As the Disarmament Commission continued its general debate this morning, the representative of the United States expressed his strong disagreement with the Chinese representative's characterization during yesterday afternoon's discussion of his country's development of a limited national missile defence as "a unilateral nuclear arms expansion in another form".
He said that the non-nuclear missile defence programme of the United States was designed to counter certain limited, possibly nuclear, threats which could be the result of proliferation in a world quite different from that in 1972, when the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) was concluded.
Also recalling the Chinese delegate's reference to the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament concerning the resumption of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, he said the United States failed to see how it made sense to block progress on an issue of such importance. The United States had sought to demonstrate flexibility in developing a consensus and looked to others to be similarly flexible.
South Africa's representative pointed out that his Government had decided to destroy all surplus arms rather than sell them. Studies on the implications of that policy were being completed, and the weapons would soon be destroyed in a transparent manner. Government policies on the destruction of surplus weapons, as well as cooperative agreements with neighbouring States to destroy collected or confiscated weapons, formed the basis of the General Assembly resolution on the illicit traffic in small arms. While those measures would promote confidence among States in support of regional stability, they would also provide the means to limit illicit trafficking in those weapons.
India's representative said his country was the only nuclear-weapon State calling for a convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, threat or use of nuclear weapons. It was disappointing that the Conference on Disarmament, the sole multilateral negotiating forum on that issue, had been unable to begin negotiations on the matter. India was willing to participate in agreed, multilateral, non-discriminatory and
* Press Release DC/2714 should have read 234th & 235th Meetings; Press Release DC/2715 should have read 236th Meeting. Disarmament Commission - 1a - Press Release DC/2716 237th Meeting (AM) 27 June 2000
irreversible measures, including a global no-first-use agreement and revitalization of the bilateral process. It had also consistently opposed the weaponization of outer space.
The representative of Egypt said that nuclear disarmament efforts should begin within regions, for example, the Middle East, where all countries except Israel had committed to nuclear disarmament. All those countries had acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which expressed a clear denouncement of the nuclear option and a commitment to free the region of nuclear weapons. United Nations instruments should reflect Israel's refusal to comply with international regulations.
Malaysia's representative questioned the commitment of the nuclear-weapon States to eliminating their arsenals. They clung blindly to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, believing that nuclear weapons remained essential for their national security. That, in turn, encouraged others to aspire to similar status for the same reason, which, however, was frowned upon. The cavalier attitude of the nuclear-weapon States made a mockery of the participation of non-nuclear States in instruments aimed at restricting and controlling nuclear capabilities.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Mexico, Guatemala, Uruguay, Peru, Republic of Korea, Costa Rica and Algeria.
The Disarmament Commission will meet again at 3 p.m. today to conclude its general debate.
Commission Work Programme
The Disarmament Commission met this morning to continue the general debate of its 2000 substantive session.
SATYABRATA PAL (India) said his country remained committed to global nuclear disarmament. The Government agreed that negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects needed to be concluded. In addition, India was the only nuclear-weapon State calling for a convention that would prohibit the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, threat or use of nuclear weapons and that would lead to their elimination. It was disappointing that the Conference on Disarmament, the sole multilateral negotiating forum on the issue, had been unable to begin negotiations on the matter. The failure of the international community to effectively address the threat posed by nuclear weapons over 50 years suggested that efforts needed to be redoubled.
He said that India was willing to participate in agreed, multilateral, non- discriminatory and irreversible measures, including a global no-first-use agreement and revitalization of the bilateral process which should also be complemented by reductions in a multilateral framework. Although the Government of India was aware that a fissile materials convention would be a partial measure towards global nuclear disarmament, it still supported that step. India had also consistently opposed weaponization of outer space and maintained that arms control treaties needed to be fully implemented to maintain stability.
