As NPT Review Conference Ends Third Day, Speakers Also Stress Importance of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones
Tactical nuclear weapons presented an issue that should be moved up on the international disarmament agenda, Thorbjørn Jagland, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, told the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) this afternoon as it continued its general debate.
Those weapons, which could be rapidly deployed and played a destabilizing role in conflict areas, should be subjected to extensive safeguards and control, he continued. Reduction and increased transparency with regard to tactical nuclear weapons would be an important confidence-building measure. Next, a programme for warhead destruction could be developed, which should be underpinned by bilateral verification procedures. The unilateral declarations of the United States and the Russian Federation in 1991 to withdraw and eliminate tactical nuclear weapons should also be reconfirmed, and a time-frame set for implementation.
Several speakers stressed the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones as the next logical step in implementation of the non-proliferation regime.
Going beyond non-proliferation, Mongolia had declared its territory a non- nuclear zone in 1992, the representative of that country said. It would not allow the stationing of nuclear weapons or parts in its territory at any time. Although his country’s case was unique, it demonstrated that non-proliferation could be strengthened if unilateral action by a State was supported by neighbours and the international community as a whole.
On the subject of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said that strengthening capabilities in the field of nuclear technology would result in an increase in the number of countries capable of producing nuclear weapons. The NPT must address that danger, and States parties should prevent such an occurrence. That should be done in accordance with the provisions of the NPT, but also in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law.
Conference of Parties to NPT - 1a - Presss Release DC/2699 6th Meeting (PM) 26 April 2000
One of the complex issues was the current state of relations between nuclear- and non-nuclear States, he continued. So far, the nuclear-weapon States had refused to negotiate with the non-nuclear-weapon States, and it was not realistic to expect that they would change their position. However, that did not mean that non-nuclear-weapon States should abandon the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. They should pursue positions which would accelerate the realization of that goal.
The Conference was also informed that Wernfried Koffler (Austria) would serve as the Vice-Chairman of the Credentials Committee, and that Greece was the sixth member of that Committee.
Also this afternoon, the Conference decided to extend invitations to the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America, the League of Arab States, and the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials to make statements in the plenary meeting of the Conference.
Statements were also made this afternoon by the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, and the representatives of Turkey, Indonesia, Qatar, Yemen and Argentina.
The general debate will resume tomorrow, 27 April, at 10 a.m.
Conference Work Programme
The 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review Conference met this afternoon to continue its general debate. The purpose of the four-week Conference is to provide appraisal of the progress achieved in the field of nuclear non- proliferation since the 1995 Review Conference, and to identify the areas where future efforts should be made. (For background information, see Press Release DC/2691.)
THORRBJØRN JAGLAND, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said the general objectives of this Conference should be to retain and build on the results of the 1995 Review Conference; revitalize and improve working procedures to strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) process; and improve the substantive handling of that process by initiatives and measures agreed to by both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States. The international community also needed to look ahead and concentrate on developing a programme of action for the next five-year period. More attention must be given to regional issues in non-proliferation and disarmament deliberations. A comprehensive strategy for dealing with fissile material had to be developed as well. He also stressed formulating a mechanism that would transform principles and objectives into action.
A ban on the future production of fissile material for weapons was an integral and indispensable part of nuclear disarmament, he said. The amount of weapon-usable fissile material that was now in excess of military requirements was steadily increasing and represented a proliferation risk. “We must ensure that these surplus stocks will not be diverted to weapons programmes”, he said. Highly enriched uranium produced for non-explosive purposes also attracted the risk of proliferation. The international community should address that issue in order to improve the safety and control of such material. Voluntary transparency measures should be established for military inventories of fissile materials as well. Reporting, inspection and safeguard procedures should first be developed in order to prepare the ground for agreed and monitored net reductions in those stockpiles.
