Speakers Invoke International Court 1996 Opinion On Nuclear Arms; Holy See Says World Needs ‘Authentic Culture of Peace’
Unless nuclear-weapon States made a commitment to engage in immediate negotiations for nuclear disarmament, and to conduct their nuclear disarmament policies in a way consistent with the unanimous decision of the International Court of Justice in 1996, the credibility and viability of the Treaty would be endangered, the representative of Thailand told morning’s session of the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
[In its 1996 Advisory Opinion, the International Court of Justice stated that “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”.]
In the last five years there had been insufficient progress in nuclear disarmament and a specific increase in nuclear proliferation, Thailand's representative remarked. That was contrary to the core objective of the NPT. The conclusion of an internationally binding instrument to assure non-nuclear- weapon States parties to the Treaty against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be a good starting point. That could be followed by other practical steps, which could be unilaterally undertaken by the nuclear-weapon States without hampering the core of their international security arrangements.
Viet Nam's representative expressed concern that nuclear-weapon States had recently been given growing importance to nuclear weaponry in the definition of their military doctrines, in spite of the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in its 1996 Advisory Opinion.
He said that the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), its actions in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the prospective deployment of national missile defence systems that encroached upon the integrity of the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), were particularly contentious issues which could have damaging global repercussions on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
Sri Lanka's representative said that in article VI of the Treaty, what was being sought was a fundamental balance between the obligations undertaken by the vast majority of States parties to never acquire nuclear weapons, and the continued and indefinite retention of nuclear weapons by the nuclear Powers who were parties to the Treaty. What was immediately noticeable, however, was that the article did not contain a prohibition of nuclear weapons or their use.
What the Treaty did was impose to place upon nuclear weapon States a lesser obligation -– to divest themselves of nuclear weapons -– whereas other States were obliged to "never ever" acquire such weapons. Of that unique “balance”, the International Court of Justice had unanimously stressed the full importance of the “recognition by article VI of an obligation to negotiate in good faith a nuclear disarmament”. That twofold obligation to pursue and to conclude negotiations formally concerned 182 States parties to the Treaty, in other words the vast majority of the international community.
Nigeria's representative said management questions had too often been at the core of the problems of the NPT review processes. During the long intervening periods between review conferences, States parties did not have Treaty-based mechanisms to turn to for their frustrations, concerns, complaints or difficulties. In the past such frustrations had been allowed to reach boiling point and then heaped on the review conferences. The result was inconclusive meetings in certain cases. In that light, Nigeria’s proposal for establishment of an NPT management board should be seriously considered at this Conference.
Also speaking this morning were the Minister and Director for Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus, and the representatives of the Holy See, Tunisia, Morocco and Tonga.
The general debate will continue at 3 p.m. today.
Conference of Parties to NPT - 3 - Press Release DC/2700 7th Meeting (AM) 27 April 2000
Conference Work Programme
The 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference met this morning 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.)
WERNFRIED KÖFFLER, Minister, Director for Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs, Foreign Ministry of Austria, said the task in the weeks ahead was to reaffirm commitment to the NPT. Deploring the fact that four countries were still outside the scope of the Treaty, he called on those States to adhere to the instrument and make it truly universal. The challenge of banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear devices had not yet been met. During the Austrian Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament early this year, all efforts were made to translate existing consensus into concrete negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. Expressing disappointment at not having succeeded, he said common efforts would continue to achieve that aim.
It was imperative, he said, that the Principles and Objectives of the 1995 Review Conference remained intact. Not only was there a need to build on the results of that meeting, but also to devise mechanisms for translating aims into concrete actions and tangible results. Austria favoured the idea of a plan or programme of action to achieve a more systematic review of implementation. Such a plan would contain both issues that had not been realized in the past and new measures and initiatives. Substance and procedure needed to be considered in a delicate balance.
