REVIEW CONFERENCE OF PARTIES TO NPT OPENS AT HEADQUARTERS; MUCH DISARMAMENT MACHINERY HAS ‘STARTED TO RUST’, SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS
Beginning Four-Week Conference, Delegates Elect Officers, Adopt Agenda
As the four-week Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) opened at Headquarters this morning, States parties were expected to review the implementation of the instrument and identify the areas where further progress was needed.
The Conference is scheduled to last until 19 May. The Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty, which was signed in 1968 and came into force in 1970, is one of the most important legal instruments in the area of disarmament. With 187 States Parties, it is the most widely subscribed-to diarmament treaty today.
In his opening statement, Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that while the NPT was needed more than ever, it was still a paradox, for no one could be satisfied with the degree of implementation so far. He also underscored the fact that some 35,000 nuclear weapons remained in the arsenals of the nuclear Powers, with thousands still deployed on hair-trigger alert.
“Much of the established multilateral disarmament machinery has started to rust”, he said. -– a problem due not to the machinery itself but to the apparent lack of political will to use it”. In that respect, the most effective way of achieving progress would be to embark on a results-based Treaty review process that focused on specific benchmarks, including the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); the deep, irreversible reduction in stocks of nuclear weapons; the consolidation of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and negotiation of new ones; and binding security guarantees to non-nuclear-weapon States Parties. Yet another would be introducing improvements in the transparency of nuclear weapon arsenals and nuclear materials.
The newly elected President of the Conference, Abdallah Baali (Algeria), also drawing attention to the existing arsenals of nuclear weapons capable of obliterating all human accomplishments, further underscored that by conducting nuclear tests in the last two years, India and Pakistan had dealt a serious blow to the global non-proliferation regime. Because of their disagreements, the world now faced the spectre of nuclear war for the first time since the Second World War.
He said the task today was to take stock of what had or had not been achieved. At the same time, while it must be recognized that some progress had been made, there were still other grounds for concern. He cited: the non- adherence of Cuba, Israel, India and Pakistan to the non-proliferation regime; the refusal of the United States Senate to ratify the CTBT; the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament between the Russian Federation and the United States; the new nuclear strategies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Russian Federation; the challenges to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the intention of the United States to deploy an anti-missile defence system; and the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament.
Calling upon all nations to commit unequivocally to the non-proliferation regime, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, said that the Agency's strengthened verification system represented a new era in the NPT's history. It was a "smart", non-discriminatory system, designed to draw comprehensive conclusions about States' compliance with their non-proliferation obligations.
He stressed that it was crucial for all States to subscribe to the new measures, without which the IAEA's conclusions would not adequately cover possible undeclared activities. Verification, no matter how good it was, could not work in a vacuum, but should continue to be supported by effective physical protection and export control, enforcement mechanisms, and above all, regional and global security arrangements.
As a key component of the NPT, international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should continue, he said. That, however, required that technical cooperation resources be predictable and assured. To that end, all States parties should pay their target contributions in full and on time. "Although the NPT regime is by no means a perfect regime, it is clearly the best we have. We should therefore continue to cement it and build upon it to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons and underpin the safe transfer of peaceful nuclear technology.”
Opening the session and submitting the final report of the Preparatory Committee was the Chairman of the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee, Camilo Reyes Rodriquez (Colombia).
Also this morning, the Conference elected Abdallah Baali (Algeria) as its President; Camilo Reyes Rodriguez (Colombia), Adam Kobieracki (Poland) and Markku Reimaa (Finland) as Chairmen of the three Main Committees of the Conference; and Andre Erdos (Hungary) as Chairman of the Drafting Committee. Makmur Widodo (Indonesia) was elected Chairman of the Credentials Committee. The Conference also confirmed the nomination of Hannelore Hoppe as the Secretary-General of the Conference, and elected 29 Vice-Presidents from three regional Groups.
From the Group of Eastern European States, it elected Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Latvia, Romania, Ukraine and Lithuania. From the Western Group –- Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands and United Kingdom. Vice-Presidents from the Group of Non-Aligned and Other States, Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Iran, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and China were elected. Five more candidates will be elected following consultations.
In other action, the Conference adopted its agenda and programme of work. It also adopted a decision on the establishment of two subsidiary bodies to provide for focused consideration of specific issues relevant to the Treaty. The representative of Egypt made a statement in that connection.
Also this morning, observer status was granted to Cuba, Palestine and the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific Forum, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the European Commission, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the League of Arab States, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Nuclear Energy Agency, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials.
