Nuclear Proliferation ‘Biggest Danger Facing Our Planet’, Says France, Warning in First Committee Debate ‘More Disarmament Will Not Suffice’ to Stop It

5 October 2011
GA/DIS/3431

Nuclear Proliferation ‘Biggest Danger Facing Our Planet’, Says France, Warning in First Committee Debate ‘More Disarmament Will Not Suffice’ to Stop It

5 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3431
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

First Committee

5th Meeting (AM)

Nuclear Proliferation ‘Biggest Danger Facing Our Planet’, Says France, Warning

In First Committee Debate ‘More Disarmament Will Not Suffice’ to Stop It

 

Other Speakers Say Disarmament, Non-Proliferation Mutually Reinforcing,

Stressing ‘Progress in One Cannot Be Achieved at the Expense of the Other’

Efforts must be redoubled to “counter the biggest danger facing our planet today”, namely, nuclear proliferation, France’s delegate told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, championing arms non-proliferation as the critical component to strengthening and safeguarding security.

He was thinking, in particular, said France’s Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament as he addressed the Committee during its annual debate, of the “ongoing crises in Iran and North Korea, and of the Syrian nuclear issue that had been transferred to the Security Council”.

“We must be clear,” he said, “nuclear proliferation is an obstacle to both disarmament and to the development of civilian nuclear energy.”  In addition, he said, “more disarmament will not suffice to stop proliferation.  The ongoing development of nuclear and ballistic programmes in Iran and North Korea in recent years is proof of that.”

Drawing further attention to ballistic proliferation, he said the international community lacked a mandate on that.  However, several Security Council resolutions considered that — along with weapons of mass destruction — to be a threat to international peace and security.  “We all know that the Iranian and North Korean programmes, in particular, are moving forward,” he said, deeming that “a collective concern that is becoming urgent to deal with”.

Jamaica’s representative held that non-proliferation and disarmament were mutually reinforcing goals, and that progress in one could not be achieved at the expense of the other.  Similarly, the representative of Turkey favoured working towards the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world through the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), with an equal and balanced treatment of its three pillars — disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

To further that agenda, attention turned repeatedly during the debate to the decade-long deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament, with several speakers warning that continued neglect of that body’s core mandate was no longer an option.  Norway’s Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noting the “obligation” to negotiate a legally binding nuclear convention, questioned the call by many States to do so in the Conference.

Such an important issue, she said, should not be left to a body that had been unable to deliver anything of substance in a decade and a half, which could not even agree on a programme of work, and whose membership was limited to one-third of the United Nations Member States.

She joined other Member States in calling for a resolution that would enable progress in multilateral disarmament negotiations.  “It is high time to give the [Conference on Disarmament] a definitive deadline and indicate a clear alternative to another year of inaction,” she declared.

The delegation of Cuba today underscored the increase of 1.3 per cent “in real terms” of the global military expenditures — to $1.6 trillion.  Through negotiation and the establishment of institutional frameworks, that number could not only be significantly reduced, but it would bring the world even further along towards the dream of general and complete disarmament, she said.  In fact, just 10 per cent of that “war chest” would be enough to tackle the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals.  Thus, she proposed allocating half the current military expenditures to development, through a United Nations-managed fund. 

Also addressing the Committee was the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Maldives.

The representatives Belarus, San Marino, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan and United Arab Emirates also delivered statements.

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 6 October, to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly.  (For background on the Committee’s session and a summary of reports before it, see Press Release GA/DIS/3429).

Statements

ALEKSANDR GERASIMENKO (Belarus), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said his organization had adopted a statement last month, which, among other things, expressed its commitment to strengthening multilateralism in the field of disarmament.  The Organization recognized the First Committee as an important forum for discussions on those matters.  Among priority areas to be addressed were considering equal security for all States, strengthening the non-proliferation regime, creating nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout the world and complying with security assurances.  In addition, the statement called for combating threats and risks of terrorist elements.  Preventing the deployment of weapons of any kind in space should also be addressed, through transparency and confidence-building measures, according to the statement, which also advocated the speedy entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) as a further guarantee for bolstering the non-proliferation regime.  While the voluntary moratoriums observed by nuclear-armed States on testing was pertinent, it could not substitute for the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty.

