Noting That ‘Israel Alone’ Possesses Nuclear Option In Middle East, League of Arab States Renews Call for Nuclear-Free Region
As the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference continued its general debate this afternoon, the representative of France (also speaking on behalf of China, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States) declared that none of the nuclear weapons of the five Powers were targeted at any State.
He said the five Powers also wished to reaffirm their willingness to pursue systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, in accordance with Decision 2 of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference.
The representative of Guatemala said the NPT was not perfect. It was characterized by a fundamental anomaly deliberately provided for by its authors, namely, the inequality that existed between the five States that possessed nuclear weapons prior to 1967 and the other States parties, which were obligated under the Treaty never to possess them. That defect, however, did not provide for a fully valid ground to criticize the Treaty, for the inequality could not be eliminated by a stroke of the pen.
Madagascar's representative said the NPT needed to be universal to engender trust. It was regrettable that universal accession was not a reality and that there were still some 35,000 nuclear weapons in existence, thousands of which were on a state of alert. The fact that so many countries were party to the NPT, however, attested to the fact that it was still a key element in protecting the world from a nuclear holocaust. There was therefore a need to buttress its validity. Moreover, the extension of the NPT did not mean that nuclear weapons could be kept in perpetuity, she stressed.
The representative of Mauritius also proposed the establishment of a registry, under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where records could be kept of all nuclear weapons wherever they were stationed.
Conference of Parties to NPT - 1a - Press Release DC/2703 10th Meeting (PM) 1 May 2000
The observer for the League of Arab States said it was regrettable that Israel alone possessed nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and categorically refused to accede to or even voice its intent to accede to the NPT. It also insisted on its nuclear option to pressure the Middle East peace process. The idea of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East enjoyed broad acceptance in the Middle East and the United Nations. The international community must call on Israel to promptly accede to the NPT, and comply with its provisions as a prelude to a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
Statements were also made in this afternoon's general debate by the State Secretary of Kyrgyzstan, the representatives of the Republic of Moldova and the observer for the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Conference will continue its general debate tomorrow, 2 May, at 10 a.m.
Conference of Parties to NPT - 3 - Press Release DC/2703 10th Meeting (PM) 1 May 2000
Conference Work Programme
The 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 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.)
NAKEN KASIEV, State Secretary of Kyrgyzstan, noted the significant progress made in creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia. He called particular attention to the efforts of the relevant working group, which was established under the auspices of the United Nations, saying the Kyrgyz Republic welcomed the continued assistance of interested international organizations and States as the process moved to completion. He stressed the importance of moving forward with the implementation of the Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II), the prompt negotiation of START III, reduction in the alert levels of currently deployed nuclear weapons, accelerated negotiation of a convention banning the production of fissile material, and deeper reductions in and safeguarding of stockpiles of weapons- usable fissile material. Referring to the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament on a convention banning the production of fissile material, he said the Review Conference might wish to discuss alternative means of moving that important aspect of the disarmament agenda forward.
The Conference should also take new steps to reinforce export controls, to strengthen nuclear safety practices for the transportation of nuclear materials, to combat illicit trafficking in nuclear materials, and to develop more effective means to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism, he continued. More attention should also be given to mitigating the environmental consequences of past and present nuclear weapons programmes. The often overlooked environmental problem caused by nuclear weapons production, and borne by the Kyrgyz Republic among other States, was another reason why he attached such great importance to the work of the Review Conference. He called upon governments and international organizations that had expertise in the field of clean-up and disposal of radioactive contaminants to lend assistance.
ION BOTNARU (Republic of Moldova) said that systematic and progressive efforts towards nuclear disarmament, as set out in the 1995 Decision on Principles and Objectives, were essential. When various regional achievements complemented wider, global efforts, they contributed to the consolidation of international peace and security. The voluntary renunciation of nuclear weapons by Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus constituted an important achievement in nuclear disarmament. He supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in different regions of the world, which were complementary instruments to the NPT, as well as the commitment of the Central Asian States to create such a zone in their region.
He observed with concern that the process of nuclear disarmament could be seriously hampered as a result of lack of progress towards the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and differences on the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty). Also of concern were a number of adverse developments, such as the nuclear tests conducted two years ago by India and Pakistan, which had negatively affected the security environment in South Asia and seriously challenged the non-proliferation regime. Another issue of concern was the continuing non-compliance with the NPT, including its safeguard obligations. Ways and means to strengthen the safeguard system should be considered.
