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GENEVA, 10 February (UN Information Service) -- The Conference on Disarmament this morning heard statements by the representatives of Cuba and China on its programme of work and the prevention of an arms race in outer space.
The representative of Cuba said the adoption by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of a New Strategic Concept had reaffirmed the unacceptable and indefensible doctrine of nuclear deterrence and legitimated NATO's rights to use military force all over the world, which could lead, as it had already happened, to breach and contravene the principles of the United Nations Charter. Cuba firmly supports the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament.
China's representative stressed that the Conference should concentrate on the most pressing, most prominent issues that had the greatest bearing on international peace and security in the twenty-first century. The prevention of an arms race in the outer space was just such an issue and had every reason to be one of the highest priorities on the Conference's agenda, he said.
In the course of the morning meeting, the President of the Conference, Harald Kreid of Austria, told members that none of the three options which he had submitted during the informal presidential consultations of yesterday received unanimous responses.
Reacting to the President's statement, several members took the floor to express their views. The representatives of Mexico, United Kingdom, Romania, France, Germany, China and the Russian Federation spoke during the meeting, addressing the proposals of the President during informal consultations to appoint two special coordinators, one for the prevention of arms race in outer space and the other for nuclear disarmament issues. He had also proposed the adoption by the Conference a programme of work which included an agenda item on the issue pertaining to fissile materials.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Kreid said that the Conference was at a standstill for the fourth year in a row. Once again, the Conference had been the seismograph of events in the global context.
The next plenary meeting of the Conference will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 February. Statements
CARLOS AMAT FORES (Cuba), stated that the Conference had began a new session in an international panorama that bore no relation with the one which nourished the most optimistic ideas in the field of disarmament at the beginning of the last decade. With the end of the Cold War, it seemed that the cause of the unbridled accumulation of nuclear arsenals in the world would disappear, although Cuba always viewed that optimism with some reservations.
It was regrettable and deeply disturbing that those optimistic ideas did not reflect the reality in which the international community always lived, a reality that was being harshly displayed by certain recent events, Mr. Amat went on to state. For example, he said, the adoption by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of a New Strategic Concept had reiterated the foundations of the unacceptable and indefensible doctrine of nuclear deterrence. In addition, it legitimated NATO's rights to use military force all over the world, which could lead, as it had already happened, to breach and contravene the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Mr. Amat continued to state that his country reiterated its firm support to the establishment by the Conference of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament. That would continue to be the highest priority of his delegation. How could it be claimed that the negotiations on nuclear weapons were only related to bilateral formats, since such weapons threatened the whole humankind? he asked. If nuclear weapons were used in the future, be it by conscious decision, faulty operation or by accident, they would not discriminate between possessors and non-possessors, nor between non-combatants and combatants.
Mr. Amat said that Cuba had always advocated nuclear disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. That was the reason why Cuba's programme on the use of that type of energy were directed only to its peaceful exploitation and were subjected to Safeguards Agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That was a reflection of the pacifist vocation of Cuba and its Government. Following that vocation, Cuba had recently signed an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA, on the basis of the Model Protocol and adopted by the Agency. It represented a concrete contribution to a strengthened, efficient and effective international safeguards regime. In so doing, Cuba had become the first State that had signed a protocol of that nature with the Agency, he said.
HU XIAODI (China), speaking on prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), said his delegation attached great importance to that agenda item and maintained that the Conference re-establish an ad hoc committee under that item to commence substantive negotiations. He said his delegation had, on many occasions, stated that position and tabled a specific proposal on 11 March 1999. He stressed that the Conference should concentrate on the most pressing, most prominent issues that had the greatest bearing on international peace and security in the twenty-first century. Prevention of an arms race in outer space was just such an issue and had every reason to be one of the highest priorities on the Conference's agenda.
Mr. Hu said his delegation was of the view that the new ad hoc committee should be an open-ended and all-embracing mechanism within which all sides could freely express their own views. The negotiation and conclusion of an international legal instrument or instruments on the prevention of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space should be set as the definite direction and ultimate goal of the work of the committee. There were indeed several international legal instruments pertaining to outer space. However, all those instruments had failed to effectively prevent the weaponization of outer space and an arms race in outer space. China had all along maintained that the exploration and use of outer space should only serve to promote the economic, scientific and cultural development of all countries in the world and benefit all humankind. China had always opposed arms race of any kind, including arms race in outer space. The basic position remained unchanged, he said.