The Conference will open its general debate at 3 p.m. today.
Conference Work Programme
This morning, the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was expected to begin its four-week session, electing its officers and adopting its agenda and programme of work. The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were expected to address the opening meeting, as well as the President-elect of the Conference and the Chairman of the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee. For background information, see Press Release DC/2691.
Introduction of Report
Opening the Conference and submitting the Preparatory Committee’s final report, CAMILO REYES RODRIGUEZ, Chairman of the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee (Colombia) said that the Review Conference of 1995 had adopted decisions on the indefinite extension of the Treaty and on strengthening its review process, as well as principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
This year’s Conference was expected to examine the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty, which came into force 30 years ago. Taking into account the decisions and the resolution adopted in 1995, the Conference was going to identify the areas where further progress was needed and ways to achieve it. This year’s event was of special significance in the current situation, where efforts at all levels needed to be pursued vigorously to ensure progress towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. She urged the Conference to discharge its responsibility wisely.
The Preparatory Committee had adopted its final report on 21 May 1999. Many of the recommendations on the procedural aspects of the work of the Conference would be addressed separately under the relevant items of the agenda. During the period from April 1997 to May 1999, the Committee had held three sessions, during which it was able to agree on all main issues related to the organization of the Conference. At its third session, the Committee had also focused its discussions on the final outcome of the Conference. Throughout the preparatory process, the Committee devoted most of its meetings to a substantive discussion on all aspects of the Treaty. Despite many efforts, however, the Committee was unable to reach agreement on any substantive recommendation to the 2000 Conference.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), President-elect of the Conference, said that the international community was embarking today on an exercise that would be long, painful, and particularly delicate, because the Conference, the first since the NPT was extended indefinitely, was taking place in a very uncertain international context. The task today was to take stock of what had or had not been achieved. The aim was to learn from failures and to do more, and if possible, better. From that standpoint, the international community could observe a lack of progress and even some setbacks, notably in the area of disarmament, which had given rise to a feeling of frustration among a number of countries and even among international civil society. At the same time, it must be recognized that some progress had been made.
The most serious of the negative developments in the past five years was the situation in India and Pakistan. By conducting nuclear tests two years ago, those two countries had dealt a very serious blow to the global non-proliferation regime. Because of their disagreements, the world now faced the spectre of nuclear war for the first time since the Second World War.
He said there were still other grounds for concern: the non adherence of Cuba, Israel, India, and Pakistan to the non-proliferation regime; the refusal of the United States Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament between the Russian Federation and the United States; the new nuclear strategies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Russian Federation; the challenges to the Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABM) Treaty and the intention of the United States to deploy an anti- missile defence system; the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament; and the fact that there were 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world capable of obliterating everything that humanity has accomplished.
The picture was not entirely grey. After a few disappointments, the Russian Parliament had finally ratified the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II), opening up new opportunities for nuclear disarmament and promising prospects for this Conference. Since 1995, the number of States parties to the NPT had increased steadily. It was now 187, making the Treaty the most universal of all multilateral disarmament instruments. The IAEA safeguards under the NPT were now an integral part of the international non- proliferation regime and had proven to be effective in helping to enforce it. New treaties had been signed establishing nuclear weapon-free zones in Africa and South-East Asia, while efforts to denuclearize Central Asia were nearing fruition.
The outcome of the Conference would have a major impact on deciding the future course of the NPT and the nuclear non-proliferation regime for generations to come, he said. Efforts by States parties alone, however, were not enough. The role of civil society would be crucial for future progress. The world should strive to bridge its differences and approach the Conference with a determination to find a common agreement on realistic measures that could help it in advancing further towards the full realization of the goals of the Treaty, from now until the next review Conference in 2005 and beyond.
KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that while the NPT was needed more than ever, it was still a paradox. Even though 187 States were parties to the Treaty, no one could be satisfied with the degree of implementation so far. The challenge would be to embark on a process that would ensure the full implementation of all the provisions of the Treaty by all States Parties. Nuclear conflict remained a very real possibility. That stark reality imposed an obligation on all to use every instrument to pursue the Treaty’s non-proliferation and disarmament aims with equal and unwavering determination. The world needed to look no further than to the discovery of clandestine nuclear-weapon development programmes to realize the magnitude of the challenge.
