Press Releases

    12 October 2001


    As General Debate Continues, Several
    Speakers Highlight Need to Preserve 1972 ABM Treaty

    NEW YORK, 11 October (UN Headquarters) -- Lasting peace and real disarmament could only be achieved through the common system of strategic stability subject to the strengthening of existing instruments in the field, the representative of the Russian Federation told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this morning, as it continued its general debate.

    The Russian Federation’s representative highlighted his country’s proposal for a "genuinely radical" reduction of strategic nuclear weapons -- down to the level of 1,500 nuclear warheads for the Russian Federation and the United States by 2008 and, possibly, to lower levels afterwards. His country, together with the delegations of China and Belarus, had again submitted a draft resolution on the preservation and strengthening of the "backbone" of strategic stability -– the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty). International efforts must be mobilized to keep existing disarmament agreements from being undermined.

    Similarly, the representative of Belarus said the preservation of and strict compliance with the ABM Treaty was the most important component of maintaining strategic stability and determining global disarmament processes. Deployment of a national anti-ballistic missile defence system in violation of that Treaty would undermine the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime and affect, in the most negative manner, the entire system of global strategic stability that had taken decades to formulate.

    The South African representative also expressed dismay at the link between the apparent willingness by the United States and the Russian Federation to further reduce their nuclear arsenals with the abrogation of the ABM Treaty. Grave consequences for the future of global security might result from abrogating the Treaty. States must refrain from any steps that could lead to a new nuclear arms race or undermine the international community's determination to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation.

    Besides being a flagrant violation of the ABM Treaty, a national anti-missile system would reopen the arms race and encompass outer space, the representative of Cuba warned, as he urged the establishment of a universal and non-discriminatory multilateral regime in the area of missile proliferation. Also, important work to bolster the Biological Weapons Convention had been blocked by the refusal of the United States to accept a text, even with amendments, that had emerged after six years of work. What had been achieved thus far could not simply be left aside, he said.

    The representative of New Zealand underscored the mounting importance of the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in light of the new asymmetrical global threats facing the world. The Agency's safeguards were an indispensable component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and its verification role was central to efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The possible impact of terrorism on the security of nuclear material was too shocking to contemplate. In that context, his support for the IAEA was unwavering.

    Statements were also made by the representatives of Ecuador, Sudan, Venezuela, Syria and Viet Nam, as well as the Permanent Observer of Switzerland.

    The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its general debate.


    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms limitation measures. Questions of global stability and strategic security will also be examined in the context of the recent terrorist attack on the United States.

    Statements are expected to focus on several nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, among them the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). At the 2000 Review Conference, the nuclear weapon States agreed to an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

    The delayed entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) will also be examined. The Treaty -- which outlaws all nuclear tests in all environments -– has still not received the number of ratifications it needs to enter into force. Thus, the Secretary-General is expected to convene a second Conference to facilitate its entry into force in November.

    Under an unusual provision, the Treaty requires ratification by 44 States listed in an annex. Of the 13 pending ratifications critical to its success, two are nuclear weapon States -– China and the United States. The others are Algeria, Colombia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and Viet Nam. (The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan still have not signed the Treaty).

    Also in the context of nuclear disarmament, the Committee has before it a report of a group of States that call themselves the New Agenda Coalition. The coalition is a group of seven countries –- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand and South Africa –- which introduced a resolution, at the fifty-third General Assembly session, aimed at a nuclear weapon-free world.

    The 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems –- the ABM Treaty -– by which the United States and the Russian Federation agreed to limit the deployment and development of anti-ballistic missiles, will also dominate the debate. The declared intention of the United States to build a national missile defence prompted the introduction and adoption since 1999 of a resolution calling for continued efforts to strengthen and preserve the Treaty.

    In April 2000, the Russian Duma ratified the Strategic Arms Limitation and Reduction Treaty II (START II), which is the second of two treaties by which the Russian Federation and the United States agreed to significantly reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads. Negotiation on further reductions under START III may still rest on the future of the ABM Treaty.

    The original treaty, START I, was signed in 1991 and called for a 30 per cent reduction in strategic weapons over seven years, with stringent verification. In 1993, START II provided for the elimination of heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and all other multiple-warhead ICBMs, as well as a two thirds reduction of the total number of strategic nuclear weapons deployed by both sides.