He expressed his country's support for greater transparency in the global arms trade as an important confidence-building measure, noting that it had regularly provided to the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms since its inception. Also, the question of arms transfers could be divided in two categories: licit State-to-State transfers to meet legitimate defence requirements; and security concerns based on the perception of threats and illicit arms transfers often involving cross-border terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime. The latter had implications for the security of States, as well as for economic and social development. A successful conclusion to the 2001 conference on small arms would constitute another important confidence-building measure for international peace and security.
There should also be efforts to achieve a global ban on anti-personnel mines through a phased process which addressed the legitimate defence requirements of States, while ameliorating the humanitarian crises resulting from the irresponsible transfer and indiscriminate use of landmines, he continued. A phased approach would enable States, particularly those with long borders, to move ahead while remaining sensitive to safeguarding their legitimate security requirements. India also subscribed to the concept of confidence-building measures, because it would mean that landmines could only be used to defend a country's borders.
GUSTAVO ALBIN (Mexico) described as a positive development the final document adopted at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 2000 Review Conference, which had been marked by the unequivocal commitment of the nuclear- weapon States to eliminate their arsenals. While the Commission was not a body where binding commitments could be made, it was a forum for discussions and negotiations towards that end. It could provide a decisive impetus to other bodies dealing with the disarmament issue.
With respect to conventional weapons, he said the Commission's member States had accumulated experience that could be useful in discussions about their reduction. In the Americas, the countries of the region had made progress in confidence-building measures that followed the structure of the United Nations Registry for Conventional Arms.
He said his country supported the Secretary-General's call for an international conference on disarmament, which would be a special occasion to discuss measures necessary for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Mexico hoped that the proposals would be reviewed at the present session.
LUIS RAUL ESTEVEZ LOPEZ (Guatemala) recalled that at the end of the NPT 2000 Review Conference, a consensus had been achieved on a final document which, although in the nature of a compromise text, did not amount to a significant advance in the area covered. However, one positive development had been the reaffirmation by the nuclear-weapon States of their unequivocal determination ultimately to eliminate them.
In the course of the Review Conference, participants had been able to appreciate some strides in respect to safeguards, as well as the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he said. However, it was unfortunately clear that wide disagreement continued to plague the nuclear disarmament issue, which had been the central theme of debates during the Conference together with the issue of establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Middle East and South Asia.
He said that the Latin American and Caribbean region had played a pioneering role in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones and placed a high value on the benefits derived from that undertaking. The region supported all similar endeavours in other parts of the world and considered that such zones should become regional platforms for promoting the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the disarmament process. The use of nuclear energy should contribute towards the development of humankind and not to its destruction.
Guatemala supported the United Nations Arms Registry of Conventional Weapons and had co-sponsored most of the resolutions on conventional weapons, he said. Having suffered from armed conflict, and having to cope with ordinary criminal violence in which small and light weapons played such an important part, Guatemala urged all States members of the Commission to combine their efforts to reduce as much as possible the arms race in all its aspects.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said his delegation had hoped that discussions on nuclear disarmament in the Commission would be more specific and explicit. That would have been more effective in freeing the world of the scourge. Moreover, those efforts should begin within regions; for example, in the Middle East all countries had committed to nuclear disarmament with the exception of one. Those countries had acceded to the NPT, and accession to that Treaty expressed a clear denouncement of the nuclear option and a commitment to free the region of such weapons. However, Israel had refused to comply with the international regulations, and United Nations instruments should reflect that fact. Egypt placed great importance on nuclear disarmament and felt that the international community needed to act urgently, he continued. Since 1974, his Government had submitted a draft resolution, adopted in 1980, to the General Assembly. That resolution declared the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. In 1998, the Minister for Foreign Affairs had participated in issuing a declaration for the need for a new agenda, which would accelerate States to achieve nuclear disarmament, a goal to which nuclear-weapon States should also aspire.
