3 May 2005

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Opens at Headquarters; Secretary-General Says Regime Has Worked, but Is Now Under “Great Stress”

Director General of Atomic Energy Agency Tells Delegates Treaty Must Evolve to Match Changing Realities or Fade to Irrelevance

NEW YORK, 2 April (UN Headquarters) -- As the month-long review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opened at Headquarters today, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the Treaty had confounded the dire predictions of its critics -- it had become a cornerstone for global security -- but the plain fact was that the non-proliferation regime had not kept pace with the march of technology and globalization, and many recent developments had placed it under great stress. 

Setting the tone for the five-year review of the Treaty’s effectiveness, the Secretary-General told the gathering of world leaders and arms control experts that international regimes did not fail because of one breach, however serious or unacceptable.  They failed when many breaches piled one on top of the other, to the point where the gap between promise and performance became unbridgeable.  “As you meet to review the NPT, your urgent task is to narrow that gap”, he said. 

He proposed several actions by States parties, among them, to strengthen confidence in the Treaty’s integrity, particularly after the first announced withdrawal of a State, by directly addressing violations, and to render compliance measures more effective, in order to ensure that States were living up to their obligations to reduce the threat of proliferation, not only to States, but also to non-State actors.  He urged countries to come to grips with the “Janus-like” character of nuclear energy by finding durable ways to reconcile the right to peaceful uses with the imperative of non-proliferation. 

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, said that the Treaty had served well for 35 years, but unless it was regarded as part of a living, dynamic regime capable of evolving to match changing realities, it would fade into irrelevance and leave the world vulnerable and unprotected.  The world had changed since the Treaty’s 2000 review.  Fears of a deadly nuclear detonation had been reawakened, driven by such new realities as the rise in terrorism, the discovery of clandestine nuclear programmes and the emergence of a nuclear black market. 

He said that those realities had heightened awareness of vulnerabilities in the NPT regime, including:  the acquisition by more and more countries of sensitive nuclear know-how and capabilities; the uneven degree of physical protection of nuclear materials from country to country and the limitations of the IAEA’s verification authority; the continuing reliance on nuclear deterrence and the ongoing perception of imbalance between the nuclear “haves” and “have-nots”; and the sense of insecurity that persisted unaddressed in a number of regions, most worryingly in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula.

Concerned that as long as some countries placed strategic reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent, others would emulate them, he urged the Conference to undertake the following:  show the world that its commitment to nuclear disarmament was firm; send a clear-cut message that the commitment to rid the world of nuclear weapons remained and that there would be zero tolerance for new States developing them; ensure all countries’ right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes; evolve better control over proliferation-sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle; strengthen the Agency’s verification authority; and back those efforts by an effective mechanism for non-compliance.

Central themes emerged in the general debate, as speakers grappled with what they saw as the key challenges to the Treaty’s regime, namely non-compliance on the part of both the nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States.  On the one hand, the protracted pace of nuclear disarmament, as required under the Treaty’s Article VI, was a source of frustration among the non-nuclear-weapon States.  On the other hand, it was stressed that sustaining confidence in the NPT meant ensuring that the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in no way contributed to nuclear-weapon proliferation.  Attention was also drawn to the dangers of the development of full-scale weapons programmes under cover, and outside of, the Treaty.

Calling for “unstinting adherence” to the non-proliferation norms by all parties, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Stephen G. Rademaker, warned that some continued to use the pretext of a peaceful nuclear programme to pursue the goal of developing nuclear weapons.  That challenge must be confronted, and the Review Conference was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the resolve in reaffirming the collective determination that non-compliance with the Treaty’s core non-proliferation norms was a clear threat to international peace and security. 

Outlining some of the major issues facing the NPT, he started with North Korea’s “secret pursuit” of reprocessing and enrichment capabilities to produce nuclear weapons.  North Korea had, thus, violated both its safeguards and non-proliferation obligations under the NPT before it announced its intention in 2003 to withdraw from the Treaty.  In recent months, it had claimed to possess nuclear weapons.  Further, for almost two decades Iran had conducted a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.  After two and one-half years of investigation by the IAEA and seven decisions by the Agency’s Board of Governors calling for Iran’s full cooperation, many questions remained unanswered.

On behalf of the New Agenda Coalition -- Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden and New Zealand -- formed in the wake of the nuclear weapons tests by India and Pakistan in 1998, New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Marian Hobbs, said that only systematic and progressive efforts to implement the Treaty’s Article VI on nuclear disarmament would help to address misguided ambitions to develop nuclear arsenals.  The New Agenda Coalition continued to press for a world security order where nuclear weapons had no role.  She called on China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States to honour their obligations towards nuclear disarmament. 

She also reminded delegations that the persuasive power of the Treaty’s call in its first preambular paragraph, namely, “the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war”, had convinced many nuclear-capable States to join the NPT and forego the nuclear weapon option in pursuit of a safer and more secure world.  The long-term success of the Treaty was dependent on the delivery of all of its objectives, but the pursuit of nuclear disarmament was a fundamental tool in addressing the international community’s deep concern about proliferation. 

The Review Conference took up a number of organizational matters this morning, confirming Jerzy Zaleski as its Secretary-General.  It also adopted its rules of procedure, and elected Chairmen for the following committees:  Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat (Indonesia) for Main Committee I; László Molnár (Hungary) for Main Committee II; Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier (Sweden) for Main Committee III; and Doru Romulus Costea (Romania) for the Drafting Committee.  The Vice-Chairmen for those Committees, as well as the Credentials Committee, were also elected.

In addition, the following countries were elected as Vice-Presidents of the Conference:  Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Chile, Cuba, Iran, Jamaica, Kuwait, Zambia, Algeria, South Africa and China.  Malta, Switzerland, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Kazakhstan were appointed to the Credentials Committee.

Also, the following groups were accorded observer agency status for the Conference:  the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the African Union Commission, the League of Arab States, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Statements in the general debate this afternoon were also made by the Foreign Ministers of:  Japan; Australia; Canada; Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union; Ireland; Malaysia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement of countries; and Germany.  The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina also spoke, as well as the representatives of Uzebekistan and Peru. 

The 2005 NPT Review Conference will meet again tomorrow at 10 a.m. to continue its general debate.


The 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) met today to begin its month-long session.  (For background on the Conference, see Press Release DC/2954 issued on 28 April.)

Statement by Chairman of Preparatory Committee

SUDJADNAN PARNOHADININGRAT, Chairman of the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee, declared open the 2005 Review Conference, saying that the Treaty, which entered into force 35 years ago, had played a crucial role in nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The 2005 Review Conference provided all parties to the Treaty with an important opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the Treaty and to the fullest implementation of all its provisions, so as to ensure that the Treaty remained the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. 

He then introduced the final report of the Preparatory Committee, adopted on 7 May 2004.  The Committee had been able to agree on a number of issues related to the organization of the Conference, in particular the presidency of the Conference, the draft rules of procedure and the financial arrangements for the Conference.  However, the Committee was not in a position to agree to a provisional agenda and deferred consideration on a final document or documents to the Review Conference. 

