Calls for Right to Demand Compensation; Kenya Says Radioactive-Waste Dumping ‘Defies Minimum Human Decency’
The United States and the United Kingdom used depleted uranium in their aggression against Iraq in 1991, and again in their aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999, Iraq’s representative said this morning as the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continued its general debate.
The 300 tons of depleted uranium used against his country by the two depositories of the NPT and permanent members of the Security Council, had polluted Iraq’s environment and increased the registered cases of cancer, especially among children. The Conference should call for the prohibition of the use of depleted uranium for armaments. It should also take concrete steps to help Iraq reduce the negative effects of that disaster on the environment and human life, and affirm his country’s right to demand compensation for the unjustified use against it of weapons of mass destruction.
The representative of Kenya said the dumping of radioactive waste in the developing world, particularly in Africa, was a cause of concern. The impunity with which those immoral and criminal activities took place defied minimum human decency, especially when the poverty-stricken victims of such actions had neither the good fortune to enjoy the benefits of nuclear technology, nor possessed the know-how to handle its waste. He appealed to all States to act responsibly in dealing with nuclear waste.
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Mozambique, Frances Rodrigues, said that to free the world of nuclear weapons, it was necessary to develop comprehensive and implementable strategies which met specific country needs. Those should include comprehensive national surveys and other information activities, effective coordination and information management. The full spectrum of nuclear capacities must be addressed in order to destroy existing stockpiles and to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect nuclear centres worldwide and unconditionally.
Conference of Parties to NPT - 1a - Press Release DC/2702 9th Meeting (AM) 1 May 2000
Statements were also made this morning in the general debate by the Foreign Minister of Armenia and the representatives of the Sudan and Andorra.
Also this morning, the Conference approved the candidacies of the representatives of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria for three out of the four remaining positions of Vice-Presidents for the Conference.
The Conference will continue its general debate at 3 p.m.
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.)
VARTAN OSKANIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Armenia, said that it was essentially regional problems that impeded universality of the NPT. Bringing the four non-party States to membership of the Treaty had not proved feasible without addressing the security concerns of those States and their neighbours on the regional level. Non-party States would have all the reasons to join the NPT, and States parties would be more inclined to fully comply with their obligations under the Treaty if effective security assurances were achieved. Such assurances would de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons as a guarantee of security and facilitate the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.
He urged all States capable of producing nuclear fissile materials for weapons to declare a moratorium on the production of such material, pending the conclusion in the Conference on Disarmament of a legally binding and effectively verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty. So far, however, progress on such a treaty had been disappointingly slow so far. The Conference should make full use of its capability, as the sole multilateral disarmament-negotiating forum of the international community, to find a compromise solution leading to the adoption of such a treaty.
FRANCES RODRIGUES, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mozambique, said that, since 1995, the number of States parties to the Treaty had increased to 187, the negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) had concluded, and the Treaty had been opened for signature. Today, 155 countries had signed the Treaty, and 55 had ratified it. She also wanted to commend the Parliament and Government of Russia for the ratification of the CTBT and the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II).
In order to reach the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world, it was necessary to develop comprehensive and implementable strategies to meet the specific situation of particular countries, she continued. That should include comprehensive national surveys and other information activities, effective coordination and information management. The full spectrum of nuclear capacities must be addressed in order to destroy existing stockpiles and to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect nuclear centres worldwide and unconditionally. The IAEA inspections could be one of the most important ways to prevent the acquisition, development and spread of new technologies for nuclear weapons and the leakage of warehoused nuclear warheads to non-nuclear-weapon States.
During the preparatory process, countries had been unable to achieve tangible results on substantive issues, she said. Among those were security assurances, a resolution on the Middle East, the principal objectives and ways of promoting the full implementation of the Treaty, especially in the area of non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, the CTBT and the Additional Protocol to the Safeguards Agreement. Her delegation attached extreme importance to the establishment of an African nuclear-weapon-free zone and was concerned over the lasting delay on ratification and implementation of the Pelindaba Treaty. Mozambique was undertaking concerted efforts to accelerate its accession to relevant international instruments for nuclear disarmament.
Freezing new nuclear-weapon production projects would certainly allow the international community to redirect resources to the development needs, she said. As developing countries increasingly aimed to benefit from the development and availability of nuclear energy, her country would like the IAEA to set up a non-selective programme and circulate relevant information on its activities, so that developing countries could effectively benefit from the Agency’s projects. Through the effective implementation of the NPT, States could enhance their mutual assurances and take steps towards nuclear disarmament, which would free huge resources for development programmes.
SAEED HASAN (Iraq) said backing away from implementation of the provisions of the NPT was symptomatic of an unhealthy international atmosphere. That atmosphere was governed by an increased reliance on the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, policies of military alliances, the principle of “might above right”, the unilateral use of force, and the constant marginalization of the United Nations and its mechanisms. Even when such mechanisms were used, they were used simply in order to achieve the political interests of the dominant world Power. Such was the case with regard to the comprehensive sanctions imposed on his country and the use of inspection activities there for United States intelligence purposes. Recent reports had also revealed that Israel’s nuclear arsenal included advanced and sophisticated systems of tactical and strategic weapons built with the help of the United States.
He said it was unfair to have the Arabs bound by an NPT that provided them with no guarantees against Israel’s nuclear weapons. Iraq was in full compliance with its obligations under the Treaty and the IAEA safeguards regime. The activities of the Agency and the defunct Special Committee (UNSCOM) had been used as a cover for prolonging the embargo imposed on his country and for achieving certain political goals of the United States. Those activities were a serious deviation from Security Council-specified mandates. The inspection and monitoring regime in Iraq was a tool in the hands of the United States Administration, which directed it in accordance with the dictates of its own interests. Such action had caused serious damage to the credibility of the IAEA and the United Nations.