He said the elements of a programme of action should include: early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); negotiations on a fissile material cut-off agreement; reduction and destruction of strategic and tactical nuclear arsenals in a continuous and transparent manner; universal implementation of additional protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on full-scope safeguards; negative security assurances for non-nuclear- weapon States that were party to the NPT; promotion of existing as well as new nuclear-weapon-free zones; and a code of conduct or guidelines for missiles capable of carrying nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. In addition, transparency and information-sharing needed careful consideration as public consciousness and global citizenry were giving increasing attention to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN, observer for the Holy See, said that the Treaty had been one of the most significant efforts in disarmament, because it involved prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons, and cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The Review Conference was a providential opportunity to take stock of how the objectives defined in 1968 had been met. However, the work of the Preparatory Committees had unfortunately shown how uncertain the situation really was.
The application of article VI of the Treaty regarding effective measures for disarmament, efforts in favour of “negative security”, the setting up of zones free from nuclear weapons and the strengthening of safety measures was progressing very slowly, he continued. Many still believed in the use of force and counted on nuclear weapons. The rule of law, confidence in others and the will for dialogue were not yet priorities. What was basically lacking was an authentic culture of peace, founded on the primacy of law and respect for human life. In that regard, one might recall that the International Court of Justice had declared the threat or use of nuclear weapons contrary to international humanitarian law.
If the nations really wanted peace, they were bound to acknowledge the facts, he said. There could be no peace in a world which continued to produce more and more sophisticated arms and prepared itself for their use, where peace was maintained only by a balance of terror. The time had come to discard the inherited mindsets of the cold war and to resolve the problems of mutual security. Only universal, progressive and controlled disarmament would guarantee a climate of confidence, collaboration and respect among all countries. In that regard, the Holy See was committed to heralding the hopes of the people of our times, particularly of believers engaged in building a world where it would be good to live side by side in the sight of God.
EDUARD KUKAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, said his country was one that used nuclear energy, in line with its international commitments, solely for peaceful purposes. The exclusively peaceful use of such energy was the first and foremost principle of Slovakia’s Act on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, which entered into force in April 1998. The IAEA safeguards system could be greatly strengthened by the application of safeguards on the basis of universality. Fifty-two States still needed to enter the comprehensive safeguards agreements under article III of the NPT. Following the conclusion of the Additional Protocols, his delegation felt that the texts of those instruments should correspond as closely as possible to the wording of the Model Protocol approved by the IAEA Board of Governors. Slovakia also sought the early entry into force of the CTBT.
He said his country considered the NPT to be the only global mechanism for dealing with issues vital to humanity. The number of parties to the Treaty confirmed its paramount significance to the international community. The momentum created at the 1995 Review Conference had therefore to be preserved. The success of the present conference was thus another challenge for “all of us to minimize the risk of nuclear conflict, and to contribute to the development of cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy for the benefit of mankind”.
SERGEY MARTYNOV, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that the international community could not ignore the present challenges before the non-proliferation regime. There were serious concerns in connection with the nuclear tests in South Asia, refusal of several States to ratify the CTBT, and non-adherence to the NPT by four countries. Belarus was convinced that despite its faults, the NPT remained the cornerstone of the safety of the world. Any challenges to the non-proliferation regime presented a threat to international security.
On April 25, he said, ratification of the CTBT had been completed in both chambers of the Belarus Parliament. His country believed that it was necessary to achieve universality of the NPT and ensure full implementation of the provisions leading to total elimination of nuclear weapons and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It was a well-known fact that Belarus had been the first former Soviet republic to turn its back on nuclear weapons. Belarus was convinced that it was important to have legal underpinnings for those States which wanted to receive guarantees when they decided to renounce nuclear weapons.
Belarus was concerned over the possibility that the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) would be destroyed by plans to deploy certain national anti-missile defence systems. That would undermine the whole security system, which had been constructed over the years. Under the current non-proliferation regime, nuclear-weapon-free zones acquired special importance. Belarus believed it would be useful to establish such a zone in Central and Eastern Europe. It was also important to strengthen the de facto non-nuclear status of Eastern Europe on the basis of existing bilateral and multilateral agreements in the region. He also supported the efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
As for IAEA safeguards, they should be made more universal, he said. As many countries as possible should sign additional protocols with the Agency. For its part, Belarus was ready to start consultations on the Additional Protocol with the IAEA. It was of paramount importance to fully implement article VI on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Belarus, Ukraine and Russia continued to bear the brunt of tragic events of Chernobyl. It was essential for the world to remember that tragedy and to analyse the reasons for the accident.
