Press Releases

    GA/DIS/3295
    4 October 2005

    World Community "Stumbling" in Facing Disarmament, Non-Proliferation Challenges, Under-Secretary-General Tells First Committee

    General Debate Begins; Chairman Cites "Crisis" in Multilateral Disarmament, Says Committee Must Help Break Impasse

    NEW YORK, 4 October (UN Headquarters) -- Stressing that it was the Disarmament Committee's responsibility to use the session to strengthen multilateral efforts to reduce or eliminate the threat of mass destruction weapons, Under-Secretary-General Nobuyasu Abe said this morning that it was no secret to anyone in the room that "collectively we are, at present, signally stumbling to meet that challenge".

    Speaking as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) began its general debate, the Under-Secretary-General noted the Secretary-General's observation that "posturing had gotten in the way of results" at both the Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the World Summit.  Thus, it fell largely on the Committee to begin the task of picking up the pieces and provide a fresh start.  Members had a duty to the many millions of people outside this room to guide and light the way ahead.  It should provide guidance, for example, about the way in which the Conference on Disarmament might address the long-awaited talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as on such issues as negative security assurances, outer space or the fundamental question of complete nuclear disarmament.

    Agreeing that multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation was suffering from a prevailing sense of crisis, the Committee Chairman, Y.J. Choi (Republic of Korea), said that the long stalemate and lack of progress had been caused by sharp divisions in perceptions and perspectives among various groups of delegations.  The most important disarmament mechanisms, including the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission and the treaty regime of the NPT, were all now at an impasse.  Even world leaders at the September Summit had failed to negotiate a section on disarmament and non-proliferation in the outcome text.  He hoped the Committee would help break the impasse and reinvigorate the disarmament and non-proliferation processes.

    The Assistant Secretary for Arms Control for the United States, Stephen Rademaker, said that today's challenges differed profoundly from those of the cold war, when the world relied on deterrence and a web of bilateral strategic arms control treaties to contain the risk of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.  The foremost fear now was the acquisition and possible use of mass destruction weapons by rogue States, terrorists or, perhaps most worrisome of all, by terrorists armed by rogue States.  Deterrence was a "weak reed" on which to lean in confronting those kinds of actors, who fundamentally would not be deterred, and traditional arms control treaties alone protect against those risks, especially in a world where certain countries did not honour their treaty commitments.

    Calling for the elaboration of more appropriate strategies, therefore, he cited as a prime example the Proliferation Security Initiative, which sought to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials to or from States or non-State actors of proliferation concern.  Since United States President George Bush introduced the Initiative two years ago, like-minded countries had put their diplomatic, military, law enforcement, and intelligence assets to work, cooperating as never before to interdict shipments, disrupt proliferation networks, and hold accountable the front companies that supported them.  Those efforts had yielded concrete results.  For example, the Initiative had stopped the trans-shipment of material and equipment bound for ballistic missile programmes in countries of concern, including Iran.

    The United Kingdom's representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, asserted that the Iranian nuclear programme was a matter of grave concern.  He strongly supported the efforts of France, Germany and the United Kingdom to find an acceptable agreement to rebuild international confidence in Iran's intentions.  He recognized the inalienable right to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with the NPT, but maintaining the balance between rights and obligations was essential.  It was only when Iran demonstrated beyond any doubt that it was not seeking a nuclear weapons capability that it would be able to develop a better relationship with Europe and the international community as a whole. 

    He said that the world had entered "a new and particularly dangerous" period, raising the possibility of a weapons-of-mass-destruction arms race and the acquisition of those weapons by non-State actors.  The Union felt that the global treaty regimes and export control arrangements had made an important contribution to preventing the spread of mass destruction weapons and their delivery systems.  Of serious concern was the illicit trade in those weapons and in highly sensitive nuclear equipment and technology, and a truly multilateral approach to non-proliferation was the best means of countering the proliferation threat.  The world must also be united in a common endeavour to strengthen the non-proliferation regime by closing existing loopholes.

    On behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia's representative reiterated that nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority.  He underscored the deep concern over the lack of progress towards the total elimination of nuclear arsenals by nuclear-weapon States.  He also expressed serious concern about the development of new types of nuclear weapons, which contravened the assurances provided by nuclear-weapon States at the conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  International non-proliferation efforts should be parallel to simultaneous efforts towards nuclear disarmament.  Moreover, the most effective way of preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction was through the elimination of such weapons.

    Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he called for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of those weapons.  He reaffirmed the ultimate objective of general and complete disarmament, while expressing respect for the rights of developing countries to engage in research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful means.  The Security Council should not undermine international treaty regimes on unconventional or conventional weapons, or the relevant global organizations established in that regard, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

    Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), Mexico, Canada, South Africa (on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition), Malaysia, Norway, and Chile, as well as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday to continue its general debate.

    Background

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items.  Reports of the Secretary-General before the Committee include:

    The report on the Conference on Disarmament has not yet been issued.  That body's three-part session concluded on 22 September.  Efforts by successive Presidents of the Conference -- the presidency rotates every four weeks -- had failed to bridge the gap between the positions of Member States and agree on a programme of work.  The Conference requires consensus, and for seven consecutive years it has been unable to agree on a work programme and start substantive work.

    The Disarmament Commission's report (document A/60/42) contains the Chairman's proposals for two agenda items, on nuclear and conventional disarmament.  It details the negotiations on those proposals, which had taken place in formal meetings.  Agreement had been reached, ad referendum, on both items, but on 22 July, one delegation proposed an oral amendment to the item on nuclear disarmament, which essentially halted further talks for the time being, leaving the Commission without an agreed agenda for its 2006 substantive session.  The Commission will convene an organizational session to follow this up at the conclusion of the work of the First Committee, in November-December, and it plans to hold its next substantive session for three weeks in April 2006.

