RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENTS CANNOT STAND ASIDE WHEN
NEW YORK, 10 October (UN Headquarters) -- Responsible governments were not free to stand aside and watch the slaughter of their citizens or tolerate international aggression or other forcible assaults on key interests and values, the United States representative told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this afternoon, as it continued its general debate.
Unspeakable though the acts of 11 September were, those had not exhausted the full range of deadly weapons available to a determined and merciless terrorist, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control of the United States, Avis Bohlen, warned. While the ease of resorting to biological weapons was sometimes overestimated in the press, the possibility that those might be used on a massive scale must now, after 11 September, be regarded as less remote than before. A first step towards combating the biological weapons threat must be to strengthen the norms against their use and make doubly clear that that form of terrorism, like all others, was unacceptable.
She added that her Government and that of the Russian Federation had been intensively discussing a new strategic framework that would be based on openness, mutual confidence, and real opportunities for cooperation. It would reflect a "clean and clear" break from the cold war. It would also include substantial reductions in offensive nuclear forces, cooperation on missile defence, enhanced non- and counter-proliferation efforts, and measures to promote confidence and transparency. In that context, the United States was "firmly opposed" to the United Nations inserting itself into issues regarding the 1972 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems (ABM Treaty), which remained a matter for the parties.
Plans for missile defence, asserted the representative of Indonesia, would inevitably have far-reaching repercussions for existing arms control treaties and the prospects for future agreements. Those would be incompatible with the limiting provisions of the ABM Treaty -- a critical component of strategic stability and an indispensable element to further reduce strategic armaments. While missile defence would have global consequences, Asia would be the region most affected where that might trigger a new and vicious arms race. A comprehensive approach through negotiations was needed.
No single nation, however powerful, could hope to ensure its security unilaterally, the representative of Canada said. Indeed, the vital interests of all States, without exception, lay in effective multilateralism. For more than 50 years, the world had struggled to find ways to survive the grave risks of weapons of mass destruction, blasts thousands times more powerful than those of 11 September. The Committee had a mandate and an agenda full of relevance and in greater earnest than ever before, "we need to get on with it".
Similarly, the representative of the Republic of Korea, stressing the ability of terrorist groups with a global reach to shake the very contours of global security, urged the Committee to focus its energy on strengthening international systems that countered the proliferation of nuclear and biochemical weapons and missiles. Nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles were no longer limited to cold war rivalries or competitions for regional hegemony. Steps should be taken to ensure that chemical and biological weapons did not become available as alternate tools for those States lacking nuclear capabilities, he said.
The representative of Japan described the fear as "realistic" that current disputes could escalate to the point where weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons were used. Yet, the overall disarmament and security trends had not been positive. He urged the international community to unite in its determination to combat terrorism and all States to prevent terrorists from using biological or chemical weapons by tightening national legislation and export controls on sensitive materials, equipment and related technology. Rules to curb the proliferation of ballistic missiles must also be created.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Egypt, Norway, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic and Nepal.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 11 October, to continue its general debate.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on a wide range of disarmament and arms limitation measures, including the implications for the disarmament agenda of the 11 September 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, in accordance with the rescheduled general debate of the General Assembly.
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 precarious 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. 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).
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said that the heinous acts of 11 September had awakened the international community to the need to deal with both old and new security threats. Today, terrorism transcended a simple regional scale. Terrorist groups with a global reach could shake the very contours of global security. Under those circumstances, the Committee should, first and foremost, focus its energy on strengthening international systems that countered the proliferation of nuclear and biochemical weapons and missiles.
He said he was deeply concerned about the continued stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament. Also, the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference had not been implemented. Of course, the complex and sensitive nature of international security made it difficult to make progress in arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament. Moreover, increasingly there were new security threats that required new strategies. Despite continued efforts to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles, notably ballistic missiles, the spread of those weapons had remained one of the most serious security threats to the international community.
Thus, he continued, the existing multilateral instruments and arrangements had to be consolidated and, at the same time, an international system that was tailored to address new threats must be developed. As a first step towards nuclear disarmament, bilateral reduction by the largest nuclear-weapon States should be encouraged. Progress in unilateral and bilateral nuclear reductions would create an atmosphere conducive to nuclear disarmament. He underlined that importance of universal adherence to the NPT.