Throughout the preparatory process, the Committee devoted most of its meetings to a substantive discussion on all aspects of the Treaty and the three clusters of issues contained in annex VIII to the final report of the Committee for the 2000 Review Conference.  It also set aside meetings to specifically discuss and consider three specific blocs of issues, such as implementation of article VI of the Treaty; regional issues; and safety and security of peaceful nuclear programmes. 

Guided by the provisions of the Final Document of the 2000 Conference, the Chairmen of the first and second sessions of the Committee prepared factual summaries of the consideration of the issues of the Committee, which were annexed to the respective reports of the first and second sessions.  At the third session, despite the many proposals put forward by delegations and efforts to produce a consensus report containing recommendations to the Review Conference, the Committee was not able to reach agreement on any of the substantive recommendations. 

Opening Address by Conference President

SERGIO DE QUEIROZ DUARTE (Brazil), President of the Review Conference, said that delegates were gathered to review the operation of the most universal of all treaties in the disarmament and non-proliferation field, with a two-fold task:  to look forward, as well as backwards, in order to evaluate the implementation of the commitments undertaken by States parties under the Treaty; and assure that the purposes of the Preamble and the provisions of the instrument were being, and would continue to be, realized in the future.  The international security situation had grown far more complex since the last review conference in 2000.  New challenges to the hopes for a world free of weapons of mass destruction had arisen and the international community, particularly the parties to the NPT, must face that situation with determination and a sense of purpose.

Perceptions of lack of compliance with commitments entered into eroded the trust of the parties in the Treaty’s effectiveness, he said.  Divergent views on the best course to follow in order to strengthen the NPT and realize its objectives continued to shadow the perspectives for a more stable and predictable peace and security environment founded on the NPT.  The emergence of terrorism as a tool of political extremism added an even more worrisome element to that equation.  Agreements would only be effective and lasting if they addressed the security concerns of all their parties and served their legitimate interests.  Those considerations lay at the very centre of the current debate on how to devise realistic ways to meet the old and new challenges threatening the integrity and credibility of the rules and norms established by the NPT.  To ignore or disregard them would sooner or later be detrimental to the sustainability of the current non-proliferation regime.

Perhaps more than ever, genuine cooperation, wisdom and enlightened statesmanship were needed to deal with the security problems of today’s world, he said.  The present Conference provided the opportunity to buttress confidence in the multilateral process and to find pathways to progress that could be acceptable to all parties to the instrument and welcomed by the peoples of all nations.  Its success or failure would affect the fate of the non-proliferation and disarmament regime and other security-related instruments and initiatives.  It would touch on the everyday lives of people in all countries and regions and shape a vital part of the future.  It was to be hoped that history would judge positively the wisdom of decisions taken during the Conference.

Statement by Secretary-General

KOFI ANNAN, United Nations Secretary-General, said that in the five years since the parties last met, the world had reawakened to nuclear dangers, both new and old.  “I firmly believe that our generation can build a world of ever-expanding development, security and human rights -- a world ‘in larger freedom’.  But I am equally aware that such a world could be put irrevocably beyond our reach by a nuclear catastrophe in one of our great cities.” 

“In our interconnected world, a threat to one is a threat to all, and we all share responsibility for each other’s security”, he stated.  If that was true of all threats, it was particularly true of the nuclear threat.  Everyone was vulnerable to the weakest link in nuclear security and safety and in efforts to promote disarmament and prevent proliferation.  And everyone bore a heavy responsibility to build an efficient, effective and equitable system that reduced nuclear threats. 

The NPT, a cornerstone of global security, had confounded the dire predictions of its critics, he noted.  Nuclear weapons had not spread to dozens of States.  Indeed, more States had joined nuclear-weapon-free zones, and he welcomed recent progress to establish a new one in Central Asia.  The global

non-proliferation norm had been firmly established -- and that had been reaffirmed in the last two review conferences.  Also, a watchful eye had been kept on the supply of materials necessary to make them.  Many States had been able to enjoy the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  There had also been other steps, such as the recent Moscow Treaty, to dismantle weapons and reduce stockpiles.  He also mentioned the adoption of Security Council resolution 1540 and the General Assembly’s adoption, last month, of the Convention on Nuclear Terrorism.

“But we cannot afford to be complacent”, he continued.  The plain fact was that the regime had not kept pace with the march of technology and globalization, and developments of many kinds in recent years had placed it under great stress.  International regimes did not fail because of one breach, however serious or unacceptable.  They failed when many breaches piled one on top of the other, to the point where the gap between promise and performance became unbridgeable.  “As you meet to review the NPT, your urgent task is to narrow that gap.” 

He called for action on several fronts.  First, the parties must strengthen confidence in the integrity of the Treaty, particularly in the face of the first withdrawal announced by a State.  Unless violations were directly addressed, the most basic collective reassurance on which the Treaty rested would be called into serious question.  Second, parties must ensure that measures for compliance were made more effective, to maintain confidence that States were living up to their obligations.  For example, universalization of the Model Protocol was long overdue.  It had to be made the new standard for verifying compliance. 

Third, he continued, parties must act to reduce the threat of proliferation not only to States, but to non-State actors.  As the dangers of such proliferation had become clear, so had the universal obligation for all States to establish effective national controls and enforcement measures.  Fourth, parties must come to grips with the “Janus-like” character of nuclear energy.  The regime would not be sustainable if scores of more States developed the most sensitive phase of the fuel cycle and were equipped with the technology to produce nuclear weapons on short notice -- and, of course, each individual State which did that would only leave others to feel that they must do the same.  That would increase all the risks -- of nuclear accident, of trafficking, of terrorist use, and of use by States themselves. 

To prevent that, he went on, parties must find durable ways to reconcile the right to peaceful uses with the imperative of non-proliferation.  States that wished to exercise their undoubted right to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes must not insist that they could only do so by developing capacities that might be used to create nuclear weapons.  But, equally, those same States should not be left to feel that the only route to enjoying the benefits of nuclear energy was a domestic fuel cycle capability.  A first step would be to expedite agreement to create incentives for States to voluntarily forego the development of fuel cycle facilities. 

Those steps, he said, would materially reduce the risk of the use of nuclear weapons.  But, ultimately, the only way to guarantee that they would never be used was for the world to be free of such weapons.  “If we are truly committed to a nuclear-weapon-free world, we must move beyond rhetorical flourish and political posturing, and start to think seriously how to get there.” 

Some of the initial steps were obvious.  Prompt negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty for all States was vital and indispensable.  All States should affirm their commitment to a moratorium on testing, and to early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  The High-Level Panel had also widely endorsed the recommendations that all nuclear-weapon States should de-alert their existing weapons, and give negative security assurances to the non-nuclear-weapon States. 

But States must go further, he stated.  Many States still lived under a nuclear umbrella, whether of their own or an ally.  Ways must be found to lessen, and ultimately overcome, their reliance on nuclear deterrence.  An important step would be for former cold war rivals to commit themselves -- irreversibly -- to further cuts in their arsenals, so that warheads number in the hundreds, not the thousands.  “We can only hope to achieve such major reductions if every State has a clear and reliable picture of the fissile material holdings of every other State, and if every State is confident that this material in other States is secure.”