    The Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters (document A/60/285), which held two sessions, in New York from 23 to 25 February, and in Geneva from 29 June to 1 July, focused its deliberations on:  nuclear fuel cycle and fissile material control; regional security and global norms; small arms and light weapons; regional challenges and opportunities in the areas of weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms; and a review of the disarmament machinery.

    According to the report, the Board had the following recommendations on the  nuclear fuel cycle and fissile material control:  the consideration of near-term opportunities for multilateral nuclear approaches based on voluntary participation; further elaboration on the recommendation of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change on a voluntary moratorium on building any further facilities matched by the guaranteed supply of fissile material; full utilization of existing approaches and instruments to strengthen the security of fissile material; and the active participation of all States with advanced nuclear programmes, whether parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) or not, in global efforts to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.

    On small arms and light weapons, the Board recommended, among other things, that the first review conference on implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, to be held in 2006, should aim at expanding and deepening global norms governing small arms and light weapons. 

    Concerning challenges and opportunities at the regional level in the area of mass destruction and conventional weapons, the Board recommended, among other things, that interregional dialogue be undertaken to share information and exchange successful experiences and lessons learned and that cooperation between the regional organizations or mechanisms be established or strengthened to promote disarmament and non-proliferation.

    With regard to the disarmament machinery, the members recommended that the Conference on Disarmament be preserved and strengthened without prejudice to adjustments in its procedural arrangements that could facilitate progress in the consideration of disarmament measures.  It also recommended that the functioning of the First Committee be improved so that it might effectively address both traditional and current security challenges facing the international community, particularly in the fields of disarmament and non-proliferation.

    The Secretary-General, once again, combined the following topics into a single report (document A/60/122):  "Follow-up to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons"; reducing nuclear danger; and nuclear disarmament.  In the report, he says that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation remain at the forefront of the international peace and security agenda.  Dangers resulting from the acquisition, possession and possible use of weapons of mass destruction are challenges the international community continues to confront.

    The combined report says that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation remain at the forefront of the international peace and security agenda.  Dangers resulting from the acquisition, possession and possible use of mass destruction weapons, including nuclear weapons and radiological dispersal devices, or "dirty bombs", are challenges the international community continues to confront.

    To effectively reduce such threats, efforts must be exerted at unilateral, bilateral and multilateral levels, the report urges.  Nuclear-weapon States bear the responsibility to reduce existing arsenals, and some progress has been made in this respect.  Equally important are continued international efforts to strengthen and achieve universal adherence to, and full compliance with, effective implementation of the provisions of existing arms control and disarmament accords.  Full implementation of the Advisory Board's recommendations for reducing nuclear dangers also requires further efforts.

    The report says that the threat of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery means has added to the challenges faced by multilateral non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.  International concern has been heightened by the emergence of a clandestine nuclear black market, determined efforts to acquire the technology to produce fissile material useable in nuclear weapons, and terrorists seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction.  Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) is aimed at preventing non-State actors from acquiring or developing weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.

    The report contains information received from Chile, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Panama and Syria.

    For the third year in a row, the Committee will have before it a report on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (document A/60/185).  The report details measures taken by Member States and international organizations on issues relating to the linkage between the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  In addition to containing replies from 10 international organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the report transmits views from Bolivia, Chile, Guatemala, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Russian Federation, Switzerland and Venezuela.

    In his combined report on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East (document A/60/126), the Secretary-General says the issues remain of considerable importance.  State parties to the NPT, in general debate and at the 2005 Review Conference, reiterated their support for such a zone, reaffirmed the importance of the implementation of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference's resolution on the Middle East, and recognized that the resolution remained valid until its goals and objectives were achieved.  The Secretary-General welcomes recent attempts to give new impetus to the Road Map and calls upon all concerned parties to resume dialogue.  The report contains replies from Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Iran, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Russian Federation and Syria.

    The Committee will also consider reports on:  regional confidence-building measures:  activities of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa (document A/60/166); strengthening security and cooperation in the Mediterranean (document A/60/118); and a consolidated document on assistance to States for curbing illicit traffic in small arms and collecting them (document A/60/161).  In addition, Committee members have before them the following reports containing views of Member States:  promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation (document A/60/98), conventional arms control at the regional and subregional levels (document A/60/92); confidence-building measures on the regional and subregional context (document A/60/119); and on objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures (document A/60/159).

    Also: developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (document A/60/95); observance of environmental norms in disarmament and arms control agreements (document A/60/97); the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (document A/60/153); the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (document A/60/152); the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/60/132); the relationship between disarmament and development (document A/60/94); and on transparency in armaments:  United Nations Register of Conventional Arms (document A/60/160).

    A report on verification in all its aspects, including the role of the United Nations in the field of verification (document A/60/96), contains replies from Canada, Chile, Japan, Guatemala, Mexico, Russian Federation and Sweden. 

    A first-ever report on the Secretary-General's group of governmental experts on threats in the sphere of information security and possible cooperation measures to address them (document A/60/202) says that, after meeting in three sessions in 2004 and 2005, it did not reach consensus on the preparation of a final report, given the complexity of the issues involved.

    Also before the Committee was a report on efforts of States that have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) towards its universalization and possibilities for providing assistance on ratification procedures to States that so request it (document A/60/127).  It includes activities that have been completed and aimed at promoting entry into force of the Treaty.

    The Committee also has before it notes of the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) (document A/60/136), and on the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) (document A/60/135).

    Chairman's Opening Remarks

    Y.J. CHOI (Republic of Korea), Committee Chairman, expressed sympathies to the peoples and family of Bali, Indonesia, in light of the weekend's terrorist attack.  Turning to the work of the session, he said he would spare no efforts to bring the Committee's deliberations to a successful conclusion.  That could only be achieved, however, with the full support and cooperation of each and every delegation.  Members' constructive engagement, based on a spirit of harmony and compromise, was needed more than anything else, if there was to be a fruitful outcome from nearly five weeks of deliberations.

