Press Releases

    5 May 2005

    Environmental, Economic Risks Posed by Shipment of Nuclear Materials among Issues Raised at Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

    Several Arab States Say Israel’s Refusal to Join Treaty Major Obstacle to Peace, Security in Middle East

    NEW YORK, 4 May (UN Headquarters) -- As the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) continued today, the world’s most vulnerable nations drew the attention of participants to the human, environmental and economic risks posed by the shipment of nuclear materials, as well as the issue of State responsibility in the event of accidents.

    The trans-shipment of nuclear waste through the Caribbean Sea, and the concomitant threat to the environmental and economic sustainability of the small island developing States of the region, remained a grave concern for the members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stated the representative of the Bahamas.

    In addition to the provision of information on the shipment of radioactive materials, CARICOM continued to call for the establishment of a comprehensive regulatory framework to promote State responsibility with respect to disclosure, prior informed consent, liability and compensation in the event of accidents.  While she appreciated the steps undertaken by States to prevent the likelihood of accidents, she could not overstate the damage that would be done to the ecosystems of countries like hers, and the potentially catastrophic impact on their vulnerable economies should an accident occur.

    The members of the Pacific Islands Forum had received welcome assurances from the shipping States that the measures taken for the safety and security of shipments accorded with international guidelines, and that they would provide practical support to help manage the response to any incident in their region, Samoa’s representative informed the meeting.  However, concerns remained that present international arrangements for liability and compensation did not adequately address the risks posed by those shipments.

    He was particularly worried about possible economic loss in the event of an incident involving a nuclear shipment.  The fragile economies of most small island developing States depended heavily on industries such as fisheries and tourism, often the only two economic pillars, and would be totally devastated by negative publicity following any incident in their waters, whether or not that incident resulted in a radioactive release.  “Forum members continue to seek assurances from the shipping States that, where there is a demonstrable link between an incident and economic loss, we will not be left to carry such a loss unsupported.”

    The 35-year-old NPT is a landmark agreement aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons technology, foster the peaceful use of nuclear energy and further the goal of general and complete disarmament.  Review Conferences have been held every five years since the Treaty became operational in 1970, and the current one began here Monday.  All but three UN Member States -- India, Israel and Pakistan -- are parties to it.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced its withdrawal in January 2003.

    The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones was another issue raised today.  Such zones have been declared in Latin America and the Caribbean and the South Pacific, and the creation of such zones in other regions, particularly in the Middle East, was raised by a number of speakers.  Several Arab nations recalled ongoing efforts to establish such a zone in the Middle East, which continued to be hampered, in their view, by the refusal of Israel -- the only State in the region not party to the NPT -- to join the Treaty and to submit its nuclear facility to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

    The Director of the Division of Disarmament Affairs in Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry said Israeli possession of nuclear weapons was a major obstacle to peace and security in the region.  All of Israel’s justifications for possession and development of mass destruction weapons, especially nuclear weapons, clearly contradicted its claim for peace with the countries and peoples of the region.  Real peace must be founded on confidence, trust and good intensions; it was not based on possession of mass destruction weapons or threats of their use, or policies of hegemony.

    Before concluding the meeting, Conference President Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte (Brazil) informed delegations that consultations were still being conducted on how to proceed with the substantive aspects of the agenda of the Review Conference.

    Statements were also made today by the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, the Chairman of the Committee for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons of Qatar, the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration for Multilateral Affairs and International Organizations of Croatia, the Director of the General Directorate for International Security in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, and the Chairman of the National Atomic Commission of Yemen.

    The representatives of Bahrain, Greece, Hungary, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Syria, Austria, Spain, Tunisia, Belgium and Myanmar, as well as the Observer of the Holy See, also addressed the Conference.

    The 2005 Review Conference will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 5 May, to continue its general debate.


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


    TAWFEEQ AHMED ALMANSOOR (Bahrain) said that international and regional efforts that attempted to achieve disarmament had given cause for some optimism in ridding the world of nuclear weapons, which posed a major threat to international peace and security.  The NPT was one of the measures taken to strengthen international peace and security, in spite of the obstacles that it had to confront.  Bahrain had implemented the provisions of the Treaty since 1988.  It had also tried to take measures to insist on the need to reduce the presence of those weapons, especially in the Middle East.

    Until now, it had not been possible to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, mainly due to the actions of Israel, despite requests from the United Nations and resolutions calling on Israel to put an end to its possession of nuclear weapons and to join the NPT.  Israel had also refused International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) oversight of its facilities and entering into safeguards agreements.  It was the only State in the region possessing nuclear weapons.  That arrogant position was a contradiction of the peace Israel claimed to want.  He called on Israel to join the NPT, take positive measures to demonstrate its goodwill, and honour commitments so that there could be an environment of peace in the Middle East.  He also called on nuclear-weapon States to join the NPT and put their facilities under international oversight, in order to achieve international stability and security.

    He expressed regret at seeing obstacles confronting the NPT Conference coming from the nuclear-weapon States.  He suggested the need for an ad hoc committee to consider nuclear disarmament.  He was also in favour of the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which called for all commitments to be honoured and to put an end to nuclear weapons.  The Treaty, he noted, would remain the major instrument in the sphere of non-proliferation, despite the impediments that were the result of some countries not wishing to join the Treaty, or countries threatening to withdraw from it.

