|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
2011 Substantive Session
310th & 311th Meetings (AM & PM)
UN Disarmament Machinery Can Help Achieve Goals, but Ultimate Responsibility ‘Lies
at Doorsteps’ of Member States, Disarmament Commission Told as Session Opens
Persistence Will Shape Contours of New World — for Better or for Worse —
Disarmament Chief Says, Urging Endurance of Solemn Legacy, Creation of New Future
Despite an eleven-year stalemate in the Disarmament Commission over ways to achieve nuclear disarmament and wide scepticism that confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms would also remain elusive, hope remained for achieving consensus on each item of that body’s painstakingly agreed agenda, said Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs as he opened the Commission’s 2011 substantive session.
With the end of its three-year cycle fast approaching, the Commission’s current session was especially important, said Mr. Duarte, pressing States to break the current standoff. Each item — recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade; and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms — was part of a larger ambition to achieve the United Nations ultimate objective: general and complete disarmament under effective international control.
But while the United Nations disarmament machinery was intended to help achieve common goals, “the ultimate responsibility for the fate of disarmament initiatives lies at the doorsteps of our Member States, whose policies, priorities and sheer persistence will shape the contours of our world to come — for better or worse,” he said. Those, in turn, would be influenced by the actions and expectations of civil society. “Together, we have a solemn legacy to maintain and a new future to create for generations yet to come,” he declared.
Consensus should be possible, said Commission Chair Hamid Al-Bayati of Iraq, citing widespread agreement on the importance of the issues at hand. Obstacles should not be allowed to undermine collective efforts, as a lack of consensus would only add to the Commission’s unsatisfactory record. There was potential to move forward, especially as related to agreed guidelines or norms. What was needed was political will to restore the credibility of the United Nations disarmament machinery.
To that point, Pakistan’s representative wondered whether the goals of non-proliferation could be achieved while an “elite club” continued to hold on to nuclear weapons. Some had argued the Commission had not lived up to its potential. “This is not a failure of the disarmament machinery,” he said, but rather of political will to promote disarmament. Until nuclear disarmament was achieved, non-nuclear-armed States would continue to be entitled to assurances that such weapons would not be used against them.
Moreover, the present focus on a fissile material cut-off treaty followed a pattern of negotiating only those agreements that did not undermine the security interests of the major Powers, he said. To advance disarmament and non-proliferation goals, such a treaty must provide for the multilateral reduction of existing fissile stocks and take a broader approach to the definition, scope and verification of that material.
Throughout the day, delegates underlined the need to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, reduce nuclear warheads and allow non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to exercise their legitimate right to participate in the research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination. In that regard, Indonesia’s representative, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern at the persistence of “undue restrictions” on exports of such materials, equipment and technology to developing counties.
“Security is global or it is nothing at all,” declared Senegal’s representative, noting that glimmers of hope had been seen in the conclusion of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the United States and Russian Federation, and the August 2010 entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Those events had created momentum for new progress.
Taking that a step further, Brazil’s delegate said the time was ripe to start negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention, which would prohibit those arms and lead to their irreversible, transparent and verifiable destruction, according to an agreed legal framework and specified timelines. Another positive step would be the negotiation, in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, of a verifiable treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons that took into account existing stocks and prohibited future production.
For its part, the United States would be as flexible as possible on procedural matters and substantive outcomes, said that country’s representative. Given that there were only three weeks left in the issue cycle, he recommended distilling from previous efforts only the most broadly agreed, realistic and focused approaches that had the best chance of commanding consensus on agreed principles, guidelines and recommendations. “We simply must keep trying,” he said.
In other business today, the Commission elected as Vice Chairs Byrganym Aitimova (Kazakhstan) from the Group of Eastern European States; Jean-Cédric Janssens de Bisthoven (Belgium) and Francisco-Javier Sanabria (Spain) from the Group of Western European and Other States; and Saliou Niang Dieng (Senegal) from the Group of African States.
In addition, Benin’s representative was elected as Rapporteur, and Nigeria’s representative was elected as Chair of Working Group 2.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Hungary (on behalf of the European Union), Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Australia, Japan, Kenya, Bangladesh, United Republic of Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Sweden, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Montenegro, China and the Republic of Korea.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Republic of Korea also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Disarmament Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 5 April to continue the general debate of its 2011 substantive session.
The Disarmament Commission met today to open its 2011 substantive session, which will run until 22 April. The Commission, which meets for three weeks, operates in plenary meetings and working groups, with the number of working groups depending on the number of substantive items on its agenda. The 2011 session features three agenda items: recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade; and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.
SERGIO DUARTE, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the Commission’s substantive work was taking place in an evolving international environment, with some events opening possibilities for new progress in dealing with weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms, and others raising concern that multilateral efforts to meet those challenges would give way to other alternatives. At best, those could include gestures by like-minded States to plant the seeds of future multilateral norms; at worst they could lead to the desperate pursuit of security through “armed self help”.
He said that while the United Nations disarmament machinery was intended to help achieve common goals, “the ultimate responsibility for the fate of disarmament initiatives lies at the doorsteps of our Member States, whose policies, priorities and sheer persistence will shape the contours of our world to come — for better or worse.” Those, in turn, would be influenced by the actions and expectations of civil society — the “peoples of the United Nations”.
