Press Releases

    GA/DIS/3296
    6 October 2005

    World Community Unable to Grasp Gravity of Existing, Emerging Disarmament, Non-Proliferation Threats, First Committee Told

    Speakers Express Disappointment with World Summit , NPT Conference; Also Raise Issues of Outer Space Weapons, Deadlock in Disarmament Bodies

    (Issued on 5 October 2005)

    NEW YORK, 4 October (UN Headquarters) -- Failure to reach consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation issues at the World Summit had demonstrated the world's inability to grasp the gravity of the existing and emerging threats to international security, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told today during its general debate.

    Such a failure had also highlighted the divergence in the interests and priorities of Member States on those two crucial issues, India's representative told the Committee on the second day of its debate on all disarmament and global security issues.  In fact, the widening gap between perception and reality and the security interests and priorities of key States had paralyzed the multilateral disarmament machinery.  For eight successive sessions, the Conference on Disarmament had not conducted any substantive negotiations, and for the past two sessions the Disarmament Commission had been unable to agree even on its agenda.

    Asserting that the non-proliferation framework was beset with crises, he urged the nuclear-weapon States to reaffirm their commitment to nuclear disarmament, and for all States to implement fully and in good faith their obligations.  Pending nuclear disarmament, immediate interim steps must be taken to reduce nuclear danger.  Those included the de-alerting of nuclear weapons and the adjustment of nuclear doctrines to a posture of no-first-use and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon States.  India's nuclear posture was characterized by responsibility, predictability and a defensive orientation.  India also had an abiding interest in the non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction, not just for its own security, but for the peace and security of the world at large.

    The Director of the Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Anatoly Antonov, described his country's five-fold reduction of the aggregate stockpiles of nuclear weapons and a four-fold reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons since 1991.  Those reductions, which were labour intensive, technically complex, and very costly, were well underway, and they were running smoothly.  Among the central threats to global security was the danger of the spread of an arms race to outer space.  The world had the capacity to prevent such a scenario.  His country, for its part, had declared it would not be the first to place weapons of any kind in outer space.  The time had come to update the United Nations proposals of the early 1990s.

    Similarly, China's representative warned that the danger of the "weaponization" of outer space was increasingly salient.  Overall, the world was far from tranquil, as traditional security threats persisted and non-traditional security threats kept cropping up.  The intertwined threats restrained human development and threatened world peace and security.  As an important part of the international efforts to pursue peace and promote development, the international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation process was at a crucial juncture.  Yet, obsession with the cold war mentality and nuclear deterrence strategy based on the first use of nuclear weapons, as well as a lowering threshold for the use and development of new such weapons, had introduced new factors in world security. 

    Echoing the concern expressed by many speakers today at the inability of both the NPT review and the World Summit to achieve substantive agreement on issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, Ghana's representative said those outcomes reflected either a "creeping lethargy within the international community over disarmament issues or lack of appreciation of the gravity of the situation confronting us".  The recent setbacks should spur Member States to intensify their collective effort to achieve the ultimate goal -- a world free from the scourge of war, especially an atomic armageddon.  After all, it was only in a secure global environment that the pursuit of other important issues, such as development, human rights and the rule of law, could be effectively sustained.

    Senegal's representative added that the serious threats to humanity, if not confronted, could unravel the global security architecture.  The promotion of development would be in vain without full control over the various security threats.  Of primary importance was to rectify the deadlock in the disarmament bodies, which had been the result of "biased thinking" by certain States -- thinking that associated the possession of nuclear weapons with a certain political advantage.  That negative and dangerous position motivated nuclear proliferation and turned a blind eye to the security of the planet as a whole.  He also urged adoption of instruments on marking and tracing, and brokering, of small arms and light weapons.  Without controlling those "weapons of death", the most ambitious development programmes in Africa would have limited impact. 

    Representatives of the following countries also spoke in the general debate:  Algeria; Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group; Botswana, on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC); South Africa; Egypt; United Arab Emirates; Myanmar; El Salvador; Poland; Iraq; Colombia; Iceland; Republic of Korea; Kuwait; Switzerland; Viet Nam; Kazakhstan; Nepal; and Syria.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 5 October to continue its general debate.

    Background

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate.  (For details of the session, see Press Release GA/DIS/3294 of 29 September and Press Release GA/DIS/3295 of 3 October.)

    Statements

    ANATOLY ANTONOV, Director of the Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation, reiterated his firm support for strengthening multilateralism in addressing the objectives of disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, on the basis of strict compliance with international agreements.  His country complied fully with its commitments under article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), as well as its treaties with the United States, and it had fulfilled its unilateral initiatives on nuclear disarmament.  Since 1991, there had been a fivefold reduction of the aggregate stockpiles of nuclear weapons, and a fourfold reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons.  Those reductions, which were labour intensive, technically complex, and very costly, were well under way, and they were running smoothly.

    He said his country attached great importance to the irreversibility of nuclear-weapons reduction.  As Russian President Vladimir Putin had said in the General Assembly debate, "we are ready to take new constructive steps in this field".  The focus of world politics remained on the issue of mass-destruction-weapon proliferation, including its counter-terrorism component.  Despite the outcome of the 2005 NPT Review Conference, the work had been useful, and the Treaty's fundamental principles had been reaffirmed.  No one had called the Treaty outdated or suggested that another one should be drafted to replace it.  All participants had stressed the NPT's vitality and validity as the basis for the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  New challenges to that regime could and should be tackled on the basis of the NPT.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was one of the key instruments in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  He called on all States to sign and ratify it as soon as possible, in particular those States whose ratification was required for the Treaty's entry into force.

    Noting with satisfaction the outcome of the fourth round of six-party talks on the Korean peninsula nuclear problem, concluded on 19 September in Beijing, China, he said he welcomed the pledge by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes, and to return as soon as possible to the NPT and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  He looked forward to further successful talks, with the ultimate goal of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  He supported efforts to find a balanced solution, which ensured the legitimate security interests of all parties involved in the negotiations.

    He said he regarded the IAEA resolution on the Iranian nuclear programme, adopted by the Agency's Board of Governors on 24 September, as a signal for continuing and expanding cooperation between the Agency and Iran to clarify the remaining questions.  Resolution of the Iranian problem should be handled within the Agency.  He favoured a more intensive dialogue between all States concerned, and deemed it necessary to work out decisions that would remove all doubts about the peaceful character of Iran's nuclear activities and satisfy that country's legitimate energy needs.

    New challenges required new solutions, he said.  In that light, he appreciated the broad support for the Russian proposal contained in Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  It was necessary now to ensure their full and universal implementation.  Among the central threats to global security was the danger of the spread of an arms race to outer space.  The world had the capacity to prevent such a scenario, which was in the interest of all nations.  He appreciated the wide support of the Russian/Chinese proposal, co-sponsored by several other States at the Conference on Disarmament -- to elaborate a new, universal arrangement on preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space and the use, or threat of use, of force against outer space objects.  He was looking forward to the earliest re-establishment of an ad hoc committee within the Conference on the prevention of an outer-space arms race.