    ELEFTHERIOS DANELLIS (Greece) said that the NPT laid a solid foundation upon which nuclear disarmament efforts were being built, while, at the same time, it provided a framework for international cooperation on the issue of peaceful use of nuclear energy.  He was convinced that a balanced approach to the NPT was indispensable, and he would commit his efforts to accomplishing all Treaty goals.  He also fully shared the deep concerns of the international community over the dangers of nuclear proliferation to global security, including nuclear terrorism.  The international community had developed several important devices aimed at securing compliance with the Treaty.  The IAEA’s Additional Protocol and arrangements for controlling transfers and exports of technologies and equipment provided the necessary tools for verification.  The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) had also been a positive development, and the international legal framework had been enhanced by the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 1540 (2004).

    He pledged to work steadily to promote universalization of the NPT and of all multilateral agreements related to weapons of mass destruction.  He would help to convince all States to consider the IAEA’s Additional Protocol as a standard safeguards system.  Nuclear materials and ballistic missiles that could be used for mass destruction weapons must be placed under effective international control.  Regimes controlling those transfers must become more effective, with strengthened criteria and full compliance.  Greece, together with its European Union partners, had a positive stand towards the idea of creating a zone free of mass destruction weapons in the Middle East.  He also supported the tightening of measures of non-proliferation in the Mediterranean region.

    He said he endorsed efforts by France, Germany and the United Kingdom aimed at convincing Iran to align itself with the international community’s expectations and to fully comply with all non-proliferation commitments under the IAEA, as well as to voluntarily suspend, in a verifiable manner, all of its enrichment and reprocessing activities.  He was deeply concerned over the ongoing situation related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear “weaponization” programme.  He shared international concerns about that country’s announced withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003.  He would support a negotiated settlement, aimed at bringing the country into full alignment with the Treaty and the Additional Protocol.  Hopefully, the Conference would achieve progress on all of those issues and advance the Treaty’s three pillars -- disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

    GÁBOR BRÓDI (Hungary) said he fully recognized the central role that the safeguards system of the IAEA had been playing in providing assurances about the peaceful nature of the nuclear programmes of States parties.  The alarming developments, especially during the years since the 2000 Review Conference, had, however, clearly pointed to the urgency of strengthening the tools at the disposal of the international community and of the IAEA, in particular.  As a first step, the Conference should again call for the universal adherence and application of IAEA safeguards.  He deeply regretted that there was still a significant number of States parties which failed to fulfil their obligation under the Treaty to conclude a comprehensive safeguards agreement.

    The IAEA’s current safeguards system should include both the comprehensive safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol, he said.  The experience the IAEA derived from the recent verification challenges had demonstrated the utility of the Additional Protocol in practice.  He urged the Conference to follow the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Secretary-General’s report “In Larger Freedom”, as well as to affirm that the comprehensive safeguards agreement, together with the Additional Protocol, now represented the verification standard pursuant to article III of the Treaty.

    Hungary followed with great interest the ongoing discussion concerning new multilateral approaches to sensitive aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, he said.  The dual-use nature of certain technologies, such as those related to uranium enrichment and reprocessing, was a source of concern.  He commended the IAEA Director-General for recognizing the need to address that issue and for his initiative to establish a group of independent experts.  The Conference provided an important opportunity to continue the consideration of various initiatives to control access to the nuclear fuel cycle, including the important and valuable proposals by that group.

    The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), he added, was a major and irreplaceable instrument of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and Hungary attached great importance to its early entry into force.  The Conference should reiterate the call on all States to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay and without conditions.  He welcomed the moratorium on all nuclear-test explosions and urged that they be maintained pending the entry into force of the CTBT.

    FERMIN TORO JIMENEZ (Venezuela) said that the tragic events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had opened the door to a new kind of humanism -- a determination to preserve the human race and the environment from the risk of extinction by nuclear holocaust.  Venezuela was a party to the Tlatelolco Treaty and was committed to pursuing the policy reflected in all nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaties, as well as the NPT and the CTBT.  Those commitments, inspired by the humanist doctrine embraced by his country, had allowed Venezuela to articulate its own convictions.  His country was fully committed to the points and purposes of general and complete disarmament as the only way to achieving durable peace, accompanied by the adoption of a whole range of effective measures to eliminate all kinds of mass destruction weapons, under strict and effective international verification.

    He said he was concerned about the way in which such principles were being debated in “this house”.  By focusing nuclear non-proliferation efforts solely on horizontal proliferation tended to distract from efforts to consolidate and strengthen the whole nuclear non-proliferation regime.  The nuclear Powers held the monopoly over mass destruction weapons, as well as the power those entailed.  A narrow focus would cause the Conference to lose sight of the threat posed by the accumulation of nuclear arsenals, new and old technologies alike.  Another threat had been the adoption of positions by the nuclear Powers regarding their right, individually or collectively, to use atomic weapons of limited scope with cutting-edge technologies against defenceless peoples around the world.  That possibility was further exacerbated by globalization and neo-liberalism.

    The Conference must not lose sight of bilateral issues, such as the conflict between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said.  Military action by the United States in that conflict would be pointless.  In addition, “unfounded” accusations were being launched against Iran, namely, that it was enriching uranium with the intent to build nuclear weapons.  That was taking place to justify military action in the Middle East and remove an obstacle represented by Iranian sovereignty.  Those problems mainly affected the United States, the imperial Power, and they were preoccupying the Conference.  That could serve to distort reality and “have us look away from the hurricane we are facing”.  In United States’ military plans, “mini-nukes” played a significant role.  That country was seeking to make those weapons operational at a time when resistance to that “dominant empire” was peaking and could not be controlled by conventional weapons, alone.