The current session was especially important, he said, given that the Commission was approaching the end of its three-year cycle. Despite past frustrations, hope remained for achieving consensus on each agenda item: recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade; and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.
He expressed hope that the Secretary-General’s report on the 2010 High-level Meeting on revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament, to be submitted next year to the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, would state that the Commission had reached consensus on its agenda issues. The fate of that report — and of the Commission — remained in the hands of Member States. Each of the agenda issues was part of a larger ambition — “general and complete disarmament under effective international control” — which was the United Nations ultimate objective. Expressing hope for achieving consensus in the weeks ahead, he declared: “Together, we have a solemn legacy to maintain and a new future to create for generations yet to come.”
Disarmament Commission Chair HAMID AL-BAYATI of Iraq said that in confronting future challenges, States should recognize that all the Commission’s work was important to advancing nuclear disarmament and strengthening peace and security. He hoped that growing recognition of the magnitude of the stakes in disarmament and non-proliferation would be conducive for achieving a positive outcome for this year’s substantive session, the last in the current cycle.
Indeed, he noted, past efforts to achieve progress had not been successful and obstacles were inherent in trying to achieve consensus. In the end, consensus should be possible, given the widespread agreement on the importance of the issues before the Commission. Obstacles should not be allowed to undermine collective efforts, as a lack of consensus would only add to the Commission’s unsatisfactory record over the years.
Progress towards achieving consensus on recommendations depended on the space created for such developments in the broader field of non-proliferation and arms control, he said. That also was true for the elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade. The substantive session was an opportunity to take stock of progress and forge a vision for the next decade that transcended any issue or challenge. He was confident that delegations would bring current discussions on the issues at hand to a conclusion. There was potential to move forward, especially as related to agreed guidelines or norms. What was needed was political will to restore the credibility of the United Nations disarmament machinery.
Recalling that former President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, had a reputation for the manufacture of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, he said Mr. Hussein had wasted millions of dollars of Iraqi wealth on such programmes. After his fall in 2003, Iraq had begun pursuing an open policy with the international community, based on respect for international law and international humanitarian law. The new Constitution outlined that Iraq would fulfil its international obligations for non-proliferation and non-use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, among other things.
Today, Iraq was party to many treaties, he said, including the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, among others. Iraq’s cooperation in those fields allowed for its selection to the executive council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for 2010 to 2012.
The Commission then took note of document A/CN.10/L.54, recalling its decision to uphold the agenda, at its organizational session on 28 March.
CSABA KÖRÖSI (Hungary), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the renewed momentum in global disarmament and non-proliferation as illustrated by, among other things, the successful 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and the entry into force of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Reinforcing the non-proliferation regime should be a key priority for all States, as the proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their means of delivery to non-State actors was one of the greatest threats to “our common society”. The European Union, therefore, was an active supporter of the rigorous implementation of Security Council resolutions 1540 (2004) and 1887 (2009).
He said the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) remained the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime, and in that vein, the Union remained committed to the full implementation of the understandings reached at the 1995 NPT Review Conference concerning the resolution on the Middle East and the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means in that region. At the same time, NPT’s regime was particularly challenged by the nuclear proliferation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the risk of nuclear proliferation in Iran. The Union deplored Iran’s continued failure to address serious concerns on the nature of its nuclear programme. It reiterated its commitment to seeking a comprehensive, long-term solution to the Iran nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations in accordance with Security Council resolution 1929 (2010).
The European Union reiterated its call for the universal conclusion of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) comprehensive safeguards agreements and Additional Protocol, and supported the further development and the implementation approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, he said. Pending the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Union urged all States to abide by a moratorium and to refrain from any actions that were contrary to the Treaty’s provisions. It also attached great importance to the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. In that connection, the adoption of the 2009 programme of work for the Conference on Disarmament (document CD/1864) had demonstrated that the start of those negotiations was within reach.
He said that the Union, in the course of the three-year cycle in the Disarmament Commission, had underlined the need to devote adequate attention to conventional weapons, including the full implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. It was strongly committed to improving the international and regional responses to the harmful and destabilizing effects of unregulated transfers of conventional weapons and their diversion into the illicit market. It believed that the Open-Ended Meeting of Governmental Experts to be held on that issue in May was an occasion to apply a pragmatic and results-driven approach to enhancing the implementation of the Programme of Action.
Finally, the delegation felt that transparency in military matters, including international arms transfers and military spending, was a major confidence-building measure that deserved further attention. The European Union remained committed to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention), and supported the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms and the United Nations Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures, as well as strong responses to the humanitarian problems caused by cluster munitions.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, reiterated his delegation’s willingness to work constructively and expressed hope that progress could be achieved with a view to adopting specific recommendations. Regarding recommendations to achieve nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he noted the urgent need for consistent actions aimed at the total elimination of nuclear weapons and for a legally binding prohibition of those weapons within a specified timeframe. The agreed final document of the NPT Review Conference, while imperfect, should be enhanced. The agreed follow-up action plan had positively contributed to the goal of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.