He affirmed his country's support for a major international conference on nuclear disarmament and said the issue of confidence building was also another important element, which, although it had been heretofore discussed in the Commission, still needed agreed guidelines. Some of those elements included the success of the register on conventional arms, military acquisitions and local production and manufacture. Transparency would also be useful and, in that light, discussions should also focus on destructive and conventional weapons. The panel of intergovernmental experts could reach an agreement to expand the register or else efforts to realize that as a confidence-building measure would deteriorate.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) said the inability of the international community to substantively address the issue reflected a deepening crisis in non- proliferation, disarmament and arms control. A part of the problem was that the disarmament mechanisms created many years ago did not reflect current realities. The Commission was created during the cold war to consider making recommendations on various problems that occurred during that time. During this year, the Commission would be the first to focus consideration on only two issues -- nuclear disarmament and conventional weapons. Many States considered nuclear disarmament to be the most important of disarmament issues, he added. South Africa was concerned about the continuing refusal to recognize that it was the business of the entire international community.
He stated that the long and frustrating negotiations to formulate an agenda item for the Commission's consideration of an issue that was of global concern was indicative of the lack of commitment to achieve progress in nuclear disarmament. The outcome of the recent 2000 Review Conference of the NPT, as well as efforts to establish an appropriate body in the Conference on Disarmament to deal with nuclear disarmament and a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices within the next five years, all provided momentum for progress in the area of nuclear disarmament. However, much remained to be done and concrete agreed measures to reduce the operational status of nuclear weapons such as de-alerting and removal of nuclear warheads from their delivery systems were urgently required.
He emphasized that his Government would not support any outcome of the present deliberations that would undermine the success achieved at the recent NPT Review Conference. The deliberations should support that process and should consider other tangible ways to address the core elements for action and results in moving the disarmament agenda forward. Although nuclear weapons constituted the greatest threat to the survival of mankind, the build-up of conventional weapons, in particular small arms and light weapons, were the source of most of the death and suffering caused in conflicts around the world. The underpinning factor to practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons would be the need for transparency. The 2001 conference should consider measures to enhance that transparency. Pointing out that his Government had decided to destroy all surplus arms, rather than to sell them, he said that studies on the implications of that destruction were being completed and that those weapons would soon be destroyed in a transparent manner. The South African Government's policies on destruction of surplus weapons, as well as cooperative agreements with some of its neighbouring States to destroy collected or confiscated weapons, formed the basis of the General Assembly resolution on illicit traffic in small arms. That resolution called for States to take appropriate national measures to destroy surplus, confiscated or collected small arms and light weapons, and to voluntarily provide information to the Secretary-General on types and quantities destroyed. While those measures would promote confidence among States in support of regional stability, it would also provide the means to limit illicit traffic in those weapons.
JULIO BENITEZ SAENZ (Uruguay) said the Commission was meeting more than a month after the end of the NPT 2000 Review Conference. That event had concluded with the adoption of an unprecedented final document in which the nuclear-weapon States had made an unequivocal commitment to eliminate their arsenals. However, there was no clear idea how long those nuclear arsenals would continue to exist.
He said that in the midst of that discussion, the Disarmament Commission had the responsibility for launching a plea to unblock the initiative to prohibit the use of nuclear arms. The call for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was becoming stronger every day. Uruguay had ratified that Treaty on 20 June and welcomed the Secretary-General's initiative to select, among the 25 most important treaties for the next millennium, a large number of disarmament-related resolutions.
Uruguay was awaiting the Millennium Summit with the expectation that there would be further commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons, he said. It also awaited with fervent hope the international conference proposed by the Secretary-General to tackle disarmament. A vigorous stand would have to be taken in the coming years, to prevent a return to the arms race, which the world already considered obsolete.
MANUEL PICASSO (Peru) said there were still problems such as the affirmation of pending instruments, risks contained in the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti- Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty) and impending blockages to the Disarmament Conference, which should be considered during the Commission's session. The Government of Peru would support the convening of an international conference on disarmament, and would encourage States to sign international instruments and declare new nuclear-weapon free zones, in addition to other initiatives.