Countries whose ratification was essential for the CTBT should ratify it unconditionally and without delay, he continued. In addition, he called for overcoming the stagnation in negotiations of the relevant treaties supporting nuclear non-proliferation and for developing more constructive attitudes within the Conference on Disarmament. That would create more favourable premises for an active disarmament process, which should lead to the adoption of implementable and verifiable nuclear disarmament measures in the future. Being situated at an important commercial crossroads, the Republic of Moldova undertook all necessary measures to prevent possible transfers through its territory of any components, materials and technology related to weapons of mass destruction.
LUIS RAUL ESTEVEZ LOPEZ (Guatemala) said that as a party to the NPT since its entry into force, his country was aware that the instrument was not perfect. It was characterized by a fundamental anomaly deliberately provided for by its authors, namely, the inequality that existed between the five States possessing nuclear weapons prior to 1967 and the other States parties, which were obligated under the Treaty never to possess them. That defect, however, did not provide for a fully valid ground for criticizing the Treaty, for the inequality could not be eliminated by a stroke of the pen.
Although the road ahead was still a long one, he said he was satisfied by the strides made since the 1995 Review Conference. Among them were the conclusions reached by the International Court of Justice in its 1996 Advisory Opinion on the legality of the threat of use or the use of nuclear weapons. He was also pleased that nine States had become parties to the Treaty during the last five years, and at the action by the Russian Duma on the START II Treaty and the CTBT, which constituted significant progress towards nuclear disarmament. In addition, he welcomed progress made on the issue of nuclear- weapon-ree zones, especially in Central Asia and Mongolia, and supported the strengthening of the already existing nuclear-weapon-free zones, noting with satisfaction that they now covered the whole of the southern hemisphere.
Guatemala was concerned, however, over the negative attitude towards the CTBT maintained by a few States that also did not participate in the NPT, and whose participation in the CTBT was necessary for its entry into force. He urged those States to examine in depth, objectively and with an eye to the future, the possibility of becoming parties to both treaties. Further, he called on the States of South Asia and the Middle East to continue their efforts to offer their people the benefits of living in nuclear-weapon-free zones.
ANUND PRIYAY NEEWOOR (Mauritius) said the most important issue before the Review Conference was the non-fulfilment by the nuclear-weapon States of their part of the bargain under the NPT, and their failure to take appropriate decisions for the enforcement of nuclear disarmament. As the past had shown, every step taken somewhere to upgrade weaponry was seen as a challenge by others to develop matching if not more advanced weapons. The doctrine of nuclear deterrence had resulted in greater proliferation of nuclear weapons. The upgrading of nuclear capabilities by one was bound to stimulate a new arms race. Mauritius believed that there was no alternative to nuclear disarmament and that it must be achieved within an established time-frame.
He said his country hoped that the two major nuclear Powers, the United States and the Russian Federation, along with the other nuclear-weapon States, would take the bold measures necessary for the realization of START III and agree on a time-frame for total denuclearization of the world. He said there was also no movement towards conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty. Nuclear disarmament was still stalled as well. Mauritius also deplored the protracted reluctance of the nuclear Powers to fulfil their NPT obligation to provide for the unimpeded and non-discriminatory transfer of nuclear materials and technology for peaceful purposes to developing countries, under IAEA safeguards.
Another area of increasing concern to the developing countries was the transportation of nuclear waste across the seas. Since accidents could not be discounted, the lives of millions of people in countries washed by the waters such vessels travelled in were endangered each time there was a movement of hazardous material. The situation was further aggravated by the absence of a proper compensation regime. The issue must therefore be fully addressed at the present Review Conference. His country also believed in the establishment of a registry under the IAEA, where records could be kept of all nuclear weapons wherever they were stationed.
RADAFIARISOA LEA RAHOLINIRINA (Madagascar) said the context of this Conference reflected the complex and changing international environment. The current situation was disconcerting and made it hard to forecast the future. The 1995 Review Conference had been marked by setbacks and advances. In 1998, nuclear tests in South Asia undermined the NPT’s objectives and caused concern to the whole world. She hoped India and Pakistan could soon be added to the list of countries that sought to make the Indian Ocean a zone of peace. The Treaty needed to be universal to engender a climate of trust. It was thus regrettable that universal accession was not yet a reality, and that there were some 35,000 nuclear weapons in existence, thousands of which were on a state of alert.
