United States’ Patience Wearing Thin on Unblocking Progress to Ban Fissile Material for Nuclear Weapons, Delegate Tells Disarmament Committee

10 October 2012
GA/DIS/3455

United States’ Patience Wearing Thin on Unblocking Progress to Ban Fissile Material for Nuclear Weapons, Delegate Tells Disarmament Committee

10 October 2012
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3455
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

4th Meeting (AM)

United States’ Patience Wearing Thin on Unblocking Progress to Ban Fissile

 

Material for Nuclear Weapons, Delegate Tells Disarmament Committee

 

High Time, Says Brazil, to Start Asking

‘When and How’ Goal of Nuclear-Weapon-Free World Will Be Achieved

Unblocking progress towards a fissile material ban was a logical and absolutely necessary next step on the path to global nuclear disarmament, the United States’ delegate told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, warning that her country’s patience on the issue was “not infinite”, vowing to push for what was in the best interest of global security.

The United States’ Acting Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Rose E. Gottemoeller, said her delegation had initiated consultations among the “P5” nuclear-armed States and others as a way to make progress towards a fissile material ban.  Her delegation hoped to convince others that commencing negotiations was “not something to fear”.

Responding to the ever-changing security landscape, she said the United States was looking for creative ways to tackle long-standing verification and monitoring problems in an increasingly inter-dependent and interconnected world.  That kind of thinking would be vital as the international community met the challenges of the twenty-first century.

The United States would continue to make its way on the road to a world without nuclear weapons, but that would be hard work, she said, adding there were no shortcuts and no practical alternatives to a persistent step-by-step process.  That was the only viable path towards disarmament, and she called on all nations to take their commitments seriously on international arms control and non-proliferation, and to work together to move further down the road to disarmament.

It was high time, declared Brazil’s representative, to start asking when and how the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world would be achieved.  Advocating a spirit of “cooperation over confrontation,” she said that while horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons had been relatively successful, there was a “compliance deficit” on the nuclear disarmament side of the non-proliferation regime.  She meanwhile urged nuclear-armed States to withdraw any reservations about granting negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.

A world without fear of annihilation by weapons of mass destruction was further receding from sight, Lesotho’s representative said, urging that the sixty-seventh General Assembly session be a “time of reckoning”, a time to consolidate gains and collectively agree on a road map to universal peace and security. 

He said that small arms and light weapons had also been a chronic problem for far too long.  The successful conclusion of the Second Review Conference of the Programme of Action on that topic had ushered in new hope and should be a source of inspiration as the international community negotiated in other disarmament forums.  In contrast, the failure of the international community to conclude a robust, legally binding arms trade treaty had been a major setback.  Perhaps, however, that was a “blessing in disguise”, as now there would be the opportunity to negotiate a better and even stronger instrument.

Speaking to the proliferation of such arms in his own country, Libya’s delegate said that his Government, aware of the gravity posed by the easy availability of weapons as a result of the war against former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was encouraging its citizens to hand them in voluntarily.  For that, Libya had established an integrated disarmament programme to demobilize armed groups and reintegrate them into the various organs of the State, and had criminalized weapons possession without a permit.

Sudan’s representative also decried the spread of small arms and light weapons in his country, a problem that impacted the economic situation and was further complicated by climate change, drought, and rivalries over water sources and arms possession.  Yet despite the difficulty of disarming the population and ensuring arms control, Sudan was combating proliferation because the spread of those weapons led to cross-border crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking. 

Also speaking were the representatives of Nigeria, Austria, Republic of Korea, Argentina, Viet Nam, Lebanon, Spain, Algeria, and Ukraine.

Exercising their right of reply were the representatives of Syria, Republic of Korea, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 11 October to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all related agenda items before it.  For background, see Press Releases GA/DIS/3453 and GA/DIS/3454.

Statements

USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), associating with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that despite numerous commendable achievements, his delegation remained concerned about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament.  Nigeria reaffirmed its belief that nuclear weapons were the ultimate weapons of mass destruction and that their total elimination should be the final objective of all disarmament processes in the United Nations.  Nuclear weapons offered no credible defence against other enemies possessing similar weapons, but they posed an existential threat to those who did not possess them.  Compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should go hand-in-hand with the willingness of the nuclear-armed States to disarm and disavow continued retention of those weapons.