He urged the Conference on Disarmament to begin discussions on a fissile material cut-off treaty, which would become another pillar of the non-proliferation movement.  He also called for the strengthening of multilateral forums, because only those could produce the necessary solutions.

ERTUGRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said his country was a party to all international non-proliferation and control measures.  To make further inroads, the United Nations should play a more effective role in that field.  Turkey supported working towards the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world through the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), with an equal and balanced treatment of the Treaty’s three pillars paving the way forward.

He said now was the time to follow through on commitments.  Turkey had participated in the nuclear discussion group, under the leadership of Kazakhstan, on how to achieve progress on non-proliferation.  One solution would be to establish effectively verifiable nuclear-weapon-free zones, particularly in the Middle East, and he looked forward to the conference on that topic in 2012.  The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was also important, and he called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to the six-party talks and to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s watch as a non-nuclear-weapon State.

Turkey favoured reform of the Conference on Disarmament to make that body more effective, he said, and also fully supported bringing the Committee’s session to a successful conclusion.

DANIELE BODINI ( San Marino) said his country believed in a world free of nuclear weapons, and strongly supported current non-proliferation efforts.  He was grateful to the Russian Federation and the United States for entering into force the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START).  The risk of nuclear materials falling into terrorists’ hands was real, and efforts should be doubled to address that potential danger.

He hoped States with nuclear arsenals would take concrete steps to eliminate these deadly weapons.  People questioned why the United Nations was so slow and ineffective to move towards a world free of nuclear weapons.  Furthering that goal required commitments and will.

MONA JUUL, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, said that weapons that caused unnecessary suffering and unacceptable harm should have no place in today’s international security environment.  Forty years after the NPT entered into force, the world was still living with nuclear weapons.  The NPT Review Conference last year achieved concrete results in the form of an agreed action plan, but only implementation could take the process from diplomatic achievement to genuine results.  In light of that, she was pleased that the “P5” (permanent five Security Council members) had decided to come together on a regular basis, and she looked forward to seeing concrete and bold steps by the nuclear-armed States to that end.

She said that an important item in the NPT action plan concerned the Middle East Conference, set for 2012, on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  More than half of the world’s countries had freely joined such zones, which underpinned the simple fact that security was strengthened by relinquishing any connection to a category of devastating weapons that must never be used again.  Norway would do its utmost to ensure that the Middle East conference became a reality.  The United Kingdom and Norway had cooperated at the expert level for several years on exploring technical and procedural challenges associated with a possible future nuclear disarmament verification regime, and they would host a workshop in London in early December to consider lessons learned from their initiative so far.  The purpose of the workshop was to demonstrate that collaboration on nuclear disarmament verification among both nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States was both possible and necessary.

It was not acceptable, she stressed, that disarmament forums and existing instruments of international humanitarian law were used to take steps in the wrong direction, which would diminish protection of civilians, or to attempt to re-legitimize weapons banned by a majority of States owing to their documented detrimental humanitarian effects.  Through the current negotiations on cluster munitions in the context of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects(Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons [CCCW]), States were in danger of doing exactly that.  “Let me make it very clear:  Norway cannot accept a result in the CCCW that is contradictory to our obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and that will not have added humanitarian value,” she warned.

This was also a critical year for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention), she noted.  The upcoming review conference must build on the positive momentum created five years ago and consider ways to further strengthen national implementation of the convention.  One way would be to further strengthen the confidence-building measures.  National reporting should be considered as an obligation, and not a matter of choice.  More efforts were also needed in the field of biological security and safety.  Norway valued the supporting role of the Implementation Support Unit and expected that its mandate would be strengthened.