He was also disappointed that the CTBT had not yet entered into force, he went on. Similarly, it was frustrating that the Conference on Disarmament had yet to commence negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for weapons purposes -- the next logical step on the nuclear arms control and disarmament agenda. The recent terrorist attack had highlighted the importance of physical protection, accounting and nuclear non-proliferation measures that would prevent entities from acquiring and converting nuclear materials or technologies.
He said the international community could no longer afford to remain entrapped in traditional ways of thinking when it came to dealing with weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles. Nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles were no longer limited to cold war rivalries or competitions for regional hegemony. Furthermore, steps should be taken to ensure that chemical and biological weapons did not become available as alternate tools for those States lacking nuclear capabilities. The recent call by the Director-General of the World Health Organization upon countries to strengthen their capacities to respond to the consequences of the use of biological or chemical agents as weapons, should not go unheeded.
NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) said that the First Committee was meeting in an atmosphere of heightened expectations. There had been concrete achievements at the conclusion of the NPT Review Conference and more States had adhered to Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Expectations could not however be equated with progress, as even a cursory glance would reveal the "distressing reality" of virtual deadlock in arms reductions and disarmament.
The "systematic efforts" of the nuclear-weapon States had fallen far short of commitments made at the 1995 NPT Conference. Further the stalemate of the START process was disconcerting. Other equally troubling issues were that negotiations for the verification of the Biological Weapons Convention could not be completed, there was growing uncertainty over the ABM Treaty, and technological advances were facilitating the militarization of outer space.
The premise that nuclear weapons could be retained indefinitely could not be accepted, he said. The laudable cooperation between nuclear-weapon States in reducing the dangers of nuclear theft and nuclear terrorism should not distract the international community from their failure to achieve progress on the imminent danger posed by nuclear warheads. The nuclear-weapon States shared a joint and collective responsibility for their reduction and elimination.
Elimination of tactical nuclear weapons, a ban on fissile materials, stopping the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and maintaining the credibility of the non-proliferation regime should be the thrust of the international community’s efforts for the elimination of nuclear weapons, he continued. There had been a steady increase in the number of signatories to the CTBT, which bolstered efforts to prevent the development of more advanced nuclear weapons. Delaying the entry into force of the CTBT could resume the nuclear arms race and its attendant instability.
The extension of the arms race into outer space portended incalculable consequences for disarmament, he said. Plans to develop missile defence systems would introduce destabilizing elements into the strategic environment. Though current international agreements were inadequate for the task, it was imperative to stop the militarization of space. While plans for missile defence systems would have global consequences, Asia would be the region most affected. Also the continuing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament had called its credibility into question. For its part, Indonesia remained committed to multilateralism and to negotiations under the auspices of the Conference on Disarmament.
SEIICHIRO NOBORU (Japan) said that the international community must be united in its determination to combat and eventually eradicate terrorism. Priority should be given to strengthening international law, eradicating State-sponsored terrorism, and further strengthening non-proliferation regimes to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. In addition to the growing threat of terrorism, unresolved regional conflicts continued to take their destabilizing toll.
Moreover, he said, there was a realistic fear that those disputes could escalate to the point where weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, could be used. While achievements in disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation would contribute to global and regional security, the overall trends had not been positive. Most notably among the disappointments had been the failure of the Conference on Disarmament to commence substantive negotiations. He was also gravely concerned about the lack of momentum with regard to the entry into force of the CTBT -- a linchpin for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
He said his country very much welcomed the "Russia-United States" intensive consultations on the interrelated subjects of both offensive and defensive systems, in order to establish a new framework for strategic stability. He hoped that the Russian Federation and the United States would act expeditiously to reduce their nuclear weapons in the context of the new framework -- to 2,000 and 2,500, respectively -- the level to which both States previously agreed in the START process and perhaps, to even lower levels. Despite the adverse trends in nuclear disarmament overall, he would, once again, introduce a draft text on a path to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, stressing the swift implementation of the conclusions of the 2000 NPT Review Conference.