Mr. Hu continued to say that his delegation believed that the new international legal instruments to be concluded on the prevention of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space might contain such basic elements as purposes, basic obligations, definitions, national implementation measures, international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space, verification measure, appropriate mechanism for the resolution of disputes, transparency measure and other "procedural articles" commonly contained in international legal instruments.
Mr. Hu said his delegation had submitted a working paper entitled “China's Position on and Suggestions for Ways to Address the Issue of Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space at the Conference on Disarmament” to be circulated as an official document of the Conference.
Debate on Programme of work of Conference
Conference President HARALD KREID (Austria) said that none of the three options which he had submitted during the informal presidential consultations of yesterday received unanimous responses. He said he had proposed the appointment of two special coordinators.
Regarding the appointment of two special coordinators, he said that the Group of 21 had made known its position that it did not oppose the idea. However, his consultation had shown him that several delegates needed new instructions from their respective capitals, which would leave the discussion on these issues for later.
ANTONIO DE ICAZA (Mexico) said that he very much feared that the Presidents's statement with regard to the Group of 21 had given the impression that the Group had hindered the appointment of the two special coordinators, which was not the case. During yesterday's presidential consultations, the position of the Group 21 was regarded as positive.
Responding to Mr. de Icaza's comment, the PRESIDENT said that he had no intention to mean that the absence of a decision was attributed to the Group of 21.
IAN SOUTAR (United Kingdom) said that he regretted that the efforts of the President had not been translated into an agreement on a substantive work programme for the Conference. He said his country found that state of affairs deeply disappointing. The United Kingdom approached the current year's session with he same key objective it had held for a number of years. The immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).
Mr. Soutar said that events in the closing years of the last century had underlined that the importance of an FMCT had not diminished in the intervening period of five years. In his view, it remained the case that before there could be an effective and verifiable ban on nuclear weapons globally, there should be confidence that no new fissile material for such weapons could be produced. An FMCT would deliver such an assurance, and in so doing, would put in place a vital foundation for the achievement of global nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Soutar said the United Kingdom was dismayed when informal consultations revealed that one delegation was no longer prepared to be bound by a commitment solemnly entered into five years ago, making the achievement of consensus on that option impossible. Those who try to place obstacles in the way of an FMCT negotiation did nothing to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament, and only called into question the sincerity of their commitment to nuclear disarmament.
IOAN MAXIM (Romania) said he was able only recently to transmit yesterday's proposals by the President to members of his East European Group. Although the Group did not have enough time to fully consider the proposals, it agreed in principle.
HUBERT DE LA FORTELLE (France) regretted that the efforts of the President did not produce results. He said that the procedure in which the two special coordinators were to be designated would not satisfy his delegation due to the fact that it did not give priority to the issue of negotiating an FMCT. Nevertheless, the French delegation was ready to accept the President's declaration.
GUNTHER SEIBERT (Germany) said that the Conference's rules of procedure were meant to facilitate its work, not to complicate it. The Conference should come out of its impasse through the political will of members.
Mr. HU (China) said China considered that the Conference should respond to the General Assembly resolutions and the aspirations of the international community. He regretted that some delegates were reluctant to embark on negotiations on the prevention of nuclear disarmament and of an arms race in outer space. With regard to the appointment of the two special coordinators, China found the position of the Group 21 to be reasonable and it supported the Group's position. In addition, the Chinese delegation considered that in the meetings of the Conference, the issue of FMCT should be given priority in the work, and it should be dealt with in a balanced way.
VASILY S. SIDOROV (Russian Federation) said the Conference should work towards the prevention of an arms race in outer space and an ad hoc committee should be created to that effect. A committee on the prohibition of fissile materials should also be re-established. He said that despite the consultations carried out by the President, no substantive work was started in the Conference on the re-establishment of the committee on an FMCT. Mr. KREID, President of the Conference, in a concluding remark, said that the Conference was for the fourth year in a row, adding, however, that the situation was not identical with that of previous years. Once again, the Conference had been the seismograph of events in the global context at a standstill.
The Conference, he said, for its own good reasons, had disdained second best solutions which would have been available in the form of a reduced programme of work. In deciding against the adoption of such a lean programme of work which would not have contained any of the three items which was essential to a number of delegations, one would not have achieved much, but at least one would have taken up work in some areas.
Mr. Kreid regretted that the Conference would not have negotiated any arms control treaty, preferring to bide its time until the current situation changed, waiting for a breakthrough at a later date. To break the barricade was not in the power of the presidency; it was only possible by a concerted effort of all members.
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