    Stressing that transparency and confidence-building measures could discourage intentions to place weapons in near-Earth space, he said his country had put forward several such initiatives in recent years.  He specifically recalled the unilateral statement by the Russian Federation not to be the first to place weapons of any kind in outer space.  He welcomed the statement by the member States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization on 23 June, which took the same voluntary political commitment.  Once again, he called on all States to join the Russian initiative.  The time had come to take a comprehensive look at the possible range of potential confidence-building measures in outer space, and to update the proposals prepared in the United Nations in the early 1990s.  He intended to submit a new draft resolution on that topic in the Committee.

    Noting that the group of governmental experts on international information security, chaired by a Russian expert, had completed two years of work this year, he said that, although it had not been possible to arrive at consensus language for a final report, the group's discussions had been quite useful.  The issue of information security was multifaceted, as it affected national security and overall international stability.  Taking that into account, his delegation would submit a draft resolution on that issue, for which he sought full support.  Regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention, he called for States' unconditional fulfilment of that instrument, especially the provisions relating to the destruction of stockpiles.  He supported efforts aimed at the Treaty's universalization, as well as the creation and enhancement of national implementation mechanisms.  Also necessary was the elaboration of legally-binding verification measures for the Biological Weapons Convention.

    He also called for breaking the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament.  The current situation had developed because of the interests and attitudes of States, and not because of the Conference's procedural shortcomings.  He hoped the States that were not ready to support the compromise proposals in Geneva right now would listen to the opinion of the overwhelming majority and demonstrate flexibility.  For many years, the entry into force of the newly adapted Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) had been postponed.  His Government had done its utmost to secure its earliest operation, including ratification of the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty in 2004; now it was its partners' turn.  Apparently, a tense discussion about the Treaty's future was anticipated at the Review Conference next May.

    ABDALLAH BAALI ( Algeria) said the high-level meeting of the General Assembly had proven to be a special opportunity for leaders to reaffirm their commitment to multilateralism and to confront the challenges the world now faced.  But despite the declarations of good intentions, the real world was a quite different place.  Questions of disarmament and non-proliferation had been cut out, and that could not be construed as something isolated.  Rather, it was the logical outgrowth of a less favourable international setting for moving forward with the cause of disarmament, where multilateralism no longer enjoyed support.  The failure of the NPT Review Conference reflected the full gambit of frustration that had overcome countries.

    He said that with the coming of the two Treaties on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START I and II), and the conclusion of the CTBT, efforts were made to free mankind from the spectre of weapons of mass destruction.  The hopes to which that gave rise had now given way to disenchantment.  None of the 13 practical measures decided on to eliminate nuclear arsenals had been implemented in the slightest.  The present session came at an alarming time in the international context.  Things had become less certain, deadlines had pushed back further and further, new generations of weapons were being developed, and new threats were emerging.  He was aware of the perplexity of disarmament, and was firmly convinced the First Committee remained headed in the right direction, to the extent that there was political will among States and a joint approach.  Such an approach called for a strategy and it marked the end of the outdated doctrine of nuclear deterrence.  Nuclear States must eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

    He called upon all parties concerned to show a spirit of cooperation to conclude work of the draft by five ambassadors.  His country would spare no effort in fulfilling its obligations.  Nuclear disarmament must remain a top priority, to keep mankind from being annihilated, and there must be a shared international effort to promote scientific exchange.  It was the right of all States to peacefully use nuclear energy.  Any nuclear programme must be transparently carried out in close cooperation with international institutions, and it must be for peaceful purposes.  States had the right to the peaceful of use nuclear energy.  The atom must become a vector for well-being.  Further, nuclear regional disarmament created nuclear-weapon-free zones.  It was reassuring to see nuclear weapon-free zones were a reality.  Algeria was among the countries that actively contributed to the Pelindaba Treaty and it was fully committed to entry into force of that major instrument.  It regretted the delay in the creation of a similar zone in the Middle East.

    In an interdependent world, he said, self development was the real bedrock.  In the African community, there were new challenges raised by globalization, such as the new perils of organized crime and pandemics.  He welcomed that the international community was aware of the risks posed by proliferation and the trafficking of small arms and light weapons and fighting that phenomenon, which seriously jeopardized international peace and stability.

    CHUKA UDEDIBIA ( Nigeria), on behalf of the African Group, said the Group reaffirmed its commitment to the achievement of general and effective disarmament under strict and effective international control.  The Group believed in the need for the pursuit and eventual attainment of the goal of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in all aspects.  The Group also welcomed the adoption of the Summit Outcome, but was disappointed that no agreement was reached on the cluster dealing with the issue of disarmament and non-proliferation.  Further negotiations were needed to enhance progress in that area.  Nuclear weapons posed the greatest danger to mankind.  The commencement of multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and on their total elimination had become a necessity.  Among the first steps towards the realization of that objective would be a commitment by nuclear-weapon States to immediately stop the qualitative improvement, development, production, and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems.  A legally binding international instrument should be established under which the nuclear-weapon States would undertake not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapons States.

    He said the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament was a turning point in the history of multilateral efforts to achieve disarmament.  Unfortunately, the final document had not been implemented.  Also, the NPT remained a vital instrument in the maintenance of international peace and security.  The Group endorsed the 13 practical steps adopted by the 2000 Review Conference for the systematic and progressive effort to accomplish the total elimination of their arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament.  It was unfortunate that the 2005 NPT Review Conference had failed to produce a meaningful outcome.  The Group reiterated its long-standing support for the total elimination of nuclear testing and stressed the significance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT.  The Group also endorsed the Declaration adopted at the Conference facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT.

    He emphasized the importance of strengthening the existing multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements, by ensuring full compliance and effective implementation of those agreements.  The existing disarmament machinery must be strengthened as a means of advancing the process of nuclear disarmament.  He also supported the concept of internationally recognized nuclear-weapon-free zones established on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among States in the regions concerned.  He called for the ratification of the Treaty of Pelindaba by the required number of States, so it could enter into force without further delay.  Further, he called on States to take appropriate measures to prevent any dumping of nuclear or radioactive wastes that would infringe on the sovereignty of States.  In addition, he called for full implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action on the illicit small arms trade as a key element in promoting long-term security and sustainable development.  He also called for the establishment of an effective international regime on arms brokering and called on State Parties to the treaty prohibiting anti-personnel mines -- the Ottawa Convention -- to fully implement their obligations.

    On behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), LESEDI N. THEMA ( Botswana) stressed the connection between disarmament and development.  The SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security had been established primarily because the region recognized that no socio-economic development could be achieved without peace, security and political stability.  The SADC, therefore, had drawn up the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ to promote regional peace and security.  The Plan sought to safeguard the region's development and help to implement the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, which provided member countries with a coherent and comprehensive development agenda.  Despite the political will of the member nations to cooperate on political, defence and security matters, the region still faced potential and actual military threats.  Some States were still grappling with armed conflicts and unfinished demobilization, disarmament and reintegration, as well as monitoring of former military personnel, terrorism, and the prevalence of illicit arms and landmines.

    He said that SADC broadly supported the consideration by the group of governmental experts of the relationship between disarmament and development on such issues as:  the pivotal role that security played in defining the relationship between disarmament and development; the importance of addressing the multifarious threats to development posed by illicit small arms and light weapons; and the importance of preventing conflict in order to avoid the debilitating financial, economic and social costs associated with civil conflicts and armed conflicts between States.  The Community was also committed to the wider continental establishment and consolidation of the African Union, especially the Peace and Security Council, and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).  Meanwhile, the region was inundated with small arms and light weapons, following many decades of inter- and intra-State conflicts.  Clearly, there was much cause for concern.  The region was motivated to arrest those weapons' illicit spread, and had been a strong advocate in fighting that scourge.