    Saying it was no secret that multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation was suffering from a prevailing sense of crisis, he said that a persistent long stalemate and lack of progress had been caused by sharp divisions in perceptions and perspectives among various groups of delegations and interested parties.  The most important disarmament mechanisms, including the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission and the NPT, were all now at an impasse.  That situation had not improved with the failure to negotiate the disarmament and non-proliferation section of the outcome document of the World Summit in September.

    Against that backdrop, many hoped that this year's Committee session would provide a glimmer of hope that it might be possible to break the impasse and reinvigorate the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation processes, he said.  Multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation mechanisms were too important to be left in limbo indefinitely.  The issues before the Committee would have far-reaching, long-lasting implications for national, regional and global security.  He shared the view that the Committee, at this juncture, should play a leading role in galvanizing the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation processes.  He would do his best to achieve that invaluable goal and, in so doing, he counted on delegations' support and cooperation.

    Statement by Under-Secretary-General

    NOBUYASU ABE, Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs, said it was a challenging time for disarmament and non-proliferation and, collectively, States were stumbling to meet the challenge.  He quoted Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who said twice this year, at the NPT Review Conference and at the Summit, that posturing has gotten in the way of results.  It now fell to the First Committee to begin the task of trying to pick up the pieces and move forward on the issues.  Nuclear warheads were still numbered in the thousands.  He was encouraged that the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Norway, Romania, South Africa and the United Kingdom took the initiative to seek a consensus in the field of nuclear disarmament and proliferation in preparation for the Summit.

    He said a conference was held immediately following the World Summit to reaffirm the determination to bring the CTBT into force and to underline its importance for world disarmament and non-proliferation.  The First Committee had invited a number of experts to the thematic discussion on substantive issues.  International treaty organizations, as well as chairpersons of United Nations disarmament bodies, would participate, as well.  That was a new attempt.  Biological and chemical weapons remained major items on the agenda, because of their potentially massive and indiscriminate effects.  Many would be looking ahead towards the sixth Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention) in 2006, and hoping it would successfully map the way ahead.

    The Department of Disarmament Affairs was not sitting idle under the increasing concern about the threat of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction, he said.  It was assisting the Committee established under the terms of Security Council resolution 1540.  But, the preponderant focus on the weapons of mass destruction threat should not lessen attention to the matters relating to the regulation and reduction of conventional arms and armed forces.  Their proliferation continued to pose a threat.  Often, everyday tragedies were rarely reported. The World Summit outcome document stated its commitment to strengthening the United Nations. Member States had declared their determination to reinvigorate the intergovernmental organs of the United Nations and to adapt them to the needs of the twenty-first century.  The Department had also been reviewing the work of its three Regional Centres in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific, with a view to better serving the Member States.

    The work ahead for the Committee would, at times, be difficult, he added.  It was important for Member States to raise their sights and aspirations, to try and move beyond current preoccupations in order to properly address fundamental problems.  The Committee had a duty to millions of people.  It, and the Organization, must guide and light the way.

    Statements

    CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina), on behalf of the Rio Group, said the Rio Group was convinced that multilateralism was the only way to keep international peace and security and that the pooled efforts of all States would lead to guaranteed mutual security.  States continued to be pioneers in disarmament and non-proliferation.  That was why the Rio Group saw with certain perplexity that the outcome document of the World Summit did not include reference to issue of disarmament and international security.  The Rio Group was gratified by the result of the first conference bringing together nuclear-weapon-free zones.  At that conference, the declarations adopted warned of the threat posed to humankind by continued existence of nuclear weapons.  The Rio Group was also extremely concerned about the crisis in the United Nations disarmament machinery.  The Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission were in paralysis, because of the lack of political will to agree on a balanced agenda which would include issue of nuclear disarmament.

    The Rio Group regretted the failure of the Review Conference of the NPT held last may, he said.  The lack of agreement on adopting a document that could reflect existing challenges served notice on all States.  Disarmament, non-proliferation and the exclusively peaceful uses of nuclear energy were important issues.  The initiative of Norway might be a first step to renewing the commitment of all Member States.  General and complete disarmament should be used to reinforce an international order based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all States.

    It was the common interest of all not to be threatened by weapons of mass destruction, he said.  Strengthening the non-proliferation regime should go hand in hand with access to technology by States fully in compliance with their international obligations.  The international community should be committed to eliminating chemical and biological weapons.  The Group would go on actively working towards strict compliance with the obligations embodied in non-proliferation instruments and supported making them universal.  In the multilateral system of international security, confidence-building measures had taken the form of machinery for exchanging information under the aegis of certain instruments.  The group had played an active role in furthering those confidence-building measures.  The excessive build-up of conventional arms, in particular, small arms and light weapons, was a consequence of tensions and a cause of aggravation, as well as the result of criminal acts.  The Rio Group welcomed holding the second meeting of the Action Programme on small arms and light weapons.

    The Rio Group would actively work to see that the July 2006 Review Conference on small arms be used as an opportunity for strengthening that instrument, he continued.  The Rio Group would like to express disappointment at the lack of determination shown by Member States when it came time to adopt a strong instrument on marking and tracing.  It had proved impossible to win a clear commitment to advancing and fighting against the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  Though the Rio Group was committed to the instrument, it must highlight the fact that it was a very modest contribution to addressing, in straightforward terms, that illicit activity.  Further, the Group made it its objective to turn the hemisphere into a zone free of mines and would go on working hard towards that goal, including cooperation on demining, and providing assistance to victims.

