11 May 2005
Terrorist Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons “Dangerously Close”, Norway’s Foreign Minister Tells Review Conference
Failure of Nuclear Weapon States to Meet Disarmament Promises, Nuclear-Free Middle East among Other Issues Raised in General Debate
NEW YORK, 10 May (UN Headquarters) -- The discovery of clandestine nuclear networks made the possible terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons “dangerously close”, Norway’s Foreign Minister said this morning, as he called on the Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to fill the Treaty’s loopholes.
Urging States parties to reverse the erosion of confidence in the Treaty, he said that States parties should walk the extra mile to achieve a balanced and forward-looking outcome. The countries still outside the Treaty should join as non-nuclear-weapon States. Leaving the NPT, as in the case of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which had declared its intention to “go nuclear”, should not be without consequences. Justified concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme should be resolved by satisfactory reporting of nuclear activities and full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Kenya’s speaker worried that the delicate balance between the Treaty’s three pillars -- nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy -- remained uncertain. The non-nuclear-weapon States gave up their sovereign right to receive, manufacture and acquire nuclear weapons on the understanding that there would be a corresponding commitment by nuclear-weapon States to disarm. Regrettably, the nuclear States had backtracked on their commitment. She welcomed recent efforts to reduce their arsenals, but nothing less than complete nuclear disarmament could eliminate that continuing threat.
Recent events had called into question the viability of the current international security system, especially concerning the issue of mass destruction weapons and the threat posed by nuclear terrorism, she said. Effective and non-discriminatory safeguards could eliminate the risk of diversion of nuclear materials intended for peaceful use. Also of concern was the illicit trafficking of material in several developing countries, most of which could not afford the detection equipment for surveillance at their border entry points. She urged strengthened technical cooperation to assist them in that regard, as well as the establishment of strict controls for nuclear waste disposal activities.
Similarly calling for a balance to be struck between the Treaty’s three pillars, Qatar’s representative, on behalf of the Arab Group, said various States parties had different security objectives, forcing them to focus on some topics at the exclusion of others. But, logic dictated the need to achieve practical results that could be carried out and quantified on the basis of the three pillars. It was not acceptable for there to be precise commitments in some aspects, such as non-proliferation, without the same precision in other aspects. He called for a multilateral dialogue between the nuclear and other countries, aimed at achieving the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
He drew attention to an important issue on the regional scene, namely the denuclearization of the Middle East. The Arab countries had acted over the years to render the region free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Through Syria, they had submitted to the Security Council in December 2003 a draft plan to rid the region of mass destruction weapons, but that had been thwarted. Israel should proceed urgently to join the NPT and submit its nuclear facilities to global IAEA safeguards. He asked the Conference to give all the time needed for consideration of the matter and to agree on practical machinery that would allow for implementation of the 1995 Review Conference resolution on the Middle East.
In related business today, it was agreed that the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations would be given observer status to participate in the work of the Conference.
Statements in the general debate were also made by the representatives of Belarus, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bulgaria, Jordan, Burkina Faso and Armenia.
The NPT Review Conference will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 11 May, to continue its general debate.
The Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continued its general debate today. For further information, please see Press Release DC/2954 of 28 April 2005.
ALEKSANDR BAICHOV (Belarus) said that the NPT treaty was based on the recognition of the fact that proliferation of nuclear weapons threatened international security. Having renounced the possession of nuclear weapons, Belarus called for a focus on the strategic goal of the NPT -- nuclear disarmament. While he supported the incremental approach toward that goal, that approach should not lead to inertness and laxness towards activities inconsistent with the treaty. Such activities included the development of new types of nuclear weapons, as well as defence doctrines rationalizing the use of such weapons.
Also of concern, he said, was a lack of progress in fulfilling steps towards disarmament and the limited headway made in bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Conference on Disarmament should start, without further delay, negotiations on the fissile material cut-off treaty, as well as on the issues of nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances and the prevention of the arms race in outer space.
He expressed regret over the decision of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to withdraw from the treaty, and said that the matter should be resolved according to the principles of international law. In regard to States that operate non-safeguarded nuclear facilities, he stressed the importance of providing negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States that could be an additional incentive for accession to the treaty. Strongly supporting the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, he attached great importance to the introduction of the safeguards system based on the Additional Protocols to the safeguards agreements.
In addition, he endorsed ongoing efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to promote the development of peaceful nuclear technologies. He said non-proliferation tactics should also be modified to address the new threat of non-State actors acquiring nuclear weapons. He expressed strong hope for a constructive outcome of the Conference based on compromise.
ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said that today’s situation was far from stable, as humankind still lived with fear and threats, particularly of weapons of mass destruction. That was because the commitment made by the international community 35 years ago to rid the world of nuclear weapons had not been met. No nuclear arsenals been decreased or dismantled. On the contrary, those weapons had grown tremendously, both in quantity and quality.
So had the number of nuclear-weapon States, thus posing a grave danger to international peace and security. That situation had also increased the risk of mass destruction weapons falling into terrorists’ hands. In that light, efforts should be made seriously and honestly by all States concerned, particularly the nuclear-weapon States, which had the legal obligation to fulfil article VI of the Treaty, namely to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects.
He said that implementation of agreements, including the outcomes of past review conferences, had left much to be desired. He shared the deep concern that nuclear weapons had been modernized and, moreover, some nuclear-weapon States had set out new rationales for the use of those inhumane weapons. The CTBT had also remained ineffective. He also remained deeply concerned about the strategic defence doctrine that set out the rationale for the use of nuclear weapons. He called for the full and effective implementation of the unequivocal commitment made by the nuclear-weapon States at the 2000 Review Conference to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament. That undertaking should be demonstrated without delay through an accelerated process of negotiations and through the full implementation of the 13 steps agreed to in 2000 to systematically and progressively advance towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.
Reaffirming that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat, he further reaffirmed that non-nuclear-weapon States should be effectively assured by nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Hopefully, the current session would lay the groundwork for States parties to agree to negotiate and conclude a legally binding instrument of such assurances. In 2000, States parties had agreed that legally binding security assurances by the five nuclear Powers would strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Meanwhile, undue restrictions on exports to developing countries of material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes persisted. Non-proliferation control arrangements should be transparent and open to participation by all States. It should also be ensured that restrictions were not imposed on such access. At the same time, adherence to the IAEA safeguards should be a condition for supply to States that were not parties to the NPT.
PRASAD KARIYAWASAM (Sri Lanka), associating his statement with that of Malaysia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said that the NPT was not a tool for power games, but an instrument meant to eliminate a class of abominable weapons that created the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over 60 years later, the danger had grown greatly. To deal with it, all three pillars of the NPT must be implemented with equal focus, with recognition of their legally-binding nature.
He recalled recent reports that showed the inextricable dependence of the three pillars on each other, as well as the lack of progress in non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. The challenge facing the Conference, he said, was not only narrowing the yawning gap between promise and performance, but also agreeing on measures to roll back deviations that had taken place since the 2000 Review Conference.
Despite some positive developments, he had serious concerns over both vertical and horizontal proliferation, negative security assurances to non-nuclear weapons States; negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; the black market for nuclear materials and know-how; the question of unilateral withdrawal from the NPT, the possibility of non-State actors acquiring nuclear materials or even weapons; and a lack of commitment to assist in peaceful uses.
In the globalized world, no global action would work without widespread support and legitimacy. Only multilateral mechanisms effected through the United Nations family had that legitimacy. However, the NPT lacked a permanent or semi-permanent mechanism or structure for monitoring between review conferences. In closing, though, he stressed that the elimination of nuclear weapons was the surest guarantee of non-proliferation.
JAN PETERSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Norway, said that the NPT was under “serious strain”. The new challenges made it all the more important to summon the political will and make the necessary compromises, so that the Review Conference results could lead to a strengthened non-proliferation regime. The present delay and obstacles encountered at the Conference were a source of great concern. Only by engaging in a constructive dialogue and cooperation would it be possible to succeed. That required a political commitment by all States parties. Failure was not an option. States parties were gathered here to reconfirm their commitment to halting the spread of nuclear weapons. They must build on the work of previous Review Conferences by moving closer to establishing a nuclear-weapon-free world -- a more stable and secure world for all.
He said that a new sense of urgency had emerged since the last review in 2000. The discovery of clandestine nuclear networks had brought the spectre of terrorist groups equipped with nuclear weapons “dangerously close”. That must not be allowed to happen. The Review Conference must be used to fill all loopholes in the non-proliferation regime. The NPT was close to universal adherence. Only three countries remained outside. The goal was to bring them into the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States. He urged them to do so. Meanwhile, pragmatic ways should be identified of moving them closer to the NPT regime, pending their access as non-nuclear-weapon States. For the first time, a State party had announced its withdrawal from the Treaty and its intention to “go nuclear”. Leaving the NPT should never be seen as a practical formality. All States parties, as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, were bound by their NPT obligations. Leaving the treaty could not be without consequences.