Reaffirming the importance of that Treaty and the balance of its three pillars, he called on State parties to fulfil their commitments and reaffirm the importance of not implementing that instrument on a selective basis. Nuclear-weapon States must fulfil their disarmament obligations under the Treaty’s article VI, without delay, especially practical steps towards nuclear disarmament, agreed in the 2000 NPT Review Conference and the action plan adopted at the Eighth Review. They also must set up measures along those lines.
Reaffirming developing countries’ inalienable right to participate in the research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination, he said that all NPT States parties had the right to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information in that context. Emphasizing the importance for nuclear-weapon States to reduce their nuclear arsenals in an irreversible and transparent manner, he recognized the entry into force of the new START as a step towards reducing deployed nuclear arsenals and looked forward to its implementation. The Group requested additional reductions, notably related to non-deployed and non-strategic arms.
Urging nuclear Powers to withdraw interpretative declarations made about accession to protocols to nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties, he renewed support for the creation of such zones and expressed satisfaction that the final document of the 2010 NPT Review encouraged the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. As for the Conference on Disarmament, he deeply regretted it had not yet agreed on a programme of work for this year, and he urged all of its members to show political will to ensure the start of substantive work, in particular, by adopting and implementing a work programme that advanced the nuclear disarmament agenda. He emphasized the need for all States to maintain a moratorium on all nuclear weapons tests, and underlined the importance of CTBT’s early entry into force. He called on all “Annex II” States to ratify the Treaty.
As for the elements of a fourth disarmament decade, he noted the importance of advancing the international disarmament agenda, saying that now was the time to work on a road map leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons. On the Commission’s agenda item three, his region had taken steps towards the implementation of practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms and considered it necessary to strengthen and extend such measures at all levels.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, underscored that much more remained to be achieved to attain a world free of nuclear weapons. The Movement was concerned about the slow place of progress. It urged States, particularly the nuclear-weapon States, to fulfil completely their pledges and obligations in nuclear disarmament in a transparent, irreversible, and internationally verifiable manner, and nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects. Non-proliferation should be parallel to simultaneous efforts aiming at nuclear disarmament, he said, adding that the Movement hoped that the goals of both agendas would be fulfilled as soon as possible.
He underlined the importance of the Conference on Disarmament as the only multilateral negotiating body on disarmament, and reissued the Movement’s call that the Conference agree on a balanced and comprehensive programme of work, inter alia, by establishing an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament at the earliest and as the highest priority. He stressed the need to start negotiations in the Conference on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons with a specified timeframe, including via a nuclear weapons convention. The Movement also called for an international conference on that matter to be held at the earliest possible date.
Despite the Movement’s best efforts during the 2010 session of the Commission, substantive progress could not be attained in Working Group I on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, he recalled. It expected that agreement to be reached on concrete recommendations in that respect at the current session. The Movement reaffirmed the importance of the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice that there existed an obligation to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, vigorous efforts should be pursued as a matter of priority for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional, and legally binding instrument on security assurances to all non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Additionally, while noting the conclusion of the new START, “reductions in deployments and in operational status can not substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the total elimination of, nuclear weapons,” he said.
He reaffirmed the “inalienable right of developing countries to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination”. In that regard, the Movement remained concerned that “undue restrictions” on exports to developing counties of materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes persisted. Each country’s decision in that respect should be respected without jeopardizing its policies or international cooperation agreements and arrangements.
The Movement had submitted a concrete draft proposal to the Working Group I of the Commission on achieving the universal adherence to CTBT, including by all nuclear-weapon states, he noted, adding his hope that the text would be taken on board during the present session. The Movement was deeply concerned that a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament — “SSOD-IV” — had yet to be convened. Also worrying was the strategic defence doctrines of nuclear-weapon States, including the “NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Alliance Strategic Concept”.
At the same time, the Movement reaffirmed States’ sovereign right to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms for their self-defence and security needs, he said. In that respect, he noted a “significant imbalance” between the industrialized countries and the Non-Aligned Movement countries. The Movement remained concerned about the lack of progress by the nuclear-weapon States in implementing their obligations under NPT and the 13 practical steps, particularly the unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to complete nuclear disarmament. It reiterated its support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The unsafeguarded nuclear capabilities of Israel were “a matter of serious concern for regional and international peace and security”, he said, calling on Israel, as the only State in the region that not joined NPT or declared its intention to do so, to renounce the possession of nuclear weapons, to accede to that Treaty without delay, and to place promptly all of its nuclear facilities under IAEA comprehensive safeguards.
U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, regretted the lack of consensus in the Commission on any substantive issue during its 2010 session. She called on all States to show political good will to achieve recommendations on the agenda items. Calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner, she reaffirmed that multilateral negotiations — in line with the Charter and the United Nations disarmament machinery — constituted the most effective approach for achieving disarmament and non-proliferation.
She urged nuclear-weapon States to implement all their obligations under NPT and its review process, while non-nuclear-armed Powers should urgently be granted unconditional negative security assurances in the framework of a legally binding instrument. An early entry into force of CTBT was among the concrete steps needed to realize a systematic process to achieve nuclear disarmament.