    It was a time of transition, he said.  That brought with it redefining new international conditions.  All States had to engage in dialogue, reconciling perceptions on how to design the future global system.  The Rio Group would like to highlight the fact that the United Nations Regional Centre in Latin America and the Caribbean had proven up to the task.

    LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA (Mexico) said Member States should continue to promote the full revitalization of the General Assembly.  Last year, States opened doors for a more productive First Committee session, but there was still a lot to be done.  To recognize the obsolescence of working methods was the first step to reform.  To abandon negotiating patterns developed during the cold war would be the next.  It was ironic that while threats to peace and international security continued to grow, trust in multilateral action seemed to diminish proportionally.  He was convinced that nuclear disarmament was not an option, but a legal obligation.  He deeply regretted the failure of the NPT Review Conference.  Such failure had added to the problem that, for many years, the institutional machinery of disarmament, particularly the Conference on Disarmament, faced intolerable deadlock.

    He said Mexico confirmed its unequivocal commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects and deemed it imperative to continue the effort towards a total and definitive elimination of nuclear arsenals.  In 1945, the world witnessed the devastating effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Those events generated a moral conscience that weighed against the use of such weapons.  Yet, today there still existed more than 30,000 nuclear warheads.  It was necessary, more than ever, to insist in the urgency of reducing and eventually eliminating the nuclear arsenals and of applying measures that would forbid any chance of using them.  Along with Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and South Africa, Mexico had systematically rejected as illusory the idea that nuclear weapons could be stored without ever using them.  It also insisted that the 13 practical measures on nuclear disarmament, as well as the unequivocal commitment of the States that withhold nuclear weapons, were fully valid today.

    His Government was optimistic about the understanding reached in Beijing on 19 September in the framework of the six-party talks, by which the parties had agreed on mutual confidence measures that would allow them to advance towards the objective of a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons, he said.  Mexico also underlined the importance of the States parties to the NPT, including Iran, offering clear guarantees on the peaceful use of nuclear energy in compliance with nuclear safeguards.  It underlined the need to avoid politics in cases that could be solved within the framework of the IAEA.  Mexico was also concerned that the recent nuclear cooperation agreement between India and the United States had not taken into consideration the universal objective of the NPT.

    He said Mexico promoted different initiatives to strengthen the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  Yet, it would be necessary at the 2006 Review Conference to go beyond the Action plan.  Mexico regretted the limited reach of the instrument on marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons, as well as the fact that it was not legally binding.

    On behalf of the European Union, JOHN FREEMAN (United Kingdom) said that the Committee's work must reflect the most pressing contemporary challenges of today's interdependent world.  That was why the Union was very supportive of the Committee's revitalization, and joined those who stressed the importance of implementation of all principles agreed last year.  Among the positive steps taken at the World Summit in the area of peace and security was the agreement to establish a Peacebuilding Commission and the agreement on the "responsibility to protect".  There had also been some significant steps forward on terrorism at the Summit, but there had also been setbacks.  No consensus on non-proliferation and disarmament language in the outcome document had been reached.  That occurred in a year in which the Review Conference of the NPT had been unable to agree a substantive outcome.  The international community must take responsibility and address the serious threat posed to peace and security by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.

    He said that the Union was convinced that a multilateral approach to non-proliferation was the best means of countering the proliferation threat.  It supported the universal ratification of, and adherence to, the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention and The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, as well as the entry into force of the CTBT.  Those key instruments were a basis for the international community's disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, and they contributed to international confidence and stability and peace, including the fight against terrorism.  The NPT remained the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  Those States not yet party to it should join the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States.  The Union also considered the IAEA's comprehensive safeguards, together with the Additional Protocols, to be the current verification standard and an essential means for States parties to demonstrate fulfilment of their NPT obligations.

    The Iranian nuclear programme continued to be a matter of grave concern for the Union, he said.  He strongly supported the efforts of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in association with the European Union's High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, to find an acceptable agreement to rebuild international confidence in Iran's intentions.  He recognized the inalienable right to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of the NPT.  Maintaining the balance between rights and obligations, however, was essential.  It was incumbent on a non-compliant State to return to full compliance and build the necessary confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear activities -- in Iran's case, through the suspension of fissile-material production and enrichment-related activities.

    He said that the IAEA's resolution of 24 September, "finding Iran non-compliant with its obligations under the NPT but deferring the report to the Security Council", gave Iran an opportunity now to address the clear concerns of the international community.  The European side, for its part, was prepared to resume negotiations within the framework agreed between the Europeans and Iran last November.  It was only when Iran demonstrated beyond any doubt that it was not seeking a nuclear weapons capability that it would be able to develop a better relationship with Europe and the international community as a whole.

    The Union welcomed the joint statement by the participants in the six-party talks on 19 September, he noted, in particular the renewal of the commitment of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and all existing nuclear programmes, and its undertaking to return to the NPT.  The Union considered that country's nuclear weapons programme, however, to be a "serious violation" of its commitments under the NPT, its IAEA safeguards agreement, the United States/Democratic People's Republic of Korea Agreed Framework, and the Joint North-South Declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  He continued to deplore that country's stated intention to withdraw from the NPT and he urged the adoption of measures to deal with withdrawal from the Treaty.

    He said that global treaty regimes and export control arrangements had made an important contribution to preventing the spread of mass destruction weapons and their delivery systems.  The world had entered a new and particularly dangerous period, however, which raised the possibility of a weapon-of-mass destruction arms race and of acquisition of those weapons by non-State actors.  The 2003 European Security Strategy had highlighted those threats.  Of serious concern was the illicit trade in those weapons and in highly sensitive nuclear equipment and technology.  The world must be united in a common endeavour to strengthen the non-proliferation regime by closing existing loopholes.  The Union was committed to strong nationally and internationally coordinated export controls to complement the NPT obligations.  It also strongly supported the non-proliferation measures in Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), aimed at preventing illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery means.  It also supported, and encouraged States' participation in, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, and the continued work of the Group of Eight Global Partnership.