He said that the issue of tactical nuclear weapons should be moved up on the international disarmament agenda. Those weapons should be subjected to extensive safeguards and control. Tactical weapons could be rapidly deployed, and played a destabilizing role in conflict areas. The handling and reduction of such weapons must be made part of a more comprehensive disarmament process. Increased transparency with regard to tactical nuclear weapons could be a first step, and would be an important confidence-building measure. Next, a programme for warhead destruction could be developed, underpinned by bilateral verification procedures. The unilateral declarations of the United States and the Russian Federation in 1991 to withdraw and eliminate tactical nuclear weapons should also be reconfirmed, and a time-frame set for implementation.
JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said that, in the past two days, almost every delegation had been rightly referring to the additional challenges to the Treaty since the 1995 NPT Review Conference. Those challenges included the tests in South Asia, delay of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and threats to the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti- Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) that could eventually result in a renewed nuclear arms race. However, yielding to pessimism would only lead to a stalemate. The international community was witnessing a display of political will and determination by the States parties to finally implement the provisions of the NPT.
The Conference should further strengthen the 1995 decisions establishing substantive guidelines and indicative targets to promote greater accountability regarding the implementation of the Treaty, he continued. The two ultimate goals of non-proliferation and disarmament must be strictly implemented. The United States should respond to Russia’s ratification of the CTBT and the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II) by ratifying the former accord. He also urged those two countries to embark upon negotiations on START III. There was a strong need for credible security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States in the form of a legally binding international instrument. With no time limit, the NPT was a permanent tenet of international law, and no country should remain outside the Treaty. He urged India, Pakistan, Cuba and Israel to join the Treaty as soon as possible.
Mongolia was working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conclude an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement, and a group of Mongolian experts was to visit the IAEA headquarters soon to further develop its cooperation with the Agency, he said. His country also attached great importance to nuclear-weapon-free zones. In that context, it welcomed the adoption of principles and guidelines on the establishment of such zones, which would further consolidate the existing zones and facilitate creation of new ones.
Going beyond non-proliferation, Mongolia had declared its territory a non- nuclear zone in 1992. It would not allow stationing of nuclear weapons or parts thereof on its territory at any time. Mongolia’s non-nuclear status was reflected in General Assembly resolution 53/77D. Though his country’s case was unique, it demonstrated that non-proliferation could be strengthened if unilateral action by a State was supported by its immediate neighbours and the international community as a whole. Last February, the Parliament of Mongolia had adopted special legislation on the country’s nuclear-weapon-free status, institutionalizing it at the national level. However, Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status -- a status of a single and vulnerable State -- would be more credible and effective if its broader security concerns were properly addressed.
OMUR ORHUN, Director-General for International Security and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said that unless the NPT enjoyed universal adherence, States parties would continue to be exposed to the same risks. Ensuring universality and full compliance with the Treaty was therefore one of the major challenges facing the international community. Entry into force of the CTBT at an early date, and its effective implementation, would also be beneficial to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. The inability of the Conference on Disarmament to start negotiations on a Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty and the Conference’s inertia on its wider agenda had become a lingering source of disappointment. He hoped steps would be taken to commence negotiations on fissile materials without any pre-conditions.
The creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements concluded freely between States in their respective regions would strengthen global as well as regional peace and security, he said. Turkey would continue to support the establishment of such zones wherever possible and whenever practically feasible. The outcome of this Review Conference should envisage substantive further steps to be taken over the next five years, as well as address the objectives that had not been attained since 1995. The success of the non- proliferation regime depended not only on the adoption of treaties, but also on compliance with their provisions. The fact that there were still 54 parties to the NPT that had not yet brought into force the safeguards agreement with the IAEA, as required by the Treaty, was a serious concern.
The events that had succeeded the Gulf War, he said, proved the need for additional safeguards to prevent diversion of nuclear material or equipment for activities prohibited by the NPT. The best means to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear materials was to apply effective measures of physical protection. However, the discussion on whether there was need to revise the convention on the physical protection of nuclear material still continued.