The obligation, therefore, fell on all States -- nuclear and non-nuclear alike -- to increase transparency and security, he said.  Indeed, unless all States recognized that disarmament, like non-proliferation, required action from everyone, the goal of general and complete disarmament would remain a distant dream.  At the same time, heed must be taken of the fact that the attitude of States to the NPT was unavoidably linked to broader questions of national, regional and global security.  “The more we work to resolve regional conflicts, the less incentives States will have to go nuclear.”  The more confidence States had in the collective security system, the more prepared they would be to rely on a strengthened non-proliferation regime, rather than on deterrence.  “And thus, the nearer we will be to the vital goal of universal membership of the Treaty.”

The promise of success, he concluded, was plain for all to see:  a world of reduced nuclear threat, and, ultimately, a world free of nuclear weapons.

Statement by IAEA Director General

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), noting that the core of the NPT could be summed up in the words “security” and “development”, said that while the States parties to the Treaty held differing priorities and views, they all shared the goals of development for all through advanced technology and security for all by reducing -- and ultimately eliminating -- the nuclear threat.  Those goals were the foundation on which the international community had built the landmark Treaty in 1970.  They had agreed to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons, while preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by additional States.  And they had agreed to make the peaceful applications of nuclear energy available to all.  Folded together, those agreements were mutually reinforcing and as valid today as when first made -- and even more urgent.

Recalling his address to the 2000 review conference, he said the world had changed in the intervening five years.  Fears of a deadly nuclear detonation had been reawakened, driven in part by new realities:  the rise in terrorism; the discovery of clandestine nuclear programmes; and the emergence of a nuclear black market.  But those realities had also heightened awareness of the vulnerabilities in the NPT regime and the acquisition by more and more countries of sensitive nuclear know-how and capabilities; the uneven degree of physical protection of nuclear materials from country-to-country and the limitations of the IAEA’s verification authority -- particularly in countries without additional protocols in force; the continuing reliance on nuclear deterrence and the ongoing perception of imbalance between the nuclear haves and have-nots; and the sense of insecurity that persisted unaddressed in a number of regions, most worryingly in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula.

He said that if the global community continued to accept that the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology were essential to the health, environment and social and economic development, then it must ensure a framework that could effectively prevent the military application of that technology from leading to its self-destruction.  The Treaty had served well for 35 years, but unless it was regarded as part of a living, dynamic regime capable of evolving to match changing realities, it would fade into irrelevance and leave the world vulnerable and unprotected.  While the twin goals of security and development remained the same, the mechanisms for achieving those goals must evolve.  First, the Conference must reaffirm the goals established in 1970 and send a clear-cut message that the commitments to those goals had not changed, that the commitment to rid the world of nuclear weapons remained and that there would be zero tolerance for new States developing them.  The Conference must ensure that all countries had the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Without those commitments, the Conference’s efforts would become meaningless.

Second, the Conference must strengthen the IAEA’s verification authority, he said. In recent years, the additional protocol to comprehensive safeguards agreements had proven its worth, but better access to information and locations would produce better results.  Effective verification consisted of legal authority; state-of-the-art technology; access to all available information; and sufficient human and financial resources.  Moreover, verification was but one part of the non-proliferation regime.  For the regime as a whole to function effectively, it was necessary to ensure not only effective verification but also effective export controls, effective physical protection of nuclear material and effective mechanisms for dealing with non-compliance.  It was imperative that all those components be well integrated.  Even if such measures went beyond a State’s legal obligation, they paid valuable dividends in restoring the international community’s confidence.

Third, there was a need for better control over proliferation-sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle, activities involving uranium enrichment and plutonium separation, he said.  Effective control of nuclear materials was the “choke point” for preventing nuclear weapon development, and improving control over facilities capable of producing weapon-usable material would go a long way towards establishing a better margin of security.  Clearly there was no incompatibility between tightening controls over the nuclear fuel cycle and expanding the use of peaceful nuclear technology.  In fact, reducing the risks of proliferation could pave the way for more widespread use of peaceful nuclear applications.  The optimum fuel cycle control mechanism should be different from what was available today and, above all, it must be equitable and effective.

He noted that the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change had urged negotiations without delay on an arrangement, under the IAEA statute, for the Agency to serve as a guarantor of two fuel-cycle-related services; the supply of fissile material for fuel; and the reprocessing of spent fuel.  The assurance of supply -- the guaranteed provision of reactor technology and nuclear fuel to users that satisfied the agreed non-proliferation requirements -- was clearly a prerequisite for any additional controls on the fuel cycle to be accepted.  The High-Level Panel had also urged that, while that arrangement was being negotiated, a voluntary time-limited moratorium on new fuel cycle facilities be put in place to signal the international community’s willingness to address the vulnerability of the regime and provide an opportunity for analysis and dialogue among all parties.

Multiple international and regional initiatives were under way to help countries improve their physical protection of nuclear materials, he said.  The International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism had just been adopted by the General Assembly and parties to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material were working hard to amend that instrument to broaden its scope.  Efforts had also been initiated to minimize and eventually eliminate the use of highly enriched uranium in peaceful nuclear applications and the Conference should voice its support for such initiatives.

Stressing that the Conference must show the world that its commitment to nuclear disarmament was firm, he said that as long as some countries placed strategic reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent, others would emulate them.  In 2000 the nuclear-weapons States had agreed to an “unequivocal undertaking” to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and it was vital that they continue to demonstrate that commitment through concrete action.  Given current realities, it was also essential that disarmament discussions include States not party to the NPT, namely India, Israel and Pakistan, as nuclear disarmament could only succeed if it was universal.  It was clear that nuclear-weapon States could make further irreversible reductions in their existing arsenals.  In addition, confidence in disarmament commitments clearly would be enhanced if they were to take concrete action to reduce the strategic role currently given to nuclear weapons.

Verification efforts must be backed by an effective mechanism for dealing with non-compliance, he said.  In that, both the NPT and the IAEA statute made clear their reliance on the Security Council.  Whether it was a case of non-compliance or of withdrawal from the NPT, the Council must consider promptly the implications for international peace and security and take the appropriate action.  Finally, all mechanisms within reach must be used to address the security concerns of all.  Clearly, not every State saw its security as assured under the current NPT regime.  The means for achieving security were often region-specific, with security in some regions having been advanced by the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  The Conference should encourage the establishment of additional such zones -- in parallel with the resolution of long-standing conflicts -- in such areas as the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula.  The use of security assurances would also help to reduce security concerns, one case in point being the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Underscoring the need to accompany those measures to improve security with an unequivocal commitment to the development component, he noted that nuclear energy generated 16 per cent of the world’s electricity in 30 countries -- including seven developing countries -- with almost no greenhouse gas emissions.  Radiotherapy was widely used to combat cancer and other nuclear techniques were used to study child malnutrition and fight infectious diseases.  Nuclear research produced higher yielding, disease-resistant crops.  The promise of that and other advanced nuclear technology for addressing the needs of the developing world could not be abandoned and the Conference should reaffirm the commitment of all parties to ensure the assistance and funding necessary to support peaceful nuclear applications in developing countries.

