DEFICIENCIES OF NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT INSTRUMENTS UNDER WIDE-RANGING ASSAULT AS NPT REVIEW CONFERENCE ENDS SECOND DAY
As the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continued its general debate this afternoon, Egypt’s representative said that the NPT could not have any credibility with the States of the Middle East region as long as one State was exempt from its provisions.
The current imbalance in the Middle East, he said, could not be accepted, and neither could it last. The Conference must be unequivocal in its demand that Israel accede to the Treaty and place all its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards regime. “We have failed to achieve the universality of the NPT”, he said. There had also been a failure to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in South Asia, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) had become an elusive objective after the refusal of the United States Senate to ratify it.
Speaking on behalf of the nations of the Andean Community, Jose Antonio Bellina, Director for Political, Multilateral and Security Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru, said that it was the Treaty that was extended indefinitely in 1995, not the right to keep nuclear arsenals forever. The NPT itself contained the contractual obligation on all the parties to make progress towards general and complete disarmament. It could not be seen as the establishment of an international order based on the perpetual existence of a small group of States entitled to possess nuclear weapons, and a large majority that lacked that right.
The representative of Malaysia said that the process of nuclear disarmament had become more of a case of taking one small hesitant step forward, but two steps backward, as the nuclear-weapon States reasserted their commitment to the dangerous and outmoded doctrine of nuclear deterrence. There was no shortage of ideas on how to propel the disarmament process forward. However, what was seriously required was a comprehensive legally binding international instrument prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, threat or use of nuclear weapons and their destruction.
Kamal Kharrazi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that the Conference must ensure implementation of article IV of the Treaty in all its aspects, especially with regard to transfer of technology, equipment and nuclear materials to developing States. [Article IV of the Treaty guarantees the inalienable right of all the parties to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II.] Under the guise of non-proliferation, systematic denial of transfer of technology to developing non-nuclear-weapon States parties, and restrictive export control by nuclear suppliers, secured the exclusive possession of nuclear technology by developed countries.
Also speaking in this afternoon’s debate were representatives of the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Libya, as well as the Permanent Observer of Switzerland. The Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) also took the floor.
Also this afternoon, the Conference elected Jean Lint (Belgium), Suh Dae-won (Republic of Korea) and Igor Dzundev (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) as Vice-Chairmen of its three Main Committees. Fayza Aboulnaga (Egypt) was elected Vice-Chairman of the Drafting Committee, and Ion Botnaru (Republic of Moldova) Vice-Chairman of the Credentials Committee.
The general debate will continue at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 26 April.
Conference Work Programme
The 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continued it general debate this afternoon. The Conference is regarded as pivotal movement for the Treaty and hinges on States parties’ perceptions about whether the instrument meets their national and international security needs in the new global security environment. (For more background details see Press Release DC/2692 of 24 April.)
Statements in General Debate
MOHAMMAD J. SAMHAN (United Arab Emirates) said global debates had proved that the security of States could not be ensured by stockpiling and amassing nuclear weapons. Hence the entry into force of the NPT. In that regard he called upon States parties to respect the obligations enshrined in the Treaty that prohibited nuclear weapons. He also called upon those countries which had not adhered to the NPT to do so immediately. The United Arab Emirates further called for the establishment of an ad hoc committee of the Disarmament Commission.
Since the last review conference of the NPT in 1995, a number of positive gains had been made, he said. Nine countries had adhered to the NPT, for example, including his own country and Oman. While the Middle East had opted to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone, Israel still represented the only country in that region which had not adhered to the Treaty and still possessed nuclear weapons of mass destruction. That was a serious threat to peace in the Middle East. This Conference must therefore call upon the Israeli Government to give up its nuclear arsenal.
He also called for a halt to the provision of the type of scientific and technical assistance that had assisted Israel in amassing nuclear weapons. That country’s adherence to the NPT would put an end to many of the tensions in the Middle East. He further called upon the Conference to find positive solutions to guarantee the global nature of the NPT.
KAMAL KHARRAZI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that on a positive note, the Treaty had to a large extent succeeded in curtailing horizontal nuclear proliferation, thereby enhancing international peace and security. However, much remained to be accomplished. Progress on nuclear disarmament, security assurances and cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy had been slow and dismal. More importantly, the Treaty had yet to become universal.
The nuclear-weapon States had an international obligation to end the manufacture of nuclear weapons, liquidate all their existing stockpiles, and eliminate nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. Their duty to negotiate in good faith had been underlined by the International Court of Justice. However, a growing number of indicators suggested the persistence of nuclear deterrence doctrines and refusal by nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. It was necessary to start negotiating an additional protocol to the NPT to prohibit the use of nuclear weapons.