Reiterating the importance of achieving universality of NPT, she said the entry into force of nuclear-weapon-free zones, such as the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Treaty of Pelindaba), were valuable additions to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. She called on the nuclear Powers and others that had not done so to ratify that Treaty’s protocols without delay. The Secretary-General, the three depository States, and all United Nations Member States in the Middle East should support implementation of the action plan agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. Turning to conventional weapons, she pressed for effective implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) said that the multilateral disarmament agenda was one of Australia’s highest priorities. The delegation had played an active and constructive role in the 2010 NPT Review Conference, preparing and tabling, alongside Japan, a package of practical measures that had fed into the final set of actions. Among other contributions, it had also submitted, with New Zealand, a paper calling for greater transparency in reporting by nuclear-weapon States. It was now time to translate the “road map” of the Review Conference into action. “We must move forward now,” he urged. In order to achieve genuine and irreversible nuclear disarmament, it was essential to cap the amount of fissile material available for nuclear weapons. Timely negation of a fissile material cut-off treaty was essential. In that vein, Australia and Japan were hosting a series of expert side events during the current Commission session, which were intended to build confidence and momentum for such negotiations. The Commission must “send a strong signal of support” to the Conference on Disarmament to begin those negotiations, without delay. Differences of opinion within the Conference should not prevent their commencement.
With regard to CTBT, the Australian Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, had chaired the fifth CTBT ministerial meeting in September 2010, and had helped push forward commitments to advocate for the Treaty’s entry into force. The Commission should also give serious attention to halting the illicit proliferation of conventional arms. Australia welcomed the opportunity to address that threat through the negotiation of a comprehensive, legally binding, international arms trade treaty. It was important to maintain the prevailing momentum and “spirit of cooperation” as the Commission worked towards 2012, and Australia stood ready to assist capacity building and consensus building in that respect.
Regarding the “scourge” of small arms and light weapons, Australia was providing practical assistance to States to implement the Programme of Action to address the proliferation of those weapons. It was pleased to be providing some $150,000 to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Scholarship Fund for developing country delegations to attend the related meeting of governmental experts in May. Australia was also the sixth largest contributor to mine action, having provided $175 million over the past 12 years for landmine clearance, rehabilitation and education in 17 countries. In 2009 alone, it had committed a further $100 million towards that goal. It encouraged all States to become party to the Mine-Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and to implement comprehensively their humanitarian objectives.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO ( Senegal) said the non-proliferation and disarmament regime had faced obstacles that had hampered progress in that field — a stalemate which must lead to serious diplomatic efforts for a collective response to security challenges. The pursuit of purely national interests could lead only to defiance and confrontation. “Security is global or it is nothing at all,” he stressed, noting that a few glimmers of hope had been seen in the 2010 NPT Review and conclusion of new START, as well as the entry into force, in August 2010, of the cluster bomb Convention. Those developments had created momentum for new progress.
In that context, he said the will to eliminate nuclear weapons was an objective to be reaffirmed by all States. The NPT Treaty must become universal and the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament machinery must be completed with the entry into force of CTBT, as well as the adoption of a binding instrument on fissile material. Nuclear-weapon States must agree to reduce their nuclear arsenals in an irreversible, transparent and verifiable manner, while more support must be encouraged for the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones, which helped to strengthen confidence and stability. He called on all actors to act in good faith with a view to convening a conference to create such a zone in the Middle East.
At the same time, he stressed, the right to peacefully use nuclear energy must be reaffirmed. Those efforts required strengthening IAEA’s capabilities. In the area of conventional weapons, Senegal awaited a summit on conventional weapons in the Security Council. The instrument on marking and tracing of light weapons also must be legally binding.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) highlighted significant progress in the area of nuclear disarmament and arms control since last year, citing the forward-looking final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and the new START Treaty between the United States and Russian Federation. Yet, ongoing issues — such as the nuclear programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — called for intensifying the momentum for disarmament and non-proliferation. The new cross-regional initiative initiated by Japan and Australia was contributing to maintaining and enhancing such momentum.
Continuing, he said the Declaration of the 2010s as the Fourth Disarmament Decade should outline the principles in the broad areas of disarmament and non-proliferation in a concise and well-balanced manner. Attaching great importance to an early entry into force of CTBT, Japan welcomed United States’ commitments to pursue ratification of that Treaty, and Indonesia’s announcement that it would initiate a process of ratification. He hoped that the remaining Annex II countries would soon follow suit. Negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty was the next logical and critical step, and he urged the start of those negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. In the area of conventional weapons, Japan placed great importance on the role of existing confidence-building mechanisms, such as the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures.
Having long been engaged in the issue of small arms and light weapons, Japan this year would present a resolution during the General Assembly session on defining a path for the follow-up of the United Nations Programme of Action, he said. Japan also consistently had supported the negotiation of an arms trade treaty, believing it was essential to enhance the level of preparatory work to conclude an instrument by the end of 2012. He regretted the Commission had been unable to produce any substantive outcomes in recent years, saying it must conduct the current session with a view towards the issuance of meaningful recommendations. “We should strive to adopt the draft declaration at an early stage and generate renewed momentum towards the goals of disarmament and non-proliferation,” he added.