At the same time, he said, the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions must be strengthened. The world community must also create universal rules to prevent and curb the proliferation of ballistic missiles. Leading the regional efforts in Asia, where ballistic missile proliferation directly affected its own security environment, Japan hosted in Tokyo in March the first-ever discussion with Asian countries on measures to cope with that issue. Also, at the coming Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in December, Japan would co-sponsor a proposal to adopt a protocol restricting the use of anti-vehicle mines.
ISMAIL KHAIRAT (Egypt) said that the current strategic situation was being used by the major Powers as a pretext to perpetuate the arms race. Certain States persisted in ignoring international calls for their accession to the NPT and to place their nuclear facilities under international supervision. Some States continued to adhere to the outdated doctrines of deterrence. Those challenges called for a collective response. In that regard, his country would continue to play its role within the New Agenda Coalition as an expression of its deep commitment to nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
He said his country regretted the continued failure of the Conference on Disarmament to agree on an agenda over the last five years. It also regretted the lack of political will on the part of the five nuclear Powers to enter into meaningful, multilateral negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. That lack of will was incompatible with their obligations under the NPT. In that context, international action must be based on the following needs, among others: to conclude a universal nuclear weapons treaty; to establish international arrangements to ensure the non-use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States; and to deal seriously, within the Conference, with the question of outer space.
The Middle East region continued to witness a clear imbalance, he said. All States of the region had adhered to the NPT and fulfilled their commitments in that regard. Nevertheless, Israel had chosen not to respond to the efforts underway in the region. It continued to cling to the nuclear option on the basis of outdated doctrines of deterrence. The international community remained silent. It had not insisted on the implementation of the numerous international resolutions, which called on Israel to accede to the NPT and place all of its nuclear facilities under the comprehensive safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The most recent such resolution was the one contained in the Final Document of the Sixth Review Conference of the NPT.
He reiterated Egypt's firm commitment to the realization of the goals and principles of non-proliferation in the Middle East and in the world, as a whole. He was keenly aware that facing the menace of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East was an urgent task that brooked no delay. It was on the basis of that profound belief that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak launched, in April 1990, his initiative to turn the region into a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. That was a natural extension of his country's call for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Despite the many resolutions calling for such a zone, Israel had not, thus far, responded to the international community's demand that it adhere to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under Agency safeguards, he said. Nor had it responded to the regional or international suggestions to begin serious negotiations on the procedural and substantive aspects of ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. That failure to respond made him all the more determined to make serious progress to shield the Middle East region against the horrors of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
LEIF A ULLAND (Norway), said that the appalling attack of 11 September demonstrated the need for international coalition-building and a determined effort to fight terrorism. The work of the First Committee was highly relevant to the efforts of the international community to create a safer world. Close international cooperation and a multilateral approach to non-proliferation were essential for the reduction of the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. The international community should resolve to break the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and strengthen the international non-proliferation and disarmament regimes.
He said a fresh effort must be made to achieve universal accession to key treaties, such as the NPT and CTBT. New regimes were needed for such new issues as production of fissile material, proliferation of ballistic missiles and measures to prevent an arms race in outer space. The landmark outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference set an ambitious agenda and identified 13 steps for the systematic and progressive achievement of nuclear disarmament. Signs that the Russian Federation and United States were ready to reduce their strategic nuclear arms were welcome, as further cuts would be in line with the principles of irreversibility and transparency in the NPT Final document.
Continuation of the ABM treaty, in an adjusted form if necessary, was important for maintaining stability, he said. Norway continued to stress the need for further reductions of the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russian Federation and noted the progress made recently on the topic under North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) auspices. Proliferation of ballistic missiles that could deliver weapons of mass destruction was causing growing concern in the international community. Norway, therefore, called for an international code of conduct as the basis for international efforts in that field.
His Government also attached the greatest importance to the CTBT and its early entry into force, he said. Bringing the treaty into force was essential to broader efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. Norway had made a substantial contribution to verification of the CTBT and looked forward to the continued support of all signatory and ratifying States. The announcement by the United States of its intention to withdraw from certain CTBT activities had been disappointing.
Norway was strongly committed to making the Biological Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention universal and had given them high priority, he said. The programme of action adopted at the United Nations small arms Conference was welcome, and it was hoped that the General Assembly would focus on follow-up and implementation. Norway wanted to work with interested governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to enhance international measures against the brokering of small arms and light weapons.
