29 May 1998

Press Release


(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 28 May (UN Information Service) -- Pakistan told the Conference on Disarmament this morning that an Indian attack on its nuclear facilities would warrant a "swift and massive retaliation with unforeseen consequences".

Reading a statement from his country's Foreign Ministry, the Pakistani representative before the Conference said Islamabad had been receiving information of the possibility of attacks on its nuclear installations to prevent the country from "taking appropriate decisions in its supreme national interest to respond to Indian actions". Pakistan had informed the permanent members of the Security Council, he said, and it had asked the United Nations Secretary-General to counsel restraint on New Delhi.

Also this morning, the Conference's incoming President, Murat Sungar of Turkey, said a 26 March decision on a programme of work had created the mechanism that would allow the forum to embark on substantive activities without delay. He added that the cooperation and support of all would be crucial in the attainment of the shared objective, especially in view of recent events which had significantly altered the international setting in which the Conference operated.

The plenary meeting of the Conference was also addressed by representatives of Egypt, Japan, Colombia and the United Kingdom. The next plenary meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday, 4 June.


MURAT SUNGAR (Turkey), incoming President of the Conference, said he was aware that, before the beginning of the 1998 session, the Conference had been criticized for not starting any substantive work after the conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations in August 1996. In fact, some had described the situation as one of "deep crisis". However, with the skilfully drafted decision CD/1501 of 26 March, the Conference had created the mechanism that would allow it to embark on its substantive work without delay. Indeed, the Chairman of the ad hoc committee on negative security assurances established through that decision, Antonio de Icaza of Mexico, had already launched the process of organizing the work of that panel. Furthermore,

the special coordinators called for in that text -- on anti-personnel land mines, on prevention of an arms race in outer space, on transparency in armaments, on improved and effective functioning of the Conference, on review of the agenda of the Conference and on expansion of the membership of the Conference -- had already started the implementation of their respective mandates. (For the names of the special coordinators, see Press Release DCF/333.) He looked forward to productive cooperation with those distinguished representatives. For his part, he had already undertaken to build on the process initiated by his predecessor to translate into action the decision to pursue intensive consultations and seek the views of the members of the Conference on appropriate methods and approaches for dealing with agenda item 1, entitled "Cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament", taking into consideration all proposals and views on that item. The cooperation and support of all would be crucial in the attainment of the shared objective. That was all the more important in view of recent events, which had significantly altered the international setting in which the Conference operated.

MOUNIR ZAHRAN (Egypt) said the events of the past few weeks left no doubt that disarmament was facing major challenges. At times like this, it was imperative to deal with the heart of the problem: nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The nuclear tests recently conducted by India gave only an indication of the problem. In the midst of the outcry that had followed the tests, and while in no way attempting to justify nuclear testing, one should have the courage to admit that that situation represented only the tip of the iceberg. In that regard, he recalled that, during negotiations on the CTBT, he had proposed that the ban should cover all nuclear-weapon testing. Unfortunately, certain nuclear-weapon States had insisted that the ban should be limited to nuclear-test explosions. He had gone on record to deplore the fact that such an attitude only made the CTBT another partial test-ban treaty. That situation would affect the credibility of nuclear disarmament efforts. That had been demonstrated by the dismal results of the recently held second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

It was essential after a failure so dismal as that of the second session for one to uncover the lessons to be learned, he said. The first lesson was that the credibility of the nuclear non-proliferation regime had been seriously brought into question. Nuclear-weapon States had not convinced countries with nuclear capabilities to adhere to the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The second lesson was that some, in their obstinate determination to block any mention of Israel, continued to block any meaningful international discussion on how to achieve the universality of the NPT. The third lesson was that international public opinion had come to the conclusion that something substantive must come out of the interminable meetings in the field of nuclear disarmament. GUSTAVO CASTRO GUERRERO (Colombia) said the city of Cartagena, Colombia, had been the scene of the ministerial meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of

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the Non-aligned Movement on 19 and 20 May. In the final document of the meeting, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and heads of delegation had reiterated that, with the end of the cold war, there was no justification for the maintenance of nuclear arsenals, or concepts of international security based on promoting and developing military alliances and policies of nuclear deterrence. He requested that the document be distributed as an official document of the Conference.

IAN SOUTAR (United Kingdom) said he wished to draw attention to the agreement reached on 25 May by the Council of the European Union on a code of conduct on arms exports. Through the code of conduct, member States of the Union, among other things, committed themselves to preventing the export of equipment which might be used for internal repression or international aggression, or contribute to regional instability. Each State had to report annually on how it applied the code.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that in the wake of India's recent nuclear tests, Pakistan had been receiving information of the possibility of attacks on its nuclear installations to prevent the country from taking appropriate decisions in its supreme national interest to respond to Indian actions. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry had just issued a statement saying that last night, Pakistan had received credible information that an attack was to be mounted before dawn. The Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad had been summoned to the Foreign Ministry early today and asked to convey to New Delhi that Pakistan expected the Indian Government to desist from any irresponsible act. The Indian High Commissioner had been clearly told that any attack on Pakistan's nuclear facilities would be in violation of an existing agreement between the two countries. Any such act would warrant a swift and massive retaliation with unforeseen consequences. Pakistan had also sent immediate messages to the permanent members of the Security Council, and it had asked the United Nations Secretary-General to counsel restraint on New Delhi.

AKIRA HAYASHI (Japan) reported on the Seminar Conference on the Technical Issues for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), held on 11 and 12 May at the Palais des Nations under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. He said the first session of the Seminar began with discussions regarding the coverage of an FMCT in terms of the Shannon Report and the mandate contained therein. Participants were of the opinion that all plutonium and highly enriched uranium should be subject to a strict verification mechanism under the terms of the treaty. The questions surrounding Uranium 233 were also discussed. In addition to fissile materials not directly usable for nuclear weapons, such as low-enriched uranium and spent fuels, the problem of existing stockpiles was also addressed.

Concerning the issue of verification, he said, many participants felt that both the diversion of fissile material and any undeclared enrichment or reprocessing should be detected through routine-type inspections that would

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correspond roughly to the current comprehensive safeguards measures of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But it was felt that if the level of assurance provided through routine-type inspections was limited, challenge- type inspections could prove useful. Participants considered several verification alternatives and the applicability of the existing IAEA safeguards mechanism to an FMCT was thought to warrant further careful consideration. With regard to nuclear-weapon States, as well as those States not party to the NPT, many participants stressed the need of developing national systems such as the State's systems of accounting for and control of nuclear material and/or a physical protection system. Many participants saw the IAEA as the most suitable body to carry out verification tasks under an FMCT. However, they were cautioned that, because an FMCT would lead to an expansion of verification activities, due consideration should be given to the new infrastructure that those activities would surely require. Issues of ensuring transparency and irreversibility were also addressed in the Seminar. Though those elements might fall outside of the scope of an FMCT, many participants felt that they were extremely important and deserved consideration.

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