    He said that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was suffering from obsolescence, because it had proven impossible to fully implement it, owing to its internal contradiction and the hypocrisy with which that was being handled.  He was also concerned about efforts directed against strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, which were focused, in a highly selective way, on horizontal proliferation.  The global development of nuclear-weapon-free zones would create a “climate of relief” and promote peace the world over.  Total and complete nuclear disarmament was the true goal, to which all efforts should be committed.  The peaceful use of nuclear energy must also be preserved.  The expansion of nuclear-weapon-free zones as a contribution to nuclear disarmament would reduce the “geopolitical leeway” still available to the United States.  He also shared the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)’s concern, and that of countries across Latin America, about the danger posed by the transport of radioactive materials through the Latin American nuclear-weapon-free zone.

    RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said that the NPT was the cornerstone of a stable and successful regime of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and it, therefore, was crucial for the maintenance of international peace and security.  A balanced implementation of all of the Treaty commitments was of essence, in order to preserve its integrity.  That latter should be at the forefront of considerations at the Conference.  Every nation had high stakes in the promotion of nuclear disarmament, peaceful development and use of nuclear material, as well as in the NPT’s non-proliferation goals.  He shared the concerns of the international community regarding the threats to the NPT regime, both persistent and new.  Those included proliferation efforts, either brazen or clandestine, either within or outside the NPT, carried out by both State and non-State actors.

    He said that the way to strengthen the Treaty’s credibility was to reaffirm the cogent and complementary nature of all commitments under that instrument.  Confidence in the review process, as a guarantor of the fundamental bargain on which the Treaty was based, should not be allowed to erode.  That was why the Conference sought a balanced approach in its review of the Treaty’s operation.  The issue of non-proliferation should be tackled in a comprehensive manner, on a par with nuclear disarmament and the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  That was a basic principle of Brazil’s national policy.  In addition to electrical power generation, Brazil’s nuclear activities extended to wide-ranging applications in medicine, agriculture, industry and the environment.  Article IV of the NPT clearly recognized the inalienable right to the development and use of nuclear energy for peaceful ends.  It did not qualify, restrict or reinterpret such a right, which, incidentally, existed prior to the Treaty.

    Brazil had called on the five nuclear-weapon States to “undo” the effects of the nuclear proliferation in which they had engaged through the accumulation of weapons and, hence, to strive to achieve nuclear disarmament, he said.  There was no excuse for the use or indefinite possession of nuclear weapons, or for their development or acquisition.  The NPT was the main international instrument to achieving those goals.  At the same time, he welcomed the announcements regarding substantial reductions in nuclear arsenals.  The Moscow Treaty was a positive step in the process of nuclear de-escalation, but the fundamental principles of verification and irreversibility should be applied to all disarmament measures.  Although the NPT did not contain provisions expressly prohibiting modernization of nuclear weapons and their delivery means, the introduction of new types of weapons or the announcement of strategic doctrines that tended to lower the threshold for the utilization of nuclear weapons ran counter to the “unequivocal commitment” to full nuclear disarmament, and bypassed the 13 practical steps towards that goal.

    He said that the Review Conference’s task was twofold:  to urge non-States parties to accede to the Treaty without conditions and without delay; and to call on States parties to refrain from any action that might contravene or undermine the fulfilment of the Treaty’s objectives.  The international community must share the concern that peaceful nuclear programmes might be used as a cover for nuclear proliferation.  On the one hand, however, one should not ignore the successful track record of the safeguards system for non-nuclear-weapon IAEA members.  On the other hand, one should not wrongfully blame the NPT for alleged loopholes that were assumed to render it ineffective in combating proliferation.  He supported strengthened safeguards.  At the same time, a balance should be maintained in the IAEA’s activities regarding verification, on the one hand, and the promotion of peaceful applications of nuclear energy, on the other.

    CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer of the Holy See, said that since the NPT was the only multilateral legal instrument currently available to bring about a nuclear-weapon-free world, it must not be allowed to be weakened.  He appealed for the difficult and complex issues of the Review Conference to be addressed in an even-handed way.  Measures taken at the Review Conference, even if they were small steps forward, must be framed by the overall goals of the Treaty.  The Conference must advance the effectiveness of the Treaty, not go backwards by forgetting past commitments.

    The world was rightly concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and attempts to redirect nuclear technologies and fuels away from their peaceful use and towards nuclear weapons.  The non-proliferation aspect of the Treaty must be strengthened through increasing the capacity of the IAEA to detect any misuse of nuclear fuels.  The compliance measures of the Treaty must also be strengthened.  But concentrating only on non-proliferation measures distorted the meaning of the Treaty.  Compliance with its nuclear disarmament provisions was also required.  Non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament were interdependent and mutually reinforcing.

    He called on nuclear-weapon States to take responsibility in safeguarding the very integrity of the NPT and in creating a climate of trust, transparency and true cooperation.  The time had come to re-examine the whole strategy of nuclear deterrence.  When the Holy See had expressed its limited acceptance of nuclear deterrence during the cold war, it was with the clearly stated condition that deterrence was only a step on the way towards progressive nuclear disarmament.  It had never countenanced nuclear deterrence as a permanent measure, nor did it today, when it was evident that nuclear deterrence drove the development of ever newer nuclear arms, thus, preventing genuine nuclear disarmament.  He emphasized that peace in the twenty-first century could not be attained by relying on nuclear weapons.