The fact was that compliance with the NPT’s non-proliferation obligations was incomplete and had not always been satisfactory. He called upon all parties to redouble their efforts to combat a common threat, and to sign and bring into force the Protocol of the IAEA which was designed to enhance assurances about compliance. Nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in 1998 had been a serious setback for the global norms against nuclear testing and nuclear proliferation, and should make clear to all the need to fight proliferation. The Conference also faced major challenges in fulfilling the disarmament aims of the NPT. Some 35,000 nuclear weapons remained in the arsenals of the nuclear Powers, with thousands still deployed on hair-trigger alert.
There had been no nuclear disarmament negotiations for many years concerning strategic or tactical nuclear weapons, he said. The Conference on Disarmament was still the single multilateral negotiating body for disarmament –- yet its efforts to make progress on nuclear disarmament and other issues had been frustrated by a lack of consensus. In addition, much of the established multilateral disarmament machinery had started to rust –- a problem due not to the machinery itself but to the apparent lack of political will to use it.
Over the last few years, what had been witnessed was the re-affirmation of the nuclear weapon doctrines of all the nuclear-weapon States. Some States retained first-use nuclear doctrines and some did not exclude the use of such weapons even against non-nuclear-weapon States. And though some nuclear-weapon States had provided new information about their arsenals, the lack of transparency remained a problem with respect to the numbers of weapons, as well as with the amounts of nuclear material.
The most recent challenge in the area of nuclear disarmament was the growing pressure to deploy national missile defences. That pressure was jeopardizing the ABM Treaty and might well lead to a new arms race, setbacks for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and the emergence of new incentives for missile proliferation. He hoped that all States would take great care to weigh those dangers and challenges before embarking on a process that might well reduce, rather than enhance, global security.
The most effective way of overcoming the challenges ahead would be to embark on a results-based Treaty review process that focused on specific benchmarks. One benchmark would be the entry into force of the CTBT. Another would be the deep, irreversible reduction in stocks of nuclear weapons, wherever they might be. A third would be the consolidation of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and negotiation of new zones. A fourth would be binding security guarantees to non- nuclear-weapon States Parties. Yet another would be improvements in the transparency of nuclear weapon arsenals and nuclear materials.
MOHAMED EL-BARADEI, Director-General of the IAEA, said that the Agency’s safeguards played a key role in the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The Agency had continued to function as the competent authority to verify and assure compliance with States' safeguards obligations under article III of the Treaty. It had also continued to provide assurance that no nuclear material placed under safeguards had been diverted for any explosive or unknown purposes. He was pleased to report that a further 28 Treaty parties had brought comprehensive safeguards agreements into force since the beginning of 1995, raising the overall total to 128. The Agency was making every effort to encourage the remaining 54 parties to conclude the required agreements, which were a sine qua non for the Agency's verification ability.
Remarkable progress had been achieved with regard to the strengthening of the safeguards' effectiveness. The discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons programme had jolted the international community into urgently considering ways and means of strengthening the safeguards system. As some important measures required additional legal authority, in May 1997 a Model Protocol Additional to Safeguards Agreements was adopted. It was to become the standard for individual additional protocols to be concluded with States with comprehensive safeguards agreements.
The new Protocol allowed the Agency to provide credible assurances of compliance with non-proliferation commitments. It empowered the Agency to seek a broad range of information about all aspects of a State’s nuclear and related activities and provided a broader right of access for the IAEA inspectors to relevant facilities and locations. The Protocol also contained new administrative arrangements to improve the efficiency of safeguards. The Agency's obligation was not limited to nuclear material actually declared by a State — it also extended to what was required to be declared. It was only in respect of States which had both a comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol in force, that the Agency would be able to implement fully the safeguards under the Treaty.
Against that background, it was disappointing that progress in signing and bringing additional protocols into force had been slow. Only 44 non-nuclear- weapon States parties to the NPT had concluded additional protocols, and only nine such protocols had entered into force. He urged all non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty to conclude additional protocols at the earliest possible date to enable the Agency to discharge fully its responsibilities under article III of the Treaty.
A priority area of work was to "integrate" existing safeguards activities with the new strengthening measures for a State as a whole to provide assurance of non-diversion and absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. He expected the technical framework for the implementation of integrated safeguards to be completed by the end of 2001. Work was currently focused on developing the necessary guidelines, which would enable the Agency to maintain assurance of the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities; and identify subsequent measures to be applied to declared nuclear material in various nuclear facilities to provide assurances of its non-diversion.