Norway fully subscribed to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, and we would like to see even more ambitious steps on nuclear disarmament, she said.  There had long been calls for negotiations on a legally binding convention, in line with the provisions of article VI of the NPT.  Norway acknowledged the need — and obligation — to negotiate such an instrument, in good faith and in accordance with the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in 1996.  Norway had questioned the call by many States for the negotiation, in the Conference on Disarmament, of such an instrument.  However, Norway did not believe such an important issue should be left to a body that had been unable to deliver anything of substance in a decade and a half, and which could not even agree on a programme of work, and whose membership was limited to one-third of the United Nations Member States.  As an alternative, ways should be explored to utilize the General Assembly to ensure progress.  Norway joined other Member States in calling for a resolution at this year’s session that would enable progress in multilateral disarmament negotiations.  “It is high time to give the [Conference on Disarmament] a definitive deadline and indicate a clear alternative to another year of inaction,” she declared.

YADIRA LEDESMA ( Cuba) said over the past years, amid an international economic crisis, global military expenditures had jumped 49 per cent, to the current $1.6 trillion.  One country comprised half of the total expenditures.  Just 10 per cent of that “war chest” would be able to tackle the challenges of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  Cuba proposed to allocate half of current military expenditures to development, through a United Nations-managed fund.  Some Governments disregarded the demands of their citizens.  Also outrageous was how the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was committing genocide in Libya.

Regrettably, she said, 65 years after demands for disarmament, there were 23,000 nuclear warheads in existence.  A doctrine of nuclear deterrence was simply unacceptable.  Political manipulation of the non-proliferation norm by those attempting to improve their nuclear weapons must cease.  Nuclear Powers had failed to meet their commitments under article VI of the NPT.  Concrete steps must be taken in a binding, verifiable and irreversible manner.  Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones had Cuba’s full support, especially in the Middle East. 

Concerning the disarmament machinery, she said the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission were at a standstill, and each year, the First Committee adopted resolutions that were not implemented.  The paralysis affecting the disarmament machinery was caused by a lack of political will.  Each body in the machinery played a role, and, thus, each should be revitalized.  However, the time had come to set aside the Conference on Disarmament and turn to alternative processes, unless that machinery began to work as it should.  Today, more than ever, the preservation and strengthening of the Conference was essential, but its members must urgently adopt a programme that advanced disarmament issues, including establishing a fissile material cut-off treaty.

She said her country was committed to both the Biological Weapons Convention and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).  Cuba also 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, reserving States’ rights to produce those weapons for security interests.  Proposals for an arms trade treaty to address the spread of those weapons must be balanced and the view of all States must be taken into account.

GAMAL MALIK AHMED GORAISH ( Sudan) said that, unfortunately, disarmament mechanisms had suffered setbacks, and the super-Powers persisted in developing weapons of mass destruction capacities.  He welcomed the adoption by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of two resolutions regarding the Israeli nuclear capacity.  The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones could help promote international and regional peace and security.  Many countries had signed such treaties, however, there were many potential hotbed regions that needed such a zone, particularly in the Middle East.  Israel should submit its facilities to IAEA’s safeguards.

His country had subscribed to the NPT, the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), he said.  At the same time, Sudan’s disarmament priority was combating the spread of small arms and light weapons.  Many countries faced the same problem.  Sudan was aware, more than many other countries, of the dangers of the spread of those weapons and the need for their elimination.  The country worked through a national bureau to combat the illicit trade in those weapons, and believed in the close link between their spread and drug and human trafficking.  In addition to bilateral efforts, improvement in border controls and customs measures were needed.  Also, producer countries must prevent sales to non-State actors.

MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said his country was party to the primary treaties on weapons of mass destruction.  States parties to the NPT must work to implement the plan of action adopted at the 2010 Review Conference to ensure non-proliferation.  Nuclear-weapon States must also respect their obligations under the Treaty.  States also had a legitimate right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially as “this form of power” was an unavoidable choice for energy needs of many countries.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were a contributing factor to non-proliferation, and to that end, Algeria had signed the Pelindaba Treaty to establish such a zone in Africa.  That arrangement should also take root in the Middle East.