In the meantime, there was a great potential for further diversification of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Article IV of the Treaty provided a broad-based scheme for that. The record of commitment to article IV, however, was not promising. One could not but express dismay over the systematic denial of transfer of technology to developing non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT, and the restrictive export control policies by nuclear suppliers. Disguised under the pretext of non-proliferation, those regimes had the objective of securing the dominance and exclusive possession of nuclear technology by developed countries. The Conference must take effective measures to guarantee realization of article IV in all its aspects, especially with regard to transfer of technology, equipment and nuclear materials to developing States.
Regarding security assurances, he said that some nuclear-weapon States had tried to confine them to nuclear-weapon-free zones or to place conditions on them. It was necessary to obtain more stringent and specific nuclear security assurances in the form of a legally binding international instrument. Turning to the situation in the Middle East, he said that Israel should be forced to renounce nuclear weapons, accede to the NPT and bring all its facilities and programmes under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The review process of the Treaty should be strengthened. To guarantee compliance of States parties, it was necessary to set up a standing body to coordinate and harmonize implementation. That could be addressed without amending the Treaty.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that “we have failed to achieve the universality of the NPT”. There were still States that possessed advanced nuclear capabilities and had either not adhered or not declared their intention to adhere to the Treaty. There had also been a failure to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in South Asia. As for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), it had become an elusive objective since the United States Senate’s refusal to ratify it. Moreover, the Conference on Disarmament had not yet succeeded in initiating negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, or in agreeing on the bases of such an instrument. In addition, a resolution on the Middle East had called upon all the States of that region which had not yet done so to adhere to the Treaty and to place their nuclear facilities under the safeguards regime of the IAEA. Any possible progress in that regard continued to be met by Israel’s intransigent refusal to adhere to the NPT or come under the Agency’s safeguards system.
Egypt had put forward many proposals on steps to be taken by Israel and the States of the region to rid the Middle East of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. His country had forwarded those proposals in the hope of initiating a positive dialogue that would contribute to breaking the current impasse and to reaffirming the obligation on the Israeli side to take practical and concrete steps to render the region free from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Such an understanding would strengthen the security of the region, and avoid a regional arms race with all its attendant dangers. Unfortunately, Israel had not responded to any of Egypt’s endeavours. Neither did the former accept to engage in a calm dialogue based on logic, understanding and the right of all States of the region to live in peace and security.
He said the current imbalance in the Middle East could not be accepted and could not last. The NPT would have no credibility with the States of the region as long as one State was exempt from its provisions. The message of this Conference must be unequivocal in its demand that Israel accede to the Treaty without further delay, and that it place all its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards regime. Egypt also believed that the outcome of the review process of the NPT, after its indefinite expansion, must call upon all parties to the Treaty, particularly the nuclear-weapon States, to seek to achieve the NPT’s universality and ensure the strict implementation of its provisions.
CAMILO REYES RODRIQUEZ (Colombia) said his country was committed to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. It participated in the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and attributed special importance to the NPT. The package of decisions by the 1995 Review Conference had not yet been fully implemented, and that was a cause of concern. As Chair of the Third Preparatory Conference, his country had made significant efforts to ensure the implementation of the NPT. The regime must be not only preserved, but also strengthened and made more efficient. The international community should not shy away from new constructive proposals. It was necessary to overcome the sense of frustration that some delegations seemed to feel.
Since the 1995 Review Conference, he continued, some important developments had taken place. Following the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, States that advocated nuclear disarmament could no longer tolerate the proliferation of nuclear weapons to new countries. It was necessary to place the facilities and programmes of all countries in the Middle East under IAEA safeguards. It was gratifying that the Russian Duma had ratified the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II), but much still remained to be done in that area. The nuclear-weapon States must take decisive steps to eliminate nuclear weapons, and his delegation supported the New Agenda proposed by a group of countries to that end. It was also necessary to ensure wide accession to the CTBT, and a non-discriminatory convention on the cut-off of fissile materials should be concluded.
Colombia had no nuclear-weapon aspirations, and it intended to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes only. However, the promised process of cooperation towards peaceful nuclear development had been highly unsatisfactory. In that connection, he proposed holding a special conference of the parties to promote transfers of technology and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
FAWZI SHOBOKSHI (Saudi Arabia) expressed concern that the world was farther from achieving the principles and objectives of the NPT. Despite some limited progress among the nuclear-weapon countries on unilateral and bilateral levels to reduce their nuclear arsenals, the parties to the Treaty could not halt the horizontal and vertical spread of nuclear weapons. In addition, those States parties could not establish a fair equilibrium between nuclear- and non-nuclear- weapon countries on the issue of the total elimination of nuclear armaments. The world was plagued by large arsenals of nuclear weapons, the spread of such weapons to other countries, and the double standards employed by major Powers in dealing with those countries. Such issues cast doubts on the effectiveness and credibility of the NPT in achieving its main objectives.
