the subject should have helped, but they did not. Now, Member States had to make a resolution to break the deadlock of the Conference, or else the Conference would be irrelevant. There were other options. Most States would agree on a treaty, but those States objecting to a treaty at the Conference could still object. So that would mean a coalition of the willing, he said.
As a way forward, he proposed a number of suggestions to motivate the Conference to resume its work. First, more flexible rules of procedure were needed, which does not mean eliminating consensus. Second, the Secretary-General’s suggestions should be implemented and a programme of work should be adopted. Third, in case of opposition to the Secretary-General’s suggestions, the Conference should just start working without a programme of work.
“I remember my time during the cold war period when the same approach was used at the CD,” he said, noting that there were substantive ideas that were negotiated and, thus, the Conference moved ahead. “It was the only way to move ahead,” he added. He also suggested that Conference Members should embark upon preparatory work and bring that to the meetings.
If the Conference took up only one of those suggestions, he believed the deadlock would be broken and it could start work next year, with no need to seek a parallel forum for discussing those subjects. “Let us turn over a new leaf next year,” he said.
GEOFFREY SHAW, Representative of the Director General of the IAEA, said most countries used nuclear technologies for a wide variety of peaceful purposes, diagnosing and treating diseases, industrial application and agricultural production. Further, some 30 countries currently used nuclear power to generate electricity, with more than 60 countries, mostly from the developing world, informing the Agency of their interest in launching nuclear power programmes. As expected, 10 to 25 countries would bring their first nuclear power plants online by 2030.
He said that the world now faced increasing risks of nuclear proliferation, and the threat of a terrorist accessing nuclear or radiological material could not be discounted. It was imperative, therefore, that any expansion in the use of nuclear energy be done in a way that was safe and secure, and did not contribute to proliferation.
The Agency’s safeguards system, as recognized by the final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, was a fundamental component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, he said. Although the Agency had the authority under the comprehensive safeguards agreement to verify the peaceful use of all nuclear material in a State, the tools available to the Agency were limited. In addition, the Agency’s legal authority for verification was not universal.
He said that 18 non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT had yet to bring into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement, making the Agency unable to draw any safeguards conclusions or provide any assurance that nuclear materials and activities in those States remained peaceful. For States with a comprehensive safeguards agreement but without an additional protocol, the Agency could only provide assurances that declared nuclear material remained in peaceful use.
Turning to nuclear disarmament, he said credible verification was vital, and the Agency could facilitate that. The Agency recently received a joint letter from the Russian Federation and the United States requesting Agency assistance to verify implementation of their agreement on the disposition of plutonium no longer required for defence purposes. When requested, the Agency could also assist in the establishment of new nuclear-weapon-free zones. It had been asked to facilitate the early application of full-scope Agency safeguards in the Middle East to support the efforts by States to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.
The responsibility for nuclear security rested with each State, he said. Great progressive efforts had been made in securing nuclear and radioactive materials, but nuclear security still needed to be strengthened further globally. The Agency received, on average, a report every two days of a new incident involving the improper use of nuclear or radioactive material, including reports of theft or smuggling. Over the last week, there had been media reports of seizures by authorities of nuclear materials illicitly obtained by criminals. While adherence to the relevant international legal instruments on nuclear security had increased gradually, progress was slow to enter into force the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which was adopted five years ago.
He added that the Agency had helped to protect against possible nuclear or radiological attacks at the World Cup in South Africa this year and at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. After the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the Agency had helped verify that no nuclear or radioactive material had gone missing. It had also supplied some 3,000 nuclear detection instruments to about 50 countries and, since 2002, trained more than 9,000 people from 120 countries on all aspects of nuclear security. The Agency would continue to assist States, upon request, to prevent nuclear terrorism and also help States to meet requirements pursuant to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).
LUIZ FILIPE DE MACEDO SOARES (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), expressed hope that nuclear-weapon States would enter in good faith into a general, transparent, irreversible and verifiable process under a well-defined schedule to achieve nuclear disarmament. He welcomed the new START as a step in the right direction, though limited by its failure to comply with the requirement of irreversibility, as well as the announcement by some nuclear Powers that they had declared a reduced role of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines. While such initiatives showed the priority of non-proliferation and disarmament on the international agenda, they were not enough to reach the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
He encouraged the Committee to follow up on the results of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, welcoming the 64 actions contained in its plan of action, through which the nuclear Powers had confirmed their unequivocal commitment to the elimination of nuclear arsenals. Also important was nuclear-weapon States’ pledge to report on implementation of steps taken, in 2014, to the preparatory committee of the NPT’s next review. “We expect concrete progress to be initiated as early as possible,” he said, stressing the 2015 review should see the adoption of a binding time frame for eliminating all nuclear weapons. MERCOSUR had taken note of the final document presented by the Secretary-General at the end of the high-level meeting on the work of the Conference on Disarmament on 24 September. MERCOSUR continued to fully support the consensus formulation that enabled the Conference’s adoption of a work programme and, thus, negotiation of new instruments on disarmament and proliferation.
