23 April 1999

Press Release



NEW YORK, 22 April (Department for Disarmament Affairs) -- A symposium on "Missile Development and the Impact on Global Security", organized by the Department for Disarmament Affairs, was held on 22 April, the second in a series of discussions which the Department has initiated since last October on topics of interest in the field of arms limitation and disarmament, with a view to broadening understanding and facilitating a meaningful discussion among Member States.

Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, acted as moderator. Five international experts were invited as panellists: Istvan Gyarmati (Hungary), Chief Advisor to the Foreign Minister on Security Policy Issues and the current Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime; Edmundo S. Fujita (Brazil), Special Assistant to the Minister for Special Projects in charge of Space Affairs; Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (India), Senior Fellow of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses; Aaron Karp (United States), Senior Faculty Associate at Old Dominion University; and Wang Qun (China), Division Director at the Department of Arms Control and Disarmament of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

In his opening statement, Mr. Dhanapala stated that the objective of the symposium was to provide an overall picture of the rapidly evolving situation of missile development and proliferation, export controls, civilian space programmes and missile defence issues and their potential impact on global security. He pointed to the fact that the issue of ballistic missiles and missile defences had become a growing concern of the international community.

Given the current absence of any multilateral treaty or agreement regulating the production, possession or trade in missiles, Mr. Dhanapala reiterated the Secretary-General's view that recent developments in the field of ballistic missiles and missile defences have underscored the urgent need for multilaterally negotiated norms against the spread of ballistic missile technology for military purposes. He stressed that international agreement on such norms would substantially improve prospects for future progress on existing bilateral and multilateral disarmament and arms control treaties.

The panellists presented their respective views and perspectives on the various developments related to missile proliferation, export controls and

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missile defence issues. Although there was a general agreement that recent missile developments posed certain risks to regional and global security, several of the panellists stated that different perceptions of missile threats existed. The panellists also concurred that recent developments have indeed underscored the need for international norms on missile proliferation. It was also stated that such norms should be equitable and non-discriminatory.

The symposium was attended by members of the Permanent Missions to the United Nations, representatives of non-governmental organizations and Secretariat staff.

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