Concerning landmines, he said the international community had come a long way in a short time towards universalization of the implementation of the Ottawa Convention although mines continued to kill, maim and threaten development efforts in many countries. His Government had, therefore, donated $120 million to mine clearing efforts.
JUAN ENRIQUE VEGA (Chile), said that the debate was taking place in the wake of a watershed event in the attempt to provide security to all people, regardless of their background. The terrorist attacks had illustrated some of the negative aspects of globalization. A new resolve to make sure terrorism would not achieve its goals had also been demonstrated. Like other tragedies, the September 11 tragedy offered opportunities -- in this case, an opportunity to explore better ways to build peace. The international community had learned that all peoples were linked in their security.
Because acts of terrorism were directed against all humanity and were the very opposite of the ideals of the United Nations, the response to them must be international and done in accordance with international law, he continued. He hoped that there would be a new spirit of cooperation to guide the work of the international community. The Conference on Disarmament had for four years been unable to agree on a programme of work, including the important issue of a fissile material cut-off treaty. Part of the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament related to the issue of the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Chile had chaired an attempt to unlock the deadlock in the Conference.
Expressions of satisfaction produced by the United Nations Conference on small arms could be realized only when irreversible progress had been made on the Ottawa Convention, he continued. There was a need to severely curtail the manufacture and trade of landmines. Restrictions protecting life should take precedence over measures to promote trade. The Secretary-General’s call for work on the unfinished business of the Ottawa Convention should be heeded. Chile was proud to announce that it had presented its certificate of accession. The Convention should be universal and the Rio Group wanted to make its region completely free of anti-personnel mines.
The recent watershed event created an opportunity for a renewed recognition of the pressing need for solidarity, he said. Disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation had been led to a watershed in the search for human security. International solidarity must be appreciated. One road led to multilateralism and the other road had forsaken it. Chile favoured the former and participated in disarmament efforts based on the principle of the indivisibility of international security.
Any actor could inflict damage on a society, but nothing could justify an attack on fundamental democratic values, he added. Nothing could justify terrorism, but all solutions should look at the factors that had bred it. Any attempt to eradicate terrorism that did not consider those root causes would fail. A unilateral approach was always possible, but doing so abandoned multilateralism to a degree that defied political common sense.
BERND NIEHAUS (Costa Rica) said that the terrorist attacks of September 11 were contrary to basic values of humanity. There was a clear linkage of terrorism and weapons. The proliferation of arms fueled hatred; they were a cause of conflict and an obstacle to peace.
Combating terrorism required the explicit prohibition of weapons transfers to rebel groups, extremists, terrorists, and governments that aided terrorists or violated human rights, he continued. The programme of action of the United Nations small arms Conference was discouraging. That the conference had failed to outlaw the transfer of arms to rebel groups or to governments violating human rights was appalling. There must be a legally binding code of conduct for the transfer of such weapons. A reduction in the number of arms available was crucial, because the gun culture ran counter to peace and democracy.
Costa Rica had no weapons, no army, and their only security came from the United Nations’ prohibition on the use of force, he said. Costa Rica supported efforts to eliminate weapons with indiscriminate effects and supported demining programmes, as well as mine awareness education. The possession of nuclear weapons by any country, for which there was no justifiable rationale, was condemned. Nuclear weapon States should destroy their own nuclear weapons and must not transfer their weapons to any other country. Anti-missile defence systems were of great concern, because of the threat they posed to stability.
Costa Rica had ratified the CTBT, the entry into force of which would be a major step in worldwide nuclear disarmament, he added. The Treaty of Tlatlelolco and all efforts to create nuclear weapon-free zones were strongly supported.
The positive relation between disarmament and development must be emphasized, he continued. Costa Rica’s decision not to invest in weapons was the best way to promote development. Peace was not simply the absence of armed conflict; it had roots in relationships based on respect and the rejection of violence. Peace could only be realized when all people of the world recognized that they were of the same family. Disarmament could be the first step in that journey.
