RUSSIAN FEDERATION, UNITED STATES CALL ON STATES TO JOIN TREATY REGIME REJECTING INTERMEDIATE-RANGE, SHORTER-RANGE MISSILES, IN FIRST COMMITTEE DEBATE

GA/DIS/3352
25 October 2007

RUSSIAN FEDERATION, UNITED STATES CALL ON STATES TO JOIN TREATY REGIME REJECTING INTERMEDIATE-RANGE, SHORTER-RANGE MISSILES, IN FIRST COMMITTEE DEBATE

25 October 2007
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3352
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-second General Assembly

First Committee

17th Meeting (AM)


RUSSIAN FEDERATION , UNITED STATES CALL ON STATES TO JOIN TREATY REGIME REJECTING


INTERMEDIATE-RANGE, SHORTER-RANGE MISSILES, IN FIRST COMMITTEE DEBATE


Number of Missiles Relevant to Treaty Grows ‘Quantitatively and Qualitatively’

Each Day, United States Warns, Focusing Attention on Missile Proliferation Dangers


An ever-greater number of countries were acquiring missile production technologies and adding missiles to their arsenals, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today.


The representative of the Russian Federation called on all interested countries to consider expanding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty regime.  That Treaty, signed in 1987 by the United States and the former Soviet Union, was a bilateral agreement between the two countries to eliminate nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate ranges.


That Treaty had been an “important, practical step” for both countries towards meeting those two countries’ article VI obligation under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament, the Russian representative said today.


Together with the United States, that delegate called on all interested countries to discuss the possibility of imparting a global character to that treaty regime, through the renunciation of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres, leading to the destruction of all such missiles and the cessation of associated programmes.  Rejecting those weapons would strengthen the global missile non-proliferation effort.  His country and the United States would work with all interested countries and make every effort to prevent the proliferation of such missiles and strengthen world peace.


The United States representative, joining her colleague in introducing the Joint United States-Russia Statement on the Treaty, said that the cold war era during which that instrument had been concluded had been dominated by two world Powers, with the world focused on the weapons in their arsenals.  Other States possessed such missiles, but the threat from those weapons had received little attention.


She said that today’s world was far different.  There had not been a lessening in proliferation in general, and certainly not in the proliferation of missiles.  Each day, the number of missiles relevant to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty expanded, both quantitatively and qualitatively.  The United States and the Russian Federation were concerned with that trend and believed that it deserved greater attention.  That was why the Joint Statement was being made -- to focus attention on the dangers inherent in the proliferation of those weapons.


Also speaking about the changing nature of the disarmament field, and the role of the disarmament machinery in that context, the representative of the United Kingdom said that arms control and disarmament had “stumbled along the road”, and there was a real concern that progress achieved at the end of the twentieth century might be put in doubt.  All multilateral institutions needed a strong sense of purpose and to reflect on the world “as it is, not as it was”.


It was vital to adapt and strengthen other multilateral institutions and networks, in order to renew their mandates, reform the way they worked, and allow them to adapt more quickly to new threats, he said.  Further, it was necessary to focus on diplomacy, or “soft power”, as well as on “hard power”.  Taking into account the economic and commercial interests of the players involved had been shown to deliver results in arms control.  For example, the United Kingdom and European Union industry were fully behind an arms trade treaty because they saw advantages in being perceived as “responsible” players.


On behalf of the European Union, Portugal’s speaker expressed the strong belief that a multilateral approach to security, including disarmament and non-proliferation, was the best way to maintain international order.  The Union, as a staunch supporter of multilateralism, saw as mutually reinforcing the United Nations General Assembly and its First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament, the United Nations Disarmament Commission, and the various international treaties, with their bodies and review processes.


The European Union felt that, in light of the new threats to security, the disarmament machinery was gaining an even more important role, and the international community should make every effort to persevere, where possible, to further strengthen that architecture, he said. 


The Committee also heard the introduction of a draft resolution on the report of the Conference on Disarmament.


A statement in the thematic debate on regional disarmament and security was also made by Uruguay, on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR).


Statements in the thematic debate on disarmament machinery were also made by the representatives of Nigeria, Syria and Poland.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 26 October, to continue its thematic segment and hear the introduction of drafts.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic debates on such items as regional disarmament and security, disarmament machinery, and conventional weapons.  It would also convene a panel discussion on disarmament machinery.


Thematic Debate/Regional Disarmament and Security


VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation), introducing the Joint Statement with the United States on the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, called that treaty an “important, practical step” for both countries towards meeting their article VI obligation under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament.  By late May 1991, the former Soviet Union and the United States had destroyed all intermediate and shorter-range missiles, together with all supporting infrastructure, under strict verification procedures.  The Treaty had reduced international tensions, especially in Europe, and both the Russian Federation and the United States reaffirmed their support for it.


