Double Standards, Discriminatory Practices Must Be Traded for Trust to Overcome Obstacles to Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, First Committee Hears in Debate

14 October 2010
GA/DIS/3414

Double Standards, Discriminatory Practices Must Be Traded for Trust to Overcome Obstacles to Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, First Committee Hears in Debate

14 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3414
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

First Committee

10th Meeting (PM)

Double Standards, Discriminatory Practices Must Be Traded for Trust to Overcome

Obstacles to Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, First Committee Hears in Debate

 

Three Drafts Introduced, More Discussed, Including on Convention Prohibiting

Nuclear Weapons, Reducing Nuclear Danger, Preventing Terrorist Acquisition of Arms

A multilateral agreement on nuclear weapons would reflect the belief that such an instrument could prevent the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and create a climate for negotiating a ban on the use of nuclear weapons and help diminish their role, said India’s representative in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, upon the introduction of three draft resolutions. 

In an atmosphere charged with determination to harness the present positive momentum in the field, the representative said if a political commitment was made, challenges to reducing nuclear danger could indeed be met.  To address some of those concerns, he introduced three draft texts:  on a convention on the prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons, on reducing nuclear danger and on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, which conveyed the international community’s willingness to combat terrorism.

Japan’s delegate said that while the international community awaited accession by all Member States to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nuclear-weapon-possessor States should immediately stop increasing their stocks and start reducing their arsenals.  Together with many co-sponsors, he submitted a revised draft resolution on nuclear disarmament, newly entitled “United action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons”. 

He said the draft text emphasized concrete and practical united actions to be taken by the international community towards totally eliminating nuclear weapons.  “We need to maintain and strengthen the current momentum and move forward,” he said, adding his strong hope that more States than ever before would support the resolution on “united actions”.

Double standards and discriminatory practices, urged Pakistan’s representative, must be traded for trust and confidence-building to overcome remaining obstacles towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  In embracing notions of balance of power and containment and seeking monetary gains, certain major Powers had blatantly violated the so-called non-proliferation norms they themselves had put in place.  South Asia was the first region to confront that policy of discrimination and double standard.  To Pakistan, those developments posed a “clear and present danger”.

Nothing could be a more obvious “sleight of hand” by the major Powers than their sudden “rediscovery” of a treaty banning production of fissile materials, he said.  The treaty, as it stood, only referred to current stockpiles, and not the “huge stocks” retained by major nuclear powers, he said, making the instrument a non-proliferation arrangement and certainly not a disarmament one.  He said the ban must cover all fissile material to achieve truly genuine non-proliferation and eventual disarmament objectives. 

In addition, selective and discriminatory treatment of certain countries that had been given access to unsafeguarded civilian nuclear cooperation arrangements in violation of non-proliferation norms should further accentuate the existing asymmetry of fissile material stockpiles in South Asia, thereby magnifying the strategic threat to regional security.  Still, Pakistan was ready to negotiate in the Conference on Disarmament on its other core issues, on which the deadlock was due to opposition from other States.  Their silence, both in this Committee and in the Conference on Disarmament, raised questions about their motives and commitment to nuclear disarmament, he said.

However, some representatives offered up concrete examples of steps they had taken to move towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  The United Kingdom representative said its work with Norway, a non-nuclear-weapon State, to develop and test ways to meet the practical challenge of verifying nuclear disarmament, was a cooperation first.  In December, Norwegian experts would carry out a trial inspection in the United Kingdom with the aim of testing possible confidence-building measures during an inspection, which would provide international inspectors access to sensitive sites without jeopardizing national security.

Likewise, Norway’s representative drew attention to the joint endeavour with the United Kingdom on the verification of nuclear warhead dismantlement, and said that if trial inspections were successful, the project would demonstrate how international inspectors could access sensitive sites without violating the non-proliferation regime or gaining access to other sensitive information.  It must be ensured, she added, that the systems of verification were robust enough to provide the necessary confidence, both in non-proliferation and in disarmament, and that disarmament was verifiable, irreversible and transparent. 

Also making statements were the representatives of Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Venezuela, Cuba, Netherlands, Philippines, Norway, Kazakhstan, Zambia, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. 

The representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom exercised their right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, 15 October, to continue its thematic debate nuclear weapons.