    He said many SADC member countries recognized those arms' contribution to instability, protracted conflicts and social dislocation, as well as their link to drug trafficking, terrorism, transnational organized crime, mercenaries and other violent criminal activities.  There could be little doubt that combating the spread of such weapons could only be achieved through effective international cooperation and by developing strong mechanisms to exchange information, maintain tracking records, and consider proper marking to guard against illegal ownership.  While the SADC had been disappointed that the open-ended working group on negotiating a global instrument to identify and trace had been unable to agree on a legally binding instrument, it had been heartened that the politically binding instrument to be presented to the current session contained provisions that would effectively combat that illicit arms trade.  At the same time, disappointment at the failure to conclude a legally binding instrument would not dampen the Community's resolve to see that issue through to its natural conclusion.

    Turning to implementation of the Ottawa Convention, he said that the entire SADC membership was committed to its provisions given the extraordinarily hazardous effect of those arms on innocent citizens.  The Community, therefore, attached great importance to strong national and regional commitments.  The Common African position on Anti-Personnel Landmines was a powerful message of the priority that the African region attached to resolving that issue.  The region was also involved in destroying those weapons, in line with the Ottawa Convention.

    DUMISANI S. KUMALO ( South Africa) said he was gravely concerned with the general lack of meaningful progress on nuclear disarmament and the apparent paralysis in one of the major parts of the United Nations disarmament machinery, the Conference on Disarmament.  The failure of the NPT Review Conference and the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament were an indictment that the international community had not risen to the challenge posed by nuclear weapons.  Those impediments to nuclear disarmament were manifestations of a serious lack of political will.  They depicted a lack of courage to negotiate on certain core issues that would advance nuclear disarmament, a state of affairs that left the world in a precarious situation of questionable prospects for nuclear disarmament.  Rather than dispel that view, the inability of the recent General Assembly high-level Summit to reach an agreement on matters relating to nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation had entrenched it.

    Despite the disappointing situation, he continued to believe that progress on both nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation was required in order attain the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons.  That was not a new concept, and he cautioned strongly against the tendency to place primary emphasis on one or the other of those aspects.  If that tendency continued, the pivotal role of the NPT as the essential foundation for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation would be undermined.  For progress to be made, it should be clear that all aspects of the NPT should be strictly implemented and enforced.  Each article of the NPT remained binding on all States parties, and it was imperative that they be held fully accountable for strict compliance with their obligations.

    It was imperative for the international community to concentrate its efforts on reaching agreement on a Conference on Disarmament programme of work, he continued.  Both formal and informal meetings of the Conference had not led the world any closer to reaching agreement.  As a result of the deadlock, South Africa continued to believe that the agenda proposed by Belgium, Algeria, Chile, Colombia and Sweden - the A5 -- presented a good opportunity.  It was time to find innovative ways of dealing with the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as to prevent the paralysis in the United Nations disarmament machinery, in order to complement achievements made on small arms and light weapons and anti-personnel mines.

    His Government continued to attach great importance to the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms.  The 2006 Small Arms Review Conference presented an important opportunity to further strengthen the international community's call for action on such arms.  The question of anti-personnel mines was also an important one.  The sixth meeting of States parties was an opportunity to further highlight the importance of the Ottawa Convention.  With regard to biological weapons, South Africa would continue to seek to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.  The only effective way of dealing with weapons of mass destruction was through the established instruments in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.

    HU XIAODI ( China) said that the factors for maintaining peace and restraining war were increasing.  Strengthening cooperation and pursuing common development had become the common choice of more and more nations.  The world was far from tranquil, however, as traditional security threats persisted and non-traditional security threats keep cropping up.  The intertwined traditional and non-traditional threats still restrained human development and threatened world peace and security.  At today's important historic period when both opportunities and challenges presented themselves, all countries should work together with great solidarity to seize the historic opportunities and address emerging global security threats.  As an important part of the international efforts to pursue peace and promote development, the international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation process was at a crucial juncture.

    He said that, on the one hand, the global arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation regime still played an important role in safeguarding world peace and stability.  The majority of the multilateral arms control treaties had been implemented smoothly, while further progress had been achieved in some areas.  Multilateral efforts to strengthen the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions had been further promoted.  Progress in the field of arms control involving humanitarianism had been remarkable.  The international consensus to prevent the proliferation of mass destruction weapons had also been constantly strengthened.  He cited, in particular, Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), as well as the introduction of various other initiatives to strengthen the non-proliferation regimes.  Political and diplomatic efforts had been continuously pursued to settle proliferation issues through dialogue and cooperation.

    At the same time, however, the multilateral arms control and disarmament process was facing great difficulties and challenges, he said.  There was still a long way to go towards nuclear disarmament, and obsession with the cold war mentality and nuclear deterrence strategy based on the first use of nuclear weapons, as well as lowering the threshold for their use and developing new such weapons, had increased new unstable factors in global security.  The danger of the "weaponization" of outer space was increasingly salient.  The Conference on Disarmament was still deadlocked, the prospect for the entry into force of the CTBT was "still blurry".  Negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and a global instrument on the prevention of an outer space arms race were yet to be launched.  The review of the NPT this year concluded without substantive results, and no consensus language on disarmament and non-proliferation had been agreed at the 2005 World Summit.  Multilateral arms control institutions were also facing challenges, as regional nuclear issues remained unsettled and the risk of acquisition of unconventional weapons by terrorist groups was growing.

    He said it was the common and imperative task of the international community to address those new threats and challenges, and promote the healthy development of international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.  He offered the following measures:  elaboration of a new security concept based on equality, mutual trust, mutual benefit and cooperation; the firm preservation of the treaty regime on international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation and its further strengthening; the resolution of related issues through political and diplomatic means within the context of international law; and adherence to the  multilateralist approach in the achievement of common security.

    MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said the current session of the General Assembly was taking place in an atmosphere that could best be described as overcast, especially with regard to the issues of disarmament and international security.  That opened the door for many States, if not all, to retract their commitments.  Little had been achieved since the first General Assembly special session on disarmament in 1978.  Despite the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995, there was no tangible progress in dealing with nuclear disarmament.  Universality of the Treaty had not been realized and States parties, particularly the nuclear-weapon States, did not exert any meaningful effort to achieve that universality.  Were nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States committed to the faithful implementation of the Treaty or not?

    He said the non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty had witnessed desperate efforts on the part of nuclear-weapon States and their allies to impose obligations on the non-nuclear-weapon States, through such things as restricting States right of withdrawal, hampering acquisition by non-nuclear-weapon States of nuclear materials and technology necessary for the development of their peaceful nuclear programmes, applying multiple standards in addressing suspected cases of non-compliance, excluding the international multilateral frameworks that could best address those issues, and invoking the necessity of the universal application of the Model Additional Protocol, at a time when universality had not been achieved for the NPT or for comprehensive safeguards.

