9 May 2005
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Continues General Debate at UN Headquarters
Parties Also Hold Intensive Consultations Aimed at Consensus on Substantive Agenda
NEW YORK, 6 May (UN Headquarters) -- Despite intensive consultations, the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which has been meeting at Headquarters since 2 May, was unable as of today to reach consensus on the Conference’s agenda and will continue discussions on the matter.
Conference President Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte (Brazil) appealed for a spirit of compromise to avoid further delay. Public opinion, he said, expected the parties to start dealing with the substantive questions at hand, and the Governments also expected a most serious conduct of the business before the Conference.
Among the issues expected to be considered at great length are universality of the Treaty, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, safeguards, verification and compliance, nuclear-weapon-free zones, security assurances, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and withdrawal from the NPT.
When the Conference opened on Monday, the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee, Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat, had informed delegates that, although the Committee -- which held three sessions from April 2002 to May 2004 -- had been able to agree on a number of issues, including the Conference’s presidency and draft rules of procedure, it was not in a position to agree to a provisional agenda and deferred consideration on a final document to the Review Conference. At its third session, despite the many proposals put forward by delegations and efforts to produce a consensus report containing recommendations to the Review Conference, the Committee was not able to reach agreement on any substantive recommendations.
As the Conference continued its general debate today, speakers emphasized the invaluable role of the Treaty in global non-proliferation efforts, and called on the three remaining States outside the NPT -- India, Israel and Pakistan -- to join without delay, thereby universalizing the Treaty.
Thirty-five years after the entry into force of the NPT, said Senegal’s representative, the spectre of a nuclear disaster continued to haunt the international community, with the number of nuclear weapons amounting to tens of thousands. Despite its imperfections, the NPT was capable of freeing the world of nuclear weapons. He called on parties, both nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States, to honour their respective commitments around the three pillars of the Treaty -- non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. That was both a moral imperative and an obligation under international law, he stated.
Costa Rica’s representative noted that minimal, if any, forward movement on the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament, an announced withdrawal from the Treaty, and failed attempts at ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty were alarming developments undermining the NPT. The declared nuclear Powers and those seeking that power were responsible for that situation. It must be considered whether that could be achieved while depending on five-year review conferences. In that regard, he supported Canada’s proposal on holding an annual meeting to deal with issues intertwined with the Treaty.
The Conference, stated Mongolia’s representative, was a welcome opportunity to reiterate the NPT’s continuing authority, integrity and effectiveness, and for making recommendations outlining global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament strategy for the coming years. It was his fervent hope that deliberations in the coming weeks would produce concrete results. Hopefully, the States parties would make every effort to engage in open and constructive dialogue to bridge the gap existing between their positions for the common good.
The representative of El Salvador said disarmament and non-proliferation had not been marked by major progress. On the contrary, the regime had suffered setbacks, some of them alarming, raising questions about the Treaty’s future. Among those setbacks had been: the nuclear testing in South Asia; the NPT’s lack of universality; safeguards violations by some States parties; lack of substantial progress in nuclear disarmament; and lack of transparency of the nuclear Powers’ arms programmes. All of that ran counter to the aspirations of people everywhere to live in freedom from fear and want, he noted.
In other business today, Gabon was elected as an additional Vice-President for the Conference.
The Conference will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 10 May, to continue its general debate.
The 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) met today to continue its general debate. (For background on the Conference, see Press Release DC/2954 issued on 28 April.)
PAUL BADJI (Senegal) noted that, in 1970, when the NPT entered into force, many had thought of the imminent emergence of a world free of the nuclear threat. Thirty-five years later, the spectre of a nuclear disaster continued to haunt the international community, with the number of nuclear weapons amounting to tens of thousands. Despite its imperfections, the NPT was capable of freeing the world of nuclear weapons. It was appropriate that States parties, both nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States, should, without delay, bow to their respective commitments around the three pillars of the Treaty -- non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. That was both a moral imperative and an obligation under international law.
Even if vertical non-proliferation was of concern, the results obtained in horizontal non-proliferation were highly appreciable, he stated. The States outside the NPT that had nuclear weapons “could be counted on the fingers of one hand”. To that, he added that there was a gradual expansion of nuclear-weapon-free zones. In that connection, the conference of States parties to treaties establishing such zones, held in April in Mexico, highlighted the contribution of those zones to horizontal nuclear non-proliferation. It was high time for the Treaty of Pelindaba, establishing the African nuclear-weapon-free zone, to acquire the necessary ratifications needed to enter into force. With a view to fostering such a zone in the Middle East, it would be desirable for parties to comply with the 1995 resolution on the Middle East and for Israel to join the NPT.