Background

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

Statements

EDUARDO GÁLVEZ (Chile), on behalf of the Rio Group, said the existence of nuclear weapons constituted a threat to the survival of humankind, and the only real guarantee against their use or threat of use was their total elimination and absolute prohibition.  Supportive of nuclear-weapon-free zones as being contributions to the disarmament and non-proliferation process, he urged nuclear-weapon States to comply immediately with their obligations under article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to implement, without delay, measures adopted at review conferences in 1995, 2000 and 2010, which also constituted an effective manner of advancing nuclear disarmament.

He said that the lack of progress and discouraging results of the last decade had given an overwhelming sense of urgency to the full implementation of commitments to achieve the priority goal of nuclear disarmament and the elimination and prohibition of those weapons.  Reaching the goals demanded firm political will on the part of all States, and he stressed that all disarmament initiatives should be irreversible, transparent and verifiable.

The international community should make all necessary efforts to meet the goal of universalizing NPT, he said, urging those States not yet party to the instrument to adhere to it unconditionally, as a matter of priority, as non-nuclear-weapon States.  He expected the final document of that Treaty’s last review to be turned into concrete actions in the near future.  Despite some positive signals coming from nuclear-weapon States, he expected words to be translated into actions.  The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was a step in the right direction. 

Nuclear-weapon-free zones were based on agreements freely undertaken by interested States and he urged the further establishment of those zones, and nuclear-weapon States and any other States mentioned in the relevant protocols of those treaties to sign and ratify the protocols.  He welcomed the new zones and progress in Central Asia and Africa, and reiterated the Group’s support for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.

He also urged nuclear-weapon States to take all necessary measures to negotiate a treaty on legally binding security assurances with non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and to fully respect the negative security assurances already undertaken, as well as to withdraw reservations and unilateral interpretative declarations of the additional protocols to the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.  He added that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes was an inalienable right of all States, with limitations consistent with the NPT provisions and the United Nations Charter.

Also important was to declare a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing until the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) entered into force.  He called upon States that had not yet done so to sign or ratify that treaty.

JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said the world now faced new threats, such as enhanced nuclear weapons and their acquisition by terrorists.  The only guarantee for international peace and security was the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear-weapon States had the greatest responsibility:  to reduce and eliminate those weapons under NPT.  The 2010 Review Conference had demonstrated the commitments in that regard.  Unfortunately, the goals were frustrated by a lack of political resolve by some nuclear-weapon States.  However, those results opened the way to multilateral dialogue, crucial to overcoming unilateralism.

He highlighted the importance of convening an international conference in 2012 to address the issue of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez had warned the world of an outbreak of nuclear war and of Israel being a nuclear-weapons possessor.  The priorities of the final document of the 2010 Review Conference must be addressed, he urged.  Meanwhile, Venezuela deplored the current practice of denying developing nations access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  With that in mind, he called for removing sanctions against Iran.

AKIO SUDA ( Japan) said that, as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, his believed in its special role in the international efforts towards realizing a world without nuclear weapons.  Bearing that in mind, it took the new initiative last month, jointly with Australia, to convene a foreign ministerial meeting on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Ten participating like-minded countries had adopted a joint statement expressing their resolve to take forward the consensus outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and to work on concrete measures to pursue a world of decreased nuclear risks.  That collective effort would always be open and inclusive.  Japan hoped that the initiative, in cooperation with other countries, would contribute to advancing the joint endeavour towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

He said during this General Assembly session, Japan had, together with many co-sponsors, submitted a revised draft resolution on nuclear disarmament, newly entitled “United action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons”.  The draft text emphasized concrete and practical united actions to be taken by the international community towards totally eliminating nuclear weapons.  “We need to maintain and strengthen the current momentum and move forward,” he said, adding his strong hope that more States than ever before would support the resolution on “united actions”.

He said his country welcomed the signing in April of the new START between the two largest nuclear-weapon States.  He hoped that the Russian Federation and the United States would ratify that critical treaty as soon as possible, and he encouraged them to start discussions on a follow-up treaty.  Pending the fulfilment by nuclear-weapon States of their disarmament obligations, non-member States of NPT should promptly accede to that Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States, without conditions.  While the international community awaited that, those States possessing nuclear weapons should immediately stop increasing their stocks and start reducing their arsenals.  Those countries should make further efforts to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons and take measures to further reduce the risk of their accidental or unauthorized launch.  They should also ensure that their nuclear weapons were kept at the lowest alert level possible with ways that promoted international stability and security.