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said that while the Commission previously had been able to produce guidelines and recommendations related to its mandate, it had been unable to do so in the past decade, owing to a lack of political will and difficulties in bridging differences. Since the present session was the last in the three-year cycle of work, Brazil hoped it could yield substantive results. “Nuclear weapons cannot be justified in the twenty-first century, if they ever were,” she said. The nuclear deterrence concept, created during the cold war, had lost its strategic significance and was no longer crucial for military purposes. “Politically and morally, it has become unsustainable.”
Instead, she said, nuclear disarmament had gained some momentum in the last few years. Brazil believed the “time was ripe” for the beginning of the negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention, which would prohibit those arms and lead to their irreversible, transparent and verifiable destruction, according to an agreed legal framework and specified timelines. Brazil, meanwhile, favoured some intermediate actions, namely giving negative security assurances to non-nuclear- weapon States. In that respect, unilateral declarations did not suffice; only a binding multilateral agreed would do. Brazil welcomed the decision of the eighth NPT Review Conference to encourage the establishment of new nuclear-weapon-free zones, on the basis of freely negotiated agreements among the States in each region, and drew attention to the important decision to hold a conference in 2012 for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. Another positive step would be the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a verifiable treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons, which must take into consideration existing stocks and prohibit future production.
Noting that the Commission would discuss the elements of a draft declaration of the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade, she urged it to take into consideration the commitments made by nuclear-weapon States in the final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference and emphasized the importance of the ratification of CTBT by the States that had not yet done so. The declaration for the decade should support the holding of a fourth special session on disarmament, and it should address relevant issues in the field of conventional weapons, such as the arms trade treaty and the United Nations Programme of Action. The Commission should consider the issue of practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, which aimed at correcting misconceptions and misunderstandings about military actions and policies that might otherwise lead to conflict. Brazil also supported the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, cited several negative developments in the area of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, including that nuclear-weapon States did not appear ready for a zero nuclear weapons option. Contrary to rhetoric heard this morning, many nuclear Powers resisted the start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. There were blatant violations of national and international non-proliferation obligations that included pursuit of double standards, guided by commercial and strategic considerations. There was a widening gap between major Powers and smaller States through the development of anti-ballistic missile systems, militarization of outer space, build-up of conventional forces by major Powers, and erosion of nuclear security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States.
Disarmament was a core issue around which all other security issues revolved, he said, adding that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee for securing durable peace for international security. Could the goals of non-proliferation be achieved while an elite club continued to hold nuclear weapons indefinitely? The Treaty was not meant to divide the world into States that possessed such weapons and those that did not. Some argued the Commission had not lived up to its potential as a forum for deliberation. “This is not a failure of the disarmament machinery,” he said, but rather of political will to promote the disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.
Expressing hope that the Commission could reconcile differences in perspectives, approaches and modalities, he said Pakistan expected it to revive prospects for effective nuclear and conventional disarmament and its meaningful contribution to regional and international peace and security. Unless nuclear disarmament was achieved, non-nuclear-weapon States would continue to be entitled to assurances that nuclear weapons not be used against them. He expressed hope that the Commission would add its voice to the urgency for talks on that subject.
In other areas, he said space security had become an imperative — not an option — and the militarization of space must be prevented. Pakistan also shared concern at unbridled ballistic missile proliferation, and called for enhanced efforts to conclude a comprehensive non-discriminatory and universally negotiated treaty within the United Nations system covering all aspects of missiles. Pakistan’s views on a fissile missile treaty were well-known, and he reaffirmed that no State could be expected to engage in disarmament, arms control or non-proliferation negotiations if those talks undermined its core security interests. For that reason, the Conference on Disarmament worked on the basis of consensus.
That said, the present focus on a fissile material cut-off treaty followed a regular pattern of negotiating only those agreements that did not undermine the security interests of certain States, notably the major Powers. For such a treaty to advance disarmament and non-proliferation goals, it must provide for the multilateral reduction of stocks and take a broader approach to issues of definition, scope and verification of such material. Regarding deliberations on the Commission’s second agenda item, Pakistan was confident discussions could be enriched, with a view to evolving a consensus product.
Moreover, it was imperative to pursue conventional arms control at the lowest possible levels of armaments and military forces, he said. Such arms control needs must be pursued primarily in the regional and subregional context, and States with larger military capabilities had a special duty to promote agreements, such as the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, a cornerstone of regional security. He hoped the Commission would draw on General Assembly resolutions, including on conventional arms control at the regional and subregional level, in preparing recommendations on confidence-building measures.
MACHARIA KAMAU ( Kenya) said that last year’s Commission session had provided “space and time” for delegations to undertake intensive deliberations, albeit, without arriving at common agreement on anything of substance. Kenya called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the surest guarantee of “saving mankind from the effects of such weapons”. In that respect, it believed that multilateral engagement, within the provisions of the United Nations Charter, remained the most effective forum for achieving credible universal nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It urged nuclear-weapon States to exercise due diligence in implementing all their obligations and desist from developing new types of nuclear weapons. Kenya saluted the entry into force of regional nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaties, including the Pelindaba Treaty, and called on all African States that had not yet done so to urgently sign or ratify it.