    Multilateral agreements banning the development of other weapons of mass destruction will also be stressed, such as: the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention); and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention).

    The creation and consolidation of nuclear weapon-free zones will also be considered. Existing zones include the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Bangkok), and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).

    The Committee will also consider the consensus adoption of a programme of action at the first-ever global Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, held in New York from 9 to 20 July. The outcome document includes guidelines for practical action at all levels to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade.

    Discussions will continue on the subject of landmines, in the context of the two instruments to ban or limit their use: Protocol II of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), a partial ban negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament; and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), a total ban, agreed to in Oslo as part of the so-called "Ottawa process", which entered into force on 1 March 1999.

    (For detailed background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3197 issued 5 October).


    ALEKSANDR SYCHOV (Belarus) said that the September tragedy had clearly demonstrated new challenges and threats and a link between the problems of international security, disarmament and terrorism. It was necessary, therefore, to ensure strict control over the available stockpiles of both weapons of mass destruction and their components and conventional weapons. Implementation by States of their obligations in the field, above all, to the biological and chemical weapons Conventions, was becoming a key factor. Belarus, as a State that voluntarily rejected an opportunity to continue to possess nuclear weapons, and which completed their withdrawal in 1997, was convinced of the need to provide non-nuclear-weapon States with legally binding assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

    He said that preservation of and strict compliance with the ABM Treaty was the most important component of maintaining strategic stability and determining global disarmament processes. Deployment of a national anti-ballistic missile defence system in violation of the ABM Treaty would undermine the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime and affect, in the most negative manner, the entire system of global strategic stability that had taken decades to formulate. Also, the Conference on Disarmament should, as soon as possible, deliberate a ban on the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes. Such practical steps as consolidating existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and setting up new ones should also be undertaken.

    A gradual movement from simple to more complex bilateral and multilateral measures and agreements would set up a solid basis for preventing armed conflicts and strengthening national and regional security. Those were inalienable elements of a comprehensive and indivisible system of international security. Elaboration of a wide-ranging set of confidence-building measures under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could serve as an efficient model for successful interaction between States with differing views. Meanwhile, lacking the necessary financial and technical resources, Belarus was not ready to join the Ottawa Convention, but might do so in the future. It was ready to start cooperation on demining and anti-personnel mine stockpile elimination activities with all interested parties.

    CLIVE WALLACE PEARSON (New Zealand) said that the terrorist attacks of 11 September had been part of a "war against civilization" and his Government was resolved to work with others in preventing any more such attacks and punishing those responsible. A world facing unpredictable and asymmetric attacks -- whether from terrorism, computer-hacking or germ warfare -- needed multilateral machinery to confront them.

    The inventory of unfinished business in the disarmament agenda remained too large and this year’s successes had been offset by some significant setbacks, he continued. Unfinished business included: the entry into force of the CTBT was not in sight; no progress in a ban on fissile production; the Chemical Weapons Convention was not yet universal; and the START process had come to a halt. New Zealand regretted the failure to negotiate a draft protocol on the Biological Weapons Convention. The real need was for compliance machinery to ensure that it would be harder for proliferators to cheat, or terrorists to go undetected. Measures to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention were possible, and the ad hoc group’s mandate was valid for doing this.

    The Conference on Disarmament had failed conspicuously again this year, he said. The Conference’s claim to be multilateral was flawed. Assuming a limited number of countries could determine a global negotiating process was nonsense. The Conference on Disarmament should be open to all countries seeking to engage in disarmament and non-proliferation.

    Though it failed to reach agreement on two important topics, the programme of action adopted at the United Nations conference on small arms was no small achievement, he said. Perhaps most importantly, it had delivered a global framework in which the international community could work towards its non-proliferation goals. Also, the Ottawa Convention stood out as a uniquely successful humanitarian and disarmament venture, but there remained significant problems to overcome. Not all countries had joined, and procedures for cases of possible non-compliance remained unclear. Further attention to the issue of the unexploded remnants of war was a topic that needed to be addressed at the Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

    The work of the International Atomic Energy Agency had become more important as the international community faced new, asymmetrical global threats, he continued. The possible impact of terrorism on the security of nuclear material was too shocking to contemplate. Just a year after the 2000 NPT Review Conference had prompted optimism it was now hard to identify progress on implementation of nuclear disarmament undertakings. Moving toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons should become operational policy. The CTBT, which would contribute to international peace and security in unmistakable ways, would be a crucial step. It was one step all countries could take to underline their commitment to common security.