    The premises of the NPT had been further undermined by the lack of political will on the part of the nuclear-weapon States to implement the 13 steps for nuclear disarmament in a multilateral framework, including the establishment of a subsidiary body to address nuclear disarmament in the Conference on Disarmament, the failure to conclude an internationally verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty and failure of the CTBT to enter into force.  Also, despite the desperate need for progress towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, the international community only witnessed regression and reneging on the implementation of the commitments regarding the Middle East.  Were weapons of mass destruction prohibited for Iraq, but justified for others?  The 2005 NPT Review Conference had regrettably failed in reaching an agreement, and the World Summit had also failed to address disarmament in its outcome document.  The world must view that as a clear warning message that the disarmament regime was on the verge of erosion, if nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States failed to take swift action.

    There is a dire need for a new vision to address disarmament issues in the multilateral framework, he said.  A consensus agreement must be reached on the contours of such a vision, or States ran the risk of facing a total collapse of the NPT and all collective and international efforts on disarmament.  Further, conventional weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons, assumed increasing importance; in Egypt's priorities, right after weapons of mass destruction.  Egypt welcomed the completion of the ongoing efforts aimed at enabling Member States to mark and trace illicit small arms.  International efforts in the area of disarmament could not succeed unless a full range of issues were addressed in the multilateral framework, rather than the bilateral framework or within the Security Council.

    COLY SECK ( Senegal) said that humankind was facing serious threats, which, if not confronted, could unravel the global security architecture.  Moreover, the promotion of development would be in vain without full control over the various security threats.  One of the first actions should be to rectify the deadlock in the disarmament bodies, thereby advancing the quest for nuclear non-proliferation.  That deadlock had been confirmed at the recent sessions of the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, as well as during the last NPT Review.  He also regretted that no mention had been made in the World Summit's outcome text of disarmament and non-proliferation.  That deadlock had been the result of "biased thinking" by certain States -- thinking that associated the possession of nuclear weapons with a certain political advantage.  That position, both negative and dangerous, actually motivated nuclear proliferation and turned a blind eye to the security of the planet as a whole.

    He urged Member States not to lose heart, however, suggesting that it was still possible to rid the world of the threat of mass destruction weapons.  He welcomed the dynamics at the recent conference to facilitate the entry into force of the CTBT.  The test-ban Treaty's operation would represent considerable progress.  He also welcomed the recent adoption by an ad hoc working group of a draft political document on tracing and marking small arms and light weapons.  An instrument on brokering should also be adopted, preferably in a legally binding form.  Adoption of those two instruments would help eradicate the devastating effects of the proliferation of those weapons in Africa and throughout the world.  The most ambitious programmes in support of Africa's development would have limited impact without control of those "weapons of death".

    There was no justification for terrorism and the massacre of innocent civilians, he continued.  The recent attacks throughout the world had been a painful reminder of the persistence of terrorism, which could only be suppressed through the mobilization of the international community.  Only multilateral cooperation would enable the world community to overcome that scourge, thereby opening the way for success in the processes of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation.  The convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly on disarmament could be a good opportunity for States to deal with the most critical aspects of international security and disarmament.  He was committed to providing a positive contribution to the quest for a more secure, peaceful and prosperous world.

    INDER JIT ( India) said that the failure to reach consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation issues at the World Summit had demonstrated the world community's inability to grasp the gravity of the existing and emerging threats to international security.  It also highlighted the divergence in the interests and priorities of Member States on those two crucial issues, which had an important bearing on international peace and security.  The widening gap between perception and reality and the security interests and priorities of key States had paralysed the multilateral disarmament machinery.  For eight successive sessions, the Conference on Disarmament had not conducted any substantive negotiations.  For two consecutive sessions, the Disarmament Commission had been unable to agree even on its agenda.  There was a deep connection between the deficient functioning of the disarmament machinery and the decline of the multilateral ethic in international relations.  Multilateralism was needed for progress on disarmament and non-proliferation, because it was democratic in accommodating the priorities of all.

    He said that multilateralism was even more relevant today, with the imperatives of an increasingly globalized economy, the emerging knowledge society, and the resulting indivisibility of peace and stability.  It would be wrong to fault the current stalemate in the disarmament machinery on its procedures.  Doing so would only address the symptom, and not the cause.  The decision-making process in the Conference on Disarmament was not dysfunctional; there was nothing intrinsically wrong with it.  Rather, that was a reflection of the lack of adequate political will.  The Chemical Weapons Convention, which the Conference elaborated, provided for the verifiable elimination of an entire class of weapon of mass destruction.  It was a model of a truly non-discriminatory instrument.  When issues impinged on the security interests of States, either directly or indirectly, only an inclusive multilateral process of building consensus could assure that basic security interests were not compromised.  Specific national positions could be both protected and reconciled for the common security interests of all through such a process.

    In the present delicate period, every effort should be made to strengthen existing multilateral disarmament processes and institutions, he said.  The First Committee shouldered the immense responsibility of seeking convergence of views and approaches on key disarmament and international security issues.  Through interactive dialogue, it would be possible to evolve a better understanding of each other's security concerns and priorities and enlarge the common ground.  Hopefully, the discussions would build on the strength of the existing multilateral disarmament machinery to increase its effectiveness for the collective good, rather than fostering despair over the current situation.  He believed in the continued validity of multilateral approaches.  The multilaterally negotiated and legally binding instruments provided the best mechanisms to deal with the disarmament and arms control issues.  Diplomatic perseverance worked best when dealing with issues of peace and security.

    He said that the nuclear weapons issue remained central to the work.  The Programme of Action, adopted by consensus at the first special session devoted to disarmament, remained valid even today.  The threat posed by nuclear weapons could only be eliminated through the total elimination of those weapons, in a progressive and systematic manner.  The highest priority should be given to global and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament, and his country had presented several initiatives towards that goal over the years.  Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation were inter-linked and mutually reinforcing.  Only the total elimination of nuclear weapons would provide the assurance that there would be no further proliferation of those weapons.  At the same time, addressing growing proliferation concerns in an inclusive manner consistent with the United Nations Charter and international law would reinforce the commitment to, and facilitate achievement of, the goal of nuclear disarmament.  Today, the non-proliferation framework remained beset with crises.  To address that, nuclear-weapon States must reaffirm their commitment to nuclear disarmament.  Also necessary was for all States to implement fully and in good faith their obligations.

    While pursuing the goal of nuclear disarmament, immediate interim steps to reduce the nuclear danger, including the de-alerting of nuclear weapons, should also be taken, he said.  There was also an urgent need to adjust nuclear doctrines to a posture of no-first-use and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon States.  India's nuclear posture was characterized by responsibility, predictability and a defensive orientation.  That had been reflected in India's declared policy of no-first-use and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  His country also had an abiding interest in the non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction, not just for its own security, but for the peace and security of the world at large.  In fact, its security environment had been adversely affected by the inability of the existing non-proliferation framework to deal effectively with proliferation.

    He said he fully shared the global concerns about the growing danger of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, including the alarming possibility of their acquisition by terrorists and a resort to their use on a large scale.  India remained conscious of the responsibilities deriving from the possession of advanced technologies, both civilian and strategic, and was determined to ensure that those did not fall into the wrong hands, whether of States or non-State actors.  India had never been a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies and related materials and equipment.  Its record in that regard had been unblemished.  It had established a comprehensive system of export controls, which was continuously reviewed and updated, in accordance with global standards.  As a reflection of India's abiding commitment to non-proliferation, India had recently enacted an overarching and integrated legislation, "Weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems (prohibition of unlawful activities) Act".  That important legislative action, promulgated in June, built on the existing system of export controls.

