Title: "General Debate Concludes at NPT Extension Conference." Remarks by representatives from a variety of nations on the last two days of general debate at the NPT renewal
GENERAL DEBATE CONCLUDES AT NPT EXTENSION CONFERENCE (NPT: Excerpts from NPT plenary speeches) (1090) United Nations -- The four-week conference of the 178 parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) ended its plenary general debate April 25.
During the six days of debate, representatives of 116 states took the podium in the U.N. General Assembly hall to present a general view of their positions on nuclear safeguards, progress toward nuclear disarmament, access to peaceful nuclear technology, and how the treaty should be extended.
According to an unofficial tally of states' positions on the treaty extension by a group of nongovernmental arms control agencies, 103 states are supporting indefinite extension, 22 are against it, 28 are "leaning yes," 12 are "leaning no," and 12 are undecided. The vote is expected to take place sometime after May 8.
Following are excerpts from plenary speeches given April 24 and 25: Argentine Foreign Minister Guido di Tella, April 24: "On the question of extension, Argentina believes that the treaty should be extended indefinitely and unconditionally.
"The extension of the treaty is necessary to ensure both the maintenance of international peace and security and the promotion of the use of nuclear energy for exclusively peaceful purposes. What would be gained were the international community to question the extension of the treaty?
"Certainly nothing from the point of view of security and nuclear disarmament, a field in which considerable progress has been achieved in the last few years in strict compliance with the provisions of the treaty."
"....Much could be lost since the partial or qualified extension of the treaty would set us on a slippery slope; a principle of unquestioned, near-universal endorsement would be challenged, thus favoring the position of those who surreptitiously seek to obtain nuclear weaponry by illegitimate means. It is they...who pose a serious threat to the international system."
"....If the treaty were not extended indefinitely, Latin American countries, which are parties to the Tlatelolco Treaty, and thereby subject to an unconditional and legally binding prohibition from developing nuclear technology for weapons purposes, would be in a paradoxical position. If such a thing happened, an international standard -- in this case, the Non-Proliferation Treaty -- would be compromised, in sharp contrast with the unconditional obligations we have undertaken at the regional level."
Nepal Ambassador Narendra Bikram Shah, April 25: "...My delegation is happy to note the growing sense of optimism among delegates attending the conference. There is an overwhelming consensus among the state parties to the NPT present here in terms of seizing this opportunity to strengthen the treaty regime. Nepal considers that the decision of the conference will have far-reaching and profound influence on global peace, stability, and development for decades to come.
"When Nepal signed the NPT in 1968, we thought that we were doing so in conformity with our long-standing and enduring commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. We believed then, as we do now, that unless a stop was called the world was in danger of unlimited proliferation of nuclear weapons. We were convinced that total elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction was central and fundamental to global peace and stability. Nepal saw that the NPT was an important means to that end. We still feel that such is the case.
"The NPT establishes a clear and unbreakable link between non-proliferation and disarmament....universality of the NPT in both scope and application being the prime concern here, any uncertainty about the life span of the treaty will weaken rather than strengthen the NPT regime, which remains Nepal's permanent commitment...."
Ambassador Sisowath Sirirath of Cambodia, April 24: "...We've heard arguments expressed that the treaty perhaps divided us into the nuclear and non-nuclear states. There are many of us who believed that the NPT is perhaps a bit weak and unreliable, especially in the light of the recent discovery of the clandestine nuclear program of NPT members....
"Despite the two-thirds reduction of nuclear weapons from this earth by the nuclear states, some of the non-nuclear states might perhaps feel somehow caught in a tragic dilemma when the nuclear states continued to improve and upgrade their nuclear armament technology and other signatories after 25 years have also acquired the technical know-how to produce now their own weapons....
"After having heard the statement of U.S. Vice President Al Gore here last week...my delegation is convinced that a powerful nuclear nation such as the United States has indeed matched its words with deeds....Gore has already answered the five fundamental questions which preoccupied much of our minds on this issue all these years. We have never thought that our world would be such a safe and a secure place 25 years ago. But, it is....Once hostile nations now work together for the common cause of building reconciliation, economic prosperity and development of their countries. With all this in mind, as my delegation has stated in the beginning, we feel compelled to take this right initiative to support the indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT."
Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Muhammad Mamoun Kurdi, April 24: "Given its serious desire for peace to prevail in the Middle East, my government endeavors to achieve this objective, which will build trust among states in the region and hopefully results in eliminating all weapons of mass destruction, and thus eradicates potential arms race. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has supported all international initiatives to declare the Middle East as a region free from all mass destruction weapons. In an official declaration it has conveyed its sincere desire and readiness to commit itself to any prohibition against weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, with the objective of making this region completely free of these weapons....
"A few countries, some of which are parties to the treaty, were able to develop nuclear weapons capabilities because of the absence of effective international supervision. This shows the presence of dangerous loopholes in the supervision and safeguards of the IAEA which makes it necessary for our conference to deal with them in order to guarantee effective supervision over nuclear facilities. The experience of the Special Committee, which was established to dismantle weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, could be beneficial in this regard. One such experience is establishing continuous supervision over nuclear facilities such as those included in Security Council resolution 715. It is also possible to use satellites to monitor nuclear facilities, as well as making random inspections without prior notification."