He said that the illicit trade and proliferation of small arms and light weapons continued to preoccupy Kenya and its region, as it negatively affected security and development. Kenya was a strong backer of the United Nations Programme of Action, and had consistently supported the effort for a legally binding arms trade treaty. In that respect, it was pleased that the international community had agreed that action was needed to address the unregulated trade in conventional weapons, and strongly endorsed the convening of a United Nations conference in 2012 on a treaty for that purpose. “We have no alternative but to rededicate ourselves to facing these enormous challenges in a bid to advance the disarmament agenda,” the delegate concluded.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) said that the current session’s work would be critical for “turning a corner in our disarmament agenda”. Bangladesh had never had “any illusion” that NPT remained the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It reiterated its call, also reflected in Security Council resolution 1887 (2009), that States not party to NPT should accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States, and, pending their accession to the Treaty, to adhere to its terms. Bangladesh called for adopting a balanced approach to addressing the Treaty’s three pillars — nuclear disarmament in countries currently possessing nuclear weapons; non-proliferation to countries not yet in possession; and the peaceful use of nuclear energy for all. It reiterated its call for all States, particularly the remaining Annex II nations, to refrain from conducting nuclear test explosions and to sign and ratify CTBT. Bangladesh was the first Annex II South Asian nation to have joined that treaty.
He said his country supported the Secretary-General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament. In 2010, its Parliament had passed a unanimous resolution supporting nuclear and general disarmament and calling for a nuclear weapons convention. The text also called on nations with nuclear weapon-capabilities to divert $100 billion spent annually on nuclear weapons programmes to climate change programmes and to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals instead. Bangladesh, whose record in disarmament and non-proliferation was “impeccable”, recognized the inalienable right of NPT States parties to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of that Treaty. Bangladesh was working on “making good use of the NPT provision on peaceful uses of nuclear energy” in an effort to improve the standard of living of its people, under IAEA guidance. Additionally, the Commission must not lose sight of the perennial threats posed by proliferation of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons. He called for putting an end to the use of anti-personnel landmines, to which many civilians — including women and children — had fallen victim.
JUSTIN N. SERUHERE (United Republic of Tanzania), citing positive steps by the United States and Russian Federation, said a window of opportunity for disarmament had been opened. “No one should close it,” he stressed, as the need for disarmament was paramount in order to stop both the damage that war wreaked on the global economy and the negative practices promoted by armaments, including acts of terrorism and piracy.
He said his Government believed there was a nexus between security and development, one that could be sustained by upholding the third pillar of the NPT: peaceful use of nuclear energy. Indeed, a lot of resources were used to develop and deploy armaments — nuclear weapons, as well as small arms and light weapons. Saving those resources could help emerging and potential nuclear-armed States develop technology and ensure both security and environmental protection. As for anti-personnel mines, explosives and unexploded ordnance, his country, in cooperation with a Belgian non-governmental organization, had developed a low-cost technology for detecting unexploded ordinance by using giant African rats. He invited the Commission to consider using that technology in mine detection.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that her country, since its independence, had taken a principled stand on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, having voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons and closed its Semipalatinsk test side in 1991. At Kazakhstan’s initiative, the General Assembly had adopted a resolution in 2009 declaring 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. The country was equally committed to enhancing the universality of NPT and promoting implementation of some of the key action points arising from the 2010 Review Conference.
She said Kazakhstan had also been instrumental in the creation of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free zone, and it was committed to the formation of such a zone in the Middle East. Also necessary was to start drafting the fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament. Kazakhstan also supported the vision for a nuclear weapons convention.
Her country upheld the implementation of Security Council-authorized sanctions in the field of nuclear non-proliferation, she said. During Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), regional security measures were undertaken to support those of the United Nations. Finally, her country fully endorsed the implementation of recommendations of the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States to consider the implementation of the Programme of Action on illicit small arms and light weapons trade.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) called for positive results during the Commission’s present session, which took on particular importance as it came at the end of a three-year cycle of work. The Commission should be driven by a “spirit of cooperation and a constructive attitude”. Its agenda would likely yield positive results, as the global context was increasingly encouraging. Algeria would spare no effort in contributing to a positive outcome. With respect to Working Group I, it reiterated that universal nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was the ultimate goal. Much remained to be done in that respect, he added, noting that the military doctrines of some States threatened that aim. The ongoing commitment of all States, including nuclear-armed States, was critical under NPT’s article VI. In order to assess progress in that area, it was also essential that nuclear disarmament be transparent. He called for the implementation of article VI, while reiterating the right of States to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Non-proliferation efforts must be deployed simultaneously with disarmament efforts.
With regard to the declaration on the 2010s as the fourth disarmament decade, it was crucial to reach an agreement on the elements as soon as possible. The draft declaration should reiterate the need for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and for transparency, reaffirm the role of the United Nations, and underscore the importance of universal standards in the field of conventional weapons, among other core goals. As for confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, Algeria welcomed the creation of a third working group but felt that might have been premature as it was crucial to make progress on formulating the elements for the “decade” before moving on to the third item on the Commission’s agenda.