    STEPHEN RADEMAKER, Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, United States, said that, although the NPT Review and the World Summit had been unable to produce consensus statements of arms control and non-proliferation priorities, the United States did not share the oft-expressed view that those meetings were failures.  It considered more significant the fact that they demonstrated an overwhelming consensus on certain common goals.  On reform, the high-level event made a start in that direction, but it did not go nearly far enough.  First Committee delegations could take pride in having taken the lead in revitalizing the General Assembly.  Now it was up to delegations to take advantage of last year's decisions to focus the Committee's work now on the challenges that the world faced today and would face in the future.

    He said that today's challenges differed profoundly from those of the cold war, during which the world was worried about nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.  It relied on deterrence and a web of bilateral strategic arms control treaties to contain that risk.  Today's preoccupations were different, however, as were the policies required to address today's threats.  The foremost fear now was the acquisition and possible use of mass destruction weapons by rogue States, terrorists or, perhaps most worrisome of all, by terrorists armed by rogue States.  Deterrence was a "weak reed" on which to lean in confronting those kinds of actors, who fundamentally would not be deterred.  Moreover, traditional arms control treaties alone could not protect against those risks, particularly in a world where certain countries did not honour their commitments under those treaties.  More appropriate strategies, therefore, should be evolved.

    The United States, joined by many other members of the international community, was making progress in developing strategies for confronting today's threats, he said.  A prime example was the Proliferation Security Initiative, which President Bush launched two years ago in Krakow, Poland, in order to strengthen the collective capacity to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials to or from States or non-State actors of proliferation concern.  Since then, like-minded countries had put their diplomatic, military, law enforcement, and intelligence assets to work, applying existing laws and legal principles in innovative ways and cooperating as never before to interdict shipments, disrupt proliferation networks, and hold accountable the front companies that supported them.  Those efforts had yielded concrete results.  For example, the Initiative had stopped the trans-shipment of material and equipment bound for ballistic missile programmes in countries of concern, including Iran.

    The Proliferation Security Initiative was not a treaty-based initiative with a budget or a headquarters, but rather a set of activities among participating nations, which acted in a manner consistent with their respective national legal authorities and international law to deter, disrupt and prevent weapons of mass destruction proliferation.  The United States had also established new mechanisms through the United Nations to address the proliferation threat.  In April 2004, the Security Council adopted resolution 1540, which placed a premium on the establishment of legal and regulatory measures at the national level.  It sought to build capacity from the bottom up, rather than attempting to impose it from above.  It was axiomatic that prevention was only as strong as the weakest link in the global chain.  Resolution 1540 sought to meet "the lethal flexibility and dedication of proliferators with the firm resolve of States to cut off the path to proliferation".  Governments had also been working to impede proliferators' access to banking systems.  The Group of Eight leaders at the Gleneagles Summit had emphasized the need for further cooperation to "identify, track and freeze relevant financial transactions and assets".

    Among its other endeavours, the United States had proposed measures to prevent nuclear proliferation by strengthening controls on enrichment and reprocessing technology, he said.  He would continue to work for agreement on those controls in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, while also working to ensure that States renouncing enrichment and reprocessing had reliable access to fuel for civil nuclear-power reactors.  It was working with major suppliers and the IAEA on an assured supply mechanism to provide a back-up for States that forego investment in indigenous enrichment or reprocessing capabilities.  He also stressed his country's continued commitment to addressing today's threats through traditional diplomacy.  It was working diplomatically and energetically to address two of the most serious proliferation threats facing the world today -- North Korea and Iran.  Those countries exemplified the "alarming breakdown of compliance" with the core non-proliferation undertakings contained in articles II and III of the NPT that the world confronted today from a small number of countries.

    In the case of North Korea, he said the United States goal was to preserve the NPT by insisting on the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of both the plutonium and uranium nuclear weapons programmes in that country, as well as the dismantlement of all nuclear weapons.  Hopefully, the agreement two weeks ago on a joint statement would provide a path to the realization of those objectives.

    In the case of Iran, IAEA investigators had exposed almost two decades of clandestine nuclear work, as well as a pattern of evasion and deception, which could only be explained as part of an illegal nuclear weapons programme, he said.  Earlier this year, the United States lent its strong support to the efforts of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to negotiate objective guarantees that would assure the international community that Iran had given up the pursuit of nuclear weapons.  In August, however, Iran "spurned" those negotiations by violating the 2004 Paris Agreement on which the talks had been founded.  That, in turn, had led to the adoption by the IAEA Board just last week of a resolution finding Iran in non-compliance with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations, and committing the Board to report Iran's non-compliance to the Security Council and the General Assembly, as required under the IAEA Statute. 

    He said he applauded that exercise in effective multilateralism and hoped that it would persuade the Iranian Government to return to the negotiating table on the basis of the 2004 Paris Agreement.  Should Iran decline to do so, however, the Board would have no alternative but to fulfil its obligation under the IAEA Statute and the recently adopted resolution to report the matter to the United Nations.  Meanwhile, he hoped that all Governments would take note of the Board's finding of non-compliance and adjust their national policies accordingly.  It was self-evident that, in the face of such a finding, no Government should permit new nuclear transfers to Iran, and all ongoing nuclear projects should be frozen.

    On the question of a fissile material cut-off treaty, he said the issue was "ripe for negotiation", and he was convinced that an agreement negotiated quickly would contribute to international security.  He was further convinced that the negotiation of an agreement that embodied a straightforward commitment to stop fissile material production for nuclear explosive purposes could be concluded quickly.  The United States had concluded that effective verification of a fissile material cut-off treaty was not realistically achievable, and that to include ineffective verification provisions would create an appearance of assurance that did not comport with reality.  For that reason, he opposed including verification measures in that treaty, and supported a negotiating mandate that did not refer to verification measures.  He advocated the adoption of "a clean negotiating mandate on FMCT, unencumbered by linkages to unrelated proposals".  The Conference on Disarmament should negotiate such a treaty, as well as a ban on the sale or export of all persistent landmines.