He said confidence-building measures were important as they would provide complementary measures to limit and reduce nuclear spending. Those measures went beyond the military dimension and the capacity for action on non-military spending based on economic and social processes should also be considered, particularly in the regional context. In addition, he believed that bilateral relations were also important, and Peru had established relations with its neighbours to carry out joint tasks to establish democracy. He underscored the important role of the Register on Conventional Arms, which still needed to be expanded. The Anti- Personnel Mine Convention was another important element for creating an environment of security and trust. SUH DAE-WON (Republic of Korea) said his country, recognizing that the complex and delicate nuclear disarmament was closely linked to global strategic relations, believed in a practical, step-by-step approach. In that respect, the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) should be revitalized through the earliest possible entry into force of START II. The Republic of Korea hoped that the United States and the Russian Federation would commence and conclude negotiations on START III as soon as possible.
At the same time, he said, further efforts could be made voluntarily to increase transparency with regard to nuclear-weapon capabilities and to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in the security policies of nuclear-weapon States as a confidence-building measure leading to nuclear disarmament. The Republic of Korea attached great importance to the early entry into force of the CTBT, and the nuclear-weapon States should provide the leadership to facilitate that.
He said that the fissile material cut-off treaty enhanced non-proliferation and was essential in underpinning nuclear disarmament. Negotiations on that instrument should commence immediately and all States concerned should place moratoria on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons.
Turning to conventional arms, he said that the primary goal of confidence- building measures in that field was to reduce the risk of armed conflicts among States by diminishing mistrust, misunderstanding and miscalculation. The measures should be applied comprehensively, embracing military and non-military aspects. The 2001 United Nations Conference on illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons would provide the opportunity to devise a plan of action to address that issue. If adopted, it would be an important milestone in efforts to curb the illicit trade and to build confidence among States on the global level.
BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said priority should be given to the early entry into force of the CTBT and to conclude negotiations on the fissile material treaty. To that end, nuclear-weapon States were obliged to deactivate their systems and begin a gradual systematic dismantling of their arsenal. Nowadays, humankind was living under the threat of a new arms race fostered by the development of sophisticated nuclear systems by some countries and the urge felt by others to develop anti-missile systems.
Costa Rica strongly supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and believed that the international community should respect the desire of States who wished to declare those zones, he said. The national policies of a country should, therefore, reflect that, and it must be recognized that it was necessary for the international community to establish strategic instruments when regulating disarmament.
Greater democracy and peace would promote security, he noted, pointing out that the first step for increasing confidence would be to limit the transfer of conventional weapons. That was a true obstacle to the end of conflicts. Arms trafficking led to human rights violations, among other things, and countries that produced and traded weapons must exercise controls over the exchange of arms. Efforts should also be made to prevent the diversion of arms whose transfer had
been duly authorized. In addition, the international community must prohibit the transfer of military material and hinder financial and logistic support to States whose forces committed human rights violations, as well as to States that neither respected the relevant instruments nor supported United Nations efforts.
The Government of Costa Rica supported the initiative for an international code of conduct for arms controls, he said. During the past 50 years, Costa Rica had not invested in arms production or trade.
PIERCE CORDEN (United States) said that in the wake of the United States Senate's decision not to ratify the CTBT, the country was continuing to work for the Treaty's eventual ratification. The United States, respecting its moratorium on nuclear explosions initiated in 1992, had called on States to sign and ratify the CTBT and, in the interim, not to carry out nuclear explosions. The United States welcomed the Treaty's ratification by the Russian Federation and China's indication that it might accelerate its own ratification of the CTBT.
Recalling the Chinese representative's reference yesterday to the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament concerning the resumption of the fissile material cut-off treaty negotiations, he said his country had a different view of the reasons why progress had been blocked in Geneva. It made no sense to block progress on an issue of such importance, where there was consensus, by linking it to another item where it was well known that consensus had not been established. The United States had sought to demonstrate flexibility in developing consensus and looked to others to be similarly flexible.
