6 February 1997
Mr. MARTINEZ MORCILLO (Spain) (translated from Spanish):
The Conference on Disarmament has just concluded the negotiation of
the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, so that the logical consequence of the momentum
that has been launched is that the next, complementary step will necessarily
be negotiations on a treaty for the prohibition of fissile material for
nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, in other words, what
is known in our jargon as the "fiss ban" or "cut-off". If the negotiation
of such a treaty is the logical consequence of the fact that the process
for the signature and ratification of the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has been
initiated, the preference that we attach to it is recommended or even imposed
by the fact that this Conference has already managed to agree on a mandate
in this area and that all that is needed is for the appropriate ad hoc
committee to be set up. We are not unaware of the fact that the negotiation
of a treaty of this nature is going to be fraught with difficulties, and
the proof of this lies in the difficulties that have already arisen, which
prevented the establishment of the ad hoc committee in the past. But equally
I believe that no one can be unaware that the signing of the Nuclear-Test-Ban
Treaty would somehow be incomplete if we do not seek to create a legal
instrument that would solve one of the problems that in the natural course
of events is going to crop up sooner or later, a problem that has already
arisen in the International Atomic Energy Agency in connection with the
possession of surplus fissile material.
Mr. MOHER (Canada):
On Tuesday, we commented further on cluster 1, "Nuclear weapons", and during that intervention repeated our view that a mechanism or mechanisms to deal realistically and substantively with nuclear disarmament issues and to negotiate fissile material "cut-off" on the basis of the Shannon report will be necessary to break the log-jam in our efforts to find a realistic work programme in 1997. We firmly believe that certain key countries will have to agree to find a compromise in that regard and we encourage you, Mr. President, to continue your diligent efforts and we certainly welcome other creative, positive ideas to move us forward to that end. This is not just an effort on our part to find some kind of mindless compromise: it is our national view that nuclear disarmament issues should, and can, be considered substantively in this forum.
As I informed all delegations through the group coordinators who participated in the Presidential consultations yesterday afternoon, I intend to hold three consecutive sessions of open-ended Presidential consultations, each of which will be devoted to a fissile ban convention, nuclear disarmament, anti-personnel landmines and other items as appropriate. This morning's session, which will start in 15 minutes' time, will be devoted to discussing the fissile ban treaty. A second session, to be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday 11 February, will be devoted to discussions on nuclear disarmament. A third session, to be held at 3 p.m. on the same Tuesday, will be devoted to anti-personnel landmines and, time permitting, the third session will also be devoted to other items as appropriate and the agenda per se. Of course, the planned three sessions may be extended or reduced depending on the time consumed by the discussions. At the end of such open-ended Presidential consultations, depending on and on the basis of the outcome of such consultations, I hope I will be in a position to propose the next course of action for the Conference on Disarmament.
Mr. ZAHRAN (Egypt) (translated from Arabic):
In principle, the delegation of Egypt has no reservations concerning your proposal to hold consultations on the items to which you have referred. We have reservations only as regards separating the item on the prohibition of the production of fissile material and the item on nuclear disarmament. We consider that this item is a sub-item of nuclear disarmament; in other words the "fiss ban" or "cut-off" (prohibition of the production of fissile materials) could be discussed as a sub-item of nuclear disarmament. The same applies to nuclear security assurances, the prevention of nuclear war and the nuclear arms race. All these are considered as sub-items, particularly as the decision on "Principles and objectives" which was adopted by the NPT Review and Extension Conference referred to the prohibition of the production of fissile material as one of the items which should be discussed within the framework of nuclear disarmament. It also mentioned the fact that security assurances for non-nuclear States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons should be the subject of negotiations within the framework of a multilateral and legally binding international instrument. I am saying this because it falls within the framework of nuclear disarmament and the best assurance for non-nuclear States is that we should be able to live in a world which is free of nuclear weapons. When we have achieved this objective, we will not need to negotiate a convention to provide the necessary assurances for non-nuclear States. This is what I wanted to emphasize, Mr. President. However, we are fully ready to cooperate with you within these limits and within this framework and trust that God will grant you success. We assure you of our cooperation.
Mr. LEDOGAR (United States of America):
I would like to point out that there is no consensus in this Conference on what is called "nuclear disarmament". My delegation, among others, is opposed to the concept of the Conference on Disarmament doing "nuclear disarmament". I would not think for a minute of absenting myself from a meeting that you called on the subject, however, because I think that would be discourteous, disruptive and very impractical. So, of course, I would attend the session that you have indicated you would like to hold on the subject of nuclear disarmament.