He expressed concern about the proliferation of intermediate and shorter-range missiles, since an ever greater number of countries were acquiring missile production technologies and adding missiles to their arsenals.  The Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles was limiting the actions of only a few States.  Together with the United States, he called on all interested countries to discuss the possibility of imparting a global character to the Treaty’s regime, through the renunciation of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres, leading to the destruction of any such missiles and the cessation of associated programmes.  Such a renunciation would strengthen the international missile non-proliferation effort.  His country and the United States would work with all interested countries, and would make every effort to prevent the proliferation of such missiles and strengthen peace in the world.


CHRISTINA ROCCA (United States), joining her colleague in introducing the Joint United States-Russia Statement on the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Missiles, said that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty had been a significant moment in the relationship between the United States and what was then the Soviet Union.  Signed during the height of the cold war, it served to reduce tensions through the increased transparency that accompanied the elimination of that class of weapons.  The cold war era during which that Treaty had been concluded was dominated by two world Powers, with the world focused on the weapons in their arsenals.  Other States possessed such missiles, but the threat from those weapons received little attention. 


She said that today’s world was far different.  There had not been a lessening in proliferation in general, and certainly not in the proliferation of missiles.  Each day, the number of missiles relevant to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty expanded, both quantitatively and qualitatively.  The United States and the Russian Federation were concerned with that trend and believed that greater attention should be paid to the issue.  That was why the Joint Statement was being made -- to focus attention on the dangers inherent in the proliferation of those weapons.


FEDERICO PERAZZA (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said he would make two statements, the first on confidence-building measures, and the second on disarmament and regional security.


He said that confidence-building measures were an “important tool” towards achieving world peace and security, since they were intended to reduce uncertainty and correct erroneous perceptions about States’ behaviour.  Such measures led to greater transparency and fostered integration in the spheres of economics, culture, and the military.


The Southern Common Market region had been a “pioneer” in implementing such measures, furthering dialogue and transparency, he said.  As a result, peace and democracy had flourished in the Americas.  However, there was a need to develop and implement new confidence-building measures to tackle the multidimensional scope of security. 


Since the General Assembly’s fifty-ninth session, the Southern Common Market had supported Argentina’s resolution on “means of promoting confidence in the field of conventional weapons”, he said.  The relevant resolutions had been adopted by consensus, and the matter would be considered again at the sixty-third session.


Transparency in armaments was key, and in that light, it was necessary to implement the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons.  It was likewise important to universalize the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.  Positive synergy must be promoted between the two instruments, so that advances in one field were reflected in the other.


On disarmament and regional security, he congratulated the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America on its twentieth anniversary, and expressed gratitude for its support and its positive work on strengthening peace and security in the region.  That Centre was the only one whose mandate included the promotion of economic and social development, making it possible to implement initiatives that went beyond disarmament, and which carried out a broader vision. 


In addition, he noted that the Centre had established close relations with United Nations agencies and other regional organizations.  He stressed the cooperation agreement to create synergies with the Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, as well as with Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization), in order to fight the illicit small arms trade.  The Centre had also created initiatives on disarmament, promoted the implementation of multilateral instruments on the issue, and created standards on the means of achieving confidence and security.  Moreover, the Centre had provided an arena for debate between the States in the region on development, disarmament and non-proliferation.


He reaffirmed that democracy was essential, and in that context, noted the peaceful elections that had taken place in Haiti on 29 April.  He recognized the work carried out by the Government and the people of Haiti towards achieving stability in that country.  At the same time, he called on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to continue its work in close collaboration with the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).


LAWRENCE OBISAKIN ( Nigeria) said that a speaker yesterday had given an erroneous impression when referring to the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, based in Lome, Togo.


Indeed, he said, the Centre in Togo was struggling to pay its director and staff.  It had relied on voluntary donations, and a recent report by the Secretary-General had stated that the centre could not function in a sustainable manner without funds.  Africa sought understanding in passing the resolution introduced on the Centre.  According to an African proverb, it was during the dry season that one could find the source of water.  It was a dry season for the Centre, and he hoped that the source of water could soon be found.


Thematic Debate on Disarmament Machinery/Introduction of Drafts


FAYSAL KHABBAZ HAMOUI ( Syria) introduced a draft resolution on the Report of the Conference on Disarmament (document A/C.1/62/L.11*).  The draft text was in line with the resolution from previous years, which had been adopted without a vote.  The preamble reaffirmed that, in 2007, the Conference managed to conduct a great number of substantive debates and adopted a substantive report, which had been submitted to the General Assembly.  It had displayed the important progress that had been made and the important contributions made by its members.  Experts had participated in the Conference, and there had been messages expressing support for the important role of the Conference as a unique multilateral forum.


He also expressed satisfaction that the incoming President of the Conference had started serious negotiations.  That was a promising sign for that body’s upcoming work in 2008.  Hopefully, the First Committee would adopt the draft resolution, without submitting it to a vote.