YADIRA LEDESMA HERNANDEZ ( Cuba) said some nuclear-weapon States had not yet denounced their weapons and had even enhanced their nuclear-weapons programmes.  The results of the eighth NPT Review Conference were steps ahead on the path to disarmament, but there was a long way to go to bridge the gap between rhetoric and intention.  There should be a timeline with well-defined actions, with a deadline of 2025 to eliminate all nuclear weapons.  The action plan adopted at the 2010 Review Conference was limited, and the goal of nuclear disarmament should not continue to be postponed and constantly have conditions attached to it.  A firm commitment was needed from nuclear-weapon States, and until those goals were achieved, negative security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons must be granted.

She said that vertical proliferation was occurring even though the real goal was supposed to be the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  States, however, had the right to develop peaceful nuclear energy programmes.  To strike a balance, she said funds now spent on defence should instead be spent on development.

PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL ( Netherlands) said he was pleased at the continued momentum in global disarmament and non-proliferation illustrated by the successful outcome of the NPT Review Conference in May.  His country welcomed the agreement on follow-on action plans on all the three pillars of NPT and the agreement to convene a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction.  Those results demonstrated the common resolve of the international community, not only to uphold, but also to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime.  It was now necessary to start implementing the action plan and to further build on the results of the Review Conference, as well as to continue the spirit of consensus and cooperation that characterized the NPT negotiations.

He said his country was dedicated to contributing actively to those goals and would work on developing concrete and practical measures.  He referred to the 22 September joint statement by the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and his country to take forward the consensus outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and to jointly advance the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agendas.  Those agendas were mutually reinforcing processes and should be balanced, as they were two sides of the same coin.  One concrete measure his country would consider, together with the others, was how to contribute most effectively to the development of the “standard reporting form” for use by nuclear-weapon States in meeting their commitments to report their nuclear disarmament undertakings to the 2014 NPT preparatory committee meeting for the review in 2015.

The Netherlands also supported efforts to promote the early entry into force of CTBT, he said.  The country would support the development of its verification system, while emphasizing the importance of maintaining the moratorium on nuclear-test explosions and any other nuclear explosions, pending the Treaty’s entry into force.  It also encouraged the negotiation and development of a fissile material cut-off treaty, and urged all States possessing nuclear weapons to declare and maintain a moratorium on the production of that material for weapons purposes.  As part of those efforts, his country would help develop approaches to issues, such as verification, which would support implementation of a fissile material cut-off treaty through dialogue.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN ( Philippines) said that the absence of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee against their use or threat of use.  The international community should be resolute in its quest to rid the world of those weapons because a global norm or an agreed objective for its total elimination already existed.  Taken together, the joint declarations of world leaders, their statements delivered at international forums or before global audiences, NPT, the outcome of that Treaty’s 2000 Review Conference and the so-called 13 practical steps, as well as the final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, made amply and unequivocally clear the arrangements for achieving a world without nuclear weapons.

He said that the task before the international community was simply to implement, with a stronger sense of urgency, concrete and practical steps that would free the world of those inhumane arsenals.  Philippines urged the nuclear-weapon States to now convert their commitments into action.  NPT was the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament regime, and in that regard, the few countries that remained outside the Treaty must heed the call for its universal application.  States must also seriously consider the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention.  Such a convention was included in the Secretary-General’s five-point action plan and in the 64-point action plan of the final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

The Philippines sought the earliest possible entry into force of CTBT, he continued.  In that regard, he urged the remaining nine “Annex II” States to ratify it with dispatch.  As a contribution to nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, the country stressed the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  It hoped that the nuclear-weapon States would adhere to the respective protocols of those zones, especially that of the South-East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Bangkok Treaty).

HILDE JANNE SKORPEN ( Norway) said that 40 years after NPT entered into force, the world still lived with the risk of nuclear annihilation.  What gave rise to optimism, however, was the growing consensus over the past couple of years on the need to eliminate those weapons.  The utility of those weapons was increasingly questioned, and the humanitarian consequences so horrendous, that few could imagine a situation in which they would actually be used.  A shocking number of nuclear weapons remained on high alert, and it was “terrifying” to consider terrorists getting their hands on them.  It was then a paradox — particularly when one considered the possibility of accidental nuclear war — that nuclear weapons continued to play such a prominent role in security policies.