Urging States that had not done so to ratify the CTBT as soon as possible, he reiterated the importance of maintaining a moratorium on nuclear tests. MERCOSUR highlighted the contribution of nuclear-weapon-free zones to the promotion of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Also, as members of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), MERCOSUR members had decided to reinforce South America as a zone of peace. They also welcomed the decision by the NPT Review Conference in May to encourage the establishment of new nuclear-weapon- free zones on the basis of agreements freely arrived at among States in each region, as well as the decision to hold a conference in 2012 to establish such a zone in the Middle East. Finally, he recognized the importance of the IAEA safeguards system as an essential tool to assure nuclear materials were not used for military purposes. MERCOSUR supported the draft resolution on a “nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas”, convinced that if resources for nuclear weapons programmes were spent on social and economic development, all humankind would benefit.
JEAN LINT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union was fully committed to strengthening and implementing relevant disarmament and non-proliferation treaties. The NPT was the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and was an important element for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In fact, the instrument was more important now than ever. He welcomed the recent Review Conference and the consensus that had been reached. States parties had confirmed the shared commitment to the Treaty, adopting measures to improve its implementation. The Union was committed to implementing the outcome document, particularly the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. He called on all States in the region to, among other things, accede to the Treaty and to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
He said that the non-proliferation regime was in a state of crisis. Violating its safeguards agreement, Iran was a grave concern regarding the nature of its nuclear programme and it needed to restore confidence. The goal remained a settlement that restored confidence in Iran. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme also continued to trouble the Union, including its testing of nuclear devices and the firing of missiles. Those actions undermined the stability of the Korean peninsula. He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to denounce and dismantle its nuclear weapons programme, and to honour its obligations under Security Council resolutions and its safeguards agreements with IAEA. He also called on that country to allow the six-party talks to continue.
The European Union welcomed the new momentum to operationalize the test-ban Treaty, and appealed to all States, particularly the nine “Annex II” States, to sign and ratify the instrument. Until the treaty entered into force, he implored States to stop testing. The Union adopted a new council decision to enhance the capacity of the CTBT Organization.
Turning to fissile material, a treaty cutting off production was needed, and until such an instrument was entered into force, the Union urged States to halt production. He applauded Union member States that had declared a moratorium on the production of fissile material and dismantled related facilities. He also called on the Conference on Disarmament to start negotiations on that treaty. In that light, the Union noted the helpful high-level meeting last month to revitalize the Conference.
He said the Union would continue its efforts to practice transparency, and commended the new START agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States. He called on all States possessing non-strategic nuclear weapons to report them in arms control documents. There was a need for comprehensive disarmament and mobilization in other spheres of disarmament. Security assurances and nuclear-weapon-free zones also needed attention. Serious threats and major difficulties persisted, but progress was increasing to attain the NPT objectives.
AKSOLTAN ATAYEVA (Turkmenistan), speaking on behalf of the Central Asian States, said that as long as nuclear weapons existed, there would remain the threat of their use and of their falling into the hands of terrorists. That danger must be removed. Disarmament and non-proliferation needed to unfold simultaneously. It was time to free the world of weapons of mass destruction. There was a new movement towards peace. The CTBT paved the way for a world free of nuclear weapons, and the Central Asian countries urged all States that were yet to do so to ratify that Treaty and to observe a moratorium on nuclear testing pending its entry into force.
She noted that the countries of Central Asia had all acceded to the NPT and had become parties to the CTBT. An important step in revitalizing the joint action of those States at the regional level had been their signing in Semipalatinsk of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. By becoming parties to that treaty, the five States had assumed the responsibility to prevent their territories from being used for nuclear weapons. That action confirmed their common commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation. The goal of General Assembly resolutions 61/88 of 18 December 2006 and 63/63 of January 2009 on the Treaty of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia was to combat international terrorism and prevent nuclear materials and technology from falling into the wrong hands. The creation of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia was focused on maintaining peace and regional stability.
The creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was a universal instrument for preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, she said, adding that States signing such treaties pledged not to produce or acquire any kind of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. In furtherance of that objective, Turkmenistan would submit, on behalf of the countries of Central Asia, a draft resolution on the “Treaty of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia” during the current session. Those countries shared the hope that the draft resolution would receive the support of Member States.
MOHAMED HAMZA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that the circle of insecurity and fear that nuclear weapons could one day be deployed in an armed conflict was made worse by the worldwide presence of those weapons. It was a bitter fact that for as long as some countries continued to possess those weapons, others would continue to seek them. That situation raised the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors. Under the current state of affairs, any attempts to prevent or disarm a State with nuclear weapons discriminately would be viewed with suspicion because “how does one attempt to remove a speck of sawdust from the eye of another person while paying little or no attention to the plank in their own eye?”
He said there was a moral obligation to rid the world of nuclear weapons, which had devastated mankind twice in the last century. A durable and ultimate guarantee that those weapons would never be deployed was their total and irreversible elimination.
His country, he said, had been pleased at the establishment of the African and other nuclear-weapon-free zones, which added a stronger voice to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the question of the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. Those zones were a means of ensuring non-possession, non-use or threat of use, and non-proliferation of those weapons within the zones. As pronounced earlier by his country, the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East, with the involvement of all States in the region as envisaged in the outcome document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference in May in accordance with the resolution of the 1995 NPT Review Conference, would contribute effectively to international peace and security.