    PAULETTE BETHEL (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of CARICOM, said that, while the international community had recently turned its attention to the very real danger of the acquisition and use of nuclear weapons by non-State actors, including terrorists, she would caution that that preoccupation should not detract from the agreed goal of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Rather, the international community should seek to ensure that existing obligations were fulfilled, while new threats and challenges were addressed effectively.  The elimination of nuclear weapons testing remained a critical element in the overall process of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  To that end, she called for a renewed commitment to promoting the entry into force, and the implementation of, the CTBT.

    The most important nuclear safety issue for CARICOM States, she said, remained the transboundary movement of radioactive materials.  The trans-shipment of nuclear waste through the Caribbean Sea, and the concomitant threat to the environmental and economic sustainability of the small island developing States of the region, remained a grave concern.  She welcomed the 2000 Review Conference’s explicit recognition of the concerns of small island developing States and other coastal States regarding the transportation of radioactive materials by sea, and viewed that as an acknowledgement of the responsibility of the international community to protect the marine space of en route coastal States from the risks inherent in the transport of those materials. 

    She was particularly encouraged by the ongoing efforts of the IAEA in that regard, including the adoption of the Code of Practice on the International Transboundary Movement of Radioactive Waste, and the annual resolution adopted by the IAEA General Conference on Measures to Strengthen International Cooperation in Nuclear, Radiation and Transport Safety and Waste Management.  She called on all States to fully implement those instruments, including the call for States shipping radioactive materials to provide assurances to potentially affected States that their national regulations take into account IAEA Transport Regulations, and to provide relevant information relating to shipments of such materials.

    CARICOM States, she continued, recognized the need for safety and security relating to those shipments and the right of States under article IV of the NPT to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  However, she affirmed that those considerations should not be inimical to the sustainable development of other States, and reaffirmed that nuclear energy should be harnessed only for peaceful purposes in the service of global development.

    In addition to the provision of information on the shipment of radioactive materials, CARICOM continued to call for the establishment of a comprehensive regulatory framework to promote State responsibility with respect to disclosure, prior informed consent, liability and compensation in the event of accidents.  While she appreciated the steps undertaken by States to prevent the likelihood of accidents, she could not overstate the damage that would be done to the ecosystems of countries like hers, and the potentially catastrophic impact on their vulnerable economies, should an accident occur.

    ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA (Samoa), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, said there were two issues of particular concern to members of the Forum:  nuclear-weapon-free zones and cooperation between such zones in the southern hemisphere in particular; and the shipment of radioactive materials through their region.  The South Pacific Nuclear-Free-Zone Treaty -- the Rarotonga Treaty -- had been signed and ratified by all Forum members within the original geographical boundaries of the Treaty.  He encouraged the three newest Forum members -- Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau -- to join the Treaty.

    The operation of the South Pacific nuclear-free zone was enhanced by three protocols to the Rarotonga Treaty, by which the nuclear-weapon States had undertaken to apply the Treaty to their territories in the region, to refrain from the use or threat of nuclear-explosive devices against any party, and not to test nuclear-explosive devices in the zone.  The protocols relevant to them had been ratified by the United Kingdom, France, China and the former Soviet Union.  He again called on the United States to ratify the relevant protocols to that Treaty.

    On the shipment of radioactive materials, the members of the Forum continued to be concerned about the human, environmental and economic risks posed by the shipment of such materials around the world, particularly those that passed through their waters, he noted.  The Forum’s members had received welcome assurances from the shipping States that the measures taken for the safety and security of shipments accorded with international guidelines, and that they would provide practical support to help manage the response to any incident in their region.

    However, he said, concerns remained that present international arrangements for liability and compensation did not adequately address the risks posed by those shipments.  He was particularly worried about possible economic loss in the event of an incident involving a nuclear shipment.  The fragile economies of most Forum members depended heavily on industries, such as fisheries and tourism, which, in some cases, were the only two economic pillars, and would be totally devastated by negative publicity following any incident in their waters, whether or not that incident resulted in a radioactive release.  “Forum members continue to seek assurances from the shipping States that, where there is a demonstrable link between an incident and economic loss, we will not be left to carry such a loss unsupported.”

    He recalled that the 2000 Review Conference underlined the importance of effective national and international regulations and standards for the protection of States concerned from the risks of the transportation of radioactive materials.  The Conference also took note of the concerns of small island developing States and other coastal States regarding the transportation of radioactive materials by sea.  While welcoming the recent progress made on those issues, he hoped the current Conference would emphasize the need for continuing action in that regard.

    NAIF BIN BANDAR AL-SUDAIRY, Director of the Division of Disarmament Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, recalled that, during the last preparatory meeting in Geneva, his delegation had submitted a report about the steps that should be taken to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East (document NPT/CONF.2005/PC.11/30).  His Government still asserts all of the concerns contained in that report, foremost among them, the establishment of the zone in the Middle East.  That concern was first adopted by the General Assembly in 1974, and had been adopted by consensus since the thirty-fifth session in 1980.  On the regional level, the League of Arab States had confirmed the same direction in its resolution 5390 adopted on 27 March 1994.  According to that text, a technical committee had been established to make that zone a reality.

    He said that, since peace and security was not maintained through possession of mass destruction weapons, but rather through cooperation and dialogue, the international community must seek to achieve development and avoid the race to possess those destructive weapons.  Israeli possession of nuclear weapons was a major obstacle to peace and security in the region.  All of its justifications for possession and development of mass destruction weapons, especially nuclear weapons, clearly contradicted its claim for peace with the countries and peoples of the region.  Real peace must be founded on confidence, trust and good intensions, and based on freeing the region from injustice, occupation and aggression.  Peace was not based on possession of mass destruction weapons or threats of their use, or the policies of hegemony, but by establishing the facts on the ground.  Those policies were not only a source of concern and a threat to the peoples of the region, but they also threatened global peace and security.