The 1995 Principles and Objectives stressed that fissile material transferred from military use to peaceful nuclear activities should be placed under IAEA safeguards. Since 1996, the Agency had been engaged in consultations with the Russian Federation and the United States regarding verification of weapons origin and other fissile material to be submitted by those two States. Key to that undertaking was the development of a model verification agreement, which would effectively ensure that the material remained permanently removed from weapon programmes, while preventing the disclosure of sensitive and classified information. While significant progress had been made in that area, the important issue of financing of that new verification task still needed to be addressed.
The Agency's programme for the security of nuclear and radioactive material, which was established in 1995, included information exchange, provision of standards and guidelines, and measures to help States control and protect nuclear material and radioactive sources. Although the 1995 Conference reiterated the call to ensure the necessary resources for the Agency, its safeguards mandate increasingly continued to be underfunded, and its budget for safeguards had been almost frozen for over a decade as a result of a policy of zero real growth. Thus, while the IAEA’s regular budget for safeguards had been at a level of roughly $82 million per year for several years, its expenditure had averaged about $95 million per year. The uncertainly surrounding the receipt of extra-budgetary resources inhibited proper planning and made it difficult for the Agency to fulfil its mandate.
No review of the Agency's activities would be complete, he said, without reference to the two cases of non-compliance with NPT safeguards agreements, namely Iraq and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Although the Agency had been able recently to carry out an inspection in Iraq, it could not serve as a substitute for its activities under the resolutions of the Council. As a result, the Agency could not at present provide assurances that Iraq was in compliance with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions.
With regard to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Agency remained unable to verify the correctness of the country's initial declaration of its nuclear material subject to safeguards and could not, therefore, provide any assurance about non-diversion. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea remains in non-compliance with its safeguards agreement, which remained valid and in force. The country continued to accept IAEA activities solely in the context of the "Agreed Framework" with the United States. As requested by the Security Council, the Agency was monitoring a "freeze" of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's graphite moderated reactors and related facilities under that agreement.
Regarding the peaceful applications of nuclear technology, the IAEA had been recognized as the principle vehicle for the transfer of technology as foreseen in article IV of the Treaty. At the end of 1997, a new technical cooperation strategy was adopted, which was designed to ensure response to the real needs of countries and produce significant socio-economic impact. It also identified priority areas and best practices to achieve the project objectives. Technical cooperation among developing countries continued to be a key strategy.
The Agency was strengthening regional cooperative agreements in many regions of the world. About 85 per cent of the Agency's technical cooperation efforts were directed towards non-power applications, including health, food, agriculture, water management, environmental monitoring and industrial uses. Training was an important aspect of the Agency's activities. During the last five years, the international safety regime for international nuclear cooperation had been greatly strengthened. The Agency's priority objective was to establish a comprehensive worldwide safety culture.
He concluded by stressing a number of important points. The Agency would continue to strengthen its safeguards system in order to provide credible assurance. However, without the conclusion of the required safeguards agreements, the Agency could not provide any assurances about compliance by States with their non-proliferation obligations. And without the Additional Protocol, the IAEA could only provide limited assurances. In order for the Agency to perform its mandate in an optimal manner, its safeguards activities had to be fully funded, in an assured and predictable manner.
The Agency's strengthened system of safeguards ushered in a new era in the history of NPT verification. It was a “smart” non-discriminatory system, which, when fully implemented, would contribute positively to the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime. However, verification, no matter how good it was, could not work in a vacuum. It should be supported by other elements of the non- proliferation regime, including effective physical protection and export control arrangements; enforcement mechanisms; and above all regional and global security arrangements and accommodations. Those elements had to work together.
As a key component of the NPT, international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should continue. That, however, would require that technical cooperation resources be predictable and assured. To that end, all States parties, particularly major donors, should pay their target contributions in full and on time.
Although the NPT regime was by no means a perfect regime, it was clearly the best available. The United Nations should therefore continue to cement it and build upon it to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons and underpin the safe transfer of peaceful nuclear technology. In many respects, the regime had been strengthened: the verification system was now more vigorous; the Security Council was now better placed to exercise its role in prescribing compliance-inducing measures; and the exporting States were more conscious of the need to ensure that there was no misuse of nuclear-related items.
On the other hand, he said, the nuclear disarmament process had continued to be sluggish, and recent indications were worrisome. Despite progress towards achieving universality of the regime, several nuclear capable States still remained outside its bounds. The regime should not be allowed to unravel. Unequivocal commitment by all nations to the basic tenet of the regime was of crucial importance. Comprehensive and in-depth dialogue among the weapon States on practical measures to gradually reduce the number of nuclear weapons and to move away from dependence on them would be an important step.
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