Time and conditions were ripe for accelerating progress in disarmament in general and nuclear disarmament, in particular, he went on. The international community should seize the opportunities availed to it by ensuring the universalization of the NPT, the immediate and unconditional ratification of the CTBT, particularly by the “Annex II” States, commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, negative security assurances, and ultimately, a nuclear weapons convention under a revitalized Conference on Disarmament.
XOLISA MABHONGO (South Africa), fully associating himself with the statement delivered on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said his country remained concerned about the selective approach adopted by some States towards the NPT. He was particularly dissatisfied with the lack of progress towards fulfilment of article VI of the Treaty. Nonetheless, South Africa welcomed the outcome of the 2010 Review Conference and the constructive spirit among States that had underpinned its adoption. It was imperative that those undertakings be turned into concrete actions, in order to restore confidence in the NPT, which had been subjected to significant tensions during the last decade. Such actions should, most importantly, result in a fundamental review of security doctrines, as well as other transparent, irreversible and verifiable measures aimed at ridding the world of the nuclear weapon threat.
He said that an important element of the new NPT action plan was the commitment of States to support the development of appropriate legally binding arrangements in the context of the IAEA to ensure the irreversible removal of material no longer required for military purposes. In that light, he welcomed the 30 August communication from the Russian Federation and United States concerning the management and disposition of plutonium designated as “no longer required for defence purposes and related cooperation”. Although the agreement only covered 34 metric tons of plutonium from each party, it set an important precedent in fulfilment of the NPT commitments. He called for the soonest ratification of the new START, the earliest entry into force of the CTBT, as well as the full and effective implementation of the 64 actions agreed to by consensus at the NPT review.
He said he meanwhile remained concerned about statements by some nuclear-weapon States that seemingly rationalized the continued retention and even possible use of indiscriminate instruments of mass destruction. Such statements were not only irresponsible, but might also serve as a rationale for those that aspired to develop nuclear weapons. His country had consistently argued that “any presumption of the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons will only lead to increasing insecurity and a continuing arms race”. Continuous and irreversible progress in nuclear disarmament and other related nuclear arms control measures remained fundamental to the promotion of nuclear non-proliferation. Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, those States that had forsworn the nuclear-weapons option had the right to demand security assurances, as opposed to those who preferred to keep their options open. Legally binding security assurances would enhance stability and facilitate elimination of nuclear weapons. A further step could include banning the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, he said.
Mr. DE MACEDO SOARES (Brazil), speaking in his national capacity, said that the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world remained a high priority for his country. Brazil strongly supported the calls for an immediate commencement of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention, which would promote the total elimination of all nuclear weapons within a specified timeframe. Notwithstanding that, Brazil understood that a fissile material cut-off treaty could be a first, feasible step, within a gradual approach, towards fulfilling the objective of nuclear disarmament. In considering that alternative, it needed to be clear that negotiations should not be limited to the prohibition of the production of fissile materials, but should also deal with all other aspects related to fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. As a result, the treaty would not only be a non-proliferation instrument but also a real nuclear disarmament instrument.
Bearing that in mind, the Brazilian delegation, during the 2010 session of the Conference on Disarmament, had offered two contributions, he went on. The first was a draft programme of work (document CD/1889) proposing that a working group be established to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile materials while taking into account all matters related to fissile materials on the basis of the so-called Shannon Report of March 1995. Recognizing that a treaty coping not only with the future production of fissile materials but also with all other matters related to fissile materials raised additional complexities in terms of ensuring States’ compliance, Brazil had presented a second proposal on a possible structure of the treaty (document CD/1888).
He explained that a framework or umbrella treaty would contain provisions on objectives, definitions and final clauses. A first protocol would have the objective of banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices, including a verification mechanism. A second protocol would deal with all pre-existing fissile materials, also with a verification mechanism, while the final clauses would define the modalities for participation in the protocols. Brazil hoped that any resolution of the General Assembly or decision of the Conference on Disarmament would reflect those positions.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speakingin exercise of the right of reply, said he totally rejected the statement made by Belgium’s representative on behalf of the European Union. The argument was so far from the fair, impartial and independent positions on the Korean issue. It was very important to see the issue in fair and full understanding of the situation on the peninsula. The United States had blackmailed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and countries such as Japan were under the United States nuclear umbrella. He highlighted that the nuclear imbalance in the region could be settled for good. The possibility of war could be deterred.
Regarding the NPT, he said his country had entered into the Treaty expecting to benefit from it, particularly to prevent the nuclear threat imposed on it by the United States. But the Treaty had not done that. It had also failed to meet his country’s wishes or expectations. The United States had abused the Treaty to enforce on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea an inspection of a sensitive military project. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would continue to maintain its nuclear deterrence as long as the United States threat remained.
Regarding the statement’s reference to missiles, he said States had the right to produce, possess and test missiles. The situation on the Korean peninsula remained tense, he said. Japan had been stepping up its military activities jointly with the United States. As stipulated in the United Nations Charter, it was a right of a sovereign State to defend its interests.
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