    Saudi Arabia had submitted its national report in compliance with Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), and it had sent a letter to the head of the IAEA on 9 March indicating its signature of the comprehensive safeguards agreements and the small quantities protocol.  He had been following negotiations with the European Union countries and Iran concerning the latter’s atomic weapon programme.  Those talks were facing some hurdles and causing some concern.  At the same time, it was important to encourage the Iranian side to continue to cooperate with the IAEA to make the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  That could only be achieved through cooperation and transparency.  Hopefully, Iran would continue its constructive cooperation, in that regard.  That would be a step in the right direction towards peace and security in the region, which could not be achieved when some countries in the region possessed destructive weapons.

    CARLOS RAMIRO MARTÍNEZ, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that the Treaty had, unfortunately, suffered a number of breaches that had generated a climate of distrust.  The withdrawal of one of the parties, as well as the possibility that the rules the NPT laid down might be subjected to further violations, was likely to destabilize the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  The true challenge being faced today in connection with nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation was, first, the need to preserve the multilateral approach and, second, to adapt that approach to current global conditions.

    The international community had, as a departure point, the 13 practical steps designed to cope with non-proliferation and bring about nuclear disarmament, he said.  He also emphasized the need to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and to uphold the moratorium on nuclear-test explosions until the entry into force of the CTBT.  In carrying out those measures, he stressed the need for advances in both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, treating both endeavours on an equal footing.

    He noted that non-nuclear-weapon States had a duty to fulfil their obligations under the Treaty, reaffirming their undertaking not to acquire nuclear weapons, but exercising their inalienable right to develop and participate, in the future, in nuclear technology meant exclusively for peaceful use.  All disarmament and non-proliferation measures, he added, should be carried out in an environment that favoured monitoring and transparency, so as to revive trust among the parties to the Treaty.  He also expressed his support for the CTBT, which his country signed in September 1999 and hoped to ratify at an early date.  Although an impasse was hampering ratification, the Government was aware of the need to overcome it and of taking steps to sensitize national agencies to that end.

    He added that Guatemala was pleased to be party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established the first inhabited nuclear-weapon-free zone and had served as an example for the creation of other such zones.  It was necessary to ensure that that zone did not incur the danger of a nuclear threat.  For that reason, Guatemala joined the other States of the region in the efforts they were making, together with the members of other nuclear-weapon-free zones, to adopt a common policy vis-à-vis nuclear-weapon States, thus, seeking to strengthen peace and security regionally and worldwide.

    ALFREDO LABBE (Chile) said that the political compromise inherent in and regulated by the Treaty continued to play a key role in the maintenance of international peace and security.  As in all political compromises, the compensations granted and legally “solemnized” through signature and ratification were equally important and must be given equal treatment.  There could be no doubt that nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament were mutually reinforcing objectives, which must be pursued with equal vigour.  There could be no doubt about the legal significant of the obligations assumed by the nuclear-weapon States in article VI of the Treaty.  There could also be no doubt that the CTBT and a fissile material cut-off treaty, which must be negotiated as soon as possible, were key milestones on the road to nuclear disarmament.  From a legal perspective, the issue was not whether or not nuclear weapons should be eliminated, but rather how and when.

    He said that the difficulty for States parties lay in how to take that legal obligation from the conceptual realm into the world of political realities.  That difficulty, like it or not, faced all States parties in common, since implementation of article VI required conditions of global security and stability, to which all members of the international community must contribute.  That was the essence of collective security.  And, because collective security was enhanced by regional security, India, Israel and Pakistan must also subscribe, unconditionally, to the Treaty, as non-nuclear-weapon States.  He had come to this Conference to contribute Chile’s political will to the achievement of a satisfactory outcome -- with “eyes wide open and with a clear awareness of the threats that were violently unleashed on the international scene in 2001”.  Now, not only were there proliferators in the making -- North Korea was one successful case -- but also that the use of nuclear artefacts by terrorists was now viable.

    In that latter context, he wished every success for the six-party talks, but should those not succeed, the Security Council would be obliged to exercise its authority to thwart any threat to international peace and security.  Meanwhile, Chile claimed the inalienable right, provided for in article IV, to benefit from all peaceful uses of atomic energy, including the generation of electricity from nuclear power.  The growth of its economy and the corresponding increase in demand for energy obliged his country to keep open all options for future generations of Chileans.  That was also the right of all non-nuclear-weapon States, provided that they strictly abided by the provisions of article III.  Today, the credibility of the safeguards system depended on the early universalization of the Additional Protocol.  He, thus, urged all States parties to subscribe to it without delay.

    He said that the risks inherent in the proliferation of mass destruction weapons could not be dissociated from the risks inherent in the proliferation of their delivery systems.  That was why his country, in line with Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), participated actively in the activities of The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation and was working to join other non-conventional regimes against proliferation, such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Australia and Wassenaar Groups, which made an immensely important contribution to the global effort to contain proliferation.  He welcomed with pride the First International Conference of States Parties and Signatories to the Treaties establishing Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, held in Mexico City last April.  The Conference had reaffirmed the importance of those zones as mechanisms that effectively contributed to nuclear disarmament, and, at the same time, constituted powerful regional confidence-building mechanisms that strengthened peace and security.  He called for a universal and legally binding instrument of security guarantees for non-nuclear-weapon States.

    FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said that his country had been among the pioneer States in the Middle East to sign the NPT.  It had taken that decision convinced that the presence of such weapons were destabilizing for the region.  At that time, Syria and others thought that ratifying the NPT would push Israel to take the same decision.  Today, while all Middle East States had acceded to the Treaty, he remained concerned, given the actions of Israel, the only State in the region that had not jointed the NPT and submitted its facilities to IAEA oversight.  Israel had ignored international resolutions and had defied them, developing its arsenal with the support of other States possessing nuclear weapons.  Israel had developed more than 200 nuclear warheads.

    He also recalled that Syria had been among those that had called for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  It was of concern that some States that were waging war against nuclear weapons were defending Israel and thwarting initiatives to establish such a zone.  The creation of such a zone in the Middle East required Israel’s joining the NPT and subjecting its nuclear arsenal to international control.  He called on all NPT parties to comprehensively implement the decisions regarding the Middle East and meet their commitments.

    Today, he said, the necessity of the universalization of the NPT was obvious.  The world was not more stable or safer, even after the cold war, which was a result of some States acting in a certain way and not stopping the development of nuclear weapons.  It was logical to respect the right of Member States to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Some claim that there had to be constraints against that inalienable right.

    Noting that the guarantees given by nuclear-weapon States to non-nuclear-weapon States did not mitigate concerns, he reiterated the importance of implementing decisions adopted during the 1995 Conference, beginning with the negotiation of a legally binding document for global security safeguards for non-nuclear-weapon States.  He added that the NPT must take up the challenges it faced in an effective way.  In spite of its weaknesses and the obstacles in the way of its implementation, the Treaty was a global basis for establishing a nuclear-weapon-free world.

    WERNFRIED KOEFFLER (Austria), calling the NPT the key non-proliferation disarmament Treaty, said that it had served the international community well for 35 years.  Its indefinite extension in 1995 had been the result of a careful bargain and of balancing the Treaty’s three pillars.  Now, the Treaty’s integrity was challenged, and the balance between those pillars “risks being tilted”.  Nuclear know-how and access to technology were becoming ever more available.  The demand for nuclear energy was increasing.  While the overwhelming majority of non-nuclear-weapon States complied with their non-proliferation obligations, there had been alarming cases of proliferation and non-compliance.  Progress in nuclear disarmament also remained elusive.  He was optimistic after the 2000 review that the NPT community would be working together with a common sense of purpose.  Instead, it was grappling with a crisis of confidence.

    He urged that community to use the opportunity provided by the Conference to recommit itself to the Treaty in its entirety and ensure that it emerged strengthened and fit to cope with the challenges of the time.  Hopefully, the Conference would address the Treaty’s three pillars and make every effort to produce a balanced outcome.  That meant a final document that strengthened the non-proliferation and disarmament aspects of the treaty, while not denying access to nuclear energy for those who wanted it for peaceful purposes.  Progress in non-proliferation and a strong commitment to enforce compliance with the Treaty obligations was urgently needed, but progress in that regard would only be possible with tangible results in nuclear disarmament.  Promises made by the nuclear-weapon States would only be realized if the CTBT entered into force.  Of equal importance was the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, with a robust verification regime.

    Austria’s concern that nuclear weapons were still central to strategic planning had been increased by reports of intentions to develop new nuclear weapons or alter existing designs for new uses, he said.  Even the affirmation that only concepts were being studied was not reassuring.  Since the end of the cold war, important nuclear disarmament measures had been taken, yet more than 30,000 nuclear warheads still existed, which was about equal to the number when the NPT came into force 35 years ago.  Many nuclear weapons were on hair trigger alert.  De-alerting, like the United Kingdom had done, would really reduce the risk of a military nuclear operation by mistake or accident.  No effort should be spared to enforce Treaty compliance and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology.  Key measures in that regard were the IAEA safeguards.  The Additional Protocol was an integral part of the Agency’s safeguards system, and conclusion of an Additional Protocol was mandatory under the Treaty’s article II, and should be made a condition of supply.

    NASR AL-ALI, Chairman of the Committee for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons of Qatar, said that the accession of most countries to the NPT was a reflection of their view that the Treaty was the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation system.  He was concerned by the recent erosion of confidence in the Treaty.  For the Review Conference to be successful, it must act to avoid that erosion.  Qatar, aware of its responsibility to safeguard peace, had joined the NPT in 1989.  In its national legislation, it had taken measures to accede to various treaties to combat international terrorism and ban the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

    The Middle East resolution adopted at the 1995 Review Conference was an essential component of that Conference, he said.  Qatar had always maintained a sincere desire to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  The presence of those arms in the Middle East was a threat and impediment to peace not only in the region, but in the world.  Security required the elimination of all nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction.  While all Arab countries had joined the NPT, Israel had refused to recognize international legality and its actions had posed a threat.  Israel maintained its nuclear option, which contradicted the claim that it wished to have comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.  Liberating the Middle East from nuclear weapons was a sine qua non for any lasting peace in the region.

    Last year, he recalled, the General Assembly had adopted a resolution on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He called on Israel, the only State in the region that had not acceded to the NPT, to join the Treaty and to submit its nuclear facility to IAEA safeguards, thereby contributing to universalizing the Treaty in the Middle East.  Also, he felt it was time to set up mechanism to implement the 1995 Middle East resolution and the recommendations of the 2000 Review Conference.  The policy of double standards in the Middle East was but the prelude to an anarchical situation in that region.