Nuclear-weapon States continued to rely on nuclear weapons in part because they had as yet developed no alternative to nuclear deterrence, he said.  However, in order to accelerate the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons, creativity and resources must be channelled towards the development of an alternative system for collective security in which nuclear deterrence did not figure.  Some non-nuclear-weapon States had become dependent on their alliances with nuclear-weapon States under a security umbrella that also rested on nuclear deterrence.  Others felt insecure and unprotected, due to the absence of such an alliance or umbrella.  In an era of globalization and interdependence, security strategies founded merely on the priorities of individual countries or groups of countries could only be a short-term solution.  In the Secretary-General’s words, “collective security today depends on accepting that the threats which each region of the world perceives as the most urgent are in fact equally so for all.”

Describing the Review Conference as an important opportunity, he said it could acknowledge the vulnerabilities of all and focus on the goals shared by all.  It could put in place a paradigm of a new collective security system that would achieve those goals.  The current multilateral dialogue was, much like democracy, slow, unwieldy and at times frustrating, but it was far superior to any other approach, in terms of the prospects for achieving equitable and, therefore, durable security solutions.  In short, it remained the best option, if not the only one. 

Such an opportunity came along only once every five years, he said.  If the Conference failed to act, the NPT framework might be the same in 2010, but the world would certainly be different.  If recent history was any teacher, by that year nuclear proliferators would continue to innovate and sensitive nuclear-technology would continue to spread.  The arsenals of nuclear-weapon States would continue to be modernized and extremist groups would continue their hunt to acquire and use a nuclear explosive device or, even worse, succeed.  While everything could not be accomplished in one month, the wheels of change must be set in motion.  Humanity deserved no less.

MARIAN HOBBS, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, New Zealand, on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden and New Zealand), said that the persuasive power of the Treaty’s call in its first preambular paragraph, namely “the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war”, convinced many possibly nuclear-capable States to join the NPT and forego the nuclear weapon option in the pursuit of a safer and more secure world.  The NPT was the essential bedrock within the global security regime.  Its three pillars -- non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful use -- had been indispensable in attracting its near universal membership. 

She said that the New Agenda Coalition continued to press for a world security order where nuclear weapons would have no role, as envisaged in the Treaty.  She called on all parties to fulfil and implement their obligations.  Moreover, she called on China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States to honour their obligations towards nuclear disarmament.  The long-term success of the Treaty was dependent on the delivery of all of its objectives.  The New Agenda, however, saw the pursuit of nuclear disarmament as a fundamental tool in addressing the international community’s deep concern about proliferation.  Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing processes.  Systematic and progressive efforts to implement the Treaty’s article VI would help to address misguided ambitions to develop nuclear arsenals.

The New Agenda was greatly disappointed in the non-fulfilment of the Treaty’s goals of 35 years ago to undertake effective measures to achieve nuclear disarmament.  Nevertheless, it would give credit where credit was due.  She acknowledged the reductions in non-strategic and strategic nuclear arsenals over the last decade, the three nuclear-weapon States had ratified the CTBT, one nuclear-weapon State had taken all of its nuclear weapons off high-alert, and another had closed down all of its fissile material production facilities.  Towards the practical end of disarmament, collective efforts were being made by the nuclear-weapon States and others to secure the vast amounts of nuclear material that remained worldwide. 

Nevertheless, she said, the world had yet the realize the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and their delivery means.  Indeed, according to the latest estimates, the number of existing nuclear warheads today amounted to upwards of 30,000.  That figure was almost as high as the estimates that existed when the Treaty became operational in 1970.  Even today’s fissile material stocks were enough to produce thousands more nuclear warheads.  In addition, the CTBT had not yet entered into force, negotiations for a treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons had not begun, the majority of weapons reductions were not irreversible, transparent or verifiable, and the role of nuclear weapons in security policies had not been diminished.  In foregoing the development of such weapons, the New Agenda had a right to highlight the current realities and, given the potential horrendous devastation of those weapons, it was duty-bound to do so.

She said that, despite some recent positive efforts, tensions remained high in the Middle East.  Recalling the resolution on the Middle East that had been an integral part of the outcome of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, the New Agenda renewed its support for the establishment in that region of a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons. It also called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in South Asia.  While the “recent warming” of relations between India and Pakistan had been welcome, she called on those two States to remain engaged in meaningful dialogue, to pull back from their nuclear weapon programmes and accede unconditionally to the NPT.  The New Agenda was also concerned by the possibility that terrorists could acquire nuclear weapons, and by activities such as those of the A.Q. Khan network.  The Security Council’s deliberations on mass destruction weapons had been salutary for nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States alike. 

The New Agenda also welcomed the efforts made in the context of the so-called “six party talks”, she said.  Hopefully, those would continue and address peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.  She called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to reconsider its proclaimed nuclear weapons programme and re-engage in the talks.  She, meanwhile, welcomed negotiations between France, Germany and the United Kingdom, supported by the High Representative of the European Union, and Iran on a long-term arrangement to provide objective guarantees that Iran’s nuclear programme was exclusively for peaceful purposes.  Such developments underscored the importance of the IAEA’s work in contributing to the effective functioning of the NPT regime. 

At the Review Conference, the New Agenda would address increasing concerns about the lack of compliance and implementation, she noted.  In particular, it would address the troubling development that some nuclear-weapon States were researching and even planning to develop new nuclear weapons or significantly modify existing ones.  Those actions could create the conditions for a new nuclear arms race and would be contrary to the Treaty.  She was determined to see that the strengthened review process finally fulfilled its objectives.  She was calling for a subsidiary body on nuclear disarmament, in which to take forward past commitments to nuclear disarmament and the promise made by the nuclear-weapon States through the “unequivocal undertaking” of the total elimination of their nuclear weapons.  Her specific proposals would soon be set out in greater detail.

NOBUTAKA MACHIMURA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that the NPT was facing serious challenges.  The Conference should be an opportunity to reinforce the NPT’s authority and credibility.  He had visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki many times and witnessed the tragic effects of the atomic bombings.  Today, he was struck anew by the exhibits of nuclear devastation, as he entered the United Nations.  He hoped, upon the sixtieth anniversary of the atomic bombings, that such a tragedy would never again be repeated.  The United Nations should play an essential role in tackling the increasing relevance of disarmament and non-proliferation to international peace and security. 

He said that reform of the Organization, particularly the Security Council, was indispensable.  Japan had been at the forefront of promoting disarmament and non-proliferation, and it was resolved to play an ever more active role in a functionally reinforced United Nations to promote those causes.  In order to strengthen the Treaty, first among his proposal was to correctly deal with regional issues.  In particular, the nuclear programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed a serious challenge to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, as well as a direct threat to the peace and stability of north East Asia, including Japan.  That country’s declaration in February that it had manufactured and possessed nuclear weapons had generated deep concern in the international community. 