He said his country remained committed to re-launching the Conference on Disarmament, which badly needed to be revitalized.  No other forum could replace it, and it should begin its work on the issues before it.

The continued spread of small arms and light weapons was an ongoing concern for Algeria, and he urged progress in that area, he said.  The United Nations action plan was essential to stemming that scourge.  An arms trade treaty concluded under United Nations auspices would contribute to global peace and security.  The preparatory committee meeting on such a treaty had addressed some issues, which he hoped would be taken up at the 2012 arms trade treaty conference.

Given the lack of movement in the Conference on Disarmament and inability for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to enter into force, the General Assembly should call for a fourth special session on disarmament, he said.  Regionally, Algeria had made its commitment to peace and security via its national policies and it was also committed to dialogue in the region.  He hoped the Committee’s session would bear fruit.

MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), associating with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group and the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, and New Zealand), said the success of efforts in the field of nuclear disarmament remains Egypt’s top priority.  It rested on utilizing the full implementation of the action plans adopted by the NPT Review Conferences to advance the ambitious agenda of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime worldwide.

He noted that, within the framework of implementation of the commitments contained in the NPT action plan adopted in 2010, the Secretary-General had been entrusted to convene a regional conference in 2012 on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  States of the region had agreed for the first time to extend the scope of the zone to include other weapons of mass destruction, with a view to overcoming unsubstantiated claims that the existence of the Israeli “ambiguous nuclear capabilities” were justified by a potential regional threat from those weapons.

Despite intensive consultations carried out by the Arab States towards the full implementation of that action plan, through contacts with the Secretary-General and the three depository States, no concrete results had yet been achieved, he said.  Egypt, hence, stressed once again the importance of promptly appointing a consensual high-profile facilitator and determining the host country for the 2012 conference to allow the preparations to go forward as soon as possible.  In that regard, Egypt appreciated the efforts made by the European Union in convening the seminar in Brussels, as well as the participation of both Iran and Israel in the deliberations.  Though the seminar’s scope was focused more on confidence-building measures than on the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, which remained the core term of reference for the 2012 Conference, it still opened the door to frank discussions on all issues surrounding the establishment of that zone.

He said that while some said that the Arab Spring would divert the attention of Arab States away from the subject, he wished to underscore that the democratic trend prevailing in his region today had strengthened the will to establish the zone and to have Israel ratify the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State and subject its nuclear facilities to comprehensive IAEA safeguards.  That would in turn ensure that the rest of the countries in the region refrained from developing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons, as well as guarantee the accession of the countries of the region to the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, in addition to their ratification of the CTBT.

The Arab countries, he noted, had taken the extra step of not tabling a resolution on Israeli nuclear capabilities at the General Conference of the IAEA in September, in order to create the positive atmosphere that would facilitate achieving the desired results in the 2012 conference.  Those countries demanded, therefore, that all parties concerned “stick to the letter and spirit of the action plan” on that important matter and commit to its full and speedy implementation.

Egypt would present two draft resolutions to the current Session of the Committee, entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, and “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”.  The texts were meant to contribute significantly, not only to regional, but also to world security.  He hoped that the current session will witness increasing support for those resolutions, in a manner that positively corresponded to the international drive towards eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons from the Middle East.  “The agenda before us is daunting,” he said, but that should not curb the ambition.  He assured all of Egypt’s support in the process and commitment to the underlying principles for its success.

ANGELLA COMFORT ( Jamaica) said non-proliferation and disarmament were mutually reinforcing goals; progress in one could not be achieved at the expense of the other.  The Conference on Disarmament remained one of the key pillars of the multilateral disarmament machinery, and continued neglect of that body’s core mandate was no longer an option.  She urged the Conference’s membership to summon the political will to commence substantive negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention, negative security assurances, a fissile material cut-off treaty and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

Regarding last month’s seventh conference on facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT, she urged all so-called “Annex 2” States to sign and ratify that Treaty and for all States to maintain existing moratoriums on conducting nuclear tests or other nuclear test explosions.  As a State party to the NPT, Jamaica continued to support the Treaty’s three pillars and emphasized the importance of compliance with IAEA safeguards.  She called on all States to support the Agency in implementing the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, a subject of much importance to Jamaica and its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) partners, as the Caribbean Sea — the region’s economic foundation — was threatened by the transport of nuclear waste.