ASDA JAYANAMA (Thailand) said that in the last five years there had been insufficient progress in nuclear disarmament in general, and a specific increase in nuclear proliferation. Those developments ran contrary to the very core objective of the NPT. Unless nuclear-weapon States made a commitment to engage in negotiations for nuclear disarmament, and to conduct their nuclear disarmament policies in a way consistent with the unanimous decision of the International Court of Justice in 1996, the credibility and viability of the NPT would be endangered. The conclusion of an internationally binding instrument to assure non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the NPT against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be a good starting point. That could be followed by other practical steps, which could be unilaterally undertaken by the nuclear- weapon States without hampering the core of their international security concerns.
Those steps, he continued, included: reducing tactical nuclear weapons with a view to their elimination; examining possibilities for de-alerting or deactivating and removal of nuclear warheads from delivery vehicles; demonstrating transparency with regard to nuclear arsenals and fissile material inventories; and placing all fissile material for nuclear weapons in excess of military requirements under IAEA safeguards. Another substantive issue that might affect the outcome of the present Conference was the essential goal of universality for the NPT. Unless and until States with nuclear technology became members of the NPT regime, complete non-proliferation would not be achieved. After the nuclear testing in South Asia in 1998, that goal had become more and more elusive.
He said that Thailand and other States parties to the Bangkok Treaty felt that nuclear-weapon States should make more progress on accession to the instrument. They must show greater flexibility in the negotiations on the Protocol to reach an early agreement. So far, China had reiterated its readiness to be the first nuclear-weapon State to sign it. He hoped that the other three countries would follow suit in order to ensure the relevant and significant contribution of the Treaty in enhancing regional peace and security. Another concern was related to export control technology. Although there was a need to implement the relevant provisions of the NPT to ensure compliance with non-proliferation obligations, nuclear-related export control regimes should be applied in a transparent, realistic and non-discriminatory manner, and should in no way hamper the flow of technical cooperation.
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) said that the universality of the NPT was the basis for its strength and credibility. Undeniably, progress had been made in developing the non-proliferation regime, and the Conference would allow States to review achievements and identify future actions. The conclusion of the CTBT should be welcomed, and a fissile-material cut-off treaty urgently needed to be completed. However, there was little progress as far as entry into force of the CTBT was concerned. Recent ratification of the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II) by the Russian Federation was a significant breakthrough, which would allow the United States and Russia to proceed with negotiations on a START III Treaty.
To achieve total nuclear disarmament, safety guarantees were needed for non-nuclear-weapon States, he continued, and nuclear-weapon States had particular obligations in that respect. A credible regime for non-proliferation and disarmament must be respected by all countries, including those which had not yet acceded to the Treaty. Tunisia was a signatory of a treaty creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa. It also supported establishment of a similar zone in the Middle East. It was disturbing that not all countries of the Middle East had joined the NPT or submitted to the IAEA safeguards regime.
NGUYEN THANH CHAU (Viet Nam) said the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), its actions in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and the prospective deployment of national missile defence systems that encroached upon the integrity of the ABM Treaty, were particularly contentious issues which could have damaging global repercussions on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
He said his country was also concerned that nuclear-weapon States had recently been given growing importance to nuclear weaponry in the definition of their military doctrines, in spite of the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in its 1996 Advisory Opinion. The Court stated that “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion, negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”.
At this Conference, he went on, all States parties should reaffirm their unequivocal commitment to the goal of speedy and total elimination of nuclear weapons. While moving towards the total elimination of nuclear armaments, interim steps should be taken to complement and reinforce bilateral reductions that were currently under way. Bilateral and multilateral efforts were all needed, since they could mutually reinforce nuclear disarmament. He said his country was now actively involved in ratifying the CTBT, a significant legal instrument in preventing the nuclear arms race and fostering non-proliferation. The NPT had played a vital role, but its continued success very much depended on the cooperation of Member States and their adherence to the Treaty. Much of the responsibility now lay in the hands of the existing nuclear Powers, he added.