Japan urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with its obligations under the NPT, and to completely dismantle all of its nuclear programmes, including its uranium enrichment programmes, and subject it to credible international verification.  Japan also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to expeditiously return to the six-party talks without preconditions.  Hopefully, the Review Conference would deliver those clear messages.  As for the Iranian nuclear issue, it was important for Iran to sincerely implement all the requirements of the relevant IAEA resolutions.  Iran must reach an agreement with France, Germany and the United Kingdom on the objective guarantees that Iran’s nuclear programme was exclusively for peaceful purposes.  He also called on India, Pakistan and Israel to accede to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States, promptly and without conditions. 

In order to realize a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons, practical disarmament measures must be implemented incrementally, he said.  He, therefore, urged those countries whose ratification was required for the CTBT to enter into force to ratify it at the earliest date.  He also urged an early start of talks on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  While the efforts of nuclear-weapon States to reduce their nuclear arsenals were appreciated, he called on those States to take further steps towards nuclear disarmament, including deeper reductions of all types of nuclear weapons.  Universalization of the IAEA Additional Protocol was the most realistic and effective means to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and Japan had been actively promoting that goal.  While the peaceful uses of nuclear energy were increasingly important, that must be carried out with the confidence of the international community, based on faithful fulfilment of NPT obligations and high transparency of nuclear activities. 

ALEXANDER DOWNER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, said that no multilateral treaty had done as much to strengthen collective and national security as the NPT in its 35 years.  “But if the NPT is to continue serving our interests well, this Review Conference must tackle the serious challenges we now face.”  When the Treaty entered into force, few countries had the capacity to build nuclear weapons.  Today, some estimates suggested 35 to 40 countries could do so.  Further proliferation could only undermine confidence in the NPT.  The time for action was now. 

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s rejection of the Treaty and its statement that it had nuclear weapons was a grave challenge to collective security and the security of Australia’s region, he said.  Australia strongly supported the six-party talks as a means of resolving that issue.  However, with the one year anniversary of the last round of the six-party talks approaching, it was clear that the international community’s patience would not last indefinitely.  Also, Iran’s pursuit of uranium enrichment without convincing justification underscored the potential for misuse of the Treaty’s peaceful nuclear energy provisions to acquire the basis for a rapid breakout to nuclear weapons. 

“We need to send an unambiguous message to proliferators:  pursuing -- let alone acquiring -- weapons of mass destruction violated basic standards of responsible international behaviour and would not be tolerated”, he stated.  Existing non-proliferation measures were insufficient to stop determined proliferators.  For that reason, in November 2004, he hosted an Asia-Pacific Nuclear Safeguards and Security Conference, which agreed on the need for a sustained and comprehensive effort to enhance the nuclear safeguards and security framework.  Also, IAEA safeguards must be strengthened.  The combination of a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an Additional Protocol was the standard that would best guarantee the NPT’s long-term effectiveness. 

The Review Conference must recognize, as it did in 2000, that the right to peaceful nuclear energy was not unqualified.  The use of peaceful nuclear energy must be in conformity with articles I, II and III of the Treaty.  He believed a framework could be developed to limit the spread of sensitive technology, while respecting rights to peaceful nuclear energy.  The Conference must also decide how to deal with NPT parties acquiring sensitive nuclear technology, only to withdraw from the Treaty.  Any notice of NPT withdrawal warranted immediate, automatic consideration by the Security Council. 

He believed that progress on nuclear disarmament was a core NPT obligation, vital to the Treaty’s political strength and vitality.  Also, entry into force of the CTBT would serve the interests of all NPT parties.  In addition, the Conference should make clear that negotiations on the fissile material cut-off treaty were of the highest priority. 

NICOLAS SCHMIT, Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Heads of State and Government of the European Union adopted in December 2003 a Union strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Integral to that Strategy was its conviction that a multilateral approach to international security, including disarmament and non-proliferation, provided the best way to maintain peace and stability.  Multilateralism was based, in particular, on the principle of shared commitments and obligations.  That meant that all States parties to the NPT must comply with their commitments and obligations. 

The Union attached utmost importance to a policy of reinforcing compliance with the Treaty.  Such a policy required an effective safeguards system, which ensured the detection of violations of the Treaty and, thereby, deterred the diversion of nuclear materials towards the manufacture of nuclear weapons, and which constituted a credible instrument concerning the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. 

The Union was deeply concerned that some non-nuclear weapon States parties to the Treaty did not always comply with their non-proliferation obligations.  The Union deplored the fact that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced in January 2003 its intention to withdraw from the NPT, he said, and continued to urge that country to fully comply, once again, with its international non-proliferation obligations under the Treaty and its IAEA Safeguards Agreement.  Any clandestine nuclear weapons programme must be completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantled.  The Review Conference should give serious consideration to the question of withdrawal. 

The Union, he said, was also united in its determination not to allow Iran to obtain military nuclear capabilities, and to see the proliferation implications of its nuclear programme resolved.  He called on Iran to comply with all its international commitments fully and in good faith, and to provide the international community with objective guarantees that its nuclear programme was exclusively for peaceful purposes, by ceasing to develop and operate fissile material production capabilities. 

The illicit trade in highly sensitive nuclear equipment and technology was a matter of serious concern for the Union and indeed all States parties to the NPT.  The Union favoured strong and effective national and internationally coordinated export controls, which were a necessary complement to non-proliferation obligations under the NPT.  Export controls must ensure that transfers took place for peaceful purposes, as required by the Treaty.  The Union would work towards strengthening the effectiveness of export controls, preventing any uncontrolled dissemination of the most sensitive technologies, particularly to non-State actors, and defining adequate consequences for situations of failure to comply with non-proliferation obligations. 

The Union, he said, wants to pursue an international agreement on the prohibition of the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  It attached special importance to the negotiation of a non-discriminatory and universal treaty banning the production of such fissile material without preconditions.  Also, pending the entry into force of the CTBT, the Union urged all States to abide by a moratorium and to refrain from any actions contrary to the obligations and provisions of the CTBT.

To help build consensus, the Council of the European Union had adopted a common position on the Review Conference, he added.  The Council identified a series of essential issues covering the three pillars of the Treaty -- non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which were laid out in his written statement.    

STEPHEN G. RADEMAKER, United States Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, said that the NPT was fundamentally a treaty for mutual security.  It was clear that the security of all Member States depended on “unstinting adherence” to its non-proliferation norms by all other parties.  The Treaty’s principal beneficiaries were those Member States that did not possess nuclear weapons because they could be assured that their neighbours also did not possess nuclear weapons.  Strict compliance with non-proliferation obligations was essential to regional stability, to forestalling nuclear arms races, and to preventing resources needed for economic development from being squandered in a destabilizing and economically unproductive pursuit of weapons.  There had been significant progress in advancing the NPT’s objectives. 