NICLAS KVARNSTRÖM ( Sweden) said that, for more than a decade, the Commission had failed to make any substantial recommendation, and suggested that perhaps it was time for a discussion on its methods of work. “Given the strong global voices for solutions and progress in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation, we have an obligation to seek results and not simply produce policy statements along known lines,” he said, adding that “the state of the disarmament machinery is disheartening.”
Nonetheless, he continued, some developments had arisen outside the Commission. Among those, the 2010 NPT Review Conference outcome document “should provide our discussion with new oxygen”. He also cited the entry into force of the new START. That had shown that reduction of existing arsenals was a “living process”. Nuclear deterrence was becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective, and continued reliance upon it encouraged — or at least excused — the spread of nuclear weapons. Some countries were defying NPT obligations, and in one case even conducting nuclear tests, and were therefore refusing to cooperate with IAEA and to allow the Agency to verify that their nuclear programmes were of a peaceful nature. That issue was of deep and continuing concern.
Peaceful uses of nuclear energy was the third pillar of NPT, said the delegate, adding that Sweden was a strong supporter of multilateral nuclear fuel approaches and the ongoing work to establish a nuclear fuel bank under IAEA control. Sweden was a proponent of “mutually supporting building blocks” towards a “global zero” vision, including a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty, which it believed was within reach, alongside CTBT, IAEA and its safeguards, deeper reductions, nuclear weapons-free zones and other confidence-building measures. It also attached great importance to the strengthened control of conventional weapons transfers.
SIN SON HO (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said nuclear disarmament was of the highest priority due to certain countries’ pursuit of world hegemony based on nuclear weapons superiority. The United States first used nuclear weapons in warfare in 1945, paving the way for others to also possess those weapons. While the current United States’ administration spoke about a nuclear weapon-free world, its policy of monopolizing those weapons remained unchanged. Even today, it was spending large amounts of money under the pretext of securing stability of the nuclear arsenal, and maintaining nuclear forces in areas of strategic importance.
He said that NPT had played no role in nuclear disarmament or the elimination of nuclear threats, contrary to the expectations of non-nuclear-weapon States. It had been misused by some to interfere in developing countries. Only when States with the largest nuclear arsenals took a lead in disarmament would a positive influence be sent to newly emerging nuclear-weapon States.
The United States started blackmailing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with nuclear weapons during the Korean War, he said. Last year, it dispatched the George Washington aircraft carrier into the sensitive West Sea, while from February 2010, it conducted “reckless” joint military exercises with South Korea. The threats against the Korean nation were real, which was why the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea possessed its own nuclear deterrence. His country wished to prevent a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.
He said the United States’ military intervention in Libya showed that the Libyan model of nuclear dismantlement had only coaxed Libya — by using sugar-coated words like “guarantee” and “improvement of relations” — into allowing itself to be swallowed by force. Any attempt by the United States to force the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea into abandoning nuclear weapons was a daydream. If it was really concerned about peace and security on the Korean peninsula, the United States should abandon its hostile policy towards his country.
JOHN A. BRAVACO ( United States) said the Commission was faced with a great deal of work to complete and very little time in which to do so. Fortunately, that task was placed against the backdrop of renewed international achievement in the arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament arenas. In his 5 April 2009 address in Prague, Czech Republic, United States President Barack Obama had outlined actions the country would take to reinvigorate its responsibility to seek peace and security in a nuclear-weapon-free world.
Indeed, he said, the President had acknowledged that the task of strengthening the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, reducing nuclear warheads, preventing access to nuclear materials by terrorists and expanding peaceful nuclear cooperation as a right of every nation that played by the rules would not be easy. Two years in, however, it was fair to say that the President’s speech had helped to set the tone for a number of advances in those areas, including the 2011 entry into force of the new START.
At the same time, there was more to achieve, he said, including the entry into force of CTBT and a start to negotiations on a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty. The United States was deeply disappointed with the failure of the Conference on Disarmament to take up that matter. It would continue to work to make those vital multilateral instruments a reality as “they are so very long overdue”. The United States also would be as flexible as possible on procedural matters and substantive outcomes. “We have come here to do business, and achieve results and foreswear gamesmanship,” he said. As such, the United States supported the creation of another subsidiary body to address the current session’s three issues. The revised general programme of work, approved by the Commission this morning, was “fair” and made the most of the time available.
On substantive matters, he said he looked forward to soon receiving the documents which the three working group chairs planned to use as the basis for achieving consensus. Given that there were only three weeks left in the issue cycle, he recommended distilling from previous efforts only the most broadly agreed, realistic and focused approaches that had the best chance of commanding consensus on agreed principles, guidelines and recommendations. “We simply must keep trying,” he stressed. As always, his country would do its part, he added.
MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro) said that his delegation remained firmly committed to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and consequently to the implementation of NPT provisions and all of its related action plans, as well as to the relevant Security Council resolutions. It supported an early entry into force of CTBT. As for the Conference on Disarmament, Montenegro called for the immediate commencement of negotiations for a fissile material ban based on the so-called Shannon Mandate of 1995. The delegation further attached great importance to the issue of conventional weapons and was devoted to the full implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action. The open-ended meeting of governmental experts, to be held in May, was an opportunity to enhance the Programme’s implementation.
