He Says Undermined Treaty Would Prompt `Collapse’ of Arms Control; Draft Text on 1999 Report of Disarmament Commission Also Introduced
As the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) began its thematic discussion of all disarmament and security issues and the consideration of related draft resolutions this morning the representative of the Russian Federation introduced a draft resolution by which the General Assembly would call for renewed efforts by the Russian Federation and the United States to preserve and strengthen their 1972 Treaty that limits the development of anti-ballistic missle systems.
Introducing the text on preserving the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems, -- the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty -- the representative of the Russian Federation said the text had not targeted a specific country. Co-sponsored by Belarus and China, its unambiguous objective was to guarantee the preservation and strengthening of that cornerstone of strategic stability and international security. Undermining or liquidating it would render impossible the fulfilment of both the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II), as well as the continuation of the process of strategic offensive arms reductions. The whole system of international arms control agreements would collapse and the regime of nuclear non-proliferation would be impeded, he said.
The representative of China said that, during the cold war the ABM Treaty had played a pivotal role in preventing the nuclear arms race between the two countries from spinning out of control. In the post-cold-war era, it had enabled the bilateral reduction of nuclear arms and had supplied the necessary security framework for progress on bilateral nuclear disarmament. In seeking its own absolute security and strategic advantage, a State party to the Treaty was not only vigorously pursuing its own national missile defence programme, but was pressing rapidly ahead with its joint theatre missile defence development programme with some other countries. Amending the Treaty
First Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/DIS/3150 13th Meeting (AM) 21 October 1999
pursuant to a national missile defence would “tip global strategic balance, trigger a new arms race and put the world and regional stability in jeopardy”, he said.
Also this morning, a draft resolution on the 1999 report of the Disarmament Commission was introduced by the representative of Mexico. By the test, the two items to be recommended by the General Assembly for consideration at the Commission’s 2000 substantive session, including one on nuclear disarmament, would be determined before that body’s organizational meeting in December.
The current phase of the Committee’s work is expected to extend through Friday, 29 October, after which it will begin taking action on all disarmament drafts. During the current phase, the Committee will consider agenda items according to themes or categories, including nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, the disarmament aspects of outer space, conventional weapons, regional confidence-building and transparency measures, and the role of science and technology in international security.
The representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Libya spoke in exercise of the right of reply, with reference to statements made during the general debate.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 22 October, to continue its thematic discussion and consideration of disarmament and security-related draft resolutions.
Committee Work Programme
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its thematic discussion and consideration of all disarmament and security- related draft resolutions.
The current phase will extend through Friday, 29 October. It combines the thematic discussion with consideration of drafts, as part of a reform to streamline the Committee's work. The third and final stage of its work, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, 1 November, will be action on all disarmament draft resolutions.
Under the current phase, the Committee will consider agenda items according to the following themes or clusters: nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction; the disarmament aspects of outer space; conventional weapons, including the illicit traffic in small arms; regional disarmament and security; confidence-building and transparency measures; the disarmament machinery, including the Conference on Disarmament, and the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament; other disarmament measures, including the relationship between disarmament and development; related matters of disarmament and international security; and other international security items, such as the strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region.
(For detailed background of all documents before the Committee, see Press Release GA/DIS/3139 issued on 8 October.)
The Committee will have before it a number of draft resolutions, including a text sponsored by Belarus, China and the Russian Federation on the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty) (document A/C.1/54/L.1**). By terms of the text, recognizing the historic role of the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of 26 May 1972 as the cornerstone for maintaining international peace and security and strategic stability, the Assembly would call for renewed efforts by each of the States parties to the Treaty to preserve and strengthen it through full and strict compliance.
In that context, the Assembly would reiterate that there should be no deployment by either party to the Treaty of anti-ballistic missile defence systems for a defence of their territory and no provision of a base for such defence, and that there should be no transfer by the parties to other States of anti-ballistic missile systems or their components limited by the Treaty. It would also support intensified consultations and cooperation within the international community, between parties and non-parties, on the ABM Treaty and related issues in the light of emerging developments with the goal of safeguarding the inviolability and integrity of the Treaty.
The Assembly would also express its support for the efforts of the international community aimed at preventing any attempts to undermine or circumvent the ABM Treaty. The Assembly would decide to include in the provisional agenda of its fifty-fifth session an item entitled "Preservation of and compliance with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty".
ANATOLY ANTONOV (Russian Federation) introduced the draft resolution on Preservation of and Compliance with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (document A/C.1/54/L.1), together with Belarus and China. The draft was not of a confrontational nature, he said, but was based on the language of the Treaty itself and joint statements of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States. It was not targeted against any country and did not infringe upon anybody's interest. Its unambiguous objective was to guarantee the preservation and strengthening of the ABM Treaty through its strict and full-scale compliance.
It would be a delusion to consider the problem of preservation and strict compliance with the ABM Treaty as a purely bilateral affair, he said. The Treaty was a cornerstone of strategic stability and international security and provided conditions for the process of nuclear arms reduction. It was the ABM Treaty that had created the fundamental strategic prerequisites for the conclusion of a number of treaties including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and the Treaty on the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II). Undermining or liquidation of the ABM Treaty would make both the fulfilment of the START I and START II, as well as the continuation of the process of strategic offensive weapons reduction, impossible. The whole system of international arms control agreements would collapse. The regime of nuclear non-proliferation would be undermined.
The draft resolution, he said, followed the main precepts of the agreements between the Presidents of Russia and the United States reached in Cologne (June, 1999) regarding strategic offensive and defensive weapons and further strengthening stability. They had stated that strategic stability could be strengthened only if there was compliance with existing agreements between the parties on limitation and reduction of arms. That applied to the ABM Treaty.