Appreciable efforts were still needed in various areas of vertical non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as called for in article VI of the NPT, he said. Article VI had not been implemented, the arms race continued, and there was a general enhancement of military doctrines which provide for the use of nuclear weapons in conflict. Consequently, he exhorted all parties, especially the nuclear-weapon States, to show flexibility and to ensure the effective functioning of the Review Conference. He fully endorsed the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference, which stated that the absolute guarantee for the non-use of such weapons would be their complete elimination. The implementation of the 13 practical steps would contribute to the achievement of that objective.
He also stressed the importance of beginning negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, and to bring into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). In addition, the transfer of nuclear technology should be non-discriminatory and free of any obstacles. He nourished the hope that, aware of the real dangers of nuclear weapons, parties to the Treaty would show good sense and bequeath to their children and grandchildren a world of peace, concord and prosperity.
CHOISUREN BAATAR (Mongolia) said that, since its establishment, the Treaty had neither dwindled nor diminished, but only gained in its paramount significance as the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament regime. Attaining absolute universality of the NPT remained crucial to that regime, and he welcomed the accession of Cuba and Timor-Leste. In the same vein, he called on India, Israel and Pakistan to join the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States at an early date. No one would argue that the world with the NPT was far better than one without. Mongolia, along with many other countries, emphasized the three NPT pillars -- non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It was regrettable that the 13 steps towards nuclear disarmament agreed to in 2000 had yet to be implemented. The current review provided a welcome opportunity to inject new energy into those efforts.
He, once again, reiterated his strong support for the CTBT. The test ban would constrain development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons, thereby preventing their vertical proliferation. It would also deny possible proliferators the possibility of actually completing their nuclear weapons programmes, thus, checking horizontal proliferation. He called on all States outside the Treaty to join it without delay. Negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons were long overdue. The scope of application of such a treaty should include pre-existing stocks. Multilateral disarmament action was complemented by unilateral, bilateral and plurilateral measures in that field. In that connection, he welcomed the conclusion of the Moscow Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States.
He said the ownership and control of mass destruction weapons used to be confined to States. Alarmingly, however, there was a new trend of non-state actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction and the clear intent to use them, he said. Mongolia, like other States, had been alarmed at the revelation of A.Q. Khan’s clandestine proliferation network. Although A.Q. Khan traded with States, one could easily imagine a nightmare scenario of how such proliferation activities could be exploited by terrorist groups, and the catastrophic results. In a world of interconnected threats and increasing globalization, such a worrying revelation would cause security, economic and financial shockwaves that would affect the lives of people the world over. He welcomed the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1540 (2004), as well as the adoption by the General Assembly of a convention on suppressing nuclear terrorism.
He said that the credibility of various non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament treaties depended largely on the effectiveness of their verification regimes. Proof of compliance with a treaty regime was imperative if one was to fully enjoy the privileges and rights conferred by those legal instruments, and the NPT was no exception. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comprehensive safeguards system and the Additional Protocols. He also underscored the inalienable right of non-nuclear-weapon States that had fully complied with their obligations under the NPT to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Nuclear-weapon-free zones were another crucial element and an important confidence-building measure in various regions and beyond, he said. More than 100 States had expressed their recognition and full support of Mongolia’s international nuclear-weapon-free status, of paramount importance in light of the relentless efforts exerted by successive governments of Mongolia over the course of more than 10 years towards institutionalizing its status at the global level. Meanwhile, Mongolia’s position on the nuclear issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was well known, he said. Mongolia had been a vocal advocate of a nuclear-weapon-free Korean peninsula. He, therefore, strongly supported the multilateral process aimed at resolving the issue peacefully through dialogue, engagement and negotiations. The Conference was a welcome opportunity to reiterate the NPT’s continuing authority, integrity and effectiveness, and for making recommendations outlining global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament strategy for the coming years. It was his fervent hope that deliberations in the coming weeks would produce concrete results. Hopefully, the States parties would make every effort to engage in open and constructive dialogue to bridge the gap existing between their positions for the common good.