    Updating the Committee on the latest developments in nuclear disarmament, he said that on 19 September the United States had completed the deactivation of its entire force of peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs.  Just three years ago, that missile force had comprised 50 ICBMs, each capable of carrying 10 nuclear warheads.  All now had been taken out of service, consistent with the United States' obligations under the 2002 Moscow Treaty.  The empty peacekeeper silos would remain accountable under the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START), and would be subjected to inspection.  That latest step towards implementing President Bush's policy of reducing reliance on nuclear weapons provided fresh evidence of the United States' fulfilment of its obligations under article VI of the NPT.

    PAUL MEYER (Canada) said it was a troubled time for multilateral arms control.  The failure of the Review Conference of the NPT to agree on any substantive outcome had cast a shadow over prospects for advancing the Treaty's goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  The inability of the United Nations Summit to agree on a text on non-proliferation and disarmament gave further testimony to the disunity of the international community.  The weapons of mass destruction that threatened existence had not disappeared.  As the situations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran had put into relief, failures of compliance with NPT undertakings adversely affected the common interest in sustaining the authority of the NPT regime and advancing its goals.  His Government hoped Iran would take the remedial action being asked to restore confidence in its commitment to the Treaty's fundamental obligations and that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would implement at an early date its recent commitment to abandon nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes, return to the NPT, and accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

    His Government had repeatedly pointed to the important role of the Additional Protocol in strengthening the IAEA's ability to provide assurances of the absence of undeclared nuclear material, he said.  The failure of 32 States to fulfil the basic obligation to conclude a comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the Agency potentially opened up a huge vulnerability in the international safeguards system.  Sixty years had dulled memories of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  States must reinvigorate efforts to salvage the NPT as the core legal commitment to eliminating all nuclear arsenals and preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by new possessors.  His Government had proposed new arrangements, including the holding of annual Conferences of State Parties.  Recent setbacks in the arms control field should spur States into corrective action.  The impasse in the Conference on Disarmament had become unconscionable.  He was pleased that concerned States were developing initiatives to ensure that multilateral work on pressing disarmament tasks was not indefinitely stymied.

    He said next year would bring major review conferences in three areas of interest to the Committee:  the first review of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, and the third Review Conference on the Conventional Weapons Convention.  Those meetings represented important opportunities to advance.  The Ottawa Convention was another example of success in the human security success story.  Next month in Zagreb, States and civil society partners would review progress in implementing the far-reaching action plan. In the weapons of mass destruction sphere, Canada was pleased with the continued momentum that had characterized the Global Partnership's efforts to destroy the dangerous detritus of the cold war, through its increasing activities in Russia and other States in the former Soviet Union.

    He said the current challenges to the integrity of international non-proliferation and disarmament regimes had underscored the central role that verification and compliance played in maintaining confidence of States.  Canada was pleased that, starting next January, a United Nations panel of experts would take up the subject of verification.

    GLAUDINE MTSHALI (South Africa), on behalf of the countries of the New Agenda Coalition -- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and Sweden -- said that international peace and security was threatened by the development and possession of nuclear weapons and the real risk of those weapons' use.  Despite the best efforts of the international community, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation remained a reality, and was exacerbated in situations of conflict and inadequate safeguards.  It was disconcerting that a State party to the NPT had sought to withdraw from it.  Also disconcerting had been that another State party had entered into a nuclear cooperation agreement with a State not party to the NPT.  In view of those threatening developments, the Coalition believed that efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons proliferation could not be sustainable without equal efforts to eliminate those weapons.  That was why nuclear disarmament was as important -- if not more important -- today than in the past.

    She said that the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime faced significant challenges.  The failure of the 2005 NPT Review to achieve any substantive outcome confirmed that, and the continued failure of the Conference on Disarmament to reach agreement on a work programme further underscored that fact, as did the delay in entry into force of the CTBT.  While there could be little doubt that the latest NPT Review Conference had failed to inspire the international community that the elimination of nuclear weapons was closer than it had been in 2000, it had not affected the status of previously agreed commitments.  She remained concerned, however, at efforts by some States parties to disengage, or draw back, from agreements already made within the context of the NPT umbrella.  Such actions undermined the Treaty and encouraged attempts to renegotiate existing agreements.  In addition, they contradicted the very essence of multilateralism.

    The Coalition was very concerned about current proliferation risks, she said.  As its objective was to improve the security of all nations, it remained convinced that positive progress on nuclear disarmament would also improve global security.  Progress on both nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation was required, in order to attain the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons.  Although that was not a new concept, some States parties continued to place primary emphasis on one or the other of those aspects.  NPT States parties should not argue that all was well with any one particular Treaty aspect -- be that nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, or peaceful uses -- or that one aspect outweighed the others.  All aspects of the NPT should be strictly implemented and enforced.  Each article remained binding on all States parties at all times and in all circumstances, and it was imperative that all States parties be held fully accountable for strict compliance with their Treaty obligations.  The only real guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was their total elimination and the assurance that they would never be produced again.

