26 May 2000

Press Release



Representatives of Ecuador, Russian Federation Address Plenary

GENEVA, 25 May (UN Information Service) -- The Conference on Disarmament started the second part of its 2000 session with representatives of Ecuador and the Russian Federation telling the group's Thursday-morning plenary that it was time to end a long-running negotiating deadlock and to resume substantive disarmament work.

Ambassador Luis Gallegos-Chiriboga (Ecuador) used a farewell statement to say that the beginning of a new century should spur the Conference to action as people around the world were clamouring for peace, and it was clear that the path to peace was through disarmament. He called for an end to disagreement over negotiation of a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, and said changing times required new ways of thinking and the application of new paradigms to the subject of disarmament.

Ambassador Vasily S. Sidorov (Russian Federation) said that the recent sixth review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) had been successful and might provide momentum for breaking the stalemate affecting the Conference on Disarmament. He also told the meeting that Russia awaited ratification by the United States of the Start II agreement, which Russia had already approved, and that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty should be preserved and other topics of missile proliferation negotiated without altering that agreement.

The President of the Conference on Disarmament, Sergei Nartynov (Belarus) said he was carrying out informal consultations on the future direction of the Conference's work and that the next plenary would be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 30 May, as the following Thursday was an official United Nations holiday.


LUIS GALLEGOS-CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador), in a farewell statement, said the first session of the Conference of the new century should spur the body to action as people around the world were clamouring for peace, and it was clear that the path to peace was through disarmament. Ecuador viewed its entry into the Conference as a culmination of its unswerving line on disarmament. A lack of agreement on a general disarmament agenda endangered peace; it was time to move on to substantive work and not hamper it with procedural disputes. This was a moral responsibility -- it involved the very existence of humanity.

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The inability to reach consensus reflected insecurity in the current situation of nations; it was time to find new ways of thinking, new paradigms for the subject of disarmament. There should be a broad-based, verifiable treaty banning production of fissile material, and Ecuador appealed to countries blocking the way to this goal to change their way of thinking and help to halt the world from going down the path towards destruction and death.

VASILY S. SIDOROV (Russian Federation) said his country appreciated the outcome of the sixth review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; the NPT was a model for cooperation in the field of arms control. The Russian President, Mr. Putin, recently had stated that Russia intended to abide by its commitments and to pursue further disarmament measures. Russia had affirmed its readiness in deed, not simply in name. The approval of the START II treaty by Russia meant that only part of the process was finished; the United States also had to ratify the agreement. The earliest approval would be good for both countries and good for the world. Russia was prepared to consider still greater reductions in nuclear arsenals.

Unfortunately, there was a growing trend towards erosion of non- proliferation agreements. The collapse of the ABM treaty would undermine the entire range of treaties negotiated over the last 30 years. The ABM should be preserved as it stood; the issue of missile proliferation could and should be negotiated without reopening the ABM Treaty. Russia felt that the recent successful conclusion of the NPT review conference could break the deadlock that had beset the Conference on Disarmament. That was an important time -- either the Conference would build on that momentum or go in the other direction and roll back progress painfully achieved over a number of years. Preventing an arms race in outer space remained a high priority for Russia; so did negotiation of a treaty banning production of fissile material. Russia remained ready to prove by practical steps its commitment to pursuing disarmament and the true work of the Conference.

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