JOSE JULIO PEREIRA GOMES ( Portugal), on behalf of the European Union, expressed strong belief that a multilateral approach to security, including disarmament and non-proliferation, was the best way to maintain international order.  The Union, as a staunch supporter of multilateralism, saw as mutually reinforcing the United Nations General Assembly and its First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament, the United Nations Disarmament Commission, and the various international treaties, with their bodies and review processes.  In light of the new threats to security, the disarmament machinery was gaining an even more important role, and the international community should make every effort to persevere, where possible, to further strengthen that architecture.


He underlined the international community’s broad support for the establishment of the Office for Disarmament Affairs, which was tasked with fully implementing the relevant mandates, decisions and resolutions of the General Assembly.  Hopefully, the Secretary-General’s reform initiatives would lead to further revitalizing United Nations action in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.


The Union recognized the importance of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral forum available to the international community for disarmament negotiations, he continued.  It had constantly been committed to agree on a programme of work capable of overcoming the current stalemate.  It had been encouraged by the constructive, structured and substantive discussions that had taken place during the first part of this year’s session, and by the momentum created by those discussions.  The momentum had culminated in the presentation of a presidential draft decision for a work programme, as well as two further documents.  Those three documents had fostered hope that the stalemate would finally be overcome.  The Union regretted that no consensus on those documents could be established so far, and it continued to urge those few remaining States members of the Conference to go along with consensus, in order for the Conference to resume its negotiating role early in 2008.


He hailed the Disarmament Commission as another important part of the disarmament machinery.  The Union’s objective in that respect remained that the Commission agree on “Recommendations for achieving the objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” and “Practical confidence- building measures in the field of conventional arms”.  The Union’s faith in a positive result at the end of the Commission’s three-year cycle was unchanged.


The existing machinery had produced important commitments in the disarmament field, he said.  However, some problems relating to its functioning remained unsolved.  The dynamics of today’s international relations put increased responsibility on the machinery to adapt and update existing “acquis”.  What was essential for such machinery to function properly was political will to use it in good faith, and full compliance with the obligations and commitments it produced.


JOHN DUNCAN (United Kingdom), aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said that arms control and disarmament had “stumbled along the road”, and there was a real concern that progress achieved at the end of the twentieth century might be put in doubt.  All multilateral institutions needed a strong sense of purpose and to reflect on the world “as it is, not as it was”.  Global challenges included religious extremism, inequality, climate change and nuclear proliferation, and those dangers should be addressed by “all of humanity, in all its diversity”.


Beyond those crises, he said, it was necessary to improve global capacity to prevent the emergence of conflict, in particular, by controlling the spread of weapons, whose easy availability made it simple to set up militias and provoke violence and mayhem.  Last year, the First Committee had “voted overwhelmingly” to take forward United Nations work towards an arms trade treaty, and the United Kingdom would continue to work towards this goal.


It was vital to adapt and strengthen other multilateral institutions and networks, in order to renew their mandates, reform the way they worked and allow them to adapt more quickly to new threats, he said.  Further, it was necessary to focus on diplomacy, or “soft power”, as well as on “hard power”.  Taking into account the economic and commercial interests of the players involved had been shown to deliver results in arms control.  For example, the United Kingdom and European Union industry was fully behind an arms trade treaty because they saw advantages in being perceived as “responsible” players.


Looking forward to the upcoming meeting of the States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, he said that force protection was a key issue that must be discussed, besides the moral and humanitarian concerns of those weapons.  The military utility of cluster weapons should also be considered.  It was also necessary to build confidence that any new arrangements would not simply create a cartel of high-tech manufacturers.  Thus, in finding a solution to that real-world problem, a clear understanding of the interests and concerns of others was needed.


He said that those principles of understanding should apply across the arms control and disarmament agenda.  While there was certainly a place for rhetoric and declaration, the challenges ahead were “sufficiently grave to demand a new level of responsible engagement, a recognition of the collective interest, and a willingness to reach out beyond the old groupings”.


ZDZISŁAW RAPACKI ( Poland) said that in 2006, the six presidents of the Conference on Disarmament -- Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal and Slovakia –- had initiated a mechanism of cooperation, now commonly known as the “P6”.  Coordination and close cooperation had allowed for continuity in the Conference presidents’ actions, as well as for consistency and coherency.  That had led to the comprehensive and balanced timetable of activities, which covered all items on the Conference’s agenda.  Focused, structured debates, with the participation of experts from capitals, had been based on the “P6” timetable and had resulted in an in-depth examination of all items on the Conference’s agenda, including the so-called core issues.


In 2007, he noted, the Conference presidents had made a serious effort to bring the Conference closer to the adoption of the work programme.  The outgoing presidents should conduct intensive consultations, in order to clarify members’ positions towards the proposals contained in document CD/2007/L.1, and they should report back on the outcome of those consultations at the beginning of the 2008 session.  While conducting the work of the Conference in a focused and well-scheduled manner, ways should be sought to open negotiations on the issues that were most “ripe”.  Previous years had shown that it was important to be comprehensive in the examination of all agenda items.  Those years had also shown that there was the “most substance” for opening negotiations on fissile material.  That issue attracted the most attention and had the mostconcrete proposals to examine for the shape, scope and content of a future treaty.


* *** *

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