Those actions, he continued, had also caused damage to Iraq through the continuation of an embargo which was nothing more than a verifiable genocide being carried out in the name of the United Nations. Iraq demanded compensation for those acts of aggression. The United States and the United Kingdom, both depositories of the NPT and permanent members of the Security Council, had also used depleted uranium in their aggression against Iraq in 1991, and again in their aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999. The 300 tons used against his country had polluted Iraq’s environment with radiation and significantly increased the registered cases of cancer, especially among children. The radioactive effects of the depleted uranium would continue for centuries to come unless action was taken to free his country’s environment from them.
He invited the Conference to include in its resolutions a call for the prohibition of the use of depleted uranium for armament purposes. He also invited the Conference to take concrete steps to help Iraq reduce the negative effects of that disaster on the environment and on human life, and affirm Iraq’s right to demand compensation for the unjustified use against it of weapons of mass destruction.
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) subscribed to the statement made by Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and said that his country had been one of the first to sign and ratify the NPT. The Sudan was committed to all the provisions of the Treaty, because it firmly believed in its goals and objectives. Statements made at the Conference testified to the fact that the international community still believed that the danger of nuclear weapons was still very real. It was regrettable that the international machinery designed to combat the threat of nuclear weapons “had started to rust”, as the Secretary- General had correctly observed. The Conference should try to rectify that situation.
Continuing, he expressed hope that the ratification of START II and the CTBT by the Russian Federation would revitalize efforts to overcome the threat of nuclear weapons. The nuclear-weapon States should enter seriously into negotiations to limit their nuclear arsenals. Israel had remained the only State in the Middle East that had not yet adhered to the NPT, and the international community had remained silent. Double standards were used by certain countries, which gave Israel full access to their nuclear technologies in contradiction of the clear provisions of the NPT. Peace in the Middle East would be impossible unless all weapons of mass destruction were eliminated there.
The Review Conference must ensure implementation of the resolution calling for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said. Nuclear-weapon States, under article 1 of the Treaty, must commit not to provide any assistance to Israel as long as it refused to adhere to the NPT and submit to the IAEA safeguards regime. In conclusion, he stressed the importance of adherence by all States to all the provisions of the Treaty without exception. The 2000 Review Conference might be the last chance to save the NPT and prevent its collapse.
JULI MINOVES-TRIQUELL (Andorra) said his country was one of the least bellicose in the world. It had no Ministry of Defence, army or missiles. That was in line with its more than 700-year-old policy of peace and neutrality. On the multilateral level, it had pursued a policy of active moral engagement with regard to disarmament. In the event of nuclear war, all humanity would perish. It was thus the duty of all States, big or small, to commit themselves to the fight against nuclear proliferation and for nuclear disarmament. Despite not having an army or Ministry of Defence, however, Andorra had witnessed the NPT’s entry into force in July 1996. The Principality was also considering signing the IAEA Safeguards Agreement. In addition, it had undertaken a massive and long-term endeavour in the area of treaty law, and associated itself with the views of other States parties to the NPT. In 1996, he said, Andorra signed the CTBT as well, and was now in the process of ratifying it. The four States outside of the Treaty should join the international community in pursuing the common objectives of the NPT. He also welcomed the Bangkok and Pelindaba Treaties, which served to further establish nuclear-weapon-free zones. At the turn of the present century, it was a common human responsibility to safeguard the planet from destruction. “We must endlessly strive to reverse the clock of history by sheer reason and will, and go back to the period, just over five decades ago, when we did not have the means of global annihilation”, he said. Existing disarmament agreements must therefore be fully implemented. New ones had to foster progressive and safe disarmament.
FARES M. KUINDWA (Kenya) said that his country had vigorously pursued the goal of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. It remained committed to the NPT as an essential foundation of that goal. It was of great concern to his delegation that progress had not been achieved in many areas of the NPT. Many States were lagging in their implementation of the Treaty because of a lack of political will. That threatened the world’s collective security. The lack of commitment of nuclear-weapon States to move towards nuclear disarmament offered an excuse to other countries seeking their own security. Deplorable as the nuclear tests on the part of India and Pakistan had been, they might have sounded a wake-up call.
The nuclear States should take seriously their responsibility to seek nuclear disarmament, he continued. It was disappointing that posturing by some at the Conference on Disarmament had ensured that it had, in effect, become a moribund body. Discussions must start on the fissile material cut-off treaty; he hoped that would help salvage the non-proliferation regime.
One of the issues of particular importance to Kenya was the need for universal adherence to the NPT, he said. It was imperative that States possessing nuclear weapons should all be parties to the Treaty, so that they could be subject to the IAEA regime. States which had opted “not to join our club”, should not benefit from the transfer of technology for peaceful uses, which was intended only for States parties. Access to nuclear technology by all States parties should be on an assured and predictable basis. In that regard, the IAEA should be enabled to extend technical assistance without any constraints.
The need for security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States had the support of most members of the international community, yet such assurances remained shamefully elusive, he said. There was an urgent need to reach early agreement on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Such assurance should encourage those outside the NPT process to consider joining it.
The dumping of radioactive waste in the developing world was a cause of concern, he continued, particularly in Africa. The impunity with which those immoral and criminal activities took place defied minimum human decency, especially considering that the poverty-stricken victims of such adventures had neither had the good fortune to enjoy the benefits of nuclear technology, nor possessed the know-how to handle its waste. He appealed therefore to all States to act responsibly in dealing with nuclear waste.