Press Releases

    DCF/417
    28 June 2002

    Conference on Disarmement Concludes Second Part of 2002 Session

    Russian Federation, China Present Joint Working Paper on Prevention of Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space; Germany Assumes Presidency of Conference

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 27 June (UN Information Service) -- The Russian Federation and China this morning told the Conference on Disarmament that they had submitted a joint Working Paper on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space.

    Announcing the proposal, the representative of Russian Federation said that his delegation, jointly with China, had submitted to the Conference a draft document containing possible elements of an international legal agreement on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects. He said that in proposing basic parameters of a possible new agreement in the area of outer space, the delegations of China and the Russian Federation had taken into account the experience of nearly nine years of work at the Conference's Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS.

    The new President of the Conference, Volker Heinsberg of Germany made opening remarks expressing his country's strong commitment to the further strengthening and developing of multilateral instruments of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.

    He suggested that the Conference should continue its efforts to adopt a programme of work on the basis of the agenda agreed upon by all Members at the start of this year's session. He said he would address in that regard the "four issues" -- nuclear disarmament; a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices; prevention of an arms race in outer space; and effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. In trying to break the persistent deadlock, Members should not shy away from looking at new and innovative ways finally to start meaningful work.

    Mr. Heinsberg said that the new threats of terrorism and, in particular recent news reports about terrorists' efforts to build "dirty bombs" had demonstrated the topicality of the issue of radiological weapons, which had long been neglected. In addressing that subject -- independently of the question of whether the Conference reached agreement on a work programme of the "four items" -- the Conference could prove that it was able to respond in a timely fashion to new risks.

    The representative of Peru said that Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Andean Community had, on 17 June 2002, signed in Lima, a document entitled "Commitments of Lima", which had approved the "Andean Charter for Peace and Security, Limitations and Control of Expenditure for External Defence". The instrument was the result of an initiative launched by Peru with the aim of reducing the national expenditure by countries of the region on their external defence.

    The representative of Ireland, also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden, said that the New Agenda countries remained committed to pursuing their initiative aimed at securing a world free of nuclear weapons and would do so in all appropriate fora. She said the CD had the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects, and the New Agenda countries believed that the Conference should complete the examination and updating of the mandate contained in its decision of 13 February 1992, and established a subsidiary body as early as possible.

    The representative of India said that another symptom of change in thinking, in the post-11-September world, was the realization of diffusion of power away from a government to an individual or a transnational group. Global terrorism had privatized war; conflicts needed no longer be among sovereign states; and casualties in those conflicts were no longer combatants but increasingly, innocent bystanders and civilians. He asked how such conflicts could be prevented.

    Japan's representative said that major regional conflicts, in particular, had become ever more dangerous, due not only to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but also to the spread of their relevant technologies and delivery means, including ballistic missiles. She said that terrorism was increasingly becoming a threat to international security, as harshly demonstrated by the attacks of 1 September. It had the potential to cause massive casualties by using international networks and more sophisticated strategies. There was a real danger of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, such as the sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subways in 1995, which killed 12 people and injured thousands.

    The representative of the United States reiterated that his country saw no need for new outer space arms control agreements and opposed the idea of negotiating a new outer space treaty. His Government believed that the existing outer space regime was sufficient. The US understood that certain other Member States had differing views. The US understood that the work of the Conference should be broad enough to encompass diverse priorities and goals, and it should be hoped that Member States would be able to develop an agreed approach that would lead to consensus.

    The representative of China said that outer space was the common heritage of the mankind, and the exploitation and utilization of outer space for peaceful purpose was a universal aspiration and demand of the international community. He said that for more than half a century, the development of space technology had enormously facilitated the economic, scientific and social progress of all nations. Meanwhile, it had also stimulated the research and development of outer-space-related weaponry and military technologies. Various combat theories and concepts relating to space warfare had been unveiled, and outer space was faced with the danger of weaponization and arms race.

    Other speakers from Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Venezuela, Iran, Chile, Zimbabwe, Algeria Vietnam, Cuba, Syria, Belarus, Pakistan, Iraq and Kenya supported the proposal submitted by the delegations of the Russian Federation and China on "possible Elements for a Future International Legal Agreement on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects". Many of them emphasized that outer space was the common heritage of humankind and its exploration should be for the benefit of peace and security. They urged the Conference to start substantive discussion on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS).

