2 May 2000

Press Briefing



Canada was concerned that nuclear arms control had been faltering and crucial long-term trends were deteriorating, Chris Westdal, that country's Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, told correspondents this afternoon at a Headquarters press conference.

He said that Canada had come to the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) with four main objectives: promote and protect universality; secure general agreement on a programme of action over the next five years to promote the full implementation of the Treaty; reinforce the qualitatively strengthened review process; and build global conviction and political will in support of nuclear disarmament and non- proliferation through an enhanced public and political profile for the Treaty and the Review Conference.

The Treaty, which his country signed in 1968, was a treaty of commitment and not convenience, he said. The NPT was the world's most successful and most widely adhered to multilateral arms control treaty, with 187 State parties. The collective decision of 174 States, who were party to the Treaty in 1995, to extend it indefinitely, enshrined its values and enhanced its authority and integrity. Without nuclear disarmament, there would be nuclear proliferation. The permanence achieved five years ago was not a permit to retain nuclear weapons forever. In fact, that permanence made the obligation on all States parties to get rid of nuclear weapons and to stay rid of them unending.

An assessment of the past five years presented a mixed record, he said. The nuclear-weapon tests by India and Pakistan in 1998 constituted a major challenge to the NPT's global non-proliferation norm. The rejection of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) by the United States Senate last October was a significant step backwards and the proposed unilateral National Missile Defence System would have serious implications for the NPT regime. Also, the entry into force of the CTBT remained a distant prospect. Further, the world's sole multilateral arms control negotiating forum, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, had remained deadlocked for three consecutive years, unable to agree on a programme of work. In addition, compliance with the NPT by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iraq remained incomplete.

Meanwhile, he continued, there had also been good news. Nine additional States had joined the Treaty since 1995, bringing its current membership to 187, the most of any treaty. The Russian Duma had ratified the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty II (START II) and the CTBT, thus paving the way for the early negotiation and conclusion of START III. Nuclear weapon reductions, mandated under START I and II, continued to be implemented by the United States and Russia, with START I implementation ahead of schedule. France and the United Kingdom each unilaterally reduced their national inventories of nuclear warheads. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system had been strengthened through the adoption of additional protocols.

He said that Canada would continue to resist any movement to legitimize, de facto or de jure, any new nuclear-weapon State. He urged all States that had not yet done so to join the NPT and the CTBT without further delay and without conditions. He also urged all participants in the Conference on Disarmament to

Canada Press Conference - 2 - 2 May 2000

show flexibility and to agree on a work programme and to commence negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

For more than half a century, successive Canadian Governments had sought to complete elimination of all nuclear weapons, he said. The "so-called nuclear disarmament article", article 6 of the NPT, was the only place where a legal obligation to nuclear disarmament was undertaken. That article entailed two distinct undertakings by a State party: first, to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament; and second, on a treaty on general and complete disarmament, under strict and effective international control.

The first of those commitments, he continued, was not conditional upon the achievement of the second. Any explicit or implicit linkage or interpretation of article 6 that nuclear disarmament would be achieved only when general and complete disarmament had been achieved was unacceptable. "Or when every last bow and arrow, Swiss army knife, stick and stone is gone."

Canada, he said, supported the implementation of additional measures to promote enhanced confidence, accountability and transparency in the nuclear warhead inventories of all five nuclear-weapon States. It sought the elimination of the threat posed by tactical nuclear weapons. Also, it supported the preservation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty as a pillar of the effort to reduce strategic offensive forces.

For many years, Canada had been championing the prevention of nuclear weapons being deployed in space, he went on to say. He would like to see continuing consultations on establishing a standing mechanism at the Conference on Disarmament to discuss non-weaponization of space and favoured the early entry into force of the CTBT. Through that Treaty, the international community must affirm the ending of all nuclear explosive testing in all environments for all time.

In addition, he fully supported the strengthened safeguard system of the IAEA and urged all States parties to conclude strengthened safeguards agreements through the additional protocols with the Agency as soon as possible. Also, he urged both the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iraq to restore their full compliance with all aspects of the NPT and with relevant IAEA and Security Council resolutions.

In response to the joint statement made yesterday by the five nuclear-weapon States, he said that he was pleased and encouraged that they had been able to agree on a statement reiterating their unequivocal commitment to the Treaty and its full implementation. There had been concern weeks ago that such a joint statement would not be possible. Particularly, he welcomed the respect they expressed for the ABM Treaty, as well as their reference to Security Council resolution 1172, which condemned the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan and established benchmarks for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in that region.

Turning to the work of the Review Conference, he said that two subsidiary bodies had been created. The first, under the first main committee, dealt with nuclear disarmament and was chaired by New Zealand. The other, which he chaired, came under the second main committee and dealt with regional issues. The mandate of the body he chaired was to examine regional issues, including with respect to the Middle East and the implementation of the Middle East resolution. The four scheduled meetings were private, as the issues were sensitive. Among the issues

to be dealt with was non-adherence [the four countries outside the Treaty are Cuba, India, Pakistan and Israel].

Responding to a journalist's question on a possible reference in the “P5 statement” to a linkage between nuclear disarmament commitments and general and complete disarmament, he said that if such a linkage was imagined, it put those commitments in the realm of "never-never land". Such a linkage was not in the spirit and letter of the NPT. He did not see that linkage in the P5 statement, and if he had, he would take a firm exception to it.

Asked whether more direct language with reference to Israel could be expected in future communiqués between now and the end of the Conference, he replied that that was one of the subjects to be discussed.

With regard to Egypt's proposal to send a special envoy to the Middle East, he said that Egypt's statement had put forward several follow-up measures for the implementation of the Middle East resolution, all of which would be discussed in the subsidiary body. As to the chances of a resolution that would cite all four countries outside the Treaty by name, he said that he would not want to predict a possible outcome.

His subsidiary body had agreed that two meetings would be devoted to the Middle East, including the implementation of the Middle East resolution, and two meetings devoted to South Asia and other regional issues, he continued. South Asia was added in light of the fact that it had been mentioned in many delegations' statements and that the NPT State parties had not yet responded to nuclear proliferation in South Asia. An NPT review process, which was silent on horizontal nuclear proliferation, was not a credible one. He added that some parties might want to discuss Iraq, with reference to its compliance with the NPT, IAEA safeguards and Security Council resolutions.

Asked about the Canadian Government's position on the national missile defence system, he said that his Government respected the fact that the ABM Treaty was a bilateral treaty and not a multilateral one. Concern had been expressed about any destabilizing effect of any abrogation of the Treaty on the structure of arms control agreements and on the fact that it might provoke a new arms race.

On the creation of a joint early warning system, he said that one approach to missile threats was to build an ABM system. Another one was to get at the cause of missile proliferation in the first place. That involved enhancing and strengthening the missile technology control regime, exploring what more could be done to increase transparency and creating global norms and codes of conduct about responsible behaviour with regard to missile development.

Asked if India, Pakistan and Israel would be invited to speak in the subsidiary body, Ambassador Westdal replied that the body was confined to members of the NPT, of which those countries were not a part. Neither were they represented at the Conference in an observer capacity. Many States parties, including Canada, were in regular contact with those countries to help them come on board. While States outside the Treaty were not being shunned, the Conference did not want to grant them de facto or de jure status as nuclear-weapon States.

That was why, he continued, whenever they were invited to join the NPT, it was always as non-nuclear weapon States. Among the concrete examples he cited of such contact were the upcoming visit of Canada's Director-General of Security to India, and the recent visits by the American President to South Asia and the Canadian Prime Minister to Israel. * *** *