She said the deadlock on the fissile material cut-off treaty was disquieting. Furthermore, deadlocked negotiations on the ABM Treaty were likely to encourage the resumption of the arms race, as was the reaffirmation of strategic doctrines based on nuclear deterrence. The efforts by States parties to achieve the principles and objectives of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, however, were not just a compendium of bleakness. There were encouraging signs suggesting action to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons. There had been some special measures by nuclear-weapon States to substantially reduce their nuclear armaments. The creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was also a powerful and irreversible trend that would contribute to a world free of nuclear weapons.
She said nuclear disarmament was a matter of the highest priority for all States. The fact that so many countries were party to the NPT attested to the fact that the instrument was still a key element in protecting the world from a nuclear holocaust. There was therefore a need to buttress the instrument’s validity. Moreover, the extension of the NPT did not mean that nuclear weapons could be kept in perpetuity. The security to which all aspired could not be found in the arms race, but had to be sought in international cooperation.
HUBERT DE LA FORTELLE (France), also speaking on behalf of China, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States, said the five nuclear-weapon States wished to declare that none of their nuclear weapons were targeted at any State. They also wished to reaffirm their willingness to pursue systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, in accordance with decision 2 of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. He told participants that a full statement on behalf of the five nuclear Powers had also been circulated.
ENRIQUE ROMAN-MOREY, Secretary-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean noted that 38 years had passed since 1962, when a group of Latin American countries had drawn up the first nuclear disarmament treaty. The treaty, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, created the first nuclear-weapon-free zone. Although the NPT and the Treaty of Tlatelolco were contemporaneous, there was an essential difference between the two. The Treaty of Tlatelolco definitively prohibited nuclear weapons, while the NPT simply sought to prevent their proliferation in the international community. The treaties were two of the most universal international instruments in the field of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; the NPT had 187 parties out of a possible 191; the Treaty of Tlatelolco had 32 out of a maximum 33.
Although there had been significant successes, not enough progress had been made, he continued. The NPT was not extended unconditionally. It would not have been possible to extend the Treaty indefinitely without having reached some essential agreements between the nuclear-weapon States and the non-nuclear- weapon States. Those agreements covered the NPT’s universality, commitments to enter into negotiations towards nuclear disarmament, and nuclear-weapon-free zones. He noted that the Treaty of Tlatelolco had been followed by the Treaty of Rarotonga, the Treaty of Bangkok and the Treaty of Pelindaba. Moreover, advances had been made towards the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia. Also, Mongolia had unilaterally declared its status as a nuclear- weapon-free State. He expressed the hope that the Middle East would soon negotiate a nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty, which would benefit both regional peace and world security.
The Treaty of Tlatelolco had been emulated by other regions of the world, he said. Today, 110 States, in other words more than 60 per cent of the world’s nations, were flying the flag of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Those States had demonstrated through a clear and definite political will that nuclear disarmament was possible.
M.E.F. NACIRI (League of Arab States) said his organization accorded great importance to disarmament efforts, particularly those aimed at making the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. All States members of th
League had acceded to the NPT without exception, including the United Arab Emirates and Oman. All countries of the Middle East, with the exception of Israel, were also now parties to the Treaty. Under the NPT, the five permanent members of the Security Council were obliged to seek nuclear disarmament. Regrettably, they had not been given a time-table to achieve that. That was a source of concern for the 182 non-nuclear-weapon States, which who were parties to the Treaty and which had no guarantees to ensure safety from nuclear aggression.
He said it was strange that, up until now, the Treaty had failed to achieve universality -- its most important principle. There were four States that had not acceded to the instrument. Three of them possessed nuclear capabilities, and were often described as undeclared nuclear or de facto nuclear States. They were Israel, India and Pakistan. The non-proliferation regime had recently suffered two setbacks. The first were the South Asia nuclear explosions of 1998. The second was the failure of the United States Senate to ratify the CTBT. That might contribute to slackening off by a number of States, especially those whose accession and ratification were a prerequisite for the entry into force of that Treaty.
It was regrettable, he said, that despite the belief by Arab States in a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, Israel alone possessed nuclear weapons and categorically refused to accede to or to even voice its intent to accede to the Treaty. It also kept its nuclear affairs shrouded in secrecy, insisting on its nuclear option in order to put pressure on the conditions in the Middle East peace process. Such behaviour threatened peace in the region and disrupted the balance of power. The idea of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East enjoyed broad acceptance in the Middle East and the United Nations. The international community must call on Israel to accede promptly to the NPT and comply with its provisions, as a prelude to a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
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