    The Conference will begin its third part of this year's session on Thursday at 10 a.m., 1 August 2002, when it will meet in plenary.

    Opening Remarks by Incoming President

    VOLKER HEINSBERG, President of the Conference on Disarmament, outlined in his opening remarks that the task of the Presidency of the Conference was to work towards common ground among the Member States. Germany was strongly committed to the further strengthening and developing of multilateral instruments of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. His understanding was that the raison d'être of the Conference in light of its mandate as the sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations given to it by the General Assembly, was to achieve that aim. Disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation were essential elements of Conference's endeavours to establish a cooperative security order for the twenty-first century. The Treaty on Strategic Disarmament, signed on 24 May in Moscow by the United States and Russia, which was distributed in the Conference as Document CD/1674, had shown that progress in the field of bilateral disarmament was possible. Why not also in the field of multilateral disarmament and, in particular, within the Conference?

    Ambassador Heinsberg suggested that the Conference should continue its efforts to adopt a programme of work on the basis of an agenda agreed upon by all Members at the start of this year's session. In that regard, he would address the "four issues" -- nuclear disarmament; a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices; prevention of an arms race in outer space; and effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. In trying to break the persisting deadlock, Members should not shy away from looking at new and innovative ways finally to start meaningful work. In that regard, he suggested taking another look at other items of the Conference's agenda, independently of the discussion over the "four issues".

    Mr. Heinsberg said that the new threats of terrorism and, in particular recent news reports about terrorists' efforts to build "dirty bombs" had demonstrated the topicality of the long-neglected issue of radiological weapons. In addressing that subject whether or not the Conference reached an agreement on a work programme regarding the "four items", the Conference could prove that it was able to respond in a timely fashion to new risks. The Conference should continue the search for common ground on the items on its agenda and on the way to deal with them.

    Statements

    JORGE VOTO-BERNALES (Peru) said that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Andean Community had, on 17 June 2002, signed in Lima, a document entitled "Commitments of Lima", which had approved the "Andean Charter for Peace and Security, Limitations and Control of Expenditure for External Defence". The instrument was the result of an initiative launched by Peru aimed at reducing the expenditure of countries in the region for their external defence. The initiative resulted in the political will of the countries of Andean Community, namely, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. The aim was also to give priority to social expenditure and to the fight against poverty. It was also to strengthen peace and stability and to enhance mutual cooperation and understanding.

    Mr. Voto-Benales said that the UN Charter and the Charter of the Organization of American States had inspired the Andean Charter. It would endeavour to strengthen regional peace and national democracy by fighting terrorism and international crime. It would also work towards making the region a nuclear-free zone. The members would make efforts to eradicate the illicit trafficking of drugs, arms and explosives through mutual cooperation. They also intended to make the region free of landmines. The Lima agreement was a landmark instrument in the global effort towards disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.

    MARY WHELAN (Ireland), also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden, said that the New Agenda countries remained committed to pursuing their initiative aimed at securing a world free of nuclear weapons and would do so in all appropriate fora. That was why the New Agenda had presented a position paper to the NPT Prepcom in April. The New Agenda countries restated members' frustration at the lack of fulfilment of the thirteen steps towards nuclear disarmament agreed to at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Step four urged the Conference on Disarmament to establish a subsidiary body on nuclear disarmament. Step three called for agreement in the Conference on a programme of work which included the immediate commencement of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral, international and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear devices, taking into consideration both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives.

    The Conference had the primary role in the negotiation of a multilateral agreement or agreements, as appropriate, on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in all its aspects, continued Ambassador Whelan. The New Agenda countries believed that the Conference should complete the examination and updating of the mandate contained in its decision of 13 February 1992, and establish a subsidiary body as early as possible. The New Agenda countries were concerned that the Conference had not begun to tackle the obligations placed on it by the 2000 Review Conference. The majority of delegations wanted that body to begin and to establish a subsidiary body on nuclear disarmament. She asked the responsible parties to exercise the necessary flexibility so that the Conference could adopt a programme of work and begin work on those important issues.