    MARIO ALEMAN (Ecuador) said that the need for international peace and security was not new, it had been enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Definitions of security now must consider the relationship of political, economic, and social conditions in which States developed. The ambit of security must be stretched to cover not just military aspects, but hunger, illness, ignorance, violence and terrorism. The attacks of 11 September should spur the international community to a far-ranging discussion on security, including the root causes of threats.

    The First Committee must make a substantial effort to deal adequately with the current delicate situation, he said. International terrorism and nuclear disarmament, arms control and stemming the flow of small arms were topics that must be on the agenda. Ecuador had long stressed the need to respect and deepen multilateral accords concerning the elimination, reduction and limitation of arms. For that reason it had been active in non-proliferation efforts and was party to the Treaty of Tlatlelolco.

    The Conference on Disarmament must have its deadlock broken and that could only be done with political will, he said. Disarmament and the prevention of conflicts were two facets of the same problem. The beginning of the twenty-first century could not be a time for a new arms race that would threaten stability and cost developing nations dearly in terms of development. Nuclear weapon States should set a good example by disarming themselves.

    Protracted conflicts, poverty, drug trafficking and transnational crime must be tackled through international measures, he added. Social justice and respect for human rights would strengthen stability and accelerate the consolidation of democracy. The trade in small arms was directly linked to the social, economic and humanitarian problems wrought by conflict. Implementation of the programme of action adopted at the United Nations Conference on small arms would certainly be decisive in enhancing national and international peace and security. For its part, his country had complied with its obligations concerning anti-personnel mines in the Ottawa Convention.

    The objective of complete disarmament was still far away, despite the 1996 ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), he said. States had acknowledged their duty to take steps to achieve disarmament. Strategic defence doctrines whose mere mention increased international tension were being developed and crucial agreements had not achieved universality. For the United Nations, continuing the campaign against an arms race and advancing an international disarmament agenda remained crucial.

    ORLANDO REQUEJO (Cuba) said that the upheaval caused by the terrorist attack had affected everyone. He reiterated his solidarity with the people of the United States, but bombing Afghanistan and other countries would only lead to a spiral of violence and death and an incalculable number of innocent victims. Instead of war to fight terrorism, countries must unite under the aegis of the United Nations against it. The National People's Assembly of Cuba decided on 4 October to ratify the 12 international instruments on terrorism. As the Secretary-General had said, only the United Nations could give global legitimacy to that long-term fight.

    The end of the cold war and emergence of a unipolar world had not meant greater security for most, he said. Indeed, it had proved to be quite the opposite. Military spending was accelerating. Diverting those resources to development aims could meet the needs of human beings living in extreme poverty. The afflictions of hunger and disease could not be solved with bombs. Of course, the traffic in small arms and light weapons also had to be controlled. Similarly, no one was against banning the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel landmines, but when would true measures be taken to prevent their use? he asked.

    Also, when would an agreement be adopted to eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth? he asked. Despite the stress on nuclear disarmament, there were still more than 30,000 nuclear weapons endangering the existence of mankind. Despite the results of the sixth Review Conference of the NPT, time had passed without any concrete action towards nuclear disarmament. Indeed, actions that ran contrary to the obligations assumed by States parties under that Treaty had been witnessed. He was concerned at the "anti-multilateral" activities demonstrated by the new administration of the greatest military Power in its positions during negotiations on among others, the Biological Weapons Convention protocol, the CTBT, and the elaboration of an action programme on the illicit small arms trade.

    Moreover, he continued, the establishment of a national anti-missile system, besides being a flagrant violation of the ABM Treaty, would reopen the arms race and encompass outer space. He urged the establishment of a universal and non-discriminatory multilateral regime in the area of missile proliferation. The work of the expert group on missiles was an important starting point. Meanwhile, work for six years on biological weapons was interrupted by the announcement by the United States, a depositary of the Biological Weapons Convention, that it did not want to continue negotiations on the text presented by the chairman of the ad hoc group, not even with amendments. What had been achieved thus far could not simply be left aside, he added.