However, she said that despite the fact the NPT Review Conference in May had reaffirmed that the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was their total elimination, non-nuclear-weapon States that called for more ambitious commitments to that effect were told to be realistic and patient.  Forty years after nuclear-weapon States had committed themselves to disarm, and 20 years after the end of the cold war, patience was wearing thin.  Thus, on the basis of “impatient realism”, Norway had high expectations for the progress reports of nuclear-weapon States on their nuclear disarmament commitments to the NPT Preparatory Committee in 2014.   Norway was prepared to assist with the NPT decision on the Middle East to ensure that the Conference in 2012 significantly contributed to a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region.

It must be ensured that the systems of verification were robust enough to provide the necessary confidence, both in non-proliferation and in disarmament, and that disarmament was verifiable, irreversible and transparent, she said.  The United Kingdom and Norway had been working together on the verification of nuclear warhead dismantlement, and if trial inspections were successful, would demonstrate how international inspectors could access sensitive sites without violating the non-proliferation regime or gaining access to other sensitive information.

The international community members must do their part to implement and further strengthen non-proliferation obligations, including by adhering to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol.  More vigorous efforts must be made to resolve outstanding proliferation concerns.  Iran must heed the United Nations calls and fully cooperate with IAEA, proving that its nuclear programme was for exclusively peaceful purposes.  Norway remained deeply concerned about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.  The upcoming NPT review cycle would be critical, and she welcomed the recent steps to bring CTBT into force.  The threat of nuclear weapons was manmade and could only be solved by men’s — and women’s — imagination, innovation, political will and perseverance.

BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that his nation since independence, having closed down the world’s second largest nuclear-test site and renounced the fourth largest nuclear arsenal, had been a committed adherent to and advocate of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Calling on Member States to ensure universality of NPT and to accept the comprehensive safeguards of IAEA and its Additional Protocol, he said that the continued stagnation and ineffectiveness of the NPT regime had made possible the spread of nuclear weapons and the emergence of new de facto nuclear-weapon States.

He said that the outcome document of the May 2010 NPT Review Conference, though positive, was not an unquestioned success.  The initiative of the Secretary-General to convene the high-level meeting to revitalize the work of the Conference on Disarmament should lead to a greater concrete and unequivocal demonstration of political commitment to overcome differences, enabling the Conference to play its role as a robust catalyst for disarmament.  An early start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty was one of the most pressing items on the global security agenda, as was protecting the use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  In that regard, a legally binding treaty for space arms control was of crucial importance.

Taking into account the growing demands for nuclear energy, Kazakhstan supported multilateral approaches to the nuclear-fuel cycle and was ready to host a nuclear-fuel bank on its territory under IAEA auspices, he said.  In that way, countries could purchase fuel and ultimately strengthen the non-proliferation regime.  That was in the spirit of Kazakhstan’s support of the inalienable right of every State party to NPT to develop and use nuclear energy in compliance with all IAEA regulations, eliminating all possibilities for monopolies or double standards.

He said that, as part of the Central Asian nuclear-weapon-free zone, Kazakhstan had undertaken additional obligations to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism.  An articulate proponent of the Middle East nuclear-free-zone, Kazakhstan was ready to actively engage in all deliberations and actions to ultimately achieve that goal.  Finally, the International Day against Nuclear Tests, observed for the first time this year on 29 August, had provided a unique opportunity to harness available advocacy tools for mobilizing Governments and public opinion to rid the world of nuclear tests and nuclear explosions.

ENCYLA SINJELA ( Zambia) attached great importance to issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which should not be driven by the interests of those countries that possessed those weapons or capabilities, but for the common good of all humankind.  Because the world’s very survival was directly related to nuclear disarmament, she urged and supported a multilateral approach to that process.  For its part, Zambia had ratified the African Nuclear- Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), reaffirming the commitment to maintain Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

She said her delegation supported the right of States to utilize nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  As a country endowed with uranium reserves, Zambia was in the process of exploiting those resources for its national economic development.  Heavily reliant on hydroelectric power, nuclear energy offered Zambia an alternative which could mitigate the challenges posed by climate change. However, Zambia was aware that a number of challenges came with harnessing uranium, including physical security, and disposal and storage of waste.  In that regard, her country was looking to both regional and international partnerships on how to safely exploit nuclear technology.