NASTE CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said the prevailing view was that after 1995, progress had been recorded, but not as much as expected. The task of the Review Conference was to examine both the implementation and the non-implementation of the Treaty, and to convince States that were not parties to the Treaty to accede to it as soon as possible. Another aim was to further strengthen the role and the authority of the IAEA.
Having left behind the periods of confrontation and coexistence, the world was “galloping fast into the period of cooperation and integration, into the period of globalization”. The new situation did not favour weapons -- it favoured strict compliance with the NPT regime and arms control.
The main priority of the Republic of Macedonia was its integration into Euro-Atlantic structures and acquiring membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). One of the most important vehicles for achieving peace and security in Europe was implementation of the Pact of Stability for South-Eastern Europe, which was the focus of many activities in the region.
Turning to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he said that strengthening technological capabilities in the field of nuclear technology would result in an increase in the number of countries capable of producing nuclear weapons. The NPT must address that danger, and States parties should prevent such an occurrence. That should be done in accordance with the provisions of the NPT, but also in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law.
One of the complex issues was the current state of relations between nuclear- and non-nuclear States, he continued. So far, the nuclear-weapon States had refused to negotiate with the non-nuclear-weapon States, and it was not realistic to expect that they would change their position. However, that did not mean that non-nuclear-weapon States should abandon the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. They should pursue positions which would accelerate the realization of that goal. The Conference should insist on a full scope of safeguards and on greater transparency in nuclear export controls. It should also encourage all parties to the NPT to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The dangers posed by old nuclear plants should be addressed.
NUGROHO WISNUMURTI, Director-General for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said the credibility of the non-proliferation regime had been gravely undermined by a number of retrograde developments. Thousands of nuclear weapons were still deployed on alert status. Negotiations for nuclear weapons reductions were hopelessly deadlocked. “We cannot fail to note the recent declarations that emphasize the continuing role of nuclear weapons for security and envision the first use of these weapons even against non-nuclear States, which are in stark contrast to the undertakings in the 1995 Principles and Objectives”, he said. Further compounding the situation were uncertainties surrounding the coming into force of the CTBT. The oft-postponed negotiations for a fissile materials cut-off treaty were yet to take off as well.
He said the collision course over plans for a missile defence system ran the risk of a renewed nuclear arms race that would ultimately threaten the NPT itself. “To this we must add the ominous prospect of the weaponization of outer space with its potentially disastrous consequences.” Failure to acknowledge the current state of affairs would deepen frustration and further undermine the Treaty. It was critically important to reverse the growing perception that the Treaty was of dubious value or even inimical to the fundamental interests of the majority. A myriad of substantive issues would have to be resolved to ensure the success of the present review exercise. An agreed package of decisions, along with mechanisms for a genuine and phased programme of nuclear disarmament, binding security assurances and meaningful assistance for peaceful activities would further the objectives of the Treaty.
Such a package, he said, would include ratification of the CTBT and a ban on fissile materials. It was also now widely recognized that attempts to revise or modify the ABM Treaty through the deployment of a missile defence system would be tantamount to its abrogation, precipitate a strategic modernization programme, and undermine regional and global security. Measures to address the challenges mentioned should be buttressed by de-alerting of all nuclear weapons and decoupling of all nuclear warheads from their delivery vehicles; elimination of all tactical nuclear weapons; adoption of transparency measures; the termination of plans and programmes to weaponize outer space; and the commencement of negotiations on START III, leading to significantly deeper reductions. The continued exclusion of non-nuclear States from the ambit of decision-making on disarmament issues, and the ensuing strategic subordination of that vast majority, were also no longer tenable.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said the present Conference held a special significance in the history of the NPT. Only serious and transparent work would allow it to achieve progress in the review process. Regrettably, however, the follow-up to the 1995 Review Conference demonstrated a lack of progress on many issues. The failure of the Preparatory Committee was another testimony to the failure of the international community to implement the commitments it had undertaken five years before.