He welcomed the outcome of the first Preparatory Committee session for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, and looked forward to the Helsinki Conference on the subject of the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  His delegation supported the call for effective assurances for all non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and stressed the need to conclude a binding instrument in that regard.  Nigeria believed in the propriety of achieving universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and called on all States that had not signed or ratified the Treaty to do so.  It believed in the urgent revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament, whose membership should be expanded; greater engagement of civil society should also be considered.  Nigeria was disappointed that the arms trade treaty held in July had failed to produce the positive outcome that the majority of Member States had expected and the country supported the present draft text as a basis for further negotiation.

CHRISTIAN STROHAL (Austria), aligning with the statement of the European Union, highlighted two specific issues to which his Government attached particular importance at this year’s First Committee session.  The first was the need for substantive progress in multilateral nuclear disarmament towards the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.  The entire international community had undertaken that commitment, and it must be acted on with urgency.  Austria was concerned that the United Nations disarmament framework had not been used effectively for several years to advance nuclear disarmament and had instead seen instead a flawed multilateral process dominated by tactics to maintain the status quo.  Austria had decided to again work with like-minded States on a draft resolution that aimed to restore the dynamics to the multilateral nuclear disarmament process through the establishment of an open-ended working group that would convene in Geneva for up to three weeks next year.  The group would serve as a forum for constructive substantive work, without prejudice to any outcome, thereby overcoming the prevailing inertia.

He next touched upon the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation, noting that this year marked the tenth anniversary since its adoption.  Austria had served as the Immediate Central Contract and Executive Secretariat of the Code since its inception.  In that function, it had expressed satisfaction that the Code had served as a unique multilateral confidence-building and transparency instrument in the field of ballistic missile systems, and its universalization would be welcome.  The First Committee should adopt the biannual resolution on the code, while Member States should continue to engage with the issue of missile proliferation.

ROSE E. GOTTEMOELLER, Acting Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security for the United States, said that although the road to a stable and secure world without nuclear weapons would be a long and difficult one, her country had made great process in pursuit of the vision set out by President Barack Obama three years ago in Prague.  It was in everyone’s interest to forever extend the more than 65-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons.  The NPT underpinned global nuclear disarmament and must be upheld if the international community was to advance that goal.  That required all States to meet their treaty obligations, with a particular focus on the 2010 NPT Action Plan.

She said her country, understanding its responsibility as a leader in disarmament, together with the Russian Federation, had entered into the New START – the most comprehensive arms control agreement in almost 20 years.  The treaty’s implementation was going very well, and the parties had exchanged more than 3,000 notifications on their respective strategic forces.  Additionally, the on-site inspections that enabled each side to confirm the validity of that data were now well under way.  The experiences so far demonstrated that the treaty’s verification regime worked and set an important precedent for future generations.  When President Obama had signed the treaty in 2010, he had stressed his intention to pursue further reductions in strategic, non-strategic and non-deployed nuclear weapons.  The United States and the Russian Federation were now engaged in a dialogue on strategic stability, laying the groundwork for future negotiations.

She said that the United States was proud to be a part of a new effort – the so-called “P5 Process”.  That “high-priority, regularized dialogue” among the five NPT nuclear-armed States was integral to progress on the 2010 NPT Action Plan.  The United States had hosted the third such conference in June, and felt that the sessions were contributing to political dialogue and new forms of cooperation on nuclear weapons issues to an extent previously unseen.  The United States was working actively in support of nuclear-weapon-free zones and was pleased to report that the P5 and Mongolia had reached agreement on parallel declarations regarding that country’s nuclear-weapon-free status.  Her delegation looked forward to the signature of a P5 Protocol to the zone treaty in Southeast Asia and to advance dialogue with parties to it.