Zambia had signed the IAEA Additional Protocol and was looking forward to the signing and ratification of the CTBT by “Annex II” States to enable its entry into force, without further delay, she said.  Calling on “Annex II” States to sign and ratify CTBT, she said that such a step would not only strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime, but also effectively eliminate the further manufacture of nuclear weapons.

JOHN DUNCAN, Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament for the United Kingdom and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, said if one of the key tasks of the First Committee was to take stock of progress on the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, then 2010 must be considered a vintage year.  Among the year’s achievements were a new START agreement and a successful NPT Review Conference, particularly for encouraging States to conclude and bring into force IAEA, and for deciding on the Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and the proposal to hold a regional conference in 2012.

He said his country, for its part, had demonstrated its resolve to take tangible steps towards a safer and more stable world, with its announcements concerning the maximum number of warheads in its stockpile and a review of its nuclear declaratory policy.  Those initiatives aimed to build trust between nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States and to set high standards for others to follow.  The United Kingdom continued work with Norway, a non-nuclear-weapon State, to develop and test ways to meet the practical challenge of verifying nuclear disarmament.  In December, Norwegian experts would carry out a trial inspection in the United Kingdom, with the aim of testing possible confidence-building measures during an inspection.  That would provide international inspectors access to sensitive sites without jeopardizing national security. 

Such cooperation between nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States, while both protecting NPT obligations, was unprecedented, but it also underlined the United Kingdom’s belief that increasing transparency and developing the technical, military and political solutions to practical challenges of disarmament were vital to making tangible progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world, he said.  The United Kingdom was also in the final stages of a major strategic defence and security review based on a new national security strategy, and he hoped to share the results during the final stages of the First Committee, he said. 

Despite the NPT Review Conference’s success, there was a notable lack of progress in other parts of the arms control and disarmament architecture, throwing into sharp relief that the spirit of collective responsibility was not shared across the world community, he said.  Discussions at last month’s high-level meeting on revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament had shown that a range of senior politicians from across the world, representing a wide variety of regions and groupings, were increasingly concerned at the failure of the Conference to begin work on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Concerns of what such a treaty might mean for individual countries were understandable — as each country must consider how international measures affect its interests — but blocking the world’s only permanent negotiating forum was less understandable.  Much work remained in multilateral arms control and disarmament, both inside the NPT framework and outside it, and he urged the remaining State yet to join consensus on starting negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty in 2011 and allow the Conference to get on with its work.

PETER WOOLCOTT ( Australia) said that the NPT Review Conference outcome was a historic achievement with an action plan unprecedented in its scope and in its balance across NPT’s three pillars.  A great deal of focused and effective diplomatic effort preceding that Conference had helped to create the environment for success.  No one should pretend that the outcome had been easy to achieve.  There were plenty of tough issues to resolve, none tougher than the willingness of the NPT membership to work towards implementing the 1995 resolution on a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Australia welcomed the commitment to a conference on that issue in 2012.

He said that the challenge for the international community remained, ensuring that the success of the 2010 NPT Review Conference was not lost.  It was necessary to look back at the debates which were concluded in May.  The international community should work collectively to implement the agreed outcome and to achieve real results.  That work could not wait until the next preparatory committee meeting in 2012.  The country welcomed the initiative of the nuclear-weapon States to meet in Paris next year to discuss their role in implementing the action plan.

As had already been noted, Australia and Japan had sought to generate momentum in the implementation of the action plan by bringing together a number of countries with a strong commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and to NPT for that very purpose, he said.  Ministers of those countries had met on 22 September in New York and pledged jointly to advance the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda as mutually reinforcing processes.  In their forward-looking statement, they had agreed to focus efforts on reducing the number and role of nuclear weapons, contribute to the nuclear-weapon States’ steps to improve transparency, enhance cooperation with IAEA, pursue the universalization of the Additional Protocol in their regions, support early entry into force of CTBT and encourage negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

The proliferation and security challenges posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran and their nuclear activities were of paramount concern, he added.  Australia strongly supported the actions of the Security Council to address those challenges.

JULIE CROTEAU ( Canada) welcomed the increased transparency demonstrated by the nuclear-weapon States at the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the agreement to report on their progress in the coming review cycle.  Canada had long championed reporting in the NPT context as an important confidence-building measure and it was ready to work with nuclear-weapon States and others to develop a standard reporting format.  Related to that, the country welcomed the announcement that the nuclear-weapon States would hold a meeting in Paris next year to discuss how best to fulfil their disarmament commitments.  They should be bold and far-reaching in their discussions.