JANOS HERMAN, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, aligned himself with the position of the European Union, noting that since the successful conclusion of the 1995 Conference, there had been growing concern about the prospects of nuclear non-proliferation. Nuclear tests by India and Pakistan had been a dramatic departure from the norms of conduct established by the non-proliferation regime. Several years after its signature, the CTBT had not yet entered into force because of the failure of some important countries to ratify it. However, he did not think it was appropriate to give an entirely bleak assessment of the current situation. A relentless focus on practical steps and consistent efforts to build consensus at the 2000 Conference would allow States parties not only to preserve, but also to reinforce the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
His delegation reaffirmed its full support for the Security Council resolution, adopted in the wake of the nuclear tests in South Asia, he continued. As one of the 44 countries whose ratification was required for the entry into force of the CTBT, Hungary had already adopted the relevant legislation. Hungary also strongly supported the guidelines adopted at the last session of the Disarmament Commission, which unambiguously stated that creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones could only be achieved on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned. In that respect, positive development in the Middle East peace process would be instrumental in furthering the idea of making that important area a region free from nuclear weapons.
Hungary had steadfastly supported the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, while also insisting on the need for proper implementation of relevant safeguards, he said. There had been tangible progress in adherence to the Additional Protocol of the IAEA. Hungary was among the countries which had concluded the required agreement with the Agency, and it urged the States that had not yet done so to do the same.
SOLA OGUNBANWO (Nigeria) said while universality was within reach, there were still a number of countries that were yet to join the NPT. The challenge facing the international community was how to engage those States through some sort of consultative mechanism. One such mechanism could be an NPT management board, whose establishment Niger was proposing in order to handle Treaty-related functions. The fact that 182 out of 187 States parties to the NPT were non- nuclear-weapon States demonstrated that security was possible without nuclear weapons. The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones by those same non- nuclear-weapon States in their various regions further reinforced the fact that nuclear weapons did not guarantee security. Rather, they distracted from it. The problem lay with the continued existence of and reliance on nuclear weapons for security.
When the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995, he said, the possession of nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon States was not extended indefinitely. Regrettably, the 1995 programme of action was still unimplemented. In addition, there had been no new treaty on the reduction of nuclear weapons. There had also been no negotiations on the reduction and destruction of all tactical weapons. The CTBT had not yet entered into force, due to delays in ratifications. The Conference had also not begun any negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. That failure was a source of serious concern. To further complicate disarmament efforts, the world was now witnessing the development of strategic nuclear doctrines that continued to rely on nuclear weapons for security. He also expressed concern about the possible deployment of anti-missile defence systems that could have negative implications for nuclear weapons reduction.
He said that what was needed now was to capitalize on the positive trend of new initiatives and proposals, and use them to advance nuclear disarmament. The time had come for serious dialogue between the nuclear- and non-nuclear- weapon States. The review process must also be upgraded so that it could accomplish more than just adopting decisions and procedures. Management questions had too often been at the core of the problems of the NPT review processes. During the long intervening periods between review conferences, States parties did not have treaty-based mechanisms to turn to for their frustrations, concerns, complaints or difficulties. In the past, such frustrations had been allowed to reach boiling point and then heaped on the review conferences. The result in many cases was inconclusive meetings. In that light, the proposed NPT management board should be seriously considered at this Conference.
AHMED SNOUSSI (Morocco) said that the overall picture of the implementation of the Treaty was somewhat complex. The accessibility of nuclear technology had complicated the situation in recent years, as well as proliferation of the number of suppliers of nuclear energy. Many States were skeptical about the preparedness of nuclear-weapon States to conduct negotiations on nuclear arms reduction in good faith. Moreover, the fears and apprehensions of non-nuclear-weapon States must be taken into consideration. The implementation of the goals of non-proliferation and disarmament could not be achieved without providing an international legally binding instrument, providing assurances for such States.
Continuing, he expressed concern over the situation in the Middle East, where universality of adherence to the NPT had not yet been achieved. Nuclear- weapon States had an obligation in that region. True accession by Israel to the Treaty, and its commitment to the settlement of various aspects of the peace process, were crucial. Flexibility was also needed to implement the Council resolution on the Middle East, and it was important to achieve consensus on that matter.