    He added that those having nuclear weapons should follow through with their responsibilities under article VI.  Nuclear-weapon States should proceed to conduct consultations, to be followed by measures for nuclear disarmament.  In addition, adequate security assurances must be provided.

          JUAN ANTONIO YAÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain) said that the convening of the Review Conference 60 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki had singular importance, heightened by the new terrorism threats and the complexity of the new challenges.  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated technologies, and their delivery systems, along with the real risk that terrorist groups might use those weapons, were among the most serious threats facing international peace and security.  The international community was also witnessing a serious crisis in the real of non-proliferation and international verification, related to actions by both States parties and non-parties.  Furthermore, the phenomenon of illicit trafficking in nuclear material was highly alarming.

          He said that pursuit of a consistent disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control policy was, for Spain, a priority.  Not only was his country party to all disarmament instruments, it was contributing to strengthening them through an active policy pursued at a variety of forums.  He particularly wished to see a reactivated Conference on Disarmament, which required, above all, avoiding any linkage among the issues.  Notwithstanding the near universality of the NPT, he still saw major imbalances regionally because of the “no” of three countries to join the Treaty and the recent withdrawal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He firmly appealed for universalizing the Treaty.  Based on balancing three essential pillars, the NPT’s disarmament thrust was as important as ever.  It was also true, however, that the proliferation crisis had become urgent.

          Since the 2000 Review Conference, much had been achieved in terms of non-proliferation, such as Cuba’s accession to the NPT and Libya’s decision to end its non-conventional arms programmes and sign the relevant international treaties.  At the same time, however, there were also some alarming facts, such as the case of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the complex implementation of safeguards in other countries, as well as the discovery of a major network of the illicit supply of sensitive equipment and technologies.  The IAEA safeguards system was a sine qua non instrument within the NPT, and it must be strengthened.  He fully supported the quest to universalize the Additional Protocol and render it the progressively new IAEA verification norm.  The Conference should lend that instrument decisive impetus.

    He said, however, that the problem of illicit trafficking networks could not be resolved solely through IAEA safeguards machinery.  Inter-State cooperation must also be put into operation.  In that regard, Spain was particularly interested in export control arrangements, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group.  Close cooperation within the context of those systems were a necessary complement to general disarmament and non-proliferation.  Spain had also co-sponsored Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and had been particularly active last year during its negotiation.  He hailed the text’s extensive recognition of export controls and for closing certain international gaps in that regard.  He appealed to all States to adopt the legislation and administrative measures envisaged in that text.

    The Proliferation Security Initiative had sought to establish yet another legal and political framework in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its basic principle had already been endorsed by some 60 countries, he noted.  He also encouraged the creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones, particularly in the Middle East, as well as in Africa and Asia.  The commitments of nuclear-weapon States to those zones had strengthened the regional systems and must be viewed as positive.  Yet, there was a tendency to require that non-nuclear-weapon States also take on obligations in the context of those zones outside their regions.  Spain maintained extensive commitments with regard to non-proliferation, and, without prejudice to cooperation in those zones, his country did not contemplate subscribing to additional obligations in that regard.  He called for security guarantees for non-nuclear-weapon States, but warned of trends towards non-compliance with commitments flowing from past Review Conferences and other international forums.

    TOMISLAV VIDOSEVIC, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration for Multilateral Affairs and International Organizations of Croatia, said that despite important achievements in the past five years, especially the adherence of Timor-Leste and Cuba to the Treaty, he remained concerned at the number of States still not parties, calling into question the quest for universal adherence.  He, therefore, repeated his call on those States that had not yet done so to accede to the NPT as soon as possible as non-nuclear-weapon States.  He, meanwhile, regretted the notification by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of its withdrawal from the Treaty.  He agreed with many other speakers who had insisted on the need to develop an adequate mechanism to handle all such similar situations.  The proposal to hold annual conferences during which States parties could take important decisions on all matters relating to the Treaty merited serious further consideration.

    In addition, he said, regular reporting by all States on the implementation of article VI and paragraph 4 (c) of the 1995 Decision on Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament could be a first step in the right direction and was a precondition for the more successful functioning of the Treaty.  Croatia would again present its national report on measures undertaken to implement the Treaty at the present Conference.  The comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreement, combined with the Additional Protocol, was an adequate verification standard.  He urged all States parties to conclude such a Protocol as soon as possible.  Indeed, he agreed with the proposal that the Additional Protocol should be required as a condition of nuclear supply to non-nuclear-weapon States, as well as the principle of non-cooperation with States not in compliance with their IAEA safeguards agreement.  The CTBT’s early operation was also extremely important.  Pending its entry into force, he called on all States capable of nuclear-weapon test explosions to adhere to the moratorium.  He also called on States parties to the NPT to immediately begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

    For its part, Croatia endeavoured to strengthen its legislative and operative procedures regarding non-proliferation, export control, nuclear safety and the import and export of weapons and other military equipment, he noted.  Adoption of legislation on the import and export of arms, military equipment and dual-use materials had been particularly important in this day and age, when curbing illegal trafficking of nuclear weapons and materials was a critical part of the non-proliferation policies of many countries, including Croatia.  Particular importance had been given to legislation in the nuclear field.  Croatian laws and regulations on nuclear safety and security were in accordance with European Union legislation.  Croatia had a law on nuclear safety and on control of dual-use good exports and was implementing the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s Guidance and its list of products.  The National Institute for Nuclear Safety became operational in January.  Croatia was ready and willing to enter into the relevant international arms control regimes.