He strongly disagreed with the Chinese representative's characterization of the United States work to develop a limited national missile defence as "a unilateral nuclear arms expansion in another form". That non-nuclear programme was designed to counter certain limited threats which could by themselves be nuclear and be the result of proliferation in a world quite different from that in 1972 when the ABM Treaty was concluded.
Agreeing that a great deal of progress had been achieved in the field of conventional weapons, he stressed the importance of focusing on regional developments and of taking regional differences into account. While reviewing the progress achieved, and in seeking to apply that progress, regional variations should be kept carefully in mind. In studying current confidence- and security- building measures with respect to conventional arms, the Commission could usefully catalogue what had already been or was being pursued in various forums, including regional ones.
MOHAMMAD KAMAL YAN YAHYA (Malaysia) questioned the commitment of the nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. The outlook for nuclear disarmament for the foreseeable future remained bleak. The established nuclear-weapon States still clung, in blind faith, to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence in the belief that nuclear weapons remained essential for their national security. That encouraged others to aspire to similar status for the same reason, which, however, was frowned upon.
He noted that the Conference on Disarmament had failed yet again to agree on a programme of work so as to start negotiations on a treaty banning the production
of fissile material. Clearly, developments did not augur well for the future of disarmament. Despite assurances by States with nuclear capabilities of their commitment towards disarmament, their actions had not matched their words. Unless concerted actions were taken soon to reverse the dangerous trend towards nuclear proliferation, existing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regimes could very well become hollow instruments.
The cavalier attitude of the nuclear-weapon States made a mockery of the signing and ratification by non-nuclear States of treaties and protocols to restrict and control nuclear capabilities, which they did not even possess to begin with, he said. Over time, they would begin to question the usefulness of those treaties and conventions and of their own participation in them.
He said his country accepted that many States depended on arms imports to ensure a reasonable level of security. Unfortunately, arms purchases for legitimate national defence often triggered an arms race, especially in regions where there were underlying tensions in relations between regional States. Hence the imperative for concrete confidence-building measurers between and among those States so as to resolve, or at least manage, those tensions.
All countries should refrain from arms transfers which could be destabilizing or exacerbate existing tensions, he said. Special restraint should be exercised in the transfer of advanced technology weapons and in sales to countries and areas of particular concern. A special effort should be made to define sensitive items and production capacity for advanced weapons, to the transfer of which similar restraints could be applied. All States should ensure the strict enforcement of those criteria.
ABDELKADER MESDOUA (Algeria) said recent developments, such as nuclear tests in South Asia and the refusal by the United States Congress to accede to the CTBT, were real cause for concern. Nuclear disarmament must remain an absolute priority and must continue to benefit from sustained attention at the multilateral, bilateral and unilateral levels. Furthermore, measures must be developed to prohibit recourse or threat of recourse to the use of those weapons. In the new thrust towards globalization, defence must be a collective perception, rather than a unilateral one, he added.
He stated that Algeria had made a dual proposal to establish a separate committee for disarmament and for the prohibition of the production of fissile materials. The international community should make special efforts to prohibit the production of fissile materials. The dynamics of disarmament would remain incomplete if the aspect of conventional weapons was not dealt with, particularly the illicit transfer of those arms that fuelled a number of phenomena that threatened national security and social development. The change in international relations had engendered a surplus of those weapons that had global effects.
He noted that his country devoted the lowest percentage of its gross national product (GNP) to national defence and supported the United Nations efforts to research and compile information on weapons trafficking. However, that must be undertaken through international cooperation. Algeria could also only support the confidence-building measures if those also dwelt on conventional weapons. To be useful, those measures must reflect the specific features of regions. Therefore, they could not be imposed as a single model. The issue of disarmament and internal security were inseparable from economic and social development, he pointed out. It was legitimate for developing countries to expect more than unfulfilled promises. What would the confidence-building measures be worth if they were not backed up by economically sustainable measures? The enormous amounts that were being used in defence and arms spending could be diverted to development projects.
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