CHRIS WESTDAL (Canada) said members were gathered in the shadow of massive tragedy, "mass murder by people who think they can cow us". To give in would let the terrorists win. But, far from terrorized, the world was resolute. Stirred by tragedy, conscious that it had crossed a cusp of history, "we are henceforth vigilant, coherent and energetic" in the fight with terrorism. Far from divided, nations were united, as never before, in the face of a common enemy. The fight enlisted everyone in multilateralism, with grave responsibility to make it work.
In that regard, he continued, defences against the dangers and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must be reinforced. The Committee had a mandate and an agenda for deliberations full of relevance and urgent work in non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament, and in greater earnest than ever before, "we need to get on with it". For more than 50 years, the world had struggled to find ways to survive the grave risks of weapons of mass destruction, blasts thousands of times more powerful than those of 11 September. Success would require much closer cooperation among States, without exception.
No single nation, however powerful, could hope to ensure its security unilaterally, he went on. Given the stakes, in the multilateral agreements and institutions built to protect security it was no longer possible to spout empty words. Those institutions, held to strict standards of legitimacy and effectiveness, must earn their keep or be replaced. In the Committee's areas of concern, that meant universal adherence to and full implementation of multilateral security treaties; it meant transparency, verification and credible enforcement of arms pacts; and it meant stronger nuclear safeguards, and more resources for the IAEA and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Continuing, he said it also meant the actual elimination of stocks of weapons of mass destruction, including fissile materials. Also, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material must be strengthened and action taken to counter the dangers of easily-constructed radiological weapons. Robust export controls were needed on weapons, related technology and dual-use items. That was a "tall" order, but by keeping the promises already made -- fully and rigorously implementing already negotiated treaties -- the world would have taken a major step forward. It was also surely time to put the Conference on Disarmament back to work. On reviewing the business of the Committee in the baleful light of horror, it was evident that the agenda was full of global imperatives.
He defined his country's priorities in the realm of disarmament and arms control as including: fulfilling the solemn pledge to rid the world of nuclear weapons; entering into force of the CTBT and starting fissile material cut-off negotiations; adapting the global strategic framework to emerging threats to stability and security; making a comparably strong contribution to global security through a new strategic framework if the ABM Treaty was amended or replaced; keeping outer space free of weapons; reinforcing the Biological Weapons Convention; universalizing the Chemical Weapons Convention; consolidating the gains made at the small arms Conference; and joining the common effort against anti-personnel mines through the adherence of all States -- including the three permanent members of the Security Council -- to the Ottawa Convention.
PAVOL SEPELAK (Czech Republic) said he was shocked and appalled by the brutal terrorist attacks against the United States on 11 September. The newly-emerging perception of security and threats to it would influence work on disarmament, primarily the issue of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and means for their delivery. International legal mechanisms were needed to prevent terrorists from obtaining or using any weapons of mass destruction.
Long a proponent of practical and realistic steps in nuclear disarmament, the Czech Republic renewed its call for universal adherence to, and compliance with, the NPT, he said. He hoped that all States would maintain existing moratoria on nuclear testing until the CTBT entered into force. Progress in the ratification process, and particularly in the building of the CTBT’s international monitoring system, was welcome.
He hoped that the upcoming Fifth Review Conference would give rise to the credible verification of the Biological Weapons Convention because precautions against the danger of bio-terrorism must receive a high priority, he continued. The OPCW must have its membership made universal and should focus on verification. The OPCW’s current budget must not lead to, and did not justify, any restriction of verification activities.
The Czech Republic strongly supported the finalization and universalization of the proposed international code of conduct on ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, he said. Given the complexity of the missile defence issue, he supported all efforts of the parties to the ABM treaty to achieve an understanding. The continued political paralysis was a disappointment. He called for the launching of negotiations on substantive issues, such as the fissile material cut-off treaty.
The international community should not lose sight of the importance of conventional weapons, he said. Although the approved document from the United Nations Conference on small arms did not meet all expectations, it contained a range of measures that needed implementation. His Government was ready to support follow-up efforts and would join discussions on further instruments. He was pleased with progress made on the implementation of the Ottawa Convention, equally pleased to report that the Czech Republic had completed destruction of all the landmines covered under that Convention.
MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that disarmament was central to promoting peace and stability and peace of mind. It was, therefore, disturbing that disarmament had slipped from the collective consciousness of the international community for some time. Debates must be re-energized, as an integral part of efforts to secure durable peace and security.