She said her country had been particularly active in advocating for the early entry into force of CTBT.  Canadian Minister Lawrence Cannon recently co-hosted a “Friends of CTBT” ministerial meeting, and, as part of Canada’s G-8 Presidency, urged all countries that had yet to sign or ratify CTBT to do so.  Her country welcomed the announcement by Indonesia of its intention to ratify that Treaty.  Canada also placed high-priority on starting negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament, particularly on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  It had led to a resolution on that important disarmament and non-proliferation issue, leading its adoption, without a vote, in the First Committee last year.  As negotiations had still not commenced, Canada looked forward to the support again this year of all members of the Committee as Canada proposed to table the same resolution again, with only technical updates.

Noting that many challenges remained, Canada called on Iran and Syria to restore full cooperation with IAEA so that unresolved questions about the peaceful nature of their respective nuclear programmes could be answered, she said.  Restricting access of inspectors to sites of interest further demonstrated that an additional protocol, together with a comprehensive safeguards agreement, were required to verify the non-diversion of nuclear materials and to provide credible assurances regarding the absence of prohibited military nuclear programmes.

HAMID ALI RAO ( India) introduced three draft resolutions and said he would make a statement on the subject of nuclear disarmament at the Committee’s thematic debate tomorrow.

Introducing a draft resolution on a convention on the prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/L.26), he said the text underlined that those weapons posed the most serious threat to the survival of humankind. 

He said that a multilateral agreement on nuclear weapons would reflect the belief that a multilateral instrument could prevent the use or threat of use of those weapons and would create a climate for negotiation for the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons.  It would also help to diminish the role of nuclear weapons, he said.

Then, he introduced a draft resolution on reducing nuclear danger (document A/C.1/65/L.27).  The draft text would have the General Assembly call for a review of nuclear doctrines, among other things.  If a political commitment was made, challenges to reducing nuclear danger could be met, he said.

He next introduced a draft resolution on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (document A/C.1/65/L.29), which conveys the international community’s commitment to combat terrorism, reflecting the Security Council resolutions on the subject.  The draft text would have the Assembly call upon States to take measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring those weapons.  He hoped the resolution would be adopted by consensus.

DELL HIGGIE ( New Zealand) said that this year’s NPT Review Conference outcome outlined a clear road map for action over the next five years to achieve progress towards the collective objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States alike should seize the opportunity and begin work on implementing the action plan as a matter of priority.  New Zealand was doing its part.  It was looking closely to elements in the action plan which it could usefully take forward.  In that connection, Foreign Minister Murray McCully, together with his Australian counterpart, had written to the Secretary-General providing suggestions on nuclear transparency to give effect to Action 21 of the NPT Review Conference plan.  That joint initiative would help fulfil the fourth of the Secretary-General’s five proposals on nuclear disarmament — monitoring the systematic and progressive reduction of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon States — as a step towards the fulfilment of their obligations to eliminate those weapons.

She said that while all States had the responsibility to advance the NPT action plan, there were elements that fell on nuclear-weapon States.  New Zealand echoed the calls of others that those States must take steps to implement their responsibilities as a matter of priority and must keep the broader international community abreast of their efforts.  In that connection, New Zealand looked forward to learning more about the meeting planned for next year in Paris and its projected outcomes.  The country welcomed the commitment by the nuclear-weapon States in the NPT action plan to “consider the legitimate interest of non-nuclear-weapon States in further reducing the operational status of nuclear-weapon systems”.  New Zealand would table a resolution this year on “Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems”, together with other members of its group, including Chile, Malaysia, Nigeria and Switzerland.  That resolution carried forward the text tabled on that agenda item at the sixty-second session of the General Assembly.  Also, together with Australia and Mexico, he was pleased to submit the annual resolution on CTBT, which underscored the importance of the entry into force of that Treaty.

ZAMIR AKRAM ( Pakistan) said two decades after the cold war, the world was a much riskier place and negotiations on disarmament had come to an unfortunate standstill.  The entire edifice of disarmament and arms control and non-proliferation was being gravely undermined through the pursuit of discriminatory policies based on double standards.  In embracing notions of balance of power and containment and seeking monetary gains, certain major Powers had blatantly violated the so-called non-proliferation they themselves had put in place.  South Asia was the first region to confront that policy of discrimination and double standard.  To Pakistan, those developments posed a “clear and present danger”.