    RAKESH SOOD (India) said that in recent weeks and months, one had witnessed a remaking of the global security agenda. Earlier in June, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, long described by many as the "cornerstone of strategic stability" had ceased to exist. Last month, NATO leaders welcomed the Russian leader, President Putin, into a NATO-Russia Council. Days before, US and Russian leaders had signed the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty. Earlier in the year, the US Nuclear Posture Review had provided a disconcerting glimpse into new doctrines and roles for nuclear weapons in the post-11-September world. The cases of anthrax in the mail last year galvanized the world against the threat of bio-terrorism but at the same time, the Biological Weapons Review Conference session was so wracked by dissension that it had to be suspended for a year.

    Mr. Sood said another symptom of change in thinking in the post-11-September world was the realization of diffusion of power away from a government to an individual or a transnational group. Global terrorism had privatized war. Conflicts no longer needed to be among sovereign states. Casualties in those conflicts were no longer combatants but increasingly, innocent bystanders and civilians. How could such conflicts be prevented? Could non-state actors be deterred and if not, could that threat be tackled successfully? If non-state actors and transnational groups could not be deterred, then pre-emptive action might become an option to defend sovereignty and maintain order and stability. The Conference had remained a passive spectator of those momentous events of recent months. If rule of law was what the Conference was safeguarding, then multilateralism had to be strengthened. And the Conference, as the sole multilateral negotiating body in the field of disarmament, had its work cut out. The Conference had an agenda that was relevant. The potential threat of a global terrorist, armed with a deadly pathogen or an "improved nuclear device" -- a term preferable to "dirty bomb" -- should help concentrate Members' minds on the task at hand.

    KUNISKO INOGUCHI (Japan) said she had always been overwhelmed by the enormous amount of human suffering caused by war and terror, as well as subsequent instabilities and famines. They still continued to exist globally and were becoming more serious in many regions. Major regional conflicts, in particular, had become ever more dangerous, due not only to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, but also to the spread of their relevant technologies and delivery means, including ballistic missiles. Terrorism was increasingly becoming a threat to international security, as harshly demonstrated by the attacks of 11 September. It had the potential to cause massive casualties by using international networks and more sophisticated strategies. There was a real danger of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, such as the sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subways in 1995, which killed 12 people and injured thousands.

    Ms. Inoguchi said it was incumbent upon the international community to confront directly those imminent threats to international peace and security. In her view, disarmament and arms control were the most fundamental ways to deal with those threats because they regulated and reduced the availability of weapons. The root cause of any war or terrorism was hatred, but not all hatred resulted in hostilities and terrorist acts. The major factor determining whether or not that hatred progressed to hostilities and terrorist acts was the availability of sufficient weapons to those wishing to resort to violence. Disarmament and arms control should therefore be given the highest priority by every government. In that context, the recent signing of the signing of the Russia-US Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions was a truly significant milestone.

    ERIC M. JAVITS (United States) reiterated that his country saw no need for new outer- space arms-control agreements and opposed the idea of negotiating a new outer space treaty. His Government believed that the existing outer space regime was sufficient. The US understood that certain other Member States had differing views. The US understood that the work of the Conference should be broad enough to encompass diverse priorities and goals, and it should be hoped that Member States would be able to develop an agreed approach that would lead to consensus. In that spirit, the United States would remain willing to support the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on Outer Space that would carry out broad-ranging discussions at the same time as the Conference conducted active and ongoing negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. Since those outer space discussions would be exploratory in nature, the United States was not willing to specify in advance what the net results might ultimately prove to be. The US could not support any draft mandate that would attempt to bias the work of the future Ad Hoc Committee towards a particular goal or outcome, and it certainly could not accept the view that the Ad Hoc Committee should start its work with the preconceived idea that it would later be necessary to negotiate a legally binding instrument.

    Mr. Javits said that discussion in the Ad Hoc Committee should be frank and free, sweeping and sincere. The Conference Member States had not reached consensus on the need for further measures with regard to outer space, and they would not do so unless broad discussions yielded common convictions and goals. The chairman of the future Ad Hoc Committee on outer space would have to guide it in a fair, transparent, and even-handed way. US views and recommendations would need to be considered in a context that would include the views and reflections of other Member States. Member States simply would not engage in efforts to reach consensus if they believed it would undermine their own national security needs and goals or those of their allies and friends.