    In order to effectively address the emerging proliferation challenges, the world community should better adapt the existing framework to the current threats and challenges and existing realities, he said.  Cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should not be hampered in States whose non-proliferation records were beyond doubt.  States should show the requisite political will to deal with the challenges in a forthright manner, and not adopt an inconsistent approach.  As "a mature and responsible nuclear Power", India was ready to engage, on the basis of equality and consistent with the requirements of its national security, in all multilateral consultations to develop such a framework.  It was also committed to meet its expanding energy needs, given its growing economy and the imperatives of social development and energy security.  It was resolved, therefore, to develop nuclear energy as an important component of its "overall energy basket".  India's goal in that regard was to generate at least 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power by the year 2020.  The development of nuclear energy would reduce pressure on oil prices and provide a clean and environmentally sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

    ABDULAZIZ NASSER AL-SHAMSI ( United Arab Emirates) said that, despite the important achievements made by the United Nations in the area of containment of conflicts and military confrontations in recent years, the ongoing armaments race continued to pose a grave threat to international stability and economic development.  Global military expenditures now exceeded $1 trillion per year.  That had contributed to fears about the declared and undeclared activities of some States for the purpose of developing or building nuclear weapons, including their possession by irresponsible parties.  That required strengthened international cooperation in the area of disarmament, in accordance with international law, the Charter and the resolutions of both the General Assembly and the Security Council.

    Like many previous speakers, he said he was disappointed at the outcome of the World Summit for failing to include States' commitments to nuclear disarmament.  That had reflected the international community's failure to have come together on key issues during the NPT review in May, as well as its inability to reach consensus on the agenda of the Disarmament Conference.  The attempts of some non-nuclear-weapon States to produce or acquire nuclear weapons, particularly in areas of conflict such as the Middle East, the Arabian Gulf region and South Asia, posed a serious threat to regional and international peace and security.  That also heightened tension among States and undermined confidence.  He, therefore, called for enhancing measures of confidence and stability among States and urged certain countries to reconsider their position and resort to self-control when it came to settling regional conflicts.

    In that context, he emphasized the importance of the following steps, among others:  full compliance by nuclear-weapon States to their commitments; elaboration of an unconditional global instrument of security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States; reaffirmation of the universality and inclusiveness of the relevant treaties, including the NPT; strengthening global efforts to prevent the illegitimate trade in mass destruction weapons; and re-emphasizing the importance of strengthening international efforts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  "Influential" States should be required to compel Israel to dismantle its nuclear facilities and subject them to the supervision and safeguards of the IAEA.  He also called on States to suspend all scientific and financial assistance to Israel used in developing its nuclear facilities, owing to the threatening impact on the peace process in the Middle East and in order to ensure the safety and security of its peoples.

    NYUNT MAUNG SHEIN ( Myanmar) said that today's world was beset with a host of security issues, which threatened the very existence of humankind as never before.  Current threats could not be met by any one nation, or group of nations alone.  The resources and concerted efforts of the international community needed to be urgently mobilized, in order to find ways to confront the challenges and overcome them.  Weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation was a grave threat.  That menace, compounded by terrorism, made the world security environment highly vulnerable.  Nuclear disarmament should be accorded the highest priority on the international arms control and disarmament agenda; one could easily imagine a terrifying scenario if nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction fell into the hands of terrorists.  It was incumbent upon all to strengthen their resolve and efforts to deal with those horrendous threats to world peace and security.

    He said he had been deeply frustrated by the failure of the NPT review to achieve substantive results, and of the World Summit to have included a reference to nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in its outcome text.  The two processes -- nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation -- were interrelated and mutually reinforcing.  Regrettably, however, the NPT review had revealed a "wide and deep gap" between those nations that possessed nuclear weapons and those that did not.  The nuclear-weapon States should and must honour their "unequivocal undertaking" declared at the 2000 NPT review to achieve the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.  The will to do so had yet to be demonstrated by the full implementation of the 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament.  For the past 10 years, his delegation had tabled a comprehensive draft resolution on nuclear disarmament, which had reflected the views of the majority of countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), he noted.  This year would be no exception.

    CESAR EDGARDO MARTINEZ FLORES, ( El Salvador) said he was very concerned that the Summit Outcome Document did not address the issue of disarmament.  That kind of omission threatened multilateralism and threatened to undermine the values worked on day after day.  The international community must take on the challenge of overcoming that terrible omission.  Multilateralism would continue to be the best way for keeping international peace and security, though there were concerns at all levels.  Small countries, such as El Salvador, were daunted by the enormous complexity of the challenges.  El Salvador faced the legacy of civil war and its fallout, and it was tackling the huge task of neutralizing the vast quantity of illicit arms, which constituted another burden.  Disarmament, for small States, was about their very survival.  El Salvador currently had a law checking to limit small arms and its national defence was empowered to destroy all arms confiscated.  Armed at halting the illicit trafficking of small arms in El Salvador, almost 8,000 firearms and almost 134,000 pieces of war material had been destroyed.

    He said his Government needed the support of the international community.  In Central America, wiping out anti-personnel mines had been a principle task, and there must be a sweeping effort against those mines.  El Salvador must also care for the survivors of accidents triggered by such mines.  Since its domestic strife had ended, El Salvador had spurred forward programmes designed at reintegrating people into productive work and providing them with technological assistance.  With regard to demining, in El Salvador, on 20 February 2003, the national defence minister destroyed the last 5,248 anti-personnel mines in the country.  There were only 96 left for training purposes.  But, there was still a lot that remained to be done.  In regard to survivors, the international community must provide assistance.  The Commission on Security in Central America agreed that the police authorities region-wide would become focal points for exchanging information on the illicit trafficking of small arms.

    ROBERT KUPIECKI, Director of the Security Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, said the world could expect more terrorism and more proliferation.  The spread of mass destruction weapons was a "terrifying amplifier" of other risks and threats.  Weapons of increasing range and destructive power were coming into the possession of a growing number of States and non-State actors, including terrorists.  If those assumptions were correct, then all Member States must be ready to take consistent and coherent non-proliferation actions, using all measures at their disposal under international law and national regulations.  The sense of urgency and the need for concentrated efforts must remain an indispensable part of any comprehensive security strategy for the years to come.  Given the growing danger of weapons of mass destruction proliferation, he underscored the need for implementation by all States of their international agreements and standards in the non-proliferation field.  The power of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) made that adherence "clearly binding" for all.

    He said his country, as a European Union member, underlined the importance of multilateral treaty regimes as the preferred way of dealing with non-proliferation.  The entire multilateral non-proliferation regime had not atrophied, and there were several new initiatives aimed at countering the proliferation threat.  Those included the Proliferation Security Initiative, the Group of 8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Programme, and The Hague Code of Conduct for Ballistic Missiles.  Those initiatives focused on internationally-, regionally- and nationally-oriented activities aimed at implementation of the goals set by the traditional proliferation instruments.  The Proliferation Security Initiative, for example, was built on worldwide awareness of the danger posed by mass destruction weapons and helped to promote and develop practical responses.  That also gave impetus to a more dynamic and proactive approach to prevent weapons of mass destruction proliferation, their delivery means and related technologies.