    He said he welcomed the recent agreement between the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). He hoped that would motivate implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Turning to the recent small arms Conference, he said that the inflexible position of one delegation had prevented the action programme from including even a minimal reference to key questions, such as the unrestricted trade of small arms and light weapons and the need to provide them only to governments or authorized entities. Hopefully, the Committee could adopt a consensus text on that very important topic.

    SIPHO GEORGE NENE (South Africa) said that multilateral engagement and partnership was essential to international peace and security. His country firmly believed that the commitments made at the NPT Review Conference must be fulfilled. The indication of a willingness on the part of the United States and the Russian Federation to reduce their nuclear arsenals to lower limits was welcome. He remained concerned, however, regarding the linkage that had been established with the abrogation of the ABM Treaty. That treaty had remained important for maintaining and promoting strategic stability. His abrogation could have grave consequences for global security.

    He said States must refrain from any steps that could lead to a new nuclear arms race or undermine the international community's determination to prevent nuclear weapon proliferation. Turning to the consensus outcome of the small arms Conference, he said that the programme of action was a delicate balance of differing views, but it did provide, for the first time, an internationally agreed comprehensive and achievable framework to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit small arms trade. Absence of agreement on the need to establish and maintain controls over private ownership of small arms and the need to prevent their sales to non-State actors remained of great concern to South Africa.

    It would be an understatement to say that South Africa was disappointed at the failure to conclude a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, he said. The threat of disease being used as a weapon of war remained an issue of concern, especially in Africa. Strengthening the norm against the development, production, stockpiling and use of those reprehensible weapons was a core element of the international security architecture. The progress being made in the context of the Chemical Weapons Convention was welcome. He was hopeful that with the assistance of States parties, the Russian Federation would achieve all future destruction deadlines in the Convention.

    He said his country acknowledged the humanitarian concerns related to the use of mines, other than anti-personnel mines. It encouraged the launching of a process by the Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to consider a comprehensive instrument on such mines, which would include issues related to detectability, self-destruction and sensitive fusing mechanisms. In addition, his country supported a process to urgently consider and develop an additional protocol to deal with explosive remnants of war. Lack of progress regarding the early operation of the CTBT was yet another cause of concern and Member States should sign and ratify it as soon as possible.

    TARIG ALI BAKHIT (Sudan) said that the criminal terrorist acts of 11 September made it incumbent on the international community to combat terrorism. The international community should also redouble its efforts to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons. If such weapons fall into the hands of terrorists the results would be unimaginable.

    The First Committee should focus on the agenda established by the Final Document of the General Assembly special session on disarmament of 1978, he said. The order of importance for disarmament in that document was nuclear weapons first, then conventional weapons. The Millennium Declaration had supported that approach. Sudan still supported convening a fourth special session on disarmament and noted with regret the complete lack of progress in the Conference on Disarmament.

    World defence expenditures had reached $800 billion, which was ultimately at the expense of many countries, especially the least developed countries. Sudan welcomed the programme of action adopted at the United Nations small arms Conference and its measures at national, regional, and international levels. It was regrettable that there was no provision forbidding the transfer of small arms to terrorist groups, or non-State actors. That flaw might open a gap for those weapons to pour into Africa, thereby destabilizing the continent. He fully supported the Ottawa Convention and hoped that all countries that needed aid in clearing mines would receive it.

    Nuclear-weapon-free zones promoted security, he said. He supported the call for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and called on Israel to join the NPT’s comprehensive safeguard system. Israel continued the expansion of its arsenal, and used it against innocent civilians in Palestine. Sudan regretted the failure of the Conference on Disarmament to agree on its agenda. Nuclear-weapon states were urged to enter into serious negotiations in order to eliminate nuclear weapons.

    MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela) said he fully supported the statement made by the representative of Chile on behalf of the Rio Group. He reiterated his country's condemnation of the events of 11 September, which had underlined the need to promote peace, disarmament and international security during very turbulent times. Today, more than ever, the world must act firmly to find peaceful ways and means to end conflicts and, in the light of the threat posed by the possible use of weapons of mass destruction, end violations of international law. In that context, the United Nations must promote an approach focused on global cooperation to prevent conflicts and respond to humanitarian emergencies flowing from them.