Another threat, she said, was the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and her country looked forward to the 2012 review conference on the United Nations Programme of Action to combat that trade.  Next year’s meeting on an arms trade treaty would also be an opportunity to correct the errors made in the past, which had contributed to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in many communities and conflict zones.  One headline in a leading Jamaican newspaper stated “We regulate toys, why not guns?”, she noted, urging that that be the guide to engender a spirit of compromise as States worked to conclude a legally binding, objective and strong arms trade treaty.

ERIC DANON, Ambassador of France to Conference on Disarmament, said recent meetings had produced a fruitful period, except in the Conference on Disarmament, and there were questions about its future.  This year, debates on nuclear energy had strayed from the action plan adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  There were calls for a convention to ban nuclear weapons, but that was not discussed in the debates.  Others were proposing mechanisms outside the Conference on Disarmament.  France wanted to see a return to consistency.  It shared a special responsibility, and earlier this year had hosted a “P5” follow-up meeting to the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  Its success had underscored the commitment of “the Five” and had helped to establish a positive dynamic among them.  Since then, there had been several more meetings, and “soon we should reap the fruit of this intense activity”.  There had also been meetings between them and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which should enable considerable progress towards drafting a protocol to the Bangkok Treaty.

He urged the First Committee to refocus concretely on what was essential.  First, that meant redoubling efforts to “counter the biggest danger facing our planet today”, namely, nuclear proliferation.  He was thinking, he said, in particular, of the “ongoing crises in Iran and North Korea, and of the Syrian nuclear issue that had been transferred to the Security Council”.  Nuclear proliferation was an obstacle to both disarmament and to the development of civilian nuclear energy.  “More disarmament will not suffice to stop proliferation,” he said, adding, “The ongoing development of nuclear and ballistic programmes in Iran and North Korea in recent years is proof of that.”

Breaking the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament was also essential, as was launching a fissile material cut-off treaty, he said.  The high-level debates confirmed that the stalemate stemmed from political antagonism and not from procedural constraints.  “We must take note of this, but we must reaffirm to those who think they can take advantage of the current deadlock that they’re running counter to history,” he said.

“Some people,” he continued, “would like to try and get around the Conference on Disarmament.  We believe this is an exercise in futility.  Exporting the problems to another forum won’t help to resolve them.  On the contrary, we must tirelessly continue to work toward establishing a programme of work for the Conference on Disarmament, which respects the priorities of the international community — and firstly, the establishment of the elements of a cut-off treaty.”

The First Committee must also make sure that the nuclear issue did not overshadow the other multilateral negotiations on disarmament, he said.  Mobilization was necessary in all areas:  biological, chemical, conventional weapons, ballistic missile proliferation and space.  Reaffirming France’s attachment to the universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said the main challenge for the Biological Weapons Convention’s 2011 conference would be to further improve and implement that instrument.  That required improving the “fight” against biological threats of all kinds, notably those linked to the hijacking of scientific and technical progress for terrorist or criminal purposes.  That also required perfecting cooperation mechanisms to prevent and detect public health risks at the global level. 

France, he said, welcomed the success of the second Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Regarding the next session of the Convention on Conventional Weapons next month in Geneva, France would like to see substantial progress on the text presented by the president of the group of governmental experts at next month’s session in Geneva.  That required improving certain provisions relating to the immediate humanitarian impact that a future Protocol VI of the Convention, compatible with and complementary to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, should have.

He also welcomed progress made in the preparatory work on the adoption of an arms trade treaty and believed that the mechanism implemented by the resolution adopted in the First Committee two years ago was working in an exemplary manner.  Turning to ballistic missile proliferation, he warned that that was a threat to international peace and security and, at this stage, the international community lacked a mandate on the issue.  “We all know that the Iranian and North Korea programmes in particular are moving forward,” he said.  “It is a collective concern that is becoming urgent to deal with.”