Negotiations should pursue real disarmament, and not just a façade.  Each multilateral treaty negotiated appeared to deal with systems that had become redundant for the major Powers.  He was perplexed that some powerful States argued that the environment was conducive to progress towards nuclear disarmament, yet they argued too that the consensus underpinning the General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament I (SSOD-I) was no longer valid today.  In fact, the special session remained the only available framework governing the multilateral machinery.  States casting doubt on the continuing validity of the first special session also opposed convening a fourth General Assembly Special Session on Disarmament to forge a new consensus on global disarmament.

Despite commitments to nuclear disarmament under the first special session, the major nuclear Powers had tried to shift the international community’s focus to the much more limited goal of nuclear non-proliferation.  Even that objective was being pursued on a selective and discriminatory basis.

Nothing could be a more obvious sleight of hand by the major Powers than their sudden rediscovery of a treaty banning production of fissile materials.  It was clear that a fissile material treaty that only banned future production of fissile material but did not undertake to reduce existing stockpiles would be only a non-proliferation and not a disarmament arrangement.  A closer assessment of the fissile material cut-off treaty now on offer demonstrated that it was not even a non-proliferation measure because the major nuclear Powers would retain huge stocks of fissile material already in their possession and be able to continue to produce nuclear weapons.  Moreover, they were only willing to include highly-enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium in their definition of fissile material, which would enable them to use reactor-grade plutonium and fissile material for naval propulsion for nuclear weapons, if they wished to do so.

Pakistan believed that, in addition to a ban on future production of fissile material, there must be a reduction in huge existing stocks to achieve truly genuine non-proliferation and eventual disarmament objectives.  He was also concerned that selective and discriminatory treatment of certain countries that had been given access to unsafeguarded civilian nuclear cooperation arrangements in violation of non-proliferation norms would further accentuate the existing asymmetry of fissile material stockpiles in South Asia, thereby magnifying the strategic threat to regional security.

Equal security of States was a recognized principle, he said.  Pakistan, on that principle, had objected to fissile treaty negotiations because such a flawed instrument would freeze the asymmetry in stockpiles of fissile materials, to his country’s strategic disadvantage.  His country had joined the consensus on the Conference on Disarmament’s programme of work last year, but the dramatic change in Pakistan’s strategic environment, owing to the conclusion and implementation of discriminatory nuclear cooperation agreements in the region by some of the major nuclear Powers, “has altered the strategic calculus for Pakistan”. 

However, Pakistan was ready to negotiate in the Conference on Disarmament on its other core issues, including nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances and the prevention of a nuclear arms race in outer space, noting that the deadlocks on those issues were due to opposition from other States.  Those States’ silence, both in this Committee and in the Conference on Disarmament, raised questions about their motives and commitment to nuclear disarmament.

He was astonished at the remarks about the Conference’s functioning made yesterday by Conference Secretary-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze.  “His dire predictions about the future of the [Conference on Disarmament] and his proposals for breaking the stalemate in the Conference, though no doubt well-intentioned, would undermine the entire international disarmament machinery.”  Mr. Akram said:  “The bedrock on which the [Conference on Disarmament] functions is the rule of consensus.  Only the [Conference on Disarmament] itself can change this rule.  Any attempt to tinker with these rules will bring down the entire edifice.” 

The clearly motivated partisan approach adopted by the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament was a “disservice to the august body that he represents, which requires highest standards of professionalism and neutrality from international civil servants.”

Right of Reply

The representative of the United States, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament had carried out his duties faithfully, reflecting the United Nations Secretary-General’s commitment to try to break the impasse that had affected that Conference and to seek a breakthrough in good faith.  For that, he deserved credit.  She also took issue with the assertion that the status quo continued.  Her Government had undertaken massive reductions in its nuclear arsenal, both unilaterally and bilaterally with its partners in Russia.  Other countries had also taken a number of measures, which they themselves could describe.  That assertion, therefore, was a very incorrect one.

Also making a statement in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the United Kingdom expressed regret at the criticism of a United Nations staff member.  The Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament had been attempting to make progress in the multilateral process.  For that, he had the full support of the United Kingdom.

* *** *

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