He said his country also strongly supported the negotiations under way on a comprehensive, legally binding arms trade treaty, which it believed should set high standards and norms for the transfer of conventional weapons. It welcomed the adoption of the Vientiane Action Plan 2010-2015 at the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, in Lao Peoples Democratic Republic in November 2010. Montenegro had been among the first 30 States to sign and ratify that Convention, therefore making it possible for it to have entered into force. Montenegro has also successfully concluded the process of destroying its entire cluster munitions stockpile well ahead of the Convention’s specified timeline.
ZHANG JUN’AN ( China), stressing that interdependence between various countries in the security field had never been as strong as it was today, said that situation called for States to embrace a new security concept featuring “mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination”. The Chinese delegation held that nuclear-armed States should fulfil in good faith their nuclear disarmament obligations, as stipulated in article VI of NPT, reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security policies, and unequivocally undertake not to seek permanent possession of nuclear weapons. Those States should also undertake not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States and zones, and commit themselves to concluding an international legal instrument to that effect at an early date. Additionally, the international community should undertake concerted efforts to push forward CTBT’s entry into force at an early date, and commence negotiations on a fissile material ban.
He said that, in confronting the “complicated and volatile” situation of nuclear non-proliferation, the international community should, among other things, resolve hot-spot issues through political and diplomatic means. It should consolidate its global nuclear non-proliferation regime, enhance the universality, authority and effectiveness of NPT, and safeguard the functioning of IAEA. The legitimate rights of each State to peaceful use of nuclear energy should be respected, and the impartiality and non-discrimination in international efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation should be ensured. In the meantime, practices of “utilizationism” and “double standards” should be discarded.
China had long called for peaceful resolution to the Korean peninsula and Iranian nuclear issues through dialogue and negotiations, and had made unremitting efforts to that end, he said. The delegation was further of the view that the fourth disarmament decade should be in line with the final document of the First Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament, and should take into consideration the new characteristics of the current international security environment. Delegations should work together to try to reach agreement on the elements of the draft declaration at an early date.
SHIN DONG-IK (Republic of Korea), cited positive steps in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, included the Security Council summit, as well as the adoption of the final document at the eighth NPT review. He hoped the Commission could facilitate global efforts in those areas and simultaneously lay the basis for furthering the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. With that in mind, he said more attention must be given to confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons. Considering the past decade of stalemate, he hoped discussions on the declaration of the 2010s as the next disarmament decade would proceed in an efficient manner to quickly ensure an agreed text.
He looked forward to meaningful discussions in the three areas, he said, noting that if the Conference on Disarmament remained deadlocked, its status as the premier forum for disarmament would be jeopardized. It should quickly act if it wished to keep playing a central role. The prospects for an early entry into force of CTBT also were “brighter than ever” and the opportunity for action must be seized. He called on States that had not done so to ratify that Treaty, especially the remaining nine Annex II countries. Further, the Treaty’s monitoring and verification mechanisms must be strengthened through the universalization of the IAEA Additional Protocol.
The most pressing issue, however, centred on the fact that efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons programmes remained seriously hampered by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said. The revelation last November of a uranium enrichment programme in that country complicated the task to realize denuclearization. That programme was a clear violation of Security Council resolutions and commitments made in the 2005 Joint Statement. Despite that blatant act of non-compliance, the Republic of Korea continued efforts to move the process forward and remained ready to engage in dialogue once it was certain of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s readiness to end its nuclear ambitions. The international community must strongly condemn North Korea’s clear violation of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), urge it to fully comply with those texts and abandon all nuclear programmes.
Rights of reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, a representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, saying he was responding to the Republic of Korea’s delegate, said his country’s uranium enrichment programme was purely aimed at meeting electrical needs. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was exercising its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy given to all countries. Many States exercised that right and, likewise, his country was conforming to trends of development and international law. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not recognize — and outright rejected — Security Council resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009).
Responding to those comments, a representative of the Republic of Korea said the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy was granted only to States that were members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that faithfully adhered to non-proliferation norms. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had announced its unilateral withdrawal from that Treaty in 2003 and conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. It should not claim any right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009) demanded that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea abandon all nuclear programmes in a complete and verifiable manner.
Exercising his second right of reply, the representative of the Democratic Republic of Korea said that NPT had been misused by the United States to pressure his delegation, and that was why it had withdrawn from the Treaty. Further, it would not re-enter it until that tactic was no longer used. The delegation disagreed with the assertion that countries outside the Treaty had no right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The representative also called on the Republic of Korea not to collaborate with the United States in what he called “self-destructive” moves toward the Korean peninsula.
In response, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that it did not want to expend further time in repeating the “clear and unequivocal position” expressed by the international community towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Instead, he drew attention to Security Council resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), as well as to other resolutions and papers that reaffirmed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not have the status of a nuclear-weapon State and that it must abide by those resolutions, which demanded that it abandon all nuclear weapon programmes in a certifiable manner.
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