    He said that human security was linked to a number of elements, including democracy, respect for human rights, anti-crime and anti-drug measures, and the promotion of economic and social development. He was concerned at the lack of political will with respect to existing disarmament and arms control obligations. In Venezuela, disarmament had been enshrined in the Constitution of 1999 as a core principle of foreign policy. He favoured the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in various regions on the basis of agreements freely reached by States of the region concerned. He also supported the convening of an international conference on reducing nuclear dangers, an initiative that would seek to identify the ways and means of achieving the ultimate elimination of those weapons and build confidence.

    Continuing, he said that Venezuela was taking steps to ratify the CTBT, which was a foreign policy priority. It also supported the establishment of a legally binding instrument through which the military Powers would commit unequivocally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against States parties to the NPT. In accordance with the Treaty of Tlatelolco, he supported the non-use of those weapons against countries of Latin America and Caribbean. The illicit small arms trade threatened collective and individual security within countries and bore a shared responsibility for its control. In that connection, he supported the agreements reached at the small arms Conference. Also welcome had been the progress achieved in implementing the Ottawa Convention, for which financing was important.

    CHRISTIAN FAESSLER, Permanent Observer of Switzerland said that the attacks of 11 September had been directed against the universal values of justice, freedom and democracy worldwide and revealed the brittleness of international peace and security. International solidarity and determination must guide efforts to combat the scourge. The environment of peace and security had changed in recent years, as internal conflicts were perpetrated more often by non-State actors, such as terrorists, and organized crime. New and credible solutions must be found.

    The more traditional tasks of the First Committee remained valid, whether for the elimination or reduction of weapons of mass destruction, or conventional weapons. What were the possible contributions of non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament to the fight against new threats like terrorism? he asked. It was essential to make old regimes work to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the wrong hands. Recalcitrant States should be made aware of their obligations and all States should ratify the CTBT. Unfortunately, the third consecutive year the Conference on Disarmament could not agree on a programme of work. The Conference must, play a role in fighting the new challenges to international peace and security, including through ban on the production of fissile materials for military purposes.

    He was delighted with progress of the Chemical Weapons Convention, he continued. Significant challenges remained, however, such as convincing States that had not yet ratified it to do so. Chemical weapons posed threats to the environment and could end up in the hands of terrorists. Stockpiles of chemical weapons must be eliminated and Switzerland stood ready to help countries do so. The threat of biological weapons, including biological terrorism, remained a key issue in international security. All available means must be used to combat the threat. The upcoming fifth review conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva should be an occasion to strengthen the regime.

    The programme of action adopted at the United Nations conference on small arms had to be considered the beginning of a process, he said. He was delighted in the interest in a "small arms survey", the purpose of which was to provide information and analysis of a problem whose deadly effects were well-known. The flexible and innovative measures set up in the Ottawa Convention ensured effective international cooperation in the field of mine action. Assistance to victims of anti-personnel mines and the destruction of stockpiles of mines were also important. The Review Conference on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons would be a chance to further the possibilities of reducing the excessive suffering caused by such weapons.

    MILAD ATIEH (Syria) said that the Millennium Declaration had denounced the continued accumulation or possession of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. All Member States must respect that Declaration and work to eliminate those weapons. At a time when some were refusing to allow people to exercise their right to defend their dignity, land and self-determination, others had been permitted to acquire all types of weapons and to use light and heavy arms. In addition, all kinds of weapons were being provided to the aggressor and the doors were being opened for it to acquire expertise in nuclear weapons.

    He said his country had always stressed its deep attachment to the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. As such, it was gravely concerned at the obstruction presented by Israel to such a zone. Israel had refused to join the NPT. Israel had continued to obstruct the establishment of such a zone, despite the awareness of the international community that it was greatly undermining the credibility and universality of the NPT and despite the good intentions of the other parties concerned. The creation of such a zone depended on Israel's support. It must join the NPT, place its nuclear installations under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and eliminate its entire nuclear arsenal. That step was a prerequisite for the creation of such a zone.

    The convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament would enable the international community to assess implementation of the results of the first such session in 1978, he said. The true political will of the world community was needed to to implement that outcome and pave the way for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and carry out full and complete disarmament under effective international control. The General Assembly should adopt a consensus resolution reflecting a true willingness to hold such a session as soon as possible. In light of the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the destructive capability of nuclear weapons, a timetable should be set up for the elimination of those weapons under effective international control.