    There was also a need for a comprehensive review of the existing negotiating machinery and a revival of the non-proliferation and disarmament regimes, he said.  No effort should be spared to forge a new global disarmament and non-proliferation consensus.  As his Foreign Affairs Ministry recently suggested, a group of experts, under United Nations auspices, could review existing regimes, and an international independent research centre could prepare a report on recommendations for transforming the existing United Nations institutions and mechanisms into more effective, operational and efficient bodies.  It was important to consider whether the agendas of the First Committee, the Disarmament Commission and other relevant instruments responded adequately to the new security threats and challenges.  His delegation would support all efforts aimed at strengthening those bodies and their working methods to ensure more result-oriented approaches.  Poland would chair the Conference in 2006 and use that opportunity to invigorate discussion on how to overcome the stalemate and move from "virtual to real" work.

    SROOD NAJEEB ( Iraq) said no doubt that proliferation engendered proliferation, and a lack of trust gave rise to tension and the temptation to acquire traditional or non-traditional weapons.  It was up to the international community to preserve international peace.  Therefore, the world needed to respect the non-proliferation of arms and disarmament and realize that an unrestricted world was the greater danger.

    The Middle East region was confronting a real problem of security, he said.  It was far removed from peace and it faced the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.  Even worse, terrorism was spreading in the most atrocious forms.  Iraq was reasserting its commitment to international treaties and non-proliferation.  It was studying the idea of accession to treaties it was not yet party to, and it would, thus, help to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction.  It supported the draft resolutions that it hoped would be able to help face those challenges.  Iraq had been subject to atrocious terrorism.  He hoped it would be able to again find hope, which would be a factor for stability and tolerance.

    MARÍA ÁNGELA HOLGUÍN CUÉLLAR, ( Colombia) said the high-level plenary meeting had provided proof of a worrisome trend on disarmament.  The lack of concrete recommendations on disarmament and non-proliferation reflected the difficulties faced by multilateralism and joined other failures, such as the NPT Review Conference and the postponement of the work of the Disarmament Commission.  Despite that, Colombia had confidence in the concept of multilateralism.  The scourge of terrorism continued to spread throughout the world and it was important to strengthen efforts and policies to combat it.  An important part of such efforts was disarmament and non-proliferation.  The growth in terrorism could be slowed by completely eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

    She said the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons was still a determining component in the world's conflicts.  Colombia regretted that the instrument on marking and tracing of small arms agreed upon in June was not legally binding and did not include ammunition.  Only through a real commitment would countries be able to combat the chain of production, distribution and diversion.  Colombia was one of the countries most affected by the illicit trade in small arms.  The second biennial meeting of States to consider the implementation of the Programme of Action against small arms was an opportunity to observe application.  In spite of progress made, it was clear that the national reports presented to the meeting did not reflect those areas that demanded more attention, including the enormous amount of circulating arms, the humanitarian impact of firearms abuse and the necessity of more financing and support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.

    Her Government had signed every international instrument on weapons of mass destruction, she said.  Nuclear disarmament remained an essential pillar in the general field of disarmament.  Colombia, as a State party to the NPT, regretted the outcome of the Review Conference and was concerned that it did not provide for mechanisms aimed at avoiding the withdrawal of its members.  The Conference on facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT was an enriching and a timely exchange of views.  Colombia hoped to reach a prompt solution concerning the constitutional impediments that hindered its ratification of that treaty.  Also, she hoped the substantive session of the open-ended working group on the fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament would soon take place.  Finally, she said anti-personnel landmines were a serious obstacle in the way of social and economic development for many nations and she called upon States that had not yet signed the Ottawa Convention to do so.  Being among the most mine-affected countries, Colombia reiterated the importance of condemning the continuous and indiscriminate use and manufacturing of anti-personnel landmines by illegal armed groups.

    HJALMAR W. HANNESSON, ( Iceland) said his country had high expectations for the outcome of the World Summit, and it was very disappointed that disarmament and non-proliferation issues were not even addressed.  The risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction posed one of the most serious security threats of the times, especially the danger of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.  It was vital that the international community strengthen preventative measures to suppress terrorism.  He regretted that the NPT Review Conference failed to respond to challenges the international community was faced with.  He strongly supported the continuing efforts of Norway and other countries to seek consensus and concrete results in addressing the urgent challenges to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

    He said he welcomed practical initiatives which could complement the NPT and which were aimed at strengthening the non-proliferation regime, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and Security Council resolution 1540, which addressed serious concerns about the risk of non-State actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.  He also supported efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the many questions surrounding Iran's nuclear programme.  The Iranian authorities must fully comply with the IAEA's requirements for transparency in the development of their nuclear programme.  He also welcomed the joint statement by the participants in the six-party talks on the principles for a peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  In particular, the renewal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea commitment to abandon nuclear weapons and all existing nuclear programmes and its undertaking to return to the NPT.  In that context, he emphasized the importance of adopting measures to deal with withdrawal from the NPT.

    For a number of years, his Government had expressed regret over the stalemate at the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery, and it was firmly committed to reform of the United Nations.  In recent years, the First Committee had been engaged in discussing ways and means to reform the Organization.  He supported fewer studies and fewer and more focused resolutions that had a realistic chance of being followed up.  A procedure was needed by which States decided what measures were necessary.

    SHIN KAK-SOO (Republic of Korea) said the First Committee was now more important than ever, if only because the rest of the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation machinery was in such disarray.  The long-standing stalemate of the Conference on Disarmament and the inaction of the United Nations Disarmament Commission in the last two years made the lack of agreement at the NPT Review Conference all the more disheartening.  It was a pity that the World Summit was unable to provide the political impetus for resuscitating the disarmament and non-proliferation machinery, or moving the pressing agendas forward.  Against that dark backdrop, the importance of the First Committee could not be overemphasized.

    However, he continued, the recent progress at the six-party talks demonstrated resolve.  Despite enormous difficulties and complexities, the six parties came together for the common aim of realizing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  Parties were able to reach an agreement that led the way to resolving the North Korean issue once and for all.  His Government hoped the agreement would contribute to strengthening the NPT regime and he reiterated unswerving support to the central role of the NPT in deterring nuclear proliferation, reducing nuclear arsenals and promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Securing the universality of the NPT should be a priority.

    His Government attached great importance to strengthening the verification capabilities of the IAEA through universal adoption of the Additional Protocol as a new standard of verification, he said.  The report of the IAEA Director General's Expert Group on Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle was welcomed.  He strongly supported the early entry into force of the CTBT and the immediate beginning of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  He also attached great importance to a moratorium on nuclear testing.  The nightmare scenario of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear terrorism, remained all too possible and he recognized the key roles played by the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, United Nations Security Council resolution 1540 and other creative initiatives.  However, in order to enhance effectiveness of controls on materials, equipment and technology related to weapons of mass destruction, it was imperative to strengthen the role of the established export control systems.

    He welcomed the considerable progress that had been made in checking the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  Particularly encouraging was the successful conclusion last June of negotiations on an international instrument on the marking and tracing of small arms.  He hoped the 2006 review for the Programme of Action would further develop the basis for preventing the misuse of small arms by confronting the issue of illicit brokering.