He cited as one clear success Libya’s recent decision to abandon its clandestine nuclear weapons programme, thereby joining other States -- South Africa, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- in wisely concluding that their security interests were best served by turning away from nuclear weapons and coming into full compliance with the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States.  That demonstrated that, in a world of strong non-proliferation norms, it was never too late to make the decision to become a fully compliant NPT State.  In all of those cases, such a decision had been amply rewarded.  There had also been success in designing new tools outside of the NPT that complemented the Treaty.  The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) was one such important tool, and endorsed by Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  While those successes were important, more must be done.

Indeed, he said, some continued to use the pretext of a peaceful nuclear programme to pursue the goal of developing nuclear weapons.  That challenge must be confronted, in order to ensure the Treaty’s relevance.  The Review Conference was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the resolve in reaffirming the collective determination that non-compliance with the Treaty’s core non-proliferation norms was a clear threat to international peace and security.  Outlining some of the major issues facing the NPT, he started with North Korea’s secret pursuit of reprocessing and enrichment capabilities to produce nuclear weapons.  By that action, North Korea had violated both its safeguards obligations and its non-proliferation obligations under the NPT before it announced its intention to withdraw from the Treaty in 2003.  In recent months, it had claimed to possess nuclear weapons.

For almost two decades, Iran had conducted a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, aided by the illicit network of A.Q. Khan, he continued.  After two and one-half years of investigation by the IAEA and adoption of no fewer than seven decisions by the Agency’s Board of Governors, calling on Iran to cooperate fully with the Agency in resolving outstanding issues with its nuclear programme, many questions remained unanswered.  Even today, Iran persisted in not cooperating fully.  It had made clear its determination to retain the nuclear infrastructure it secretly built in violation of its NPT safeguards obligations and was continuing to develop its nuclear capabilities around the margins of the suspension to which it agreed last November, for example, by continuing construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak, along with supporting infrastructure.

Pursuit of nuclear weapons by non-compliant States was not the only threat to the NPT, he said, adding that new challenges had emerged from non-State actors.  One category of problematic non-State actors consisted of individuals acting in their own self-interest who had helped facilitate proliferation.  For many years, the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network provided nuclear technology and materials -- even weapons designs -- to NPT violators through a widespread, illicit procurement network.  While that network had been disbanded, the world was still uncovering and repairing the damage it had wrought upon the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  It was imperative that no other networks take its place.

He said that a second category of problematic non-State actors consisted of terrorist organizations, which magnified the proliferation threat by potentially placing nuclear weapons in the hands of those determined to use them.  It was no secret that terrorists wanted to acquire weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.  The consequences, if they succeeded, would be catastrophic, and every possible step must be taken to thwart their efforts.  That meant improving the security of nuclear materials, establishing and enforcing effective export controls, and acting decisively to dismantle terrorist networks everywhere.  In response to a proposal by President Bush, the Security Council last year adopted resolution 1540, which required States to, among other measures:  criminalize proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery means by non-State actors and secure proliferation-sensitive equipment. 

The United States continued to work with others to advance other elements of the action plan, he said.  That included efforts to universalize adherence to the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, and restricting the export of sensitive technologies.  Although most of those activities called for action outside the formal framework of the NPT, they were grounded in the norms and principles of nuclear non-proliferation laid down by the Treaty, and if adopted they would each answer directly real threats to the Treaty’s vitality.  United States’ support for the NPT extended far beyond its determined efforts to reinforce the Treaty’s core non-proliferation norms.  The benefits of peaceful nuclear cooperation comprised an important element of the NPT.  Through substantial funding and technical cooperation, his country supported peaceful nuclear development in many States. 

Nevertheless, he stressed, the language of article IV was explicit and unambiguous:  States asserting their right to receive the benefits of peaceful nuclear development must be in compliance with their non-proliferation obligations under articles II and III of the NPT.  No State in violation of those articles should receive the benefits of Article IV.  All nuclear assistance to such States, bilaterally or through the IAEA, should cease.  On North Korea, the United States was attempting to bring together the regional players in the six-party talks to convince Pyongyang that its only viable option was to negotiate an end to its nuclear ambitions.  A proposal had been tabled that addressed the North’s stated concerns and also provided for the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of the North Korean nuclear programmes.

As for Iran, he noted that the United Kingdom, France and Germany, with the support of the United States, were seeking to reach a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem -- a solution that given the history of clandestine nuclear weapons work in that country, must include permanent cessation of Iran’s enrichment and reprocessing efforts, as well as dismantlement of equipment and facilities related to such activity.  Iran must provide such objective and verifiable guarantees, in order to demonstrate that it was not using a purportedly peaceful nuclear programme to hide a nuclear weapons programme or to conduct additional clandestine nuclear work elsewhere in the country.  Handling the proliferation challenges overall required a robust IAEA safeguards system.

He said that an effective, transparent export control regime would also help build confidence among States that assistance provided for peaceful nuclear development would not be diverted to illegal weapons purposes.  Yet, recent developments and revelations were troubling.  The spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology posed a particularly dangerous risk.  Collectively, the world must urgently address the very real security implications of the further spread of those technologies.  Some countries, such as Iran, were seeking those facilities, either secretly or with explanations that could not withstand scrutiny.  “We dare not look the other way”, he said.  Tighter controls should be adopted on enrichment and reprocessing technologies.  The Treaty’s loopholes that allowed the unnecessary spread of such technologies must be closed.  That could be accomplished without compromising truly peaceful nuclear programmes.

The United States remained fully committed to fulfilling its obligations under article VI, he said.  Since the last review, his country and the Russian Federation had concluded implementation of its Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) reductions.  They had also signed and brought into force the Moscow Treaty of 2002, by which they had agreed to reduce their operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to a range of 1,700 and 2,200, about a third of the 2002 levels, and less than a quarter of the level at the end of the cold war.  When that Treaty was fully implemented by the end of 2012, the United States would have reduced the number of strategic nuclear warheads it had deployed in 1990 by about 80 per cent. 

In addition, he said his country had reduced its non-strategic nuclear weapons by 90 per cent since the end of the cold war.  It had eliminated thousands of nuclear weapons and an entire class of intermediate-range ballistic missiles.  It had taken B-1 bombers out of nuclear service, reduced the number of ballistic missile submarines, drastically reduced its nuclear weapons-related domestic infrastructure, and was now eliminating its most modern and sophisticated land-based ballistic missile.  The United States had also spent billions of dollars, through programmes such as Nunn-Lugar, to help other countries control and eliminate their nuclear materials.  “We are proud to have played a leading role in reducing nuclear arsenals”, he said. 

More could be done, of course, he said, adding that a fissile material cut-off treaty would promote nuclear non-proliferation by establishing the universal norm that no State should produce fissile material for weapons.  For its part, the United States had ceased production of fissile material for weapons purposes nearly two decades ago.  He reiterated the call issued last year at the Conference on Disarmament for all nations to join his country in declaring a moratorium on fissile material production for weapons purposes until a binding treaty had become operational.  The United States’ full record left no doubt about its commitment to fulfil its article VI obligations.  The NPT was a “critical tool” in the global struggle against proliferation.  The United States remained committed to its universal adherence and hoped that countries still outside would join -- which they could only do as non-nuclear-weapon States. 

