Press briefing on nuclear non-proliferation treaty
Although concerned about an “erosion of confidence” in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty –- a sentiment expressed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his recent report “In Larger Freedom” -- the States parties to the Treaty believed it was an important instrument, which must fulfil its objectives and purposes, Sergio de Queiroz Duarte (Brazil) said at a Headquarters press briefing this afternoon.
Briefing correspondents in his capacity as President-elect of the 2005 Review Conference of the State parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which opens at Headquarters Monday, Mr. Duarte said he was confident that all parties would work together to increase confidence in the Treaty and to increase the Treaty’s capacity to respond to the challenges presented to it. Joining Mr. Duarte was United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Nobuyasu Abe.
A landmark agreement, the 1968 Treaty seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology, foster the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and further the goal of general and complete disarmament. Adherence to the Treaty by 188 States, including the five nuclear-weapon States, renders the Treaty the most widely adhered to multilateral disarmament instrument. The three-week Review Conference will review implementation of the Treaty’s provisions since 2000.
Asked how important a successful outcome was to the future of the Treaty, Mr. Duarte felt it was very important to reach a successful, consensus outcome on ways and means to reinforce the Treaty, which would help fulfil its objectives in a manner that was seen as useful. Personally, he felt that not reaching a consensus outcome on how to reinforce the Treaty could be very negative for the Treaty itself. All parties had a genuine desire to make the Treaty effective in the cause of disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
The parties to the Treaty, he continued, were confronted with issues that stemmed from the fact that at least one country had withdrawn from it, and had been accused of using the benefits of the Treaty to contradict its purposes; the issue of international terrorism, particularly nuclear terrorism; and accusations against one party, which was discussed at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Responding to a question on how important the Conference was to the success of the Secretary-General’s reform package, Mr. Abe said the Conference was an important occasion to discuss some of the points presented in the Secretary-General’s “In Larger Freedom” report, and hoped a positive result would emerge. Many of the nuclear-related proposals of that report were in the hands of the Review Conference or the IAEA, he noted. Therefore, it was an important opportunity to implement the report’s proposals.
As for how the Conference intended to deal with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran, Mr. Duarte recalled that the former had left the Treaty [in January 2003] and so was not a party to it. Some parties, however, believed that the status of the Democratic Republic should not be the subject of discussion right now, so as not to prejudice the ongoing consultations known as the “six-party talks”. In previous conferences, it was agreed not to consider the status of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in order not to prejudice those talks. While that idea still prevailed, it would not prevent the parties from discussing the issue of Article X, which dealt with withdrawal.
He added that the results of the deliberations by the IAEA on Iran, which was a party to the Treaty, would be examined by the Conference.
Asked what was being done to draw in the three nuclear powers not party to the Treaty –- India, Israel and Pakistan -- Mr. Duarte recalled that past review conferences had called on those States to joint the Treaty as non-nuclear powers, a call he expected the 2005 Conference to renew.
In response to another question, Mr. Duarte stated that both the United States and the Russian Federation had been working bilaterally on steps regarding reductions of their arsenals. Those steps were relevant to the subject matter of the Treaty, he noted, pointing out that the 2002 Moscow Treaty would be one of the issues the Conference would examine.
Responding to questions on the status of the agenda of the Conference, Mr. Duarte said that discussions were still ongoing on one of the points on the agenda -– point 16, which dealt with the way in which the review of the 1968 Treaty should be conducted and how it should proceed in dealing with substantive issues. It states that the Conference would review the operation of the Treaty and take into account a number of things. Those “things” were not yet agreed. The rest of the agenda had not elicited any difficulties. While there had been incremental progress, many participants were “keeping their cards close to their chests” until a decision had to be taken. If agreement could not be reached by the time the parties met, then the Conference would proceed with the rest of the agenda.
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