    JASEM IBRAHIM J.M. AL-NAJEM ( Kuwait) said he believed in the pivotal role played by the United Nations in facing the main challenges confronting the international community, especially terrorism and the threat of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons.  No less important were the threats of hunger, poverty and the spread of deadly diseases in developing countries.  There was a link between all of those threats, as security and development were closely associated.  For yet another year, the Conference on Disarmament was still stagnant.  In addition, the NPT had not achieved universality and the CTBT had not yet entered into force.  Military expenses and arms sales now totalled in the trillions.  Both the international community and multilateral diplomacy had failed during the last four months on the issue of disarmament and non-proliferation, with the outcomes of the NPT Review Conference and the World Summit in September.  That had made Member States more determined than ever to tackle the important disarmament and security issues.

    He said, however, that the necessary progress to eliminate the threats of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction had not been achieved, owing to a lack of political will in complying with international conventions and treaties.  That made it urgent to generate confidence-building capable of achieving the desired objective of a world free from all of those devastating weapons.  Convinced of the serious threat those weapons posed and the need to eliminate them, Kuwait had ratified the following instruments:  the NPT; Chemical Weapons Convention; Biological Weapons Convention; comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, and the annex Protocol in the framework of the NPT; Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency; and the CTBT.  He urged all countries that had not signed the comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA to do so and to sign the Protocol.

    Concerned about the Gulf's security and stability, his country welcomed the Iran's readiness to cooperate and coordinate with the international community and the IAEA regarding its nuclear programme, he said.  Also welcome had been Iran's "assurances of not developing WMD and limiting its use to peaceful purposes only".  The Middle East region would not achieve security and stability as long as Israel, the only State in the region that had not yet acceded to the NPT and the only country with nuclear weapons, was not requested to accede to that Treaty immediately, to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and submit its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.  Israel's status constituted a source of clear imbalance among the region's Powers, as well as a constant concern in the Middle East.  He called on the international community to refrain from providing Israel with the scientific and technological know-how that contributed to reinforcing the Israeli nuclear arsenal.

    JURG STREULI, ( Switzerland) said the First Committee was the ideal platform for debates on the subject of arms control and disarmament.  It was essential to proceed with implementation of the measures adopted last year for the purpose of improving working methods.  The international forums for the negotiation of arms control and disarmament questions remained deadlocked and that was due not from the result of negotiation structures, but from a lack of will on the part of States to engage in negotiations.  The interests of States still diverged too strongly for a package of negotiations to be concluded and modifications of structure would, therefore, change nothing.  Since last year's meeting, there had been a series of failures.  Delegates to the Review Conference of the NPT departed without being able to agree on a substantial final document.  He was convinced that only an approach which took into account the security interests of all concerned would be able to strengthen the NPT.  For some, those interests were linked to the risks involved in proliferation, for others to the fear of not being able to benefit from the new technologies essential for development, while others were concerned by the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.

    The Disarmament Conference's annual report to the General Assembly also reflected paralysis, he said.  The differences of opinion as to priorities would once again create major obstacles when it came to agreeing on a programme of work for the Conference in 2006.  The final document of the World Summit confirms the current state of inaction.  He was, however, pleased to note that the efforts of the States engaged in the round of discussions known as the six-party talks on the question of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula had resulted in a joint statement with content that seemed promising.  The lack of progress in the area of weapons of mass destruction was worrisome, particularly concerning proliferation risks and the potential link with terrorism.  The implementation of certain measures that are attainable could bring the world closer to the ultimate objective of eliminating those weapons.  The first, and undoubtedly most important, of those urgent measures was that of respect for existing commitments.  Full cooperation with the IAEA was essential.  He was worried about the situation that had led to the resolution on Iran adopted by the IAEA's Board of Governors on 24 September 2005.

    Another important measure was to work towards the achievement of universality for all agreements concerning weapons of mass destruction, he said.  Countries that had not yet ratified the NPT or the CTBT should do so without delay.  The appeal for urgent ratification also applied equally to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.  A third measure was to begin without delay negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament for a halt to the production of fissile material for military purposes.  The developments in the area of conventional weapons were more encouraging.  Substantial progress had been made with regard to small and light weapons, including the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action.

    NANA EFFAH-APENTENG ( Ghana) said he shared the concern of the majority of States over the dismal developments in international disarmament during the past year.  His country's optimism that the Review Conference of the NPT would build on and strengthen previous agreements reached in 1995 and 2000, had been shattered by the failure of the Conference to produce substantive results.  If the conclusion of that review had been regrettable, then the absence of reference to disarmament and non-proliferation issues in the outcome document of the World Summit was equally disturbing.  That portrayed either a "creeping lethargy within the international community over disarmament issues or lack of appreciation of the gravity of the situation confronting us", he said.

    He said that the recent setback, rather than create an atmosphere of despondency among Member States, should spur them to intensify their collective effort to achieve the ultimate goal -- a world free from the scourge of war, especially an atomic armageddon.  After all, it was only in a secure global environment that the pursuit and promotion of other important issues, such as development, human rights and the rule of law, could be effectively sustained.  Member States' responsibilities were unambiguous, and they should resolve to unequivocally abide by their commitments.  Considering the dire strains on the international disarmament machinery, it was not only proper, but expedient, that the revival of multilateralism should be embraced in the domain of international peace and security.  Now, more than ever, the world community needed to work together to address the challenges.  In an environment of collective security, unilateral measures were an aberration, if not anachronistic and dysfunctional.

    Efforts must be made to surmount the impasse on the work programme in the Conference on Disarmament, he said, in order to facilitate negotiations on such crucial issues as a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation remained primary challenges.  Focusing on one to the neglect of the other was a "recipe for further exacerbation of the current fragile international security environment".  Indeed, the unsuccessful conclusion of the 2005 NPT review, and the absence of disarmament and non-proliferation issues from the Summit's outcome document buttressed that view.  Lack of compliance with the NPT and attempts to link the tripod underpinning it -- disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear technology -- had placed considerable stress on the Treaty and contributed to eroding its credibility and effectiveness.  While the majority of non-nuclear-weapon States had remained faithful to their commitments, the same could not be said of the nuclear-weapon States.  He joined others in calling on the latter to abide by their commitments under the Treaty's Article VI, which was reaffirmed in the 13 practical steps adopted at the 2000 review.

    He said that the continued possession of nuclear weapons by the "5 plus 3" States impeded efforts to make the acquisition and use of nuclear weapons an anathema.  If nuclear weapons were legitimate and of profound value for those countries, then those on the threshold would feel entitled to join the club.  The irreversible and verifiable elimination of those weapons would be a positive development in the quest to save succeeding generations from the scourge of a nuclear holocaust.  The quest for universal adherence to the NPT was of utmost importance.  North Korea's "recent undertaking" to rejoin the Treaty was a laudable gesture worthy of emulation by non-State parties.  Also, of continued grave concern to Ghana was the absence of negative security assurances and that could be assuaged if Security Council resolution 984 was affirmed in a legally binding document, as recently stipulated in the decisions of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. 