BRUNO STAGNO UGARTE (Costa Rica) said that today the States parties to the world’s most universal security treaty had gathered to review how far they had come in implementing that instrument. Minimal, if any, forward movement on the 13 practical steps, an announced withdrawal from the Treaty, and failed attempts at ratifying the CTBT were alarming developments undermining the NPT. The declared nuclear Powers and those seeking that power were responsible for that situation. He appealed for renewed efforts and commitments to achieve nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It must be considered whether that could be achieved while depending on five-year review conferences. Each NPT article was binding on each State party under all circumstances. In that regard, he supported Canada’s proposal on holding an annual meeting to deal with issues intertwined with the Treaty.
The NPT, he said, had no verification and implementation machinery, except the requirement to sign safeguards agreements with the IAEA. It was necessary for the Security Council to do its duty and shoulder the responsibility emanating from the referral clause in the IAEA statute. The Council’s competencies were confined to situations jeopardizing international peace and security. Also, the Additional Protocol was indispensable for mutual confidence and transparency. Unfortunately, only 66 States had signed and ratified the Protocol. Bastions out of the reach of verification could not be allowed to exist. The international community must promote more coercive verification procedures in the realm of arms control. He expressed concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s withdrawal and called for constructive dialogue within the six-party talks.
The nuclear-weapon States must make real commitments to achieving disarmament, including dismantling nuclear arsenals and setting timetables towards complete disarmament, he said. The possession of nuclear weapons by any State was a constant incentive for other States to acquire them. He was pleased with the General Assembly’s recent adoption of the International Convention on Nuclear Terrorism. The CTBT was one of the fundamental pillars to fighting nuclear proliferation, and he called on those who had not yet done so to ratify it as soon as possible in order to hasten its entry into force. In addition, the IAEA must be strengthened, and its verification capabilities “beefed up”.
HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE COLATO, Military Advisor, El Salvador, also drew attention to the major challenges to the non-proliferation system, which required extra efforts to reach agreement to overcome the crisis in credibility looming over the NPT. In recent years, particularly since the terrorist acts against the United States in 2001, the world had moved towards a new global security consensus, seen now from a broader and more holistic perspective and interdependent with human rights, peace, development and democracy. Valiant efforts must be made to ensure that all individuals lived free from fear and in security. The world was rife with threats and challenges, which reached beyond national frontiers and were greater than the ability of individual States to cope. Only through genuine political determination in a broad framework could the international community effectively confront those global problems.
Yet, he said, medium- and small-sized countries, which comprised the majority of United Nations Member States, were facing various dimensions of that problem. Among them were the dreams and aspirations of the vast majority of States seeking to live free from the threat and fear of mass destruction weapons. The goal of total denuclearization must be realized in line with the NPT’s objectives. In today’s world, some States were capable of producing sophisticated new design and more powerful nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Some of those States based their military doctrines on that military power, trumping the common interest of all humankind.
With regard to weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, the process of denuclearization, in accordance with the NPT, had not been marked by major progress, he said. On the contrary, the regime had suffered setbacks, some of them alarming, and questions about the Treaty’s future. Among those setbacks had been: the nuclear testing in South Asia; the NPT’s lack of universality; safeguards violations by some States parties; lack of substantial progress in nuclear disarmament; lack of transparency in the nuclear Powers’ arms programmes; and lack of implementation of the agreed 13 steps towards nuclear disarmament. The Conference was dealing with States that had flouted the Treaty, along with States seeking to become new nuclear Powers. All of that ran counter to the aspirations of people everywhere to live in freedom from fear and want.
He said that a safer world could be achieved for nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States alike only by moving closer to the elimination of nuclear weapons, along with all other mass destruction weapons. The blame for the current situation could not be pinned on the United Nations, given the lack of verification and monitoring machinery, and the lack of follow-through by States on their obligations. If denuclearization efforts were to be capped with success, then all States must comply with the Treaties they had signed and adopt new measures to monitor adherence. One recent success had been the General Assembly’s adoption of a convention to suppress acts of nuclear terrorism. Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) must be the premise for preventing proliferation to non-state actors, and could amount to an additional protocol to the NPT. Throughout the Conference, it should be borne in mind that a nuclear attack could destroy humanity.
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