However, he said, one of the most important issues in the coming months concerned the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.  The NPT Review Conference in 2010 had allowed for significant progress, but even more was needed.  What happened in numerous countries of the region and on the southern shore of the Mediterranean was changing for the better the parameters of a particularly complex political equation.  It was in the interest of all countries in the region to take advantage of that historic opportunity.  Expectations for the 2012 conference on the subject were high and legitimate.  “A failure, when conditions seem favourable, would be fraught with consequences,” he said.

KOSAL SEA (Cambodia), associating himself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, welcomed the entry into force of the new START, signed last year by the United States and the Russian Federation.  The Treaty contributed to reducing the risk of a nuclear conflict.  Despite such progress, however, there remained concerns over the existence of large nuclear-weapon stockpiles, which posed a serious threat to humanity.

Mindful of the fact that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty had not yet entered into force, he said his country joins the increasing calls by the international community and all States parties to the Treaty to those nations that had not yet joined the instrument to do so as soon as possible, as all had the responsibility to ensure that the planet was safe and secure for all.

Cambodia also strongly believed that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones remained a cornerstone in building a favourable climate for nuclear non-proliferation, he said.  In that, the Treaty on the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty), which had been opened for signature in Bangkok in 1995 and entered into force in 1997, remained a fundamental legal basis for creating a zone of peace and cooperation without nuclear weapons in that region.  It not only served as a peace instrument in the region, but also played a pivotal role as an effective confidence building measure for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

He said his Government also attached great importance to addressing the question of conventional weapons, as they continued to threaten peace and stability.  The use of illegal weapons, undoubtedly, had a long-term impact on human life and impeded national socio-economic development efforts.  Being a State party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention), Cambodia exerted efforts to clear anti-personnel mines and other remnants and unexploded ordnance left behind by wars, which continued to kill and injure innocent people and impede the daily life of the Cambodian people.  It was very grateful for the international community’s mine clearance assistance.

To promote international cooperation on mine clearance and to further raise awareness of mine danger, Cambodia would host the eleventh meeting of States parties to the Mine-Ban Convention in Phnom Penh, next month.

ULAN DJUSUPOV, Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, said his country was convinced that strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and its base — the NPT and CTBT — were the key instruments in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Kyrgyzstan had been a party to the NPT since 1994 and to the CTBT since 1976.  It had also been the depositary of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, since 2006.  Kyrgyzstan had become a full member of the IAEA in 2003.

He said his country also complied with the provisions of the Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) aimed at preventing the risk of transferring nuclear technologies and materials to terrorists.  In 2003, Kyrgyzstan had adopted an export control law, which paved the way for the foundation of a national system of export control.  The Government was currently amending national legislation in order to improve the export control system; that process was based on best practices of other States and in accordance with our commitments to strengthen the international non-proliferation regime.

Kyrgyzstan attached great importance to mitigating the environmental damage caused by uranium mining and nuclear fuel production, he said, reminding the Committee that the issue had been raised at the NPT Review Conferences in 2000, 2005 and 2010.  There were 36 uranium tailings in Kyrgyzstan, 31 of which contained radioactive waste, including 28 with uranium, with a total volume of 8.2 million cubic meters.  The Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in Central Asia states that every party should undertake all efforts to promote environmental rehabilitation of the territories contaminated as a result of past activities related to the development, production or storage of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, in particular uranium tailings and nuclear test sites.

In recent years, dangerous natural processes had intensified, including earthquakes and mudflows, which had led to the destruction of uranium tailings and environmental disasters, he noted.  He drew attention to the hazard of uranium tailings in connection with the environmental consequences of accidents such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.  In that regard, he again asked delegations and international organizations specialized in the field of conservation and recycling of radioactive wastes to consider the possibility of providing technical assistance to his country.  The reclamation of uranium tailings was an extremely important issue, and the International High-level Conference which took place in Geneva in June 2009 had demonstrated the intentions of the Central Asian States to cooperate in solving that key issue.  In that context, his delegation was ready to table a resolution on the prevention of radiation threats in Central Asia. 