    HU XIAODI (China) said that out space was the common heritage of the mankind. The exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purpose was a universal aspiration and demand of the international community. For more than half a century, the development of space technology had enormously facilitated the economic, scientific and social progress of all nations. Meanwhile, it had also stimulated the research and development of outer-space-related weaponry and military technologies. Various combat theories and concepts relating to space warfare had been unveiled. Outer space was faced with the danger of weaponization and an arms race.

    Mr. Xiaodi said that over the years, the international community had done a great deal of work. Although existing arms control and disarmament agreements relating to outer space had played a positive role in working towards the peaceful use of outer space and in regulating relevant activities in outer space, they were far from sufficient in arresting the worrying slide towards the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space. China believed that only a treaty-based prohibition of the deployment of weapons in outer space and the prevention of the threat or use of force against outer space objects could eliminate the emerging threat of the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space and would ensure the security for outer space assets of all countries. That was essential for the maintenance of world peace and strategic stability.

    LEONID A. SKOTNIKOV (Russian Federation) said that his delegation, jointly with China, had submitted to the Conference a draft document containing possible elements of an international legal agreement on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, and the threat or use of force against outer space objects. In proposing basic parameters of a possible new agreement in the area of outer space, the delegations of China and the Russian Federation had taken into account the experience of nearly nine years of work of the Conference's Ad Hoc Committee on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS). They considered that their predecessors had already done a lot in that direction by having prepared the issue for negotiation. The developments in the world during the last few years had only increased the importance of PAROS as an issue. That was why they supported the urgent adoption today of all measures possible to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space, rather than subsequently waste huge efforts and resources to have it "de-weaponized".

    Mr. Skotnikov said that when they were preparing the paper, they had sought to take into account the basic approaches by their partners towards the problem. While recognizing the value of all the judgements and observations made during the briefing in the Chinese mission, they had decided, however, to refrain from amending the paper at this stage. Those ideas should be subject to a careful elaboration within an appropriate Ad Hoc Committee. He stressed that their principal aim today was to stimulate the early start of substantive discussion in the Conference on the issue of PAROS. While elaborating with China the basic elements of a future agreement, the Russian delegation was taking into account the fact that the existing international legal regime regulating outer space activities contained a serious gap -- the absence of a prohibition to deploy in outer space weapons other than weapons of mass destruction. China and the Russian Federation proposed to jointly give thought to establishing international legal restrictions on the deployment of strike weapons in outer space.

    PRASAD KARIYAWASAM (Sri Lanka) welcomed the initiative taken by the delegations of China and the Russian Federation by presenting a joint working paper on "possible Elements for a Future International Legal Agreement on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects", for that purpose. Sri Lanka firmly supported the early establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS with an agreed mandate. Sri Lanka believed that outer space was the common heritage of the humankind and therefore all were equal stakeholders of that last frontier of the world. Outer space should be explored, and made use of, only in a spirit of cooperation and not in confrontation. It was in that spirit, for many years, that Sri Lanka had co-authored a resolution on PAROS at the First Committee of the General Assembly.

    Mr. Kariyawasam said that an Ad Hoc Committee on PAROS at the Conference was first established in 1985 and it was re-established every year up to 1994. Consequently, a number of important issues relevant to the prevention of an arms race in outer space had already been examined and identified. However, it was regretted that since 1995, the Conference had not been able to establish an ad hoc committee on that issue, for lack of agreement on its mandate.

    ALFREDO PINOARGOTE CEVALLOS (Ecuador) said that the Andean Charter signed by the Andean Community was based on international law and the signatories were committed to combating terrorism, illicit narcotic trafficking and international crimes. Those phenomena had been hindering peace and stability in the region. They were also determined to fight against trafficking of small arms while working towards eliminating anti-personnel landmines, according to the Ottawa agreement. The Charter would also prohibit the reception and transition of any weapons of mass destruction or biological chemicals, and make the region free of long-range strategic weapons.