The resolution on the Middle East, adopted in 1995, called on all States of the region to accede to the Treaty and place their facilities and programmes under IAEA safeguards, he continued. The only State in the region remaining outside the Treaty today was Israel, which possessed weapons of mass destruction. There was also information about possible radioactive contamination from one of the Israeli facilities, which had caused significant concern in the region. Another negative aspect of the problem was the willingness of some countries to tolerate Israeli violations of non-proliferation norms. The international community should insist that Israel accede to the Treaty and submit to the IAEA safeguards system.
VILAYAT GULIYEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said attaining universality of the NPT continued to be one of the major objectives in the broader context of the global security environment. The present Conference should reiterate that every effort needed to be made by States parties to curb the spread of nuclear weapons. “We are confident that cohesive application of the strict export control regime by both nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States, including to dual-use materials, technology and expertise, might make a substantial contribution to non-proliferation efforts”, he said.
He said his country supported steps taken to conclude further nuclear- weapon-free zones treaties since 1995. He highlighted in particular the strong commitment of Central Asian States to create a zone free of nuclear weapons in their region. He also recalled the initiative to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the South Caucasus, launched by his country at the 1997 International Conference in Tashkent. Given the complex geo-strategic location of that region and the ongoing conflicts, his country strongly believed that the creation of such a zone would be an important milestone in the enhancement of security at both the regional and international levels. Azerbaijan reiterated its call on the international community to support that endeavour.
He said the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only genuine guarantee for all non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. In the meantime, pending the achievement of such a goal, there was a clear need to redouble efforts to move forward in order to put in place a legally binding negative security assurances regime.
MOHAMED ABDO AL-SINDI (Yemen) said that the NPT had become a cornerstone of the world non-proliferation regime. In 1995, the Review Conference had adopted several important decisions, including one on the indefinite extension of the Treaty. Quite recently, several States had acceded to the Treaty, bringing the number of States parties to 187. However, that was not sufficient. Fears and doubts about the credibility of the non-proliferation regime still lingered, because four countries remained outside the Treaty.
In the Middle East, he continued, only Israel had failed to accede to the Treaty. That country had not even voiced any intention to do so. Israel should be requested to join the NPT and to place all its relevant facilities under the IAEA safeguards regime without delay. That would contribute to creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region. The States parties should be asked to refrain from transferring or providing any equipment, information, resources or nuclear materials to Israel, and thus further implementation of the resolution on the Middle East.
In conclusion, he expressed the hope that the important goals of the Treaty would be realized by mutual agreement and with support from all international organizations, regional arrangements and non-governmental organizations, so that peace in the world would prevail.
LOUIS CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said his Government reaffirmed its active support for non-proliferation and the peaceful use of atomic energy. He emphasized the process of transparency and mutual trust that was inherent in the cooperation between his country and Brazil. There was also a system of reciprocal safeguards between the two countries. The challenge of creating a safer world was intensified in the face of ever more complex peacekeeping requirements. Peace, however, could not be achieved by nuclear weapons. The dangers of a nuclear war must therefore be avoided. While Argentina was pleased by the progress made so far by nuclear-weapon States, he noted that such advances had now slowed down. That was a source of concern, in light of the prospects ahead. This Conference would have to make intense efforts to regain lost momentum.
He called upon States that had not joined the NPT to do so as soon as possible. There was a moral obligation to respect the NPT, he said. It established a balance between the nuclear-weapon States and those without such armaments. Argentina also underscored the need for the nuclear Powers to step up the pace in reducing their arsenals, with a view to eliminating them totally in the future. Progress by those countries at both the bilateral and unilateral levels should not be overlooked. That had been useful and positive. He hoped that greater efforts would be made, and that the rest of the international community would be kept abreast of future actions.
The IAEA safeguards, he said, were decisive in ensuring that nuclear material for peaceful purposes would not be diverted for other uses. Nuclear- weapon-free zones significantly contributed to peace and international security.
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