He noted that a requirement of the Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty was for States parties to comply with the CTBT and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, adding that his country considered that clause to be an additional protective measure.  He also drew attention to Kyrgyzstan’s proposal to reduce the use of highly enriched uranium for nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes as a measure against nuclear terrorism.  Together with Norway, the country had raised that issue at the NPT Review Conference in 2005.  The proposal had subsequently been incorporated in the final document of the NPT Review Conference in 2010.  Kyrgyzstan, as a candidate for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council, was ready to exert all necessary efforts to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and nuclear disarmament.

AHMED AL-JARMAN (United Arab Emirates) said that his country, which has recently participated in the meetings of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, hoped that nuclear-armed States entered into serious and effective negotiations, which would lead to ending all operations aimed at improving and developing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, and ensure gradual elimination of those weapons and conversion of their use to peaceful purposes within the agreed timeframe stipulated in article VI of the NPT.  He urged States not party to treaties on disarmament of weapons of mass destruction to accede to those strategic texts as soon as possible.

He also renewed his country’s support for the proposal of the Non-Aligned Movement to convene an international conference on a nuclear weapons convention as soon as possible.  He called on the international community to intensify efforts to exert pressure on Israel to subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA control and to implement the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, including the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the sixth Review Conference of the NPT in 2000, which calls for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.

The United Arab Emirates, he said, “demands” that the international community, particularly nuclear-armed States and “other effective” countries, demonstrate a genuine political will to achieve early progress in the full implementation of the 2010 NPT action plan, particularly concerning the efforts of the Arab States to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He hoped that the preparatory efforts undertaken by the United Nations Secretary-General and the three depositary countries of the NPT for holding a conference on the issue in 2012 would be crowned with success.

At the same time, he reiterated the right of developing countries to participate without discrimination in nuclear energy research and in the production and use of energy for peaceful purposes, under IAEA safeguards.  His country would take further concrete steps towards developing its peaceful nuclear energy programme, in order to meet its growing electricity needs, within the framework of the safeguards and supervision of the IAEA.  His country also attached special importance to current efforts aimed at achieving international consensus on the elements for a declaration on a fourth disarmament decade, including the identification of focus for a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.  He hoped the open-ended working group on the matters would be able to submit its report before the end of the sixty-seventh General Assembly session.

ASLAM SHAKIR, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, said his country strongly believed that the ultimate objective of disarmament efforts was a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Highlighting points important to Maldives, he said more cooperation and efforts were needed to develop discussions on the practical implications of the 1971 General Assembly resolution 2832, declaring the Indian Ocean a zone of peace.  Nuclear-weapon-free zone efforts should be bolstered by confidence-building measures, frameworks and geographical zones that guaranteed security, stability and peace.  He encouraged establishing such a zone in the Middle East and Africa, which would enhance security within those regions, as well as have a positive impact on neighbouring ones.

He said that small island developing States faced particular vulnerabilities regarding international security.  Many of those countries did not possess the resources to deal with emerging threats of international terrorism and organized crime, most frightening when seen in the context of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. 

Another worrisome area, he said, was global military expenditures increasing by 1.3 per cent in real terms, reaching its current $1.6 trillion.  Maldives believed that through negotiation and the establishment of institutional frameworks, that number could not only be significantly reduced, but it would bring the world even further along towards the dream of general and complete disarmament.  Maldives was a State party to several major disarmament treaties and conventions, including the NPT, the CTBT and the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.  “Nuclear weapons do not necessarily make our world a safer place,” he said.  “The contrary is true:  a world free of nuclear weapons is a more secure world.  And this world, free of nuclear weapons, is possible.  The multilateral approach towards disarmament can lead us towards achieving that goal.  We stand firm and encourage everyone to work together to make this dream a reality.”

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