    Seeking accelerated implementation of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation obligations and the NPT's universality, she said that the Coalition:  called on India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States "promptly and without conditions" and to place their nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards; urge all NPT States parties, and particularly the nuclear-weapon States, to implement the 2000 NPT Review's practical steps on nuclear disarmament; called on the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a work programme and resume negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty; reaffirmed the importance and urgency of signatures and ratifications required for the early operation of the CTBT; recalled that the principles of irreversibility, transparency and verification were key elements for nuclear disarmament; called for a reversal of the continuing role given to nuclear weapons in security doctrines; and recalled the resolution on the Middle East and renewed its support to rid the region of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

    REZLAN JENIE (Indonesia), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said multilateralism and multilaterally agreed solutions provided the only sustainable method of addressing disarmament and international security issues.  The decisions contained in the Summit outcome, which omitted the section on disarmament and non-proliferation, was another missed opportunity for articulating a new direction to address those critical issues.  Therefore, he stressed the importance of the First Committee and other multilateral disarmament machinery, in particular the United Nations Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, in dealing with questions of disarmament and other related international security issues.  He also underlined the need for strengthening the disarmament machinery as forums for deliberation and negotiation in a balanced and comprehensive manner, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter and multilaterally negotiated treaties, agreements and conventions.

    He encouraged all States to work closely and constructively to fully utilize the forthcoming substantive sessions of the open-ended working group mandated to consider the objectives and agenda of the special session on disarmament.  He remained alarmed by the threat to humanity posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Also, he underscored that the responsibility for managing and achieving worldwide economic and social development, as well as effectively responding to threats of international peace and security, must be shared by all nations of the world.  He reiterated that nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority and underscored the deep concern over the lack of progress towards accomplishing the total elimination of nuclear arsenals by nuclear-weapon-States.  Also, he expressed serious concern that the development of new types of nuclear weapons contravene the assurances provided by nuclear-weapon States at the conclusion of the CTBT.

    The efforts of the international community directed at non-proliferation should be parallel to the simultaneous efforts aimed at nuclear disarmament, he said.  Further, the most effective way of preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction was through the elimination of such weapons.  He respected the rights of developing countries to engage in research, production and the use of nuclear energy for peaceful means.  He reaffirmed the need for all States to fulfil their obligations in relation to arms control and disarmament and to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  He reiterated that the ultimate objective of the efforts of States in the disarmament process was general and complete disarmament.

    He said the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Therefore, pending the total elimination of such weapons, efforts for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear weapon-States should be pursued as a matter of priority.  He was deeply concerned over the illicit transfer, manufacture and circulation of small arms and light weapons.  He emphasized the importance of early and full implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  He underlined the need to ensure that any action by the Security Council did not undermine existing international treaty regimes on weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons.  He called on all States to demonstrate their political will during the current session of the First Committee.

    HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia) said his country remained steadfast to the long-established and principled position of the Non-Aligned Movement in the field of disarmament and international security.  The Movement would continue to be at the forefront of the global campaign for the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons.  At various Movement summits, his delegation had expressed strong concern at the growing resort to unilateralism and unilaterally imposed prescriptions.  In that context, it had underlined that multilateralism and multilaterally agreed solutions were the only sustainable method of dealing with the multiplicity of disarmament and international security issues.  In addition, the Movement's leaders remained firmly convinced that disarmament and non-proliferation should be pursued together, in a mutually reinforcing manner.  Today, the stress remained on proliferation, rather than on disarmament.  The lack of balance in implementing the NPT threatened to unravel the non-proliferation regime, which was a critical component of the global disarmament framework.

    He said there should be no doubt that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a threat to international peace and security.  Nor should anyone forget that the existence of those weapons in the first place was a threat to the survival of humankind and the planet.  He was concerned about nuclear proliferation, both vertical and horizontal, and he had fears about nuclear terrorism.  Those nightmares would continue as long as nuclear weapons continued to exist.  Humanity had called for their total elimination.  At the same time, the inherent right to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, including energy, should be preserved.  There was a collective responsibility to address common concerns, allay common fears and eliminate the nightmares now and forever.  He reiterated his deep concern over the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.  The nuclear-weapon States still clung to the relevance of nuclear weapons, despite a globalized and interconnected world.  He called for "an end to this madness".

    Insisting on the need to strengthen existing multilateral treaty-based mechanisms, such as the IAEA safeguards system, he said any problems of non-compliance should be resolved within the framework of those mechanisms through cooperation, dialogue and negotiations.  Resorting to other means beyond those mechanisms, such as through the Security Council, would be counterproductive.  Only political will would enable those mechanisms to work in a fair, balanced and non-discriminatory manner, taking consideration of the interests of everyone involved.  Full adherence to all provisions of the international disarmament treaties by States parties was the only sustainable approach to multilateral disarmament and the prevention of proliferation activities.  He also pressed for the entry into force of the CTBT, as well as for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones worldwide, especially in the Middle East.

    JOHAN L. LØVALD (Norway) said multilateralism and disarmament were under growing stress.  The NPT Review Conference failed to produce a substantive outcome.  The World Summit could not agree on a text on how to deal with grave proliferation challenges.  The entry into force of the CTBT seemed to be more distant than ever.  The Conference on Disarmament was still caught in a long-lasting impasse.  The United Nations Disarmament Commission had not delivered any recommendations for years.  That was unfortunate, in view of all the pressing security challenges facing the world, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illicit trafficking in nuclear technology, the existence of a large amount of unsecured nuclear material, the growing fear that nuclear weapons might be given a more prominent and additional role in security policies, and insufficient progress in nuclear disarmament.

    A new course in multilateral arms control diplomacy was achievable he said.  Compliance was a precondition for the credibility of arms control treaties, and non-compliance was a challenge to multilateralism.  Regrettably, the international community had been confronted with serious compliance matters.  Good progress had been made since October 2003 in correcting the breaches of Iran's obligations under its safeguards agreement, but there remained a confidence deficit that hampered a political solution.  He urged Iran to heed the Agency's plea for transparency measures that went beyond the formal requirements of the Additional Protocol, in order to bring the investigations to a conclusion as soon as possible.