Mr. RAMAKER (Netherlands):
Yesterday, for those who were not yet informed, as far as I am aware, no decision was taken because you simply gave us pre-information of what you actually announced today and which, if I understood it well, meant that we would set aside some time in a couple of mornings and afternoons to have informal consultations - open-ended, so everyone is free to come or not to come - on "cut-off", nuclear disarmament, on landmines and on other issues. And, as I understand it, there is also an interest to discuss other issues. I think that you have put this very wisely and very pragmatically because I think we have to have some clarity in our minds about what it is that we are talking about on each of these issues before we can agree on an agenda and work programme, which, indeed, is desirable. So, nothing of what you have proposed - and I hope that that is a misunderstanding that can be eliminated - contradicts any of the established procedures of the Conference.
Mr. de ICAZA (Mexico) (translated from Spanish): I apologize for taking the floor again, Mr. President. I am doing so because perhaps in my previous statement, when I was taken by surprise by the proposals you made, I spoke in categorical terms and this led some colleagues to understand that I intend to be discourteous. I wish to assure them that that is not my intention. I will not attend the consultations on mines next week, and I will not attend any others either, because I will not be in Geneva, I will be in Mexico in the first place. But in the proposal you are putting before us in this plenary, which is going to be placed on record, I perceive a difficulty.
You say that we are going to hold three open-ended Presidential consultations, three separate meetings, on specific subjects - on fissile material, on nuclear disarmament and on mines. I look at the procedural framework in which we operate and I see that rule 19 tells me that the arrangements for the work of the Conference must be agreed by the Conference, and in rule 22 I see that the Conference may hold informal meetings to consider substantive matters and the organization of work. I suppose this means substantive matters within the competence of the Conference. And you are making a procedural proposal that, if I remain silent, I automatically assent to work being carried out on three subjects. This obliges me to examine the three subjects, and I see that nuclear disarmament has been on our agenda for many years, and it is even in item 2 on last year's agenda. Of course I have no problem with holding an informal meeting to speak about something that has been on our agenda for a long time. And you tell us that the second meeting will be on fissile material, and there are documents of this Conference telling us that, in the past, there was institutional machinery on this topic; there is even a report dated 1995 that contains a draft mandate. I have no difficulty about holding informal, or formal, or whatever sort of consultations you like on a subject that the Conference has had on its agenda for a great deal of time.
Sir Michael WESTON (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland): I simply wanted to join with those who had thanked you for your proposals, Mr. President, and congratulate you on your constructive and determined efforts to get this show on the road. I really find it incredible that anyone should deny the right of the President to hold consultations, and yet that seems to be what we are doing now.
A lot of delegations have said that we should set up an ad hoc committee,
as we have agreed to do, on "cut-off". You have quite correctly said that
there are a lot of delegations who think that nuclear disarmament should
be a priority and, also, a lot of delegations who have talked of landmines.
But you have not said that you will confine yourself in the consultations
to these three subjects, and I think it has been quite clear, as the distinguished
Ambassador of the Netherlands said, it would be possible if he wishes to
bring back his predecessor and call for an ad hoc committee on radiological
weapons, and there is nothing to prevent this either. You could also have
said, and this was a point made by the distinguished Ambassador of France,
that these are three subjects on which there have been specific proposals
to create ad hoc committees. There has been a specific proposal to have
an ad hoc committee on fissile material cut-off, there has been a specific
proposal by the Group of 21 to set up an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament,
and - I do not suggest that this has the same status - but there has been
a Franco-British proposal for an ad hoc committee on anti-personnel landmines.
And these, I think, are formal proposals. The objection has
been that landmines is not even on the agenda. But, I mean, if one wishes to make a lot of this point, we could perfectly well say that it should be dealt with under agenda item 7, in the same way as it has been agreed that "cut-off" - which, again, is not mentioned by name on the agenda - should be dealt with under agenda item 2.
Mr. AKRAM (Pakistan):
We are not challenging the authority of the President to convene informal consultations. You had mentioned, as has been stated, you had mentioned that you would conduct informal consultations last week, but you had mentioned them in an informal meeting. When you bring this proposal into the plenary and announce that you will be conducting consultations which are devoted to three subjects, the question arises: Are those subjects on our agenda? And the answer is: not yet. They are not yet on our agenda. We have to agree to those subjects, and possibly others, to put them on our agenda, and once they are on our agenda we will then be in a position to consult, and to agree upon, the negotiating modalities on those issues. You cannot short-circuit the procedures that are provided for by our Conference's rules. That is the simple point that we are trying to make.
I suggest that the first informal open-ended Presidential consultations be held at 3.30 this afternoon in order that you will have some time to breathe over the lunch-time and, again, I remind you, these are open-ended informal Presidential consultations. So, such consultations will be devoted to the fissile material cut-off, and then another full session will be devoted to nuclear disarmament, and another one to landmines. We may extend or reduce the meetings, depending upon the time necessary for carrying out my informal Presidential consultations which will stay open-ended.
The next plenary meeting of the Conference will be held on Thursday, 13 February at 10.00 a.m.