On the non-proliferation front, the United States applauded the 17 States that had brought the International Atomic Energy Agency Additional Protocol into force since the 2010 NPT Review Conference, bring the total to 118.  That Protocol had become the international standard for safeguards, and the United States encouraged all nations to adopt it.  Her country was also working with the IAEA and its Member States to strengthen safeguards in other ways, including by ensuring that the Agency had the political support and resources needed to fulfil its essential mission.  For the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the NPT’s third pillar continued to be vigorously implemented, and the IAEA’s Peaceful Use Initiative now had 13 contributing States.

However, she said that while the United States and other parties had made progress on the pillars of the NPT, grave concerns existed over the actions of a few.  Iran, North Korea and Syria had violated their NPT obligations and had not taken the steps necessary to rectify those violations.  Their actions threatened international security and undermined confidence in the non-proliferation regime.  Above all, those cases stood in the way of the international community’s shared disarmament goals.  She called on Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal, cease all threats of their use, and join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The United States, she said, was also hard at work on the creation, completion and implementation of several other international arms control and non-proliferation treaties and agreements.  It was committed to improving the current text of an arms trade treaty and supported the convening of a short, focused and consensus-based conference in 2013 to continue the work.  Further, ratification and entry into force of the CTBT remained a top priority, and the United States had provided $40 million in extra-budgetary contributions to the CTBT Organization (CTBTO).  As the United States moved forward in its ratification process, she encouraged all “Annex 2” States to ratify the treaty.

Working to end the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weaponry, she said a fissile material cut-off treaty was a logical and absolutely essential next step on the path towards global nuclear disarmament.  The Conference on Disarmament remained the preferred venue for negotiating that treaty.  A year ago, the United States had initiated consultations among the P5 and others to unblock progress towards a fissile material ban, and the “P5 Plus” had the potential to further the process.  However, the United States’ patience on the issue was not infinite, and her delegation would push for what was in the best interest of global security.  Her delegation hoped to convince others that commencing negotiations was “not something to fear”.

Responding to the ever-changing security landscape, the United States was looking for creative ways to tackle long-standing verification and monitoring problems in an increasingly inter-dependent and interconnected world, she said.  That kind of thinking would be vital as the international community met the challenges of the twenty-first century.  The United States would continue to make its way on the road to a world without nuclear weapons, but that would be hard work.  There were no shortcuts and no practical alternatives to a persistent step-by-step process.  That was the only viable path towards disarmament, and she called on all nations to take their commitments seriously on international arms control and non-proliferation, and to work together to move further down the road to disarmament.

KIM SOOK ( Republic of Korea) stated that in recent years he had witnessed encouraging developments in the nuclear arena.  Among those were the historic signing of a new treaty by the two major nuclear Powers, two groundbreaking nuclear security summits, and the outcome of the NPT Review Conference in 2010.  However, those positive trends seemed to stall over the last two years, and in order to rekindle them, it was critical to nurture cooperation and trust between nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States.  Nuclear terrorism was also one of the most challenging threats to global security, and preventing nuclear proliferation, not only to States, but also to non-State actors was of utmost importance.  Sustained effort was required to address the matter in a coherent manner.  Furthermore, while States had a right to peaceful uses of nuclear technology, the risks inherent in those technologies required a higher level of commitment to non-proliferation and safeguards in order to assure international confidence.  In particular, it was crucial to resolve all outstanding concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.

Also of practical and political importance to the international community, he said, were achieving full ratification of the Test-Ban Treaty, re-igniting the Conference on Disarmament, and reaching agreement on an arms trade treaty.  He also urged all States to become party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, especially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which was believed to possess chemical weapon capabilities.  Chemical weapons must not, under any circumstances, be used - even as a threat.  He also urged that country to immediately cease all nuclear activities and take concrete measures aimed at denuclearization, which would open an avenue to improving the livelihood of its people.  The Republic of Korea would continue to work closely with the countries concerned to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

IBRAHIM OMAR DABBASHI (Libya), supporting the statements made on behalf of the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that his delegation, on a number of occasions, had reaffirmed respect for all engagements undertaken pursuant to international instruments on nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and on their delivery systems.  Libya cooperated with full transparency to support regional and international efforts, with the aim of creating an environment conducive to eliminating those weapons.  The country was intent on reconsidering its position regarding certain disarmament instruments, to which it was still not a party, and to take a decision on those, following the adoption of it permanent constitution and once the newly elected government possessed full legitimacy. 