    It was up to Iran to allow diplomacy to do its job in removing concerns about its nuclear weapons programme he said.  It was in the interest of all parties to pave the way for the resumption of negotiations.  He welcomed the agreement reached in the six-party talks concerning the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  It expected all parties to live up to their commitments.  Despite setbacks in key areas of multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation diplomacy, there were hopeful developments, including the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.  A number of countries were concluding IAEA Additional Protocols.  But, progress was too slow.  The nuclear arms reductions as stipulated by START was a positive contribution to fulfilling NPT disarmament obligations.  Irreversible cuts, however, were needed beyond that agreement.

    He said he welcomed the newly negotiated instrument on tracing and marking of small arms.  He was also pleased that the new protocol on explosive remnants of war to the Conventional Weapons Convention was gathering increased support.  He also welcomed the continued progress in the implementation of the Group of Eight Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.  He was also pleased the Proliferation Security Initiative had widespread support, and he appreciated that more countries were signing up to The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missiles Proliferation.  While there was achievement, however, the world was still facing serious challenges.  The General Assembly must send a forceful message to the relevant multilateral bodies that they must get down to real business.  At the same time, the Committee should reaffirm the relevance of the NPT and the close interlinkage among disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use.  The Committee should reiterate the impatience felt by the international community concerning an early entry into force of the CTBT.  It was equally important that the Committee support the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, and call for steps to further strengthen the two treaties.

    HERALDO MUÑOZ,(Chile) said a number of times Chile had stated that it did not agree with the ritual of general speeches, where delegates regurgitated speeches everyone could recite from memory.  He believed that the impasse in the multilateral arena reflected the fact that principles and ultimate goals, enshrined in disarmament instruments, could only become tangible reality once conditions were met that still did not exist.  Seeing a disconnect between disarmament and non-proliferation was wrong, he said.

    He said bringing about non-proliferation required a series of steps through which key players would know that their vital interests were being safeguarded.  Non-proliferation was a powerful factor.  The world could badger nuclear Powers about their commitment, but the only thing that might prompt them to part with atomic arsenals was the conviction that their survival no longer required it.

    With regard to security perceptions, he noted there had been substantial progress.  The importance of the reduction in the number of nuclear warheads and the elimination of entire families of nuclear weapons stemmed from the fact that powers concerned had made giant strides.  Without such confidence, there would never be nuclear disarmament.  Everyone knew that international terrorism, and the fact that terrorists could acquire weapons of mass destruction, was a burning issue pointing a dagger at the vital interests of all States.  The international community was now perfectly familiar with the cause of nuclear disarmament, but the cause was not moved forward with verbal blasts about non-discrimination or hammering home the rights of States to benefit from nuclear energy.  Such a right could be invoked only by States that scrupulously abided by their commitments.  On the other hand, certain nuclear Powers could do more to let the multilateral disarmament segment bear fruit.  The multilateral format conferred political legitimacy that added synergistically to the confidence of global security that was a benefit to everyone.

    The point was not to win the debate; rather, it was to win over the other side, he said.  In that dimension, body language was of the essence.  There was no room for forward movement, when there was a minimum of goodwill and diplomatic skill.  States should take advantage of what room there was and move forward incrementally, creating an environment of confidence.  The world knew there was a long and hard road ahead.  It would be generations before the world got where it needed to be.  But no one would get there by ignoring reality and the multilateral opportunities, and instead fling barbs.  Disarmament required the greatest political realism.  States needed to, for once, get started translating those qualities into reality.  Chile endorsed the text introduced by Norway, and the statement delivered by Argentina, representing the Rio Group, was one Chile fully endorsed.

    CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that in recent months the international community had some hope that issues of disarmament and non-proliferation would be addressed by the world leaders at the September Summit.  Indeed, the draft document prepared for that purpose had called on States "to pursue and intensify negotiations with a view to advancing general and complete disarmament and strengthening the international non-proliferation regime".  It encouraged them to strengthen the NPT and the biological and chemical weapons Conventions.  Some specific steps had even been suggested.  Yet, that language had not appeared in the adopted text.  The Secretary-General had called that exclusion a "disgrace".  And it happened not because most leaders and Governments did not care about the suffering and increased dangers posed by the proliferation of weapons of all kind, but because the pressure was such that the legitimate and grave concerns of many, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, were often set aside.

    He said that, although the opening of the Convention on nuclear terrorism was an important step forward, it remained deplorable that the NPT Review Conference in May had ended without a single substantive decision.  Nuclear weapons were becoming a permanent feature of some military doctrines, and there had been a dramatic 20 per cent increase in world military spending in the past two years.  The combined arms sales of the top 100 arms-producing companies increased 25 per cent in one year.  Small arms killed at least 500,000 people each year, and the United Nations conferences on that subject had still not produced a legally binding instrument on small arms transfers.  The legal arms trade was once more on the rise, and the illegal flow of arms to the world's conflict zones had been responsible for countless deaths.  Terrorist attacks, using assault rifles, automatic weapons, hand grenades, landmines, shoulder-launched missiles, and small explosives, were mounting. 

    The principles and progress of disarmament were being weakened both by the reluctance of some to disarm and by the unwillingness of others to publicly take to task such an attitude, he said.  Arms control and disarmament were fundamental pillars of the architecture of peace.  All Member States were duty-bound to keep working on the technical, legal and political elements of the disarmament agenda.  The United Nations had pioneered studies illustrating the integral relationship between disarmament, development and security.  The economic benefits of disarmament must be highlighted, and development alternatives to militarism must be the constant work of the Committee.  Members here bore a special responsibility this year to repair the omission of disarmament from the Summit's outcome text.  Efforts would be made to revitalize the Committee and set up special working groups to deal with nuclear weapons-related issues.  Other efforts would be made to bring like-minded States together to lay the ground for a nuclear weapons convention.  Those were signs that States were serious about overcoming the obstacles that stood in the way of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

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