DERMOT AHERN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said his support for the NPT was rooted in the firm conviction of successive Irish Governments that a multilateral approach offered the best way forward to ensure international peace and security.  As a small country with neither the ability nor the ambition to project its military power overseas, save in United Nations peacekeeping missions, it believed that a rules-based international order and strong international institutions were of fundamental importance.  The disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements provided the legal and normative basis for all related efforts, and he remained committed to upholding and strengthening those instruments.  Failure to abide by the obligations those contained seriously threatened, not only present-day peace and security, but the very integrity and vitality of the entire arms control system.

Stressing that the NPT regime was a robust one and had made an important contribution to the preservation of international peace and security in the past 35 years, he said it was not, however, immune to threats.  The prospect that erosion of the non-proliferation regime could become irreversible and result in a cascade of proliferation, as the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change had asserted, must be of the deepest concern to all countries here.  But, that concern simply was not enough.  That must also serve as an incentive to redouble efforts at the Review Conference to reinforce the NPT’s authority and ensure its continued credibility.  The nuclear scourge and the United Nations -- the threat of destruction and the hope of universal peace -- had coexisted uneasily since 1945.  An acid test of the effectiveness of the entire multilateral system would be its success in halting the non-proliferation regime’s erosion.  It was not facing a crisis, but some very serious challenges.

Since the last Review Conference, a State party had announced its withdrawal from the Treaty, he noted.  The announcement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2003 was not only of concern to its immediate neighbours, but to the wider international community.  He urged that country to immediately dismantle any nuclear weapons programme in a visible and verifiable manner, to allow the return of IAEA inspectors, and to come into full and unconditional compliance with all relevant international obligations, in particular, the NPT and IAEA Safeguards Agreement.  He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to participate fully in the six-party talks.  That unprecedented action by the DPRK should lead the Conference to address the provisions on withdrawal set out in the Treaty.  He was not necessarily suggesting a formal amendment, but it was important to reach a common understanding of what exactly were the implications of a State withdrawing from the NPT.  Meanwhile, one shouldn’t forget that three countries had never signed the Treaty.

Noting that concerns had also been expressed in the past five years with respect to the nuclear programmes of a number of other countries, he said he had closely followed the investigations of Iran’s nuclear programme by the IAEA.  He welcomed the negotiations under way with the European countries and hoped that those would allay the international community’s concerns and put in place the foundations for new long-term arrangements acceptable to all.  Also of concern had been the revelations of an extensive black market in nuclear materials and technologies operated by the Pakistani scientist, A.Q. Khan.  It was crucially important that all members of the international community work together to root out that “deadly trade”.  No effort should be spared in tackling illicit trafficking and procurement networks, and in addressing the issue of non-State actor involvement in the proliferation of mass destruction weapons technology.

SYED HAMID ALBAR, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, speaking on behalf of the group of non-aligned States parties to the NPT, said that the Treaty was at a crossroads, with its future uncertain.  Today, the stress was on proliferation, rather than disarmament in good faith.  The lack of balance in the implementation of the NPT threatened to unravel the NPT regime, a critical component of the global disarmament framework. 

The group of non-aligned States parties would be guided at the Conference by the decisions taken at the Conferences of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, held in Kuala Lumpur (2003) and Durban (2004), which affirmed that multilateralism and multilaterally-agreed solutions provided the only sustainable method of dealing with the multiplicity of disarmament and international security issues.  The group would be presenting to the Conference an omnibus working paper, as well as working papers on four specific questions for the consideration of States parties. 

The non-aligned parties remain convinced that the NPT was a key instrument in the efforts to halt the vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons and an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  The Treaty sought to ensure a fair balance between the mutual obligations and responsibilities of the nuclear-weapon States and that of the non-nuclear-weapon States under the Treaty.  The indefinite extension of the NPT did not imply the indefinite possession by the nuclear-weapon States of their nuclear weapons arsenals. 

If States parties wanted to curtail the proliferation of nuclear weapons, they must also be prepared to accept that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, efforts for the conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States should be pursued as a matter of priority.  While recognizing recent moves by nuclear-weapon States that could lead to disarmament, he reiterated his deep concern at the slow pace of progress in that regard. 

The free, unimpeded and non-discriminatory transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes must be fully ensured, he added.  Nothing in the Treaty should be interpreted as affecting that right.  Nuclear-weapon States must refrain from nuclear sharing for military purposes under any kind of security arrangements. There should also be total and complete prohibition of the transfer of all nuclear-related equipment, information, material and facilities, resources or devices and the extension of assistance in the nuclear, scientific or technological fields to States that were not parties to the Treaty, without exception. 

JOSCHKA FISCHER, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Germany, said “Let us not be fooled:  the risk of nuclear war is by no means a thing of the past.”  In recent years, the world had too often experienced the brutal, ruthless violence of international terrorism.  He did not want to imagine the devastating consequences, if terrorist groups were to get hold of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear terrorism now must be viewed as “a very real danger”.  Because no State had the ability or resources to meet those challenges on its own, an effective international regime was needed to counter the threats that nuclear weapons and their proliferation posed to global security, for which the NPT played a highly central role.  He could not close his eyes to the dangers currently facing the NPT.  Everything must be done to safeguard the Treaty’s integrity and further strengthen its authority. 

He called for efforts to be directed equally towards two central Treaty aims:  States must abide by their non-proliferation commitments, especially in view of the new and growing dangers posed by the spread of nuclear weapons; and new momentum must be brought to nuclear disarmament.  Concerning non-proliferation, four core tasks must be urgently tackled:  effectively counter those known Treaty breaches; ensure that civilian nuclear energy was not misused for military purposes, and together, develop a response to the very real proliferation risk that could arise from the closing of the fuel cycle; do everything possible to prevent terrorist groups from gaining access to weapons-grade nuclear materials by further securing and physically protecting nuclear weapons and materials; and forge a new strategic consensus at the Security Council on how to deal with severe Treaty violations and how to strengthen enforcement.

Regional developments must also be addressed.  On the Korean peninsula, for example, the six-party talks were an opportunity to minimize the North Korean nuclear risk.  That opportunity must not be wasted.  He called on North Korea to immediately return to the talks.  The Government’s full and verifiable fulfilment of all of its obligations arising from the Treaty was not only an absolute requirement for regional stability, but that was also in North Korea’s own interest.  The aim remained a nuclear-weapon-free Korean peninsula.  On Iran, the breaches that had been identified with regard to Iran’s safeguard agreement with the IAEA had “shaken our confidence” in the aims of its nuclear programme.  In addition, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East would have unforeseeable consequences for security far beyond the region.  The negotiation process with Iran had already borne fruit.  He called on that country to fully honour its commitments under the Paris Agreement and the relevant IAEA resolutions.

In today’s unique historical position, namely the end of the strategic rivalry between two opposed blocs, nuclear arsenals should be further reduced, he said.  Existing arsenals of strategic and sub-strategic nuclear weapons should be re-examined, and work should be re-energized to further reduce them.  He argued most strongly that the present opportunity should not be wasted.  What was needed now was new impetus for nuclear disarmament, not least to effectively counter the danger of an erosion of the NPT.  The aim of German policy remained a world free from the nuclear weapons threat.  He was aware that the complete elimination of nuclear weapons could not be achieved overnight, which was why he had favoured a step-by-step approach leading irreversibly to the complete elimination of those weapons.  Since the end of the cold war, important progress had been achieved in the area of nuclear disarmament, but decisive challenges still lay ahead. 