He said his Government, aware of the gravity posed by the easy availability of weapons in parts of Libya as a result of the war against the former regime of the dictator, encouraged its citizens to hand them in voluntarily.  For that, the Government had established an integrated disarmament programme to demobilize armed groups and reintegrate them into the various organs of the State.  At the same time, the Government had criminalized weapons possession without a permit, and was working to establish State authority throughout the country.

As for stockpiles of non-conventional weapons, he said the Libyan authorities had undertaken to seal them off in safe zones under the watch of the State authorities, while informing the international organizations concerned in a fully transparent manner.  It was urgent for the nuclear-armed States to honour their commitments under the NPT’s article VI, as well as the outcomes of the treaty’s 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences, as well as the Action Plan resulting from the review in 2010.

Imposing controls on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy only politicized the issue, as well as that of the non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons.  Doing so did not permit proper transparency for eliminating those weapons, and heightened concerns regarding the outlook for the future.  Thus, Libya supported the adoption of an unconditional binding international instrument to ensure the security of non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against them.  Such guarantees would help the implementation of the NPT and could spare the non-nuclear-armed States from such danger.

Libya supported international efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones, as a step in the right direction.  In that respect, his country called on the Secretary-General, the depository States to the NPT, and regional groups, as well as countries with great influence, to encourage all States concerned to make the Middle East a mass destruction-weapon-free zone.  He also called on States to participate in an effective manner and reaffirm the holding of a conference in 2012 on the matter and to ensure its success.  Such a measure was critical if the international community was to consolidate security, stability and ensure confidence and trust among the peoples in the region.

MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) associating her remarks with those made on behalf of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) and the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden).  She said that nuclear disarmament remained a paramount priority for her country.  While horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons had been relatively successful, there was a “compliance deficit” on the nuclear disarmament side of the NPT regime.  It was high time for the international community to start asking when and how the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world would be achieved.  Meanwhile, nuclear-armed states should withdraw any reservations or unilateral interpretative declarations regarding their negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.

She underscored the importance of the establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, preventing non-State actors from gaining access to nuclear weapons, ratifying the CTBT, and negotiating a treaty on fissile material as part of a larger legal framework.  In order to achieve such goals, the stalemate within the Conference on Disarmament must end.  She supported the convening of a special session of the General Assembly on Disarmament (SSOD-IV), in order to scrutinize the existing institutional framework and adapt it to the post-cold war era.

Regarding conventional weapons, she said that while they did not pose a threat to the survival of mankind, they accounted for an unacceptable human toll.  She was disappointed at the failure of conference on an arms trade treaty to adopt a final draft, and with the inflexibility of some countries that hindered a multilateral agreement on cluster munitions.  Nevertheless, there was also cause for contentment, she said, pointing to the success of the Second Review Conference of the Programme of Action concerning small arms and light weapons and the progress towards banning anti-personnel mines.  Safeguarding outer space for exclusively peaceful purposes was another high priority, as was preserving the security of global information and telecommunications systems.  On all these issues, Brazil would seek a spirit of cooperation over confrontation.

DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN (Sudan), associating with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement, African Group, and Arab League, expressed support for a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East and welcomed preparatory efforts for the upcoming conference in Finland.  Sudan invited the international community to support all efforts to ensure a successful outcome, tangible results, and a clear follow-up based on a binding timetable for the zone’s establishment.  Sudan highlighted the importance of ensuring that all nuclear sites in the Middle East were subjected to IAEA safeguards.  That inevitably implied the participation of Israel and its adherence to the NPT.  The only way to consolidate international security was through multilateral agreements, and he noted that Sudan had been among the first States to have acceded to international agreements and treaties such as the NPT.  It had also participated in efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free-zones in Africa, and had promoted the Test-Ban Treaty.

He said Khartoum had also hosted the first meeting of the national African organizations responsible for the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which had elaborated significant recommendations, such as a chemical-weapon-free zone in Africa and the need to ensure that chemical substances were used for only peaceful purposes, while not restricting the right of Member States to use chemical components in scientific and technical sites for the sake of development.