    He said his country was closely following the question of transparency in arms and had endorsed the response of the Arab Group to take its concerns into account when deliberating the questions of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Specifically, the current situation in the Middle East should be underscored, in particular, the occupation of Arab territories by Israel, its possession of nuclear weapons and its refusal to submit those to IAEA safeguards. Arab States did not have nuclear weapons. With respect to the small arms Conference, he especially welcomed the paragraphs dealing with the right to self-defence and self-determination, as well as the right to resist force and occupation.

    HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam) said that Viet Nam joined others in the strongest condemnation of the heinous terrorist attacks against the United States. In the wake of 11 September, many people had been reminded of the risk of the use of weapons of mass destruction. Still more unimaginable destruction would have been done had the terrorists brought with them just one pound of uranium.

    The international community could do much to prevent any future attacks being carried out with weapons of mass destruction. The debate of the Committee should focus on efforts to totally eliminate weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear and biological weapons. The United Nations and international community must urgently redouble their efforts to free the world from the threat of such weapons.

    The upcoming preparatory meeting for the NPT Review Conference would be an opportunity to assess progress in implementation of that important regime, he said. As building blocks leading to elimination of nuclear weapons, nuclear States were called on to carry out practical steps agreed on in the final document without further delay. Ongoing efforts to develop and deploy anti-ballistic missile systems and of advanced military technologies for outer space were of great concern. The ABM Treaty was a cornerstone of international stability and its abrogation would hold grave consequences for world peace and security.

    On behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Viet Nam had introduced a paper with 10 measures to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons, he continued. He hoped the Disarmament Commission would agree on the measure and create new momentum for the completion of that urgent task. Bio-terrorism had been discussed more and more in recent days and efforts to strengthen compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention must succeed.

    SERGEY A. ORDZHONIKIDZE, (Russian Federation), said that the meeting was taking place at a tragic moment following an unprecedented and barbaric act of international terrorism. Russia knew terrorism first-hand and understood the sentiments of the United States. The attack demonstrated where the "real" challenge to security came from, especially when coupled with the threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists. Collective efforts must be taken, while complying with and building upon -- instead of breaking -- existing agreements ensuring the global rule of law.

    The 2000 NPT Review Conference illustrated the regimes’ importance, as it was a model for the international community in multilateral diplomacy, he continued. Russia proposed a genuinely radical reduction of the nuclear weapons of the United States and Russia -- down to a level of 1,500 warheads for each of the parties by 2008. Delegates were reminded that, according to the terms of START I, the parties were supposed to have their nuclear arsenals down to the level of 6,000 warheads by 2001. He looked forward to a concrete reply from the United States in the framework of the dialogue that had been opened on the interrelated issues of strategic offensive and defensive armaments.

    The Russian agenda was to achieve lasting peace and disarmament, which could only be achieved through common efforts and a real contribution by each State to the common system of strategic stability, subject to the preservation and strengthening of existing agreements in the field, he continued. The ABM Treaty was the backbone of strategic stability, as had been reiterated by Member States in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Conference. Russia, China and Belarus had again proposed a draft resolution to strengthen the ABM Treaty. There was also a need to further mobilize the efforts of the international community to prevent undermining existing treaties in arms control and disarmament. Addressing another potential problem, listed concrete elements that could form the basis of a comprehensive agreement on the non-deployment of weapons and the non-use of force or threat of force in outer space.

    Another priority was information security, he said, which posed its own threats to international peace and security. Russia would introduce a draft resolution entitled "Developments in the field of informatization and telecommunications in the context of international security," and hoped it would be adapted by consensus. Russia also hoped for the creation of a legally binding document on the Biological Weapons Convention. His Government had recently withdrawn its objection to 1925 Geneva Protocol on the prohibition of the use in war of chemical weapons and called on other States to do so. The Chemical Weapons Convention must be made universal and the OPCW’s work in that endeavour was appreciated.

    Without ending the proliferation of small arms and light weapons it would be impossible to settle conflicts, ensure the security of people, or maintain economic growth, he said. The United Nations Conference on small arms had identified areas for action to stem the illicit flow of small arms. The most important step now was get down to the business of follow up. He noted the insufficient use of the potential of the Conference on Disarmament. His Government was determined to give new impetus to that body’s work through collective measures. The multifaceted nature and urgency of non-proliferation and disarmament issues required the convening of a fourth United Nations General Assembly session on disarmament.

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