He said the nuclear-weapon States had to be reminded of their responsibility not to assist non-nuclear States, either directly or indirectly, in manufacturing, producing, stockpiling or acquiring nuclear weapons. The international community could not accept any leniency in dealing with the serious challenges to safety and the credibility of the NPT. On the other hand, non-nuclear States must have guarantees that they would not be subjected to nuclear attacks or the threat thereof. There was a pressing need for the international community to work harder to make non-proliferation obligatory. That would not be achieved without collective political will to strengthen the non-proliferation system; reducing the strategic and political importance of nuclear weapons in international politics; and commitment to implement existing treaties that called for disarmament and the reduction of nuclear stockpiles.
He said that at a time when the NPT was of great importance to the Arab States, Israel refused to sign the Treaty and obstructed the process under way to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone. That country’s position clearly contradicted its calls for peace. Its possession of nuclear weapons and threats to use them were all part of its policies to achieve hegemony in the region. That was cause for concern and a threat to the peace and security of both the region and the world. Israel’s refusal to join the Treaty regime would not be resolved or corrected by using double standards. That would not help non-proliferation in the Middle East. It was hoped that this Conference would draft a document that emphasized the need to achieve international consensus, urged all States to join the NPT, and emphasized the need to make the Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction.
JOSE ANTONIO BELLINA, Director for Political, Multilateral and Security Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru, speaking on behalf of the Andean Community nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela) said that the Conference must clearly establish that there was no reason whatsoever to believe that the indefinite maintenance of nuclear weapons could be justified. What had been extended indefinitely in 1995 had been the Treaty, not the right to keep nuclear arsenals forever. The NPT itself contained the contractual obligation on all the parties to make progress towards general and complete disarmament.
It was essential for the non-proliferation regime to be truly effective and universal, he continued. In that sense, he particularly welcomed the adherence of Chile and Brazil — countries of his region — to the Treaty. The transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes to States without nuclear weapons must be promoted. It must be remembered that international cooperation in the sphere of the peaceful use of nuclear energy continued to be questioned by certain groups. It was necessary to find innovative and original methods to permit the participation of both developed and developing countries in the decision-making. In that regard, the IAEA had an important role to play.
Calling on the whole Southern Hemisphere to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone, he stressed the importance of the existing Treaties of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Pelindaba and Bangkok. His delegation also believed that a reassertion of the commitment of the nuclear States along with positive guarantees as well as negative ones, would permit an easier acceptance of the Treaty by States that were not yet members. The entry into force of the CTBT was particularly important. The NPT must not be seen as the establishment of an international order based on the perpetual existence of a small group of States entitled to possess nuclear weapons, and a large majority that lacked that right.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) associated himself with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement and said that at the 1995 Conference, his delegation had had reservations regarding the indefinite extension of the Treaty because it would provide a “carte blanche” for the nuclear-weapon States. His delegation had also argued that the indefinite extension did not serve as an incentive towards universality. Given the dismal record of nuclear disarmament during the period under review, he saw no reason to revise the conclusions it had made at that time. Self-serving national interests of the nuclear-weapon States parties had taken control of the process, at the expense of the larger interests of the international community.
He went on to welcome a number of positive developments, including the conclusion of the CTBT, the recent ratifications of START II, and the development of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Turning to recent negative events, he said his delegation believed that the agreements made at the 1995 NPT Review Conference had not been fully honoured. The process of nuclear disarmament had become more of a case of taking one small hesitant step forward, but two steps backward. While some progress had been achieved over the last decade in the reduction of the total number of nuclear weapons deployed, the nuclear-weapon States had reasserted their total commitment to the dangerous and outmoded doctrine of nuclear deterrence.
In contemplating future steps to be taken, the States should recall the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, he continued. The NPT was at a crossroads. The goodwill and patience of the non-nuclear-weapon States had been put under severe strain by the lack of demonstrable political will on the part of the nuclear-weapon States. There was a danger of serious erosion in the objective of nuclear non-proliferation and in the Treaty itself. There was no shortage of ideas on how to propel the disarmament process forward, and many of them deserved serious consideration. However, what was urgently required was to work for a comprehensive legally binding international instrument prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, threat or use of nuclear weapons and their destruction under effective international control.
ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said the NPT had not achieved its objectives. Non-nuclear-weapon States that were parties to the Treaty had committed themselves not to develop nuclear weapons, in return for the commitments of nuclear-weapon States to certain obligations –- gradual nuclear disarmament and the eventual destruction of their weapons of mass destruction. Since the holding of the review conference five years ago, there had been both positive and negative developments to the NPT regime. On the positive side, the use of nuclear weapons or the threat to use them in disputes was now illegal. Also, the CTBT now existed, along with the ratification by the Russian Federation of the START II Treaty. On the negative side, the United States Senate had rejected ratifying the CTBT. There was also that country’s decision to develop its “star wars” option. That could provoke a new arms race. Then there was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) espousing the notion that nuclear weapons were the only means of keeping peace.
He said certain States that were not parties to the Treaty continued to develop nuclear weapons and increase their arsenals. The United States had ignored the huge Israeli nuclear arsenal, and had provided that country with assistance in developing such weapons. There was obviously a double standard in Washington. The Arab region, on the other hand, now came under the threat of nuclear weapons. That threat spread from South Asia to North Africa to the Middle East. The continued development of destructive weapons by Tel Aviv was a peril that threatened the region. If those weapons were not eliminated immediately, efforts to bring peace to the Middle East would fail.
He also stated that one European State had given Israel three submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Yet, another European State had secretly negotiated to sell nuclear reactors to the Israelis. In addition, the United States Department of Energy had lifted all restrictions on Israeli scientists visiting United States centres for nuclear research. He stressed that all countries should be treated equally and that Tel Aviv should not be exempted from the NPT.
He added that the present Conference must stress the absolute and urgent necessity for Israel to adhere to the NPT and come under the IAEA safeguards regime. The transfer of nuclear-related technology, weapons, explosive devices, equipment, material, resources and information to Israel should also be prohibited as long as that country was not a part of the Treaty. He drew attention to the fact that Libya had been forbidden access to spare parts for washing machines, because it was claimed that those parts could be used to produce chemical weapons. That was just one example of the prevailing double standard at work in the world today. There should be an international standard to set rules. It should not be left up to one country to impose its hegemony.
JENO STAEHELIN, Permanent Observer of Switzerland, said that the military significance of nuclear weapons remained unchanged, even though their political importance was perhaps diminished. Nuclear deterrence continued to be part of defence doctrine, and new arguments for maintaining nuclear arsenals had been put forward. The CTBT and START II agreement had not yet come into force, and the Conference on Disarmament had bogged down. Nuclear tests in South Asia had been a brutal reminder that regional instabilities could become a source of nuclear proliferation, and doubts remained as to whether Iraq and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were fully complying with the Treaty.
The 1995 decision to extend the Treaty must not mean an indefinite extension of the status quo, particularly as far as the prerogatives of the nuclear-weapon States were concerned. The work of the Conference should result in the adoption of two types of documents — a review of the implementation of the Treaty and the outcome of the 1995 Conference; and a new package of reaffirmed principles and updated and supplemented objectives. The starting point for a revitalization of the review process should be reaffirmation of the link between disarmament and non-proliferation; and the link between the extension of the NPT and the adoption of the other documents of the 1995 Conference.
It was also necessary to establish new objectives, he said. A new action plan should include confidence-building measures and increased transparency efforts. The Conference should encourage further systematic reductions in nuclear weapons on the basis of article VI, with a view to their complete elimination. The United States and the Russian Federation had a special responsibility in that respect. The reduction of nuclear arsenals should include the elimination of warheads and tactical nuclear weapons. Negotiations to conclude a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for explosive purposes should be initiated without delay, and the Conference on Disarmament should intensify its efforts in the area of security assurances. Regional aspects of non-proliferation should also receive special attention.
WOLFGANG HOFFMAN, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, said that by putting an end to testing, in any realistic way, the CTBT impeded the development of evermore sophisticated nuclear weapons. The Treaty was expected to stop vertical and impede horizontal nuclear proliferation. With its present 155 States signatories, the CTBT was approaching the status of a universal Treaty. Membership and ratification had been the focus of the first Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, which was held last October in Vienna. The Treaty provided that the global verification regime should be capable of meeting its verification requirements at the time of entry into force. One of the main tasks of the Preparatory Commission was to build up the worldwide network of stations that comprised the International Monitoring System. All the data from the monitoring facilities would be made available to the States signatories. There were provisions on consultation and clarification for dealing with ambiguous events. Work was going on in the International Data Centre — the nerve centre of the verification regime.
The Commission was also preparing the groundwork for on-site inspections, provided for by the Treaty, he said. Training the national staff from States signatories had been an ongoing effort. In establishing the global verification regime, the Organization was equipping 89 countries with cost-free cutting-edge technology, supporting the operation of their stations and training their staff.