Detailing one of his Government’s most pressing concerns, small arms and light weapons, he said the problem impacted the economic situation and was further complicated by natural phenomenon such as climate change and drought, as well as rivalries over water sources and arms possession.  Accordingly, disarming the population and ensuring arms control had become very difficult.  Sudan was engaged in national efforts to combat the proliferation, as it believed that the spread of those weapons was related to cross-border crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking.  Producers must carefully monitor exports to ensure that those weapons did not fall into the hands of non-State actors.  Technical support for countries affected by the problem was also important.  Sudan had followed the United Nations Programme of Action, setting up the necessary entities for implementation and establishing a national contact office under the aegis of the Interior Ministry.  It also had five-year plan, which included digitization of arms registries to ensure effective control of arms held by regular Sudanese forces, the periodic review of civilian registries of small arms and light weapons, and awareness-raising to improve the capacity of those responsible for monitoring and control.  Still, the root causes should be tackled and not just the symptoms of the problem.

MATEO ESTREME ( Argentina) stated that 2011 marked the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the agreement between Argentina and Brazil on the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy, which created a bilateral system of accounting and control of nuclear materials and established the unique bilateral Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC).  Regarding non-proliferation, Argentina considered the arsenals of the nuclear-weapon States to constitute the greatest threat to the international community’s collective security and called on States that had not yet signed or ratified the Test-Ban Treaty to take the necessary steps to do so.

It was clear, he added, that the problems that prevented the Conference on Disarmament from resuming its substantive work came mainly from outside that forum and that renewed political will was needed to make concrete progress.  It was not indispensable to conduct negotiation processes outside the Conference.  In the context of revitalizing the United Nations disarmament machinery, Argentina welcomed the adoption of a work programme for the three-year cycle of the Disarmament Commission and the inclusion of two substantive issues.

Concerning conventional weapons, he said that his country considered it vital to have an international instrument establishing common rules to identify the factors and circumstances that States should take into account when assessing authorization of transfers of those weapons, in order to prevent their diversion to unauthorized users.  In that regard, it was important to conclude the work of the arms trade treaty conference.  In the current session, Argentina would submit the draft resolution on “Information on confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms”, whose main objective was to promote the adoption of measures to foster confidence in the field of conventional weapons, encourage dialogue about them and strengthen knowledge about existing measures in different forums through the voluntary provision of information.

MAFIROANE MOTANYANE (Lesotho), associating himself with the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, declared that a world in which humanity could live without fear of destruction by weapons of mass destruction continued to further recede from sight.  The sixty-seventh General Assembly session should be a time of reckoning, a time to consolidate the gains made and collectively agree on a road map to achieving universal peace and security.  That road began with the commitment by all States to the full implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The Test-Ban Treaty was also of crucial importance, as was ending the paralysis that had plagued the Conference on Disarmament for the last decade and a half.

He said that small arms and light weapons had also been a chronic problem for far too long.  The successful conclusion of the Second Review Conference on that topic had ushered in new hope and should be a source of inspiration as the international community negotiated in other disarmament forums.  In contrast, the failure of the international community to conclude a robust, legally binding arms trade treaty had been a major setback.  Perhaps, however, that was a “blessing in disguise”, as now there would be the opportunity to negotiate a better and even stronger instrument.

PHAM VINH QUANG (Viet Nam), associating himself with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), declared that it had been years since the United Nations had had any major achievements within the disarmament field.  Meanwhile, the current global economic crisis, food insecurity and climate change had given rise to new security concerns that must be addressed collectively.  He urged the international community to work together to create the building blocks necessary for an atmosphere of peace, stability and mutual trust, which would enable compromise and collaboration.  The Conference on Disarmament must overcome its stalemate through greater political will, which had helped it to deliver results in the early 1990s.