JIM WRIGHT, Political Director and Assistant Deputy Minister, International Security Branch, Canada, said that the Conference’s task was to ensure the NPT’s continuing authority and effectiveness, while maintaining the balance reflected in the “grand bargain” of its three core components, which were inseparable and mutually reinforcing.  Highlighting his country’s priorities, he said Canada wanted a substantive and balanced outcome from the Conference, one that advanced the Treaty’s objectives in each of the three main pillars.  On nuclear disarmament, Canada wanted to see the practical implementation of commitments already accepted.  The 13 Steps remained an objective benchmark against which to assess progress towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.  Canada would put forward a number of proposals in that regard. 

Sustaining confidence in the NPT also required ensuring that the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear technology in no way contributed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, he said.  It was incumbent on the Conference to clarify the relationship between various obligations under the Treaty.  It should be clearly established that the rights of States parties to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under Article IV were not absolute, but rather conditioned by the obligations in Articles I, II and III.  “That is, rights are balanced by obligations, for both supplier and recipient States, as well as for those who develop nuclear capacities indigenously.”

He said that the recent assertion of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that it now possessed nuclear weapons, together with its reluctance to re-engage in the six-party talks, underlined the grave risk to regional and international peace and security posed by that country’s nuclear programme.  He called on the Democratic Republic to return to the NPT, to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and to accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards on its nuclear programmes. 

He added that Iran’s extensive past undeclared nuclear activities, together with its efforts to acquire the full nuclear fuel cycle, had resulted in deep concerns that it was seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability contrary to its nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament commitments.  Permanent cessation of Iran’s uranium enrichment and other proliferation sensitive activities was the only objective guarantee of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Enhancing the NPT’s overall credibility and effectiveness was a key objective for Canada at the Conference.  In that context, it was time for States parties to adapt to circumstances and to modify “how we do business”.  Hence, he proposed an annual one-week meeting of States parties to provide a regular policy forum, a feature now standard in the operation of most other treaties in the disarmament field.  That proposal would retain the necessary time for preparing the Review Conferences.  Also, every State party could take one simple step to realize the “permanence with accountability” concept -- providing regular reports to each meeting. 

ALISHER VOHIDOV (Uzbekistan) said that at a time when the international community was contemplating overall reform of the United Nations, it was appropriate to assess the effectiveness of the NPT and to consider ways of strengthening it.  For 35 years, States parties had viewed the NPT as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.  But the Treaty was in danger of losing its vitality.  Until recently, it was the NPT that was preventing the international community from entering the new millennium with a plethora of nuclear weapons.  His country had adopted a policy of nuclear-free development and the active promotion of bilateral non-proliferation efforts.  Uzbekistan was one of the first ten States to sign and ratify the CTBT.  It viewed regional interaction as a key factor to ensuring global security, and fully supported the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.

While more details would be provided on that in a joint statement to be presented to the Conference, he stated the following points.  The initiative to create that zone was clear evidence of the desire of all States of the region to contribute to non-proliferation and help strengthen global security and regional stability.  The States of the region had reported previously on the final meeting this year of the regional expert group responsible for drafting the text of the treaty on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia.  A document was agreed that was virtually ready for signing.  The treaty was an important step in elaborating a regional security system. 

Under current international relations, he said, the role of nuclear weapons continued to grow.  It was urgent for States to adopt effective measures to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  At the Review Conference, action should be taken on such issues as universalization, compliance by nuclear powers with their disarmament obligations and providing negative security guarantees, withdrawal, and the Additional Protocol.  He was concerned at the spread in the black market of nuclear equipment and technologies; supported Security Council resolution 1540, which sought to prevent access by non-State actors to weapons of mass destruction; and favoured the speedy entry into force of the Convention on Nuclear Terrorism. 

JORGE TAIANA, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, recalled that the NPT established a balance of obligations between those States possessing nuclear weapons and those that did not.  Of course, that balance in no way legitimized permanent possession of such weapons, nor should it be used by the non-nuclear-weapon States to justify their lack of commitment concerning their own obligations.  He could not but express his concern at the crisis of compliance with non-proliferation commitments witnessed over the last five years. 

To attain the objectives of non-proliferation, he said rational application must be made of the existent elements of the international regime specifically designed to that end.  The application of safeguards could not be separated from the principles of efficiency and effectiveness.  The tendency to overlook those parameters was extremely tempting, as a form of evading any kind of discrimination, but automatic and mechanical verification processes did no more than contribute to the degradation of the entire system. 

He stressed the importance given to developments in the field of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Argentina, as a country that had developed the technologies related to the full nuclear fuel cycle, recognized the relevance of addressing carefully the threats derived from those technologies, in order to not restrict the legitimate developments achieved by peace-loving countries.

It was essential, he said, that the safeguard regime be accompanied by a collective security system that assigned differentiated responsibilities to countries possessing nuclear weapons and which were also permanent members of the Security Council.  At the same time, it was important to avoid imposing general restrictions on the right to develop and acquire legitimate technologies.  Safeguards for all; restrictions only on those who failed to comply.  The Security Council’s adoption last year of resolution 1540, he added, was an enormous contribution to the cause of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the fight against terrorism. 

OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that the result of the Conference’s work would signal the beginning of a renewed process in matters of nuclear proliferation and disarmament, or mark the beginning of the inertia that characterized other important forums in matters of armament control and disarmament.  The Conference must carry out a broad analysis of the integral process of the Treaty.  That meant not only evaluating its postulates and mechanisms to improve its compliance record, but also analyzing the evolution of the agreements taken up by the preparatory committees and past review conferences. 

The Conference must also put forth succinct results in the form of specific recommendations within a consensus document, he continued.  It was essential to have a dictum on the execution of the 13 steps toward disarmament taken in the 2000 Review Conference, especially with regard to the signing and ratification of the CTBT, and the negotiation of a treaty outlining the elimination and prohibition of fissile material.  It was also important for the Conference to deal with the matter of establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones as a positive step towards general and complete disarmament.  Therefore, and as an addendum to the Tlatelolco Treaty, his Government had successively sponsored the declaration of the Andean and South American regions as zones free from weapons of mass destruction.  Those initiatives had been acknowledged by the Assembly in its resolutions on Zones of Peace of the South American and Andean Community.

Peru shared the concern of countries at the lack of regulation of the NPT, a treaty which linked countries in the case of nuclear technology acquisition by non-government individuals.  The acquisition of radioactive sources for the purpose of detonating them with conventional explosives was an ever present danger.  He was also concerned about the fact that some countries, who had developed nuclear technology under the shelter of the right to peaceful use of such energy, might later on withdraw from the Treaty, disavowing their commitments to non-proliferation and disarmament.

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