    WILLIAM SANTANA (Venezuela) welcomed the initiative submitted by China and Russian Federation on possible elements for a future international legal agreement on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects. He stressed that the Conference should soon start substantive discussion on the issue. The resumption of work would show the international community the usefulness of the forum.

    MOHAMMAD REZA ALBORZI (Iran) said that his delegation would support the working paper presented by Russian Federation and China on PAROS. He also referred to the resolution of the Conference of Non-Aligned nations held in Durban on the same issue.

    ALFREDO ABBE (Chile) said that the Lima Commitment was the concrete political will of the Andean countries in limiting their expenditure in foreign defence. Priority was given to the consolidation of peace and security in the region. Peru and Chile had already established defence and security agreements. The Lima agreement was also intended to create mutual confidence among the nations. The Latin American region had been a theatre of tension and confrontation. However, its democratic process had now achieved peace and security. Turning to the Conference, he said that outer space was the common heritage of humankind and its exploration should be used to the benefit of peace and security.

    SAM MHANGO (Zimbabwe) said that his delegation fully supported the joint working paper on possible elements for a future international legal agreement on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects. The entire race was threatened with the real possibility of nuclear extinction and his delegation welcomed any initiative that would minimize that risk. Indeed, outer space was a common heritage for mankind whose exploration and use should be confined to purely peaceful purposes. The urgency of elaborating a comprehensive legal regime to deal with the issue of deployment of weapons in outer space should be emphasized. Zimbabwe would strongly condemn unilateralism and any resort to unilaterally imposed prescriptions. His delegation was concerned that the Conference had failed to agree on a programme of work in the past three years.

    MOHAMED SALAH DEMBRI (Algeria) emphasised the new impetus to initiatives and welcomed the proposals of China and the Russian Federation. The proposal submitted by South Africa was also a good one. The proposal of China and the Russian Federation was winning the sympathy of his country's Foreign Ministry. He appreciated the position of the New Agenda countries presented by Ireland. As the sole multilateral negotiating forum, the Conference should bring fresh impetus to disarmament. After listing the number of proposals presented to the Conference during the past three years, he said that the Conference had been always dynamic. There had been contradictions arising from the needs of the international community to disarm and that of national priority, which had been watering down the Conference's aspirations. Another contradiction was the dual standard in international arms control in addition to the unacceptable masking of the debate on the nuclear capability of Israel. There was a need for a long term perspective and adoption of a collective programme of work.

    TRUNG TRIEU DUONG (Viet Nam) said his country spared no effort to serve the cause for peace. His delegation supported the initiative presented by Russian Federation and China and would cooperate with all delegations endeavouring to start substantive discussion on PAROS.

    ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) said her delegation resolutely supported the working paper presented by the Russian Federation and China sponsored by other countries. Cuba's position on PAROS had been reflected in document CD/1570 and other relevant resolutions of the General Assembly. Cuba would work towards strengthening the proposal presented by the two delegations. The deployment of weapons in outer space was now a real fact.

    SULEIMAN SARRA (Syria) said that his delegation would support the proposals submitted by Russian Federation and China hoping that it would be another step to resolve the problems faced the Conference.

    VLADIMIR MALENVICH (Belarus) said that the danger of deployment of weapons in outer space had now become more tangible. His delegation would support the proposals forwarded by the Russian Federation and China, which was intended to create peace in the outer space.

    ABDUL BASIT (Pakistan) welcomed the joint working paper presented by the Russian Federation and China, and his delegation would support the initiative. The Conference should now embark on substantive discussion of the issue and conclude a legally binding instrument, which would prohibit an arms race in outer space and strengthen international peace.

    NAFIA MAHDY (Iraq) said that his delegation would totally support the Sino-Russian initiative, which would prevent an arms race in the outer space. The Conference should also start substantive discussion on PAROS.

    MICHAEL OYUGI (Kenya) said that his delegation supported the initiative of the delegations of the Russian Federation and China on PAROS and it was in the right direction. The Conference should now start substantive discussion on the issue. Outer space should be exclusively reserved for peaceful purposes and the exploitation of it should be to the benefit of humankind.

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