Viet Nam, he said, understood first-hand the utmost need for general and complete disarmament, as it had suffered greatly from the inhumane use of weapons.  For that reason, it had acceded to all major multilateral treaties prohibiting mass destruction weapons.  Among them, the NPT remained the cornerstone of the global regime, and it should be promoted in a balanced and reasonable manner.  In addition, the international community must tackle head-on serious outstanding issues, including negative security assurances for non-nuclear-armed States, and consideration of a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Pending complete nuclear disarmament, there should also be a moratorium on nuclear testing, and it was urgent, therefore, to bring the Test-Ban Treaty into force.  Finally, he looked forward to concrete results in the negotiations between ASEAN and the five nuclear-weapon States on the Protocol to the Treaty on Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone, with a view to achieving its early signing.

MAYA DAGHER ( Lebanon), associating with statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, expressed support for the United Nations disarmament mechanisms, as they were the best place to ensure representation and bring together the views needed to work towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons.  Those weapons were not just a temporary danger, but a threat to civilization.  At the same time, the country supported the use of nuclear energy for science and peaceful purposes.  It also looked forward to the participation of all parties in the upcoming Helsinki conference regarding a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Israel was the only State in the region that had not acceded to the NPT, and Lebanon urged the international community to bring all pressure to bear on Israel to subject its nuclear facilities to the international safeguards system.  Lebanon also expressed support for the Test-Ban Treaty, calling on all countries to honour their commitments to it.

Stressing the right of countries to self-defence, the delegate said they had to pull together to create an international treaty to control weapons trafficking.  As no consensus had been reached in July on an arms trade treaty, Lebanon called on all parties to move forward to reach positive results.  Lebanon had suffered at the hands of Israel, which had left behind cluster munitions and mines, and thus it sought compensation from Israel for the damage caused.  It also called on Israel to provide maps pointing out the location of the mines.

MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) reiterated his delegation’s commitment to multilateral diplomacy in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and international security, and said that 2012 had seen renewed efforts across a wide range of relevant issues.  As a State-party to the main weapons of mass destruction treaties, he reaffirmed that nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority, and he expressed serious concern over the danger to humanity posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and the possibility of their use or threat of use.

He stressed the need to universalize the NPT and to ensure compliance with its three pillars:  disarmament, non-proliferation, and promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and he called on all State parties to implement the Action Plan adopted by consensus in 2010.  He stressed the importance of achieving universal adherence to the Test-Ban Treaty, as that would contribute to nuclear disarmament.  An international conference should be convened at the earliest possible date to reach agreement on a phased programme for the complete elimination of those weapons within a specified timeframe.

A majority of States have chosen to use atomic energy for exclusively civilian applications, he said, which was in accordance with article IV of the NPT.  For many developing countries this was a strategic choice, and Algeria reaffirmed their right to do so.

The entry into force in 2009 of the Pelindaba Treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa represented an important contribution to strengthening peace and international security, he said.  Algeria, among the first countries to have signed and ratified it, called on relevant States that had not yet done so to ratify its protocols.  Such a zone should be established in the Middle East, and the Security Council and the three co-sponsors of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East should exert maximum effort to convene a 2012 conference on the matter without further delay.

While he shared disappointment over the situation in the Conference on Disarmament, he said that no other United Nations forum could replace or relieve it of its prerogatives or legitimize the dissociation of one of the fundamental issues within its mandate.  The First Committee should send a clear and strong signal of support to that body.  It was regrettable that the arms trade treaty conference had been unable to conclude its work, and he looked forward to a resumed session in 2013.  His delegation would again be submitting a draft strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region, and he asked for its full support.  The Committee was an essential component of the United Nations disarmament machinery, and Algeria remained committed to working constructively with all Member States to strengthen this session’s work.

VICTORIA GONZALEZ-ROMAN ( Spain), endorsing the statement made by the European Union, said that the NPT remained the core component of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.  Spain welcomed the start of preparations for the 2015 Review Conference, and called for the implementation of the resolution adopted as a result of the 1995 Review Conference towards the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East.  Her country was concerned about nuclear and missile programmes of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic, as well as Syria’s failure to comply with the IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

She said that the recurrent deadlock of the Conference on Disarmament and the inability to start negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons brought the United Nations disarmament machinery to a standstill.  The guiding rule of consensus had been created to include all sensibilities in the decision-making, but to use it as a virtual right of veto was falsifying its nature.  She meanwhile called on all States not yet party to the CTBT – an essential piece in the disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation architecture – to ratify it as soon as possible.