There were also justified concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, and an urgent need to resolve that problem, he said. That could only be achieved by satisfactory reporting of nuclear activities and full cooperation with the IAEA. Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) was crucial to efforts to prevent non-State actors from acquiring nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The Conference should call for the full implementation of that text. It should also reaffirm that export controls were an essential non-proliferation instrument. States parties must reject the false assumption that export controls impeded cooperation and technology transfers. The Conference should also welcome the supporting role of the Proliferation Security Initiative in upholding the non-proliferation regime. And it should call for universalizing all relevant IAEA instruments. Civilian use of nuclear energy and technology must become fully resistant to proliferation, and better mechanisms must be devised for controlling the nuclear fuel cycle.
He said it was high time to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. Pending that, all nuclear-weapon States should reaffirm their moratoriums on the production of fissile materials. Those who had not yet done that should do so now, and nuclear-weapon States should place fissile material designated by each of them as no longer required for military purposes under IAEA arrangements for disposition. The NPT was a core pillar of collective, global security, but it lacked an institutional machinery to deal with new and emerging challenges. There was an urgent need, therefore, for a mechanism that facilitated dealing with important challenges, as they arose. Meeting every five years was not enough. The Conference was an opportunity to “roll back the erosion of confidence in the NPT”. He added, “We must walk the extra mile to achieve a positive, balanced and forward-looking outcome”.
KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand), associating her statement with that of Malaysia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that many recent events had advanced the progress of the NPT regime, including new accessions and renunciation of nuclear weapons on the part of some countries. However, there had also been added threats, including the withdrawal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the revelation of terror networks and the possibility of the acquisition of nuclear weapons by non-States actors.
Both disarmament and non-proliferation must be addressed on an equal footing, she said. Her country had renounced the development of nuclear weapons and had made a firm commitment to all obligations under the NPT, particularly non-proliferation and regional cooperation.
Turning to the safeguards system of the IAEA, she said that she considered the Additional Protocol a confidence-building measure and an effective international verification system that could provide assurances of peaceful uses and legal transfer of nuclear equipment. She also saw merit in making the Additional Protocol a new verification standard; her country was making progress toward accession.
She supported, in addition, the right of all States to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. She also called upon all States that had not signed or ratified the CTBT to do so without delay. She supported, as a matter of urgency, the codification of security assurances. She said a universal, unconditional and legally-binding instrument on negative security assurances to non-nuclear States would create a climate of trust.
Finally, she stressed the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones in every region and described her country’s cooperation in regional efforts. In conclusion, she said that the validity and strength of the NPT depended on political will. She urged frank and constructive dialogue towards that end.
STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that the Treaty remained a cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. Since its inception, the NPT had served as a milestone in international efforts to safeguard international peace and security. It was imperative, now more than ever, to reconfirm the Treaty’s significance as an ongoing stabilizing factor and not to allow any infringement of its integrity. Addressing adequately the Treaty’s three pillars was particularly important for a balanced Conference outcome. He fully shared the concerns about the increased risk of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the delivery means at the global and regional levels. A major threat was that non-State actors, terrorists in particular, might gain access to weapons of mass destruction and use them with unprecedented consequences. Those threats required active and consolidated international actions aimed at minimizing their chances of success.
In that connection, he said he accorded high priority to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004). By establishing effective export control systems, through participation in all relevant multilateral instruments, Bulgaria had contributed actively to fighting that challenge. It had recently joined the Proliferation Security Initiative. Similarly, strict compliance with all NPT norms and universalization of the Treaty were also of fundamental importance. The question of withdrawal must be considered with a sense of urgency. He was ready to discuss the proposal being submitted by the European Union. The Conference should reaffirm the commitments stemming from article II of the NPT for all States parties to conclude safeguards agreements with the IAEA.
Bulgaria had been among the first countries to sign and ratify the Agency’s Additional Protocol, and he called for its universalization. He fully supported speakers’ calls to have that approved as an indispensable verification norm. Regrettably, the CTBT had not yet entered into force. That Treaty was a major instrument for strengthening the non-proliferation and disarmament regime. He, therefore, called on the Conference to reconfirm its significance and on all States to accede to it as soon as possible. The immediate start of talks on a non-discriminatory and comprehensive fissile material cut-off treaty was imperative. Nuclear-weapon-free zones also played an important part in safeguarding regional peace and security. Those additional instruments might build confidence and could be implemented with positive results in various regions. He expressed support for the transformation of the Middle East into a zone free from nuclear weapons. The Conference could not afford to fail, given what was at stake, he said.
ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) associated his statement with that of Malaysia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as the one to be presented by Qatar on behalf of the Arab Group. He said that in today’s high-threat environment the NPT could still be an effective instrument, if there was resolution and strengthening of the treaty in areas where it was weak.
The treaty, he said, must be implemented strictly, with balanced and equal force applied in all three pillars. All 13 practical steps for the implementation of article VI must be reaffirmed, if not strengthened. All States parties must also reconcile themselves to the legal findings contained in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat of the Use of Nuclear Weapons.
In addition, he said, the treaty must be made universal. In that regard, he joined the international community in reiterating its demand that Israel accede to the NPT and place itself under full-scope IAEA safeguards. He hoped that India and Pakistan would do the same. In that context, all withdrawals from the Treaty remained a cause for concern. He also reasserted the importance of article IV.
To strengthen the NPT regime, he supported the establishment of a subsidiary body, as soon as possible, to draft a legally-binding instrument relating to the negative security assurances. A nuclear-weapon-free zone must be established in the Middle East, as a matter of urgency. The IAEA should also be strengthened, particularly where its safeguards work is concerned.
Finally, he agreed with all those who argued that, ultimately, only the elimination of nuclear weapons would wipe out the threat of nuclear war. Until that point, the collective future could not be considered secure.
MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso) assured his country’s full support for the NPT in the interest of a more secure world. The development of weapons of mass destruction, along with the spread of light weapons, had been increasing threats to security. In consequence, everything must be done to control proliferation, with the first step being rigorous control of radioactive sources.
In that connection, he welcomed steps already taken by the IAEA to control radioactive materials. His country had accepted the proposal of that agency to organize a regional seminar on non-proliferation in the States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In addition, it had readily adhered to the NPT and the Additional Protocols and created legal frameworks for nuclear security and protection against ionizing radiation. Recent world developments, he said, made it urgent to strengthen multilateral cooperation in the area of nuclear non-proliferation. Both nuclear and non-nuclear States must fulfil their obligations in that effort.
DZIUNIK AGHAJANIAN (Armenia) said that, since the last Treaty review, there had been serious progress in advancing the non-proliferation objectives, including the conclusion of the United States-Russian Moscow Treaty, and Libya’s decision to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. Outstanding issues persisted, however. Despite the impressive number of signatories to, and ratifications of, the CTBT, it had yet to enter into force. Moreover, talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty had not yet begun. The recent revelations of clandestine nuclear networks had urged all States to take resolute actions to stop the illicit trafficking of mass destruction weapons. An important instrument was Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), which addressed the challenge of non-State actors gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.
She said that the recent discoveries had made the need for additional verification measures even more imperative. In that respect, she encouraged finding negotiated solutions to the outstanding nuclear issues. Nuclear safety remained a matter of the highest priority for Armenia. From the outset, it had rejected the option of developing nuclear energy other than for peaceful purposes. Being among the first countries to have signed the IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreement and its additional protocol and to implement the agreement itself, Armenia was successfully moving towards strengthening cooperation in that field. She agreed with the Agency’s Director General that the Additional Protocol was an integral part of the Agency’s safeguards in every country party to the NPT. She also fully endorsed the Agency’s efforts to enhance the safety and security of radioactive sources.
Efficient functioning of export controls became more important with the increased threat of international terrorism, amplified by the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction through the acquisition of those weapons by non-State actors. Effective international export control regimes played an important role in advancing disarmament and non-proliferation goals, thus ensuring implementation of the NPT’s article III. Armenia spared no effort in strengthening its national export control system through the introduction of international non-proliferation criteria into the national legislation in a way that guaranteed the legitimate use and trade of the dual-use items and technologies. Disarmament and non-proliferation objectives could only be achieved, however, through vigorous and concerted efforts at bilateral, regional and international levels.
JAMAL NASSER AL-BADER (Qatar), on behalf of the Arab Group, said that the Conference was being held in conditions that were completely different from those that prevailed during the 2000 and 1995 Conferences. The events of the past decade in disarmament had revealed some troubling developments. The Arab States had seen backwards steps in commitments, and violations of the basic principles of multilateralism. That had raised doubts about the effectiveness of the non-proliferation regime for enhanced security for all. Universalization of the NPT had not been achieved, and there were still tens of thousands of nuclear weapons in existence, along with security doctrines and military strategies based on their use against non-nuclear-weapon States. Nuclear disarmament remained at a stalemate, and no progress had been made to start talks on a ban of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Nor had any real progress been made in implementing the agreed 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament.