No tangible progress had been made in the field of disarmament for some time, he continued. Some of the agreements that had provided global stability were under mortal threat and the world’s only multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament, the Conference on Disarmament, had failed even to agree on a programme of work. The CTBT lacked sufficient signature for ratification, including from two nuclear Powers.
Though it was important to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the wrong hands in the short run, the long-term goal should be their complete elimination, he continued. Nuclear-weapon States were, therefore, urged to implement the 13 steps called for at the 2000 NPT Review Conference and match their commitments with deeds by eliminating their nuclear arsenals. The strengthening and assurance of the universality of both the Biological Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention should be pursued with equal vigour.
Small arms and light weapons were the principal tools for the killing of innocent people by non-State actors, he said. Nepal had wanted to see the prohibition of the sale of small arms to non-State actors and restriction on the possession of concealable weapons by citizens in the programme of action adopted at the United Nations small arms Conference. Solace could be taken in the fact that the Conference had agreed to take measures to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
AVIS BOHLEN, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Arms Control of the United States, expressed her country's deep gratitude for the outpouring of sympathy following the 11 September attack. Responsible governments must assure the security and safety of their citizens and of civil society; they were not free to stand aside and watch the slaughter of their citizens, nor could they tolerate international aggression or other forcible assaults on key interests and values.
Criminals and terrorists who possessed the means to threaten society, and who had shown no reluctance to use them, were a danger to all and threatened the achievement of general and complete disarmament, she said. Governments throughout the world must cooperate and devote appropriate energy and resources to finding them, bringing them to justice, and rooting out the organized networks that enabled them to operate. There was intense concern that some of those terrorists and criminals might continue to seek to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, which should persuade the international community to redouble its non-proliferation and arms control efforts.
She reiterated her country's strong support for the NPT. As a nuclear-weapon-State, the United States understood its special responsibility under Article VI to take steps related to nuclear disarmament. United States President George Bush had made clear that the United States would reduce its nuclear forces to the lowest possible level that was compatible with its and its allies' security. Extremely disappointing was the continuing deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament, which was preventing the start of negotiations to end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. All Conference members should start such negotiations without further delay.
As everyone was aware, the United States Government and that of the Russian Federation had been intensively discussing a new strategic framework that would be based on openness, mutual confidence, and real opportunities for cooperation. It would reflect a "clean and clear" break from the cold war. It would also include substantial reductions in offensive nuclear forces, cooperation on missile defence, enhanced non- and counter-proliferation efforts, and measures to promote confidence and transparency. In that context, the United States was "firmly opposed" to the United Nations "inserting" itself into issues regarding the ABM Treaty, which remained a matter for the parties. If a resolution on the ABM Treaty was introduced again this year, the United States would vote "no" on it. She urged her friends and allies to do the same. Today's world provided both new threats and new opportunities. "We must be able to react to these changes", she said.
Unspeakable though the acts of 11 September were, unfortunately, those did not exhaust the full range of deadly weapons available to a determined and merciless terrorist, she said. Much had been written in recent weeks about the threat of the use of biological weapons. While the ease of resorting to such weapons was sometimes overestimated in the press, the possibility that those might be used on a massive scale must now, after 11 September, be regarded as less remote than before. A first step towards combating the threat of biological weapons must be to strengthen the norms against their use and make doubly clear that that form of terrorism, like all others, was unacceptable.
Negotiations had been underway for the past six years on a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, but last July, her country had made clear that it could not support the protocol because the proposed measures to enforce the ban against possession and development were neither effective nor equitable. That view had remained. The events of 11 September had reinforced the view that the priority focus must be on use. The world community must, here and now, state its abhorrence of use and strengthen national laws criminalizing use and transfer.
She said her country's goals with respect to chemical weapons had remained the worldwide destruction of existing stocks and full compliance with the prohibition of the development, production, stockpiling and use of those weapons of mass destruction. It was also assisting the Russian Federation in its stockpile destruction programme. It was not only chemical weapons activities that were of concern. In Japan, terrorists had made and used nerve gas. Member States of the Chemical Weapons Convention must put in place national laws that helped to keep materials for making chemical weapons out of unauthorized hands and ensure effective prosecution of those who made or used those weapons.
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