Spain, she added, acknowledged the importance of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons (Biological Weapons Convention) and also promoted the universalization of the Convention on Chemical Weapons.  It was also strongly committed to the negotiation of a legally binding arms trade treaty and supported the renewal of the mandate for the continuation of those negotiations early in 2013.  Although the Conference held last July had been unable to achieve a consensus around a definitive text, the international community must take note of the progress reached.

OLEKSANDR SENCHENKO ( Ukraine) said general and complete disarmament was the cornerstone of international security and global peaceful development.  Effective multilateralism and a balanced approach should remain the basis for negotiations on actual and potential problems of disarmament, proliferation and global security.  Ukraine fully reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening the existing universal mechanisms in those areas.  The country had hosted the 2011  Summit on Safe and Innovative Use of Nuclear Energy and had also delivered on the pledge in 2010 to give up all national stockpiles of highly enriched uranium, recalling the Joint Declaration by Ukraine, Mexico and Chile to make special efforts to neutralize the risks of use of that substance.  Ukraine’s decision to renounce its nuclear arsenal and join the NPT had been encouraged by the political security guarantees received under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.  Unfortunately, the goal of freeing the world from nuclear weapons was still elusive, so negative security guarantees for States that had abandoned their nuclear stockpiles should be moulded into an internationally binding legal instrument.

He said his country was concerned with the erosion of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and planned to keep that issue high on the agenda of it chairmanship of the 2013 Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), as well as pay particular attention to updating the 1994 OSCE Principles Governing Non-Proliferation, in light of the changed security environment.

The Conference on Disarmament remained the most relevant venue for further progress in reducing nuclear arsenals, but it must adhere strictly to the rule of consensus, he said.  Ukraine was fully committed to implementation of the NPT, and encouraged further universalization of the Test-Ban Treaty.  Addressing the production of fissile materials under a treaty ban was necessary.  Ukraine also reaffirmed its full support for the IAEA and called on all NPT parties to accede to and fully implement the Agency’s comprehensive safeguards agreements and put into effect its Additional Protocol.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that his Government rejected the provocative statement of South Korea regarding nuclear missiles and wanted to make clear its position.  The nuclear and missile issue had originated due to the United States and its hostility towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It had defined the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as an enemy and had aims at eliminating its political systems.  In fact, his country possessed nuclear deterrence, not because of ambition, but because it had to counter threats.  Furthermore, it was using nuclear energy for peaceful means.  South Korea finding fault with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s light water reactor was ridiculous.  South Korea had said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched a long-range missile, but that was actually a satellite for peaceful purposes.  However, those with a confrontational policy would see it as a long-range issue.

The representative added that he had read in the newspaper yesterday that the United States had allowed South Korea to extend the range of its long-range missile, which would reach into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Without the permission of its “master”, South Korea could not extend its range because it had no control over its own affairs.  The United States was not morally qualified to talk about developments, as it was none other than the United States that had sparked the missile race in the region.  The United States’ delegation had mentioned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s violations of the NPT; the country had pulled out of the treaty and was no longer a party to it.  But, it had been open and above board in each and every measure and did not avoid public eye.  As long as the United States nuclear threats existed, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would have a deterrent and the justification to do so.  His country was ready to fulfil its responsibility as a nuclear-weapon State.

Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Syria said that the colleague from the United States in her statement today said that Syria was continuing to violate the NPT and she had called on his country to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.  He wished to clarify that his country had become a party to the NPT in 1968, just one month after the Treaty opened for signature by its three depositories, including, of course, the United States.  Thus, that representative had contradicted herself since she had ignored the fact that her country had been a witness to Syria’s early accession to the NPT.

Secondly, he said the registers and archives of the Security Council were available for any researcher who wished to understand an important reality, namely, that Syria respected nuclear non-proliferation and the NPT.  No one could deny that the Syrian delegation, when it was a non-permanent of the Security Council in 2003, had presented a draft resolution aimed at creating a weapon-of-mass-destruction and nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  However, that text, which still existed “in blue” in the Security Council archives, had been confronted with the threat of veto by the United States.