He said he realized that the various States parties had different security objectives, forcing them to focus on some topics at the exclusion of others. But, logic dictated the need to achieve practical results that could be carried out and quantified on the basis of the three pillars. It was not acceptable for there to be precise commitments in some aspects, such as non-proliferation, without the same precision in other aspects. A balance should be struck in the three pillars. In disarmament, the nuclear countries must commit themselves to that major Treaty objective by reducing their nuclear weapons in a verifiable and irreversible manner. There was also a need to achieve a legally-binding formula for negotiating security guarantees. A multilateral dialogue should take place between the nuclear countries and others, in order to achieve the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
Qatar supported the principle of strengthening the safeguards regime, but under current international circumstances, it was necessary to adhere to the Additional Protocol on a voluntary basis, he said. The right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes should be guaranteed, without discrimination. The Arab countries, therefore, joined their voice with others who had stated that the Treaty’s text should not be interpreted in any way that negatively affected the peaceful use of nuclear energy. An important issue on the regional scene was the denuclearization of the Middle East. The Arab countries had acted over the years to render the region free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Through Syria, they had submitted to the Security Council in December 2003 a draft plan to render the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, but that had been thwarted.
He recalled that the outcomes of the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences had included the plan to denuclearize the Middle East, but Israel remained the only State in the region not party to the NPT. He asked Israel to proceed urgently to join the Treaty and to submit its nuclear facilities to global IAEA safeguards. He asked the Conference to give all necessary time for consideration of the matter and to agree on practical machinery that would allow for implementation of that 1995 Review Conference resolution on the Middle East. He specifically called for the creation of a subsidiary body as part of the Disarmament Commission, as well as the creation of a support or standing committee to deal with the issue. During the intersessional period, the Group also asked that the nuclear Powers to shoulder their responsibility and affirm that commitment to that resolution.
JUDITH MBULA BAHEMUKA (Kenya) said that, while the NPT regime had served the world well, the goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons was still far from being achieved. It was unfortunate that the road to achieving that common goal was littered with many obstacles. The delicate balance between the NPT’s three pillars remained uncertain. The non-nuclear-weapon States gave up their sovereign right to receive, manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons on the understanding that there would be a corresponding commitment by nuclear-weapon States to disarm. Regrettably, the nuclear-weapon States had backtracked on their commitment. While she welcomed recent efforts to reduce their arsenals, she urged them to take concrete steps in that direction. Nothing less than complete nuclear disarmament could eliminate the continued threat posed by nuclear weapons. With continued possession, the possibility or their use and proliferation remained.
She said that the 1995 extension compromise had been based on the twin principles of permanence and accountability. An indefinite extension, however, was no license for proliferation or indefinite possession by nuclear-weapon States of their nuclear arsenals. At the 2000 review, those States had agreed on an “unequivocal undertaking” to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. The Final Declaration had recognized the need for legally-binding security assurances and had called on the 2005 review to make suitable recommendations in that direction. Any attempt to reopen debate on agreed commitments would ultimately lead to a weakening of the Treaty regime. A satisfactory Conference outcome could only be achieved if all aspects of the Treaty were addressed in a balanced manner. Equal treatment, therefore, should be accorded to nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy. Non-proliferation requirements should be balanced by equivalent undertakings and commitments to nuclear disarmament under the Treaty’s article VI.
Recent events had called into question the viability of the current international security system, especially concerning the issue of mass destruction weapons and the threat posed by nuclear terrorism, she said. Effective and non-discriminatory safeguards could eliminate the risk of diversion of nuclear materials intended for peaceful use. It was incumbent upon Member States to respect the letter and spirit of the NPT. The 2000 review had recognized the need to give preferential treatment to developing countries in all activities designed to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy. For a developing country like Kenya, access to nuclear technology was vital and it should be provided on an assured and predictable basis and in conformity with the NPT and IAEA. Also of concern was the illicit trafficking of material in several developing countries, most of which could not afford the detection equipment for surveillance at their border entry points. She, therefore, urged strengthened technical cooperation to assist them in that regard, as well as the establishment of strict controls for nuclear waste disposal activities, especially for States that generated nuclear waste.
Action on Observers
The Conference then decided to allow the Observer of Palestine to participate in its in proceedings as an observer.
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