Check against delivery
by Í.Å. ̀r. Sergey LAVROV, Representative of the Russian Federation in the First Committee of the 54th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
October 13, 1999
The century, which is about to pass, has been swift in its evolution, having presented us with unprecedented achievements in scientific and technical progress and opened the door before the mankind to other worlds. But we remember also other things: millions of people who perished in the two world wars and innumerable regional conflicts that blaze till today. It is in this century that mankind has begun collectively looking for the answer to the principal question for itself: how to put an end to wars and give all the people of the Planet of the Earth a chance to live in peace and prosperity. Meanwhile, unfortunately, a universal answer to this question has not been found.
That is why Russia invites all countries to have a dialogue with the objective to develop the Concept of the World for the 21st Century. The essence of the initiative put forward by the President B.N.Yeltsin is to create a new culture based on common values where the world without wars and conflicts should be the highest priority of all the peoples and states. The central role in the formation and realization of this concept is assigned to the United Nations – the one and only universal mechanism to regulate international relations.
Obviously, the problems of disarmament and international security occupy here one of the key positions. We see three main tasks in this sphere: strict observance of the agreements in the field of disarmament signed earlier; step by step reduction with the ultimate goal of eliminating of weapons of mass destruction under strict and effective international control and together with limitation of other types of weapons;the prevention of escalation of arms race in new spheres.
For more than a quarter of a century the ABM Treaty has been the key element of strategic stability and the most important prerequisite for a reduction of the strategic offensive weapons. During its existence the ABM Treaty has demonstrated its viability and effectiveness.
Under the Treaty mutual restraint of the parties in the sphere of anti-ballistic missile defense has allowed to stop the strategic offensive arms race, substantially reduce the offensive strategic weapons and now in addition to that – maintain dialogue on a continuation of the process. Consistently standing for a reduction and limitation of nuclear arsenals, the Russian Federation observes faithfully its obligations in accordance with START I. We consider it important that the START II and other related instruments be ratified by the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and procedures which are necessary for their ratification be fulfilled by the U.S. Congress. Under conditions of preservation of strategic stability the process of the strategic arms reduction and limitation would have the most promising prospects. Here I would like to remind about Russia’s readiness to have talks on reduction of strategic offensive weapons on the basis of basic elements defined during the meeting between the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States in Helsinki in March, 1997 and confirmed in the Cologne in June, 1999. Within the framework of the future START III Russia is ready to foresee a reduction of the overall threshold up to 1500 warheads, that is to agree to a more substantial reduction of nuclear arms that has been foreseen in Helsinki.
All these achievements and prospects are directly connected with the observance of the central element of the ABM Treaty not to deploy an ABM system of the territory of its own country and not to create a base for such a defense. Attempts to revise and infringe this central provision would in fact mean an undermining of this Treaty.
In such a case the observance of the START I and START II Treaties would become impossible. In fact, it would result in a collapse of the whole structure of the agreements on reduction and limitation of the strategic offensive weapons. The disarmament dialogue would actually return back to the point of departure of the Cold War times.
The system of international agreements in the sphere of non-proliferation and control over the armaments will be threatened. Besides, new factors would appear capable of destabilizing the international situation both at the global, as well as at regional levels.
We are conscious of the danger of the spread and sophistication of missiles and missile technologies. Russia supports the efforts undertaken by many countries to strengthen the regime of missile non-proliferation. On our part we propose to create a global system of control over the proliferation of missiles and missile technologies, that would foresee, in particular, a regime of notification on the ballistic missile launches.
Unfortunately, plans to deploy national ABM system can bring an opposite result – that is to stimulate the creation and proliferation of more sophisticated missiles in the world.
Being conscious of all these consequences which are extremely negative for all the countries, Russia calls upon the General Assembly to take a stand in favour of preservation and strengthening of the ABM Treaty. Our delegation jointly with the delegations of Belarus and China has distributed a clear and non-confrontational draft resolution which is based on provisions of the ABM Treaty itself and on joint statements of the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States on the subject. We count on the broadest possible support of it and invite delegations to join us as co-sponsors of the draft.
In general, we consider maintaining the integrity of the disarmament treaties as a key task. Russia is against attempts to revise or dilute the Treaty on Non-proliferation of the Nuclear Weapons under any pretext, or cast doubt on the decision on its indefinite and unconditional extension. We believe that the review process of the NPT Treaty in preparation for the year 2000 Conference should be directed towards the strengthening of the Treaty, assist in implementation of the decisions of the 1995 NPT Review Conference.
We consider it important to undertake joint steps to advance the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty. We stand for the accession of India and Pakistan to the CTBT as non-nuclear states and involvement of other countries which have not joined the Treaty yet while their participation is necessary for its entry into force.
Russia welcomes the process of establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones in various regions of the world. We respect the status of the existing NWFZ. Russia has recognized Mongolia’s non-nuclear status pursuant to bilateral agreements with this country. We are ready to consider together with other countries the issue of providing corresponding security assurances to Mongolia.
We support the initiatives aimed at establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in Central Asia, the Middle East and other regions, as well as the proposal related to a nuclear-weapon-free space in Central and Eastern Europe. We believe that while establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, we should be guided by internationally agreed principles and routine practice, as well as commitments under current security agreements.
The establishment of NWFZ is an optimum way for states to receive legally binding security assurances. We are also ready to consider the issue of developing efficient international arrangements on security assurances for non-nuclear NPT member-states against use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and starting respective work at the Conference on Disarmament.
It’s quite obvious that today the main threat to peace originates in aggressive nationalism, separatism, terrorism, and extremism which recognize no borders and already bring with them death and destruction. It’s not by chance therefore that the central place in the agenda of various international fora has been occupied by the problem of proliferation of small arms. Russia recognizes that this issue, which we know by our own experience, is an important and topical one. The United Nations should play the leading role in preventing and restricting an uncontrolled spread of small arms. It is desirable to develop a global approach and harmonize the efforts of states to perform the task of setting up a mechanism of international cooperation in this sphere.
As the first step, we should focus on suppression of illicit arms transfers. This very category of transfers is the main source of small arms for bandit groups, criminal elements and extremists. Precisely the illicit transfers are used to breach arms embargoes imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Russia supports the proposal to hold an international conference on the illicit arms trade in 2001.
Emphasizing the issue of coordination of preventive measures in order to impede arms race in new spheres, Russia supports proposals to reconstitute the Ad-hoc Committee on Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament in order to elaborate a multilateral agreement or agreements on prevention of arms race in outer-space.
The preventive approach calls for conceptualization of consequences of the tremendous development and wide application of new information and telecommunication technologies in order to prevent their use for the purposes inconsistent with the objectives of maintenance of international security. On Russia’s initiative the problems of international information security were discussed in the First Committee at the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly. We are grateful to all states which have responded to the appeal contained in resolution 53/70, and communicated to the Secretary-General of the United Nations their considerations with regard to general appreciation of the issues of information security, definition of basic notions in this field and advisability of developing international principles which would enhance the security of global information systems. We are also grateful to the the Departament for Disarmament Affairs and UNIDIR which organized and held the representative meeting of experts on the international information security in Geneva in August 1999.
Pursuant to the results of the work, performed during this year, the Russian delegation intends to submit to the First Committee of the current session a draft resolution aimed at further examination of the issue of information security in the United Nations. We count on further support of all the delegations in joint work on this topical issue.
I appreciate your attention, thank you.