Thirdly, he said, Syria had been active during the two NPT review conferences, in 1995 and in 2010, with a view to helping adopt a text calling for conference on the Middle East on the adoption of a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons in the region.  The United States delegation had participated in the 1995, and 2010 NPT Review Conference, at which agreement had been reached to hold a conference on the Middle East on that issue in 2012.  However, successive United States’ Administrations, since the adoption of the NPT, had not exerted any pressure on Israel to accede to the treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State or announce its participation at the 2012 conference, despite that it was set to take place in just two months time.

The United States was the main party violating the NPT — all of its provisions — and thus threatened its credibility, he went on.  That country’s nuclear weapons were deployed outside its frontiers in eight States, in contravention of the first three articles of the NPT.  Also, through its scientific and military cooperation with Israel, the United States was violating NPT provisions.  The United States non-proliferation policy was entirely bereft of any objectivity and marked with hypocrisy and double standards.  That country had conducted a campaign against Iraq, accusing it of possessing weapons of mass destruction.  It then proceeded to invade the country and destroy it.  However, former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell then said that the information provided by his country regarding weapons of mass destruction possession by Iraq had been erroneous.  Now, the United States was using a campaign against chemical weapons to launch an attack against Syria.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that the remarks by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were incorrect, unfounded and unacceptable; they were also ridiculous, especially it’s claims about nuclear development in the Republic of Korea.  The hostility-blaming logic of the DPRK was absurd, implying that many other States would follow that logic and develop nuclear weapons against their enemies.  He urged the DPRK to halt such empty arguments and instead adhere to the directives of the latest Security Council resolutions.  North Korea’s uranium enrichment programme was a breach of resolution 1874 (2009) and its stated commitment of 19 September 2005 in the Joint Statement of the six-party talks.

He said the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes was given to countries that implemented the necessary safeguards.  But North Korea did not do that.  Instead, it conducted nuclear tests, despite the international community’s repeated stern warnings and, thus, it was not entitled to the use of nuclear energy.  North Korea was obliged to abandon all nuclear weapons and, thus, its nuclear programme, including the enrichment programme.  It was a “preposterous, outrageous and blatant lie” that its programme was peaceful, since North Korea had displayed its intention to beef up its nuclear capabilities in the eyes of the world.  Its “grotesque lies” were in plain sight of the international community.  He called on the DPRK delegation to halt its remarks, and reiterated that Security Council resolution 1874 (2009) demanded that it not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology.  Its launch in April was a clear violation.

Regarding the recently concluded missile agreement between the Republic of Korea and the United States, he said that was in no way a pretext for invasion of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or a trigger for an arms race in the region, as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had claimed this week.  Rather, the agreement was entirely in line with legal policy.  The missile policy was of a purely defensive nature and solely intended to deter provocations that might arise from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Speaking again in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the Republic of Korea had no authority to address the nuclear situation in the Korean peninsula.  All the Republic of Korea’s military actions must be conducted through the United States.  Indeed, the Republic of Korea could not control its military without the United States, which was “its master”.  What was the use of the military in peacetime? he asked.  It was the United States that was behind the nuclear issue in the Korean peninsula.  He said that South Korea had recommended that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea leave the United Nations, but it was South Korea that should leave.  The wartime operational control of the South Korean military is in the hands of the United States, deployed in South Korea.  The military is useless in peacetime, and is only needed in times of war.  South Korea did not have wartime operational control of its army.

Taking the floor again in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that everyone knew that his was a sovereign country.  He did not wish to honour the absurd remarks from the North Korean colleague.  The Republic of Korea had been terrorized over the past 50 years since the cessation of the Korean War, and it clearly did not wish to start any further provocations.  He asked the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to the NPT and adhere to its obligations, adding that that country was the only country in the world to possess all kinds of weapons of mass destruction.  He also urged it not to use “empty words”, but to return to the international disarmament norms, as international society had warned.

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