It was a false notion, he went on, that the Russian Federation was ready to discuss review of the ABM Treaty, much less its core provision, article I. According to article I, the parties undertook not to deploy ABM systems for a defence of the territory of their countries and not to provide a base for such a defence.
The abandonment of that commitment would deprive the Treaty of any sense. The Cologne statement did not contain any agreement to review the treaty, but said that “both sides affirm their existing obligations under Article XIII of the ABM Treaty to consider possible changes in the strategic situation that have a bearing on the ABM Treaty and, as appropriate, possible proposals for further increasing the viability of this Treaty”. There was no other intention in the draft resolution but to confirm one of the Treaty’s provisions. In Cologne the parties had agreed to begin discussions of the START III and the ABM Treaties. As regarded the latter, that could only mean its preservation and strict compliance in order to ensure the necessary conditions for the agreements within the START III framework.
He said the resolution did not request the General Assembly to give any instructions to the Russian Federation or the United States as to the current dialogue between them, only that it would confirm the importance of preserving and strengthening the ABM Treaty through its strict and full compliance. Nobody could discredit that objective, which had been repeatedly confirmed in the most influential bilateral and multilateral international documents. The ministers for foreign affairs of the five permanent members of the Security Council, for example, had called for “continued efforts to strengthen the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and to preserve its integrity and validity, so that it remains a cornerstone in maintaining global strategic stability and world peace and promoting further strategic nuclear arms reductions”.
HU XIAODI (China) thanked the representative of the Russian Federation for introducing the draft resolution on the ABM Treaty. He said that, based on China’s consistent position on that issue, the Chinese delegation had decided to join as co-sponsor of the text. The ABM Treaty had represented the cornerstone for maintaining the global strategic balance and world stability. Over the past 30 years, it had helped bring about relative balance and stability among the States parties by limiting the development and deployment of defence systems. During the cold war, the Treaty had played a pivotal role in preventing the nuclear arms race between the two from “getting out of control”. Now, in the post-cold-war era, the Treaty by restraining the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defence had made possible the bilateral reduction of nuclear arms and had furnished the necessary security framework required for progress on bilateral nuclear disarmament.
Although the Treaty was bilateral in nature, he said its important role in maintaining global stability and motivating nuclear disarmament had been universally recognized. The ABM Treaty, however, was now confronted with grave challenges flowing from some recent negative developments in the international situation. In seeking its own absolute security and strategic advantage, a State party to the Treaty was not only vigorously pursuing its own national missile defence programme, but was pressing rapidly ahead with its joint theatre missile defence development programme with some other countries. Such a move had defied the principles of the ABM Treaty and had been very much at odds with the Treaty’s core provisions. Thus, it had been clear that the real motive behind the repeated requests for the above-mentioned State party to amend the Treaty was to remove the legal barriers, in order to legitimize its development and deployment of a national missile defence system.
Certainly, once an amendment had been made, there could be many more to come as a result of so-called changes in the situation, he said. Ultimately, that would render the Treaty virtually ineffective and “empty talk”. That should naturally arouse the grave concern of the international community. An amendment of the Treaty pursuant to a national missile defence system would have a far-reaching adverse impact globally. Indeed, such a move would have a severe negative impact on global strategic balance and stability. Since the ABM Treaty had, since its conclusion, served as the cornerstone for global strategic balance and stability, amending it in pursuit of a national missile defence would “tip global strategic balance, trigger a new arms race, and put the world and regional stability in jeopardy”.
He said the history of the past century had demonstrated that the security of one country had often been linked to that of others. A country could only enjoy its genuine security when that was built on the common security of all others, based on mutual trust and the shared interest of all. A certain individual country with economic supremacy and scientific and technological prowess had vigorously pursued national missile defence and, far too often, had threatened to use force in foreign affairs. Such practices would not calm the international situation. On the contrary, they would undermine global strategic balance and security and deprive all others of their sense of security. Once every country felt insecure, all would naturally seek measures to protect themselves. As a result, large amounts of financial and material resources would be supporting a military build- up, rather than economic development.
Such a move, he went on, would seriously hinder the nuclear disarmament process. If global strategic balance and stability -– the precondition for nuclear disarmament -- were shattered, the nuclear disarmament process would be halted or reversed. The mutual restraint of the States parties to the Treaty had created the necessary condition for the reduction of offensive strategic weapons and had provided a guarantee for further nuclear disarmament progress. That Treaty had compelled the START process, as well as the indefinite extension of the NPT, and the conclusion of the CTBT, and fissile material cut-off negotiations. To pick up the pace of nuclear disarmament, the international community should maintain that momentum. If a certain country was intent on substantially amending the ABM Treaty, however, with view to legitimize its deployment of an anti-ballistic missile system, then the precondition for strategic stability would disappear and the security environment would undergo major changes.
Under such circumstances, he continued, who could guarantee that the Treaty would continue to be implemented? Nuclear disarmament would be impossible in the absence of an environment of stability and trust. The development of a missile defence system would jeopardize nuclear disarmament, “poison the atmosphere”, and breed a potential danger of an arms race on a higher level. The nuclear disarmament process between the United States and the Russian Federation was already at a standstill, with prospects dimming for multilateral disarmament. Against that background, the international community should be more resolute in its pursuit of the ultimate goal of the complete prohibition and destruction of nuclear weapons.
It was fitting, timely and absolutely necessary for the General Assembly at the current session to review the issue, which was really a question of international peace and security, he said. Any amendment of the ABM Treaty would affect the security of the entire international community and have severe consequences on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The draft resolution was aimed at helping maintain international peace and security and it deserved the widest support.
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