The role of the IAEA was fundamental in ensuring the implementation of the non-proliferation regime, he said. Despite the modest accomplishments in the Preparatory Committee, it had at least developed essential recommendations on procedural matters. The Conference now had the important goal of dealing with a long list of uncompleted measures and rocky negotiations. Given the complexity of the issues before the Conference, States parties must work to strengthen the Treaty, which still remained the cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Every party should make contributions to this important dialogue.
JOHN DE SARAM (Sri Lanka) said the obligations of the NPT should fall under three categories. The first was the primary obligation of the nuclear- weapon States not to "transfer" nuclear weapons and for non-nuclear-weapon States not to acquire them. The second category was to ensure that non-transfer and non-acquisition of nuclear weapons were scrupulously observed under the supervisory authority of the IAEA. The third category of obligations related to article VI of the Treaty, which lay at the heart of the NPT. What was being sought there was a fundamental balance between the obligations undertaken by the vast majority of States never to acquire nuclear weapons, and the continued and indefinite retention of nuclear weapons by the Powers who were parties to the Treaty.
It was immediately noticeable, however, that article VI did not contain a prohibition of nuclear weapons or their use. What the Treaty did was impose a lesser obligation on nuclear-weapon States -– to divest themselves of nuclear weapons -- whereas other States were obliged to "never ever" acquire nuclear weapons. Of that unique “balance”, the International Court of Justice had spoken unanimously, stressing the full importance of the “recognition by article VI of the Treaty of an obligation to negotiate in good faith a nuclear disarmament”. That twofold obligation to pursue and to conclude negotiations formally concerned States parties to the Treaty -- in other words the vast majority of the international community.
A number of very thoughtful statements had been made in connection with the implementation of the Treaty, he continued, and they should be considered at both formal and informal levels. Particularly discouraging was the fact that the great promise held out to the world in 1995 remained to a very large extent unfulfilled. It was heartening that the present Conference had decided to establish a subsidiary body to consider practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts to implement article VI of the Treaty and the 1995 provisions on nuclear disarmament.
Speaking on behalf of the Group of South Pacific Countries, SONATANE TUA TAUMOEPEAU TOPOU (Tonga) said the South Pacific was geographically far removed from contemporary centres of international tension. But all nations enjoyed security benefits because of the NPT, and were therefore interested in its continued success. The commitment of nuclear-weapon States to nuclear disarmament was a central element in the “bargain” at the heart of the Treaty. Welcoming progress towards nuclear disarmament, South Pacific countries believed there was still much to be done to realize article VI of the Treaty. They encouraged the United States and Russia, as well as other nuclear-weapon States, to display maximum transparency in their actual and potential nuclear arms reductions.
A strong non-proliferation regime was essential for further progress towards nuclear disarmament, he continued. In that respect, the CTBT had a direct and practical benefit for the South Pacific countries. When the NPT had last been reviewed, the issue of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific was a matter of great concern. Since then, France had signed and ratified the CTBT and dismantled its testing sites on Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls. He called on
all nuclear-weapon States to ratify the CTBT without delay. In the meanwhile, the countries of the South Pacific were proceeding with establishment of the International Monitoring System network of stations in the South Pacific region.
South Pacific countries strongly supported the IAEA’s strengthened safeguards system, and considered it crucial that States parties fully complied with their obligations in that regard, he continued. Nuclear-weapon-free zones were another important element of the global arms control regime, and in 1986, a South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone had been established by the Treaty of Rarotonga.
Shipments of radioactive materials and mixed oxide fuel through the region posed a continuing concern for South Pacific countries, he said. It was necessary to address the contingencies of such shipments and the concerns of relevant countries of the region. Shipments should be made only if cargo was of demonstrably minimal risk, on ships that met the highest standards, and by shipping States that agreed to promote the safety of the materials and provide compensation in case of an accident. South Pacific countries noted the constructive dialogue with nuclear industry representatives from France, Japan and the United Kingdom on the current liability and compensation regime for shipments of radioactive materials.
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