    LE LUONG MINH (Viet Nam), fully associating himself with the statement by the representative of Indonesia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the statement by the representative of Myanmar, on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said there were some bright spots in the overall bleak disarmament picture of the past year.  He was pleased to note the adoption of some specific measures to promote implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The outcome of the second meeting to consider implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms was also positive.  More States were moving towards ratifying the CTBT and Mongolia's nuclear-weapon-free status was declared and commitments were made by the five Central Asian States to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.

    Still, he added, States could not deny that the past year generally had not been a good one for disarmament.  The arms race continued, with estimated global military expenditures reaching a new height and new challenges.  Thousands of nuclear weapons still existed, many on alert status.  Even though the International Court of Justice had passed an opinion concerning the legality of the threat to use nuclear weapons, new security doctrines had emerged giving a broader role to nuclear weapons.

    The most important multilateral disarmament forums remained deadlocked, he said.  The Conference on Disarmament was still unable to engage in any substantive negotiation.  The Disarmament Commission had not been able to agree on an agenda of work.  The Review Conference of the NPT failed to reach agreement on any substantive issue.  The omission of the section on disarmament and non-proliferation in the Summit outcome document only added to the disappointment of the international community.  How should the international community proceed, he asked.  The United Nations Charter, the many multilateral disarmament treaties and the numerous resolutions and decisions adopted by review conferences and the General Assembly constituted a solid basis for action.

    He called upon the nuclear-weapon States to honour their commitments.  Pending the total elimination of nuclear 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.  Towards those ends, the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission must be allowed to carry out their mandates.  Further, he supported the call for convening an international conference on nuclear disarmament.  Also, the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones had been a positive step towards accomplishing the ultimate goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  One of the most important factors determining the effectiveness of such treaties was the participation by the nuclear-weapon States in the relevant protocols of the treaties.  He welcomed China's readiness to sign the Protocol to the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone, and he urged the other nuclear weapons States to do the same.

    YERZHAN KH. KAZYKHANOV ( Kazakhstan), saying the year had been difficult and challenging, cited the failure of the NPT review to set up a balanced and comprehensive mechanisms to strengthen the treaty.  Even more disturbing had been the omission of clear recommendations on non-proliferation and disarmament in the outcome text of the World Summit.  The nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation negotiations had become highly politicized, owing to attempts by certain States to build their national security at the expense of the interests of other States.  Such a position was "highly irresponsible".  Today's challenges and threats, including those involving the uncontrolled spread of nuclear weapons and the risk that they might be acquired by terrorists had grown manifold.  Elimination of those threats required joint, well-coordinated and effective action at all levels.  The First Committee remained a very important forum in that regard.

    He said that universalization of all agreements in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation was of crucial importance.  In that regard, the NPT remained one of the pillars of global security and, as such, that needed to be reinforced and protected.  He welcomed the results of the fourth conference on facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT, and he urged those States that had not yet signed or ratified that instrument to display the necessary political will and genuine commitment to the cause of nuclear disarmament.  An early start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty should be the next step in the multilateral disarmament process.  This year marked the tenth anniversary of the removal from Kazakhstan's territory of the last nuclear warhead.  Kazakhstan was also actively involved in talks to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  As the site of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear testing ground, he once again urged the international community to support a resolution on the rehabilitation of that region of his country.

    His country called for the establishment and enhancement of controls over nuclear, chemical and biological materials and their production technologies, he said.  Along the lines of the special role of the IAEA, it was time to establish similarly effective bodies within the framework of the international conventions on chemical and biological weapons.  He was also strongly convinced that outer space should be used for only peaceful purposes, and he, therefore, supported initiatives to elaborate a legally-binding instrument for that purpose.  Kazakhstan was a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and joined The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.  It had also applied for membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime.  Regrettably, the open-ended working group on tracing illicit small arms had failed to conclude negotiations on a legally-binding instrument, and the international community should not relax its efforts to combat illegal trafficking in conventional arms.

    MADHU RAMAN ACHARYA ( Nepal) said he fully associated with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which reflected its commitment for global disarmament, peace and security.  The international community must work together for peaceful coexistence, collective security and disarmament.  His Government had consistently maintained that all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, biological and radiological weapons should be eliminated.  If the international community did not realize that goal, the aspiration of humanity to live in a world of peace and security would remain a distant dream.  At the high-level plenary meeting, States could not agree to incorporate the issues of disarmament and non-proliferation in the final outcome document.  It was also disappointing that the 2005 NPT Review Conference could not make headway on non-proliferation.  However, despite those setbacks, it was time to pick up the pieces and work together to attain the cherished goals of comprehensive disarmament.  That could be realized through collective efforts.

    He welcomed the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in every part of the world, he said.  The expansion and consolidation of such zones would provide strong building blocks for confidence-building for collective security, peace and disarmament.  He supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in South-East Asia and the Middle East.  At the same time, the illicit use and trafficking of small arms was just as serious a threat to international peace and security, particularly when such weapons were acquired by criminals and international terrorist groups.  Nepal called for strong concrete and collaborative measures to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.  Regional centres for peace and disarmament could make important contributions to global disarmament by way of confidence-building, transparency and advocacy at regional and subregional levels.  Nepal would like the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific Region to play a more constructive and proactive role to move forward the "Kathmandu Process" for peace and disarmament in the region.

    FAYSSAL MEKDAD ( Syria) said intensive efforts had been made to weaken the United Nations and marginalize it.  Justifications for stockpiling mass-destruction weapons had to end for all countries, as did pre-emptive wars, which only exacerbated the present international security situation.  The world community should unite, respect international legality and work in a multilateral framework.  Some might say that the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, in 1978, in which the international community had set up its priorities to work seriously to achieve nuclear disarmament, had become archaic and did not reflect the present situation.  That was incorrect, and serious consideration should be given to holding a fourth special session to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the issues and deal with the failures and shortcomings in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation fields, and the reasons that had led to that state of affairs.  Evolving a legally-binding instrument for nuclear disarmament had not advanced at all, owing to the position of some nuclear-weapon States. 

    In addition, he said, the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to fulfil its mandate, since an unjustifiable double standard had permeated negotiations.  Nuclear weapon stockpiles, meanwhile, were increasing and new types of nuclear weapons were being developed.  While his and other countries aspired to general and complete disarmament, the world was totally ignoring Israel, which possessed nuclear weapons outside the NPT regime.  Assistance was still being provided to Israel, while NPT parties were banned from using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Israel also continued its expansionist policies, based on arsenals of both conventional and unconventional weapons, including nuclear weapons.  In fact, Israel controlled a dangerous nuclear programme, which threatened regional and international security, free from any international control.  More than any other region, the Middle East was exposed to threats and the falsification of the facts, because of Israel. 

    He said his country had first called for ridding the region of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and had contributed many initiatives to realize the objective of such a zone.  That had included a draft submitted by Syria to the Security Council in 2003, on behalf of the Arab group.  It was aimed at establishing a zone in the Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction, under collective international control and under United Nations' auspices.  The fact that that Arab initiative had not been adopted had encouraged Israel not to adhere to the NPT and not to subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.  He looked forward to the next NPT review to adopt a clear invitation to Israel to adhere to the NPT and find a mechanism to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone and bring about a just peace in the region.  He was gravely concerned that neither the NPT review nor the outcome document of the World Summit, had reached any substantive agreements to bolster the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

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