    ANDREI GALBUR, Head of the General Directorate for International Security of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, said it was imperative to foster the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament process.  He believed in the universality of the NTP, and he called on countries that remained outside the Treaty to “line up” with international efforts to combat the proliferation of mass destruction weapons by joining the Treaty as soon as possible.  He noted with regret the intention of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to leave the NPT, and he called on that country to reconsider its intention and begin implementing the Treaty’s provisions without further delay.  He was also concerned with the fact that, almost nine years since its adoption, the CTBT was not yet operational and its spirit and objectives had been challenged.  Countries whose ratification was essential for its entry into force should adhere to, and unconditionally ratify, the test ban without delay.

    He also called for overcoming the stagnation in negotiations of relevant treaties in support of nuclear non-proliferation within the Conference on Disarmament.  A fissile material cut-off treaty would help promote the goal of nuclear non-proliferation and would create favourable premises for a more active disarmament process, leading to the adoption of verifiable nuclear disarmament measures in the future.  Since its independence, his country had strongly supported nuclear non-proliferation.  By its accession in 1994 to the NPT and its subsequent conclusion of a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, as well as its signing of the CTBT in 1997, it had constantly shown its commitment to strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation legal system.  His country was undertaking all necessary measures, including the creation of a legislative basis for preventing possible transfers through its territory of any mass destruction weapons technology or material.

    In the aftermath of the 2000 Review Conference, the international community had faced terrible events that had irreversibly changed society.  The tragic terrorist attacks that struck the United States on “9/11”, Spain in March 2004, and the Russian Federation in September 2004 prompted everyone to concentrate their efforts in combating the access of non-State actors to weapons and military technologies.  That was a sensitive issue for Moldova, owing to the presence on its territory of a “mafia-type” separatist regime controlled from the outside.  One of the main sources of its existence was the illegal trade in arms and ammunition.  The proliferation of weapons and their marketing to other conflict zones sounded an alarm for the whole region.  The weapons produced in the Transnistrian region of his country ended up in Abkhazia, Georgia, and intelligence sources pointed out that a number of the arms produced in the separatist region of Moldova had been used in active combat in Chechnya, Russia.

    He had emphasized many times that a foreign military presence impeded the settlement process and destabilized security in the region.  The Transnistrian regime felt safe under the shield of the Russian military presence in Moldova.  The huge amount of weapons and ammunitions stockpiled in the Transnistrian region was a serious concern for his Government.  Nobody really knew what exactly was being stored there, since no international inspection of those depots had been carried out.  He did not rule out the possibility of weapons proliferation from the separatist regime to various terrorist organizations.  There had been reports of the disappearance of two nuclear explosion initiators and several so-called “nuclear suitcases”.  In that context, it was imperative to conduct an international assessment mission of those depots, in order to have a clear picture of the stockpiled arsenal.  He also called on the Russian Federation to complete, without delay, the withdrawal of its troops and military equipment from the territory of Moldova in compliance with its Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Istanbul Summit commitments. 

    ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) said that the Conference was meeting at a critical time to review the progress made and to see what follow through there had been to prior commitments.  He stressed that the NPT remained the capstone of the global non-proliferation system.  The Treaty confirmed that solutions arrived at in a multilateral fashion offered the best way to deal with international disarmament issues.  In evaluating the nuclear disarmament situation of recent years, it could be seen that no significant progress had been made in that arena and the goals set in article VI remained far from being achieved.  In that context, he reaffirmed previous appeals to see to the full follow-through of commitments made by the nuclear-weapon States, proceeding to the total elimination of their arsenals.  He hoped for the process leading towards the implementation of the 13 practical steps to be accelerated.

    Until disarmament was achieved, he emphasized the need for effective guarantees regarding the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons for non-nuclear-weapon States.  He also stressed the imperative to apply the NPT across the board.  An important feature of following through on article VI involved negotiations to bring into force the CTBT.  Also, the conclusion of a treaty banning the production of fissile material would contribute to nuclear disarmament.  But, negotiations on that had not even begun.  As universality for the NPT was part of what gave it strength and credibility, he stressed the need for accession to the Treaty by States which had not yet done so.  That would “beef up” security in regions such as the Middle East, where Israel was the only State that had not yet joined the NPT.  In that connection, he also stressed the need to establish as soon as possible a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, for which urgent practical steps were needed.

    MOUSTAFA BAHRAN, Adviser to the President of Yemen and Chairman of the National Atomic Commission, and IAEA Board Governor, sought the NPT’s continuation and strengthening to enhance international peace and security.  He stressed the need to render the Middle East region free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Of course, that would only be possible if Israel complied with international law, joined the NPT, and fully abandoned its nuclear programme.  It would also have to comply with the non-proliferation regime and sign the safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols with the IAEA.  Israel was the only State in the region that had remained outside the non-proliferation regime.  Efforts to strengthen the regime must be based on the principles of justice and international legality.

    He urged the Conference and all partners, particularly the nuclear partners, to stop transferring nuclear equipment, supplies and know-how to Israel until it had joined the Treaty.  He also requested the establishment during the Conference of a subcommittee to deal with matters relating to the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East, in connection with the decisions taken at the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences.  He also urged the Conference to agree on how to strengthen the non-proliferation regime in a way that benefits all peoples fairly and without exception.  He suggested that the following elements, among others, be discussed:  universalizing the Treaty; ensuring that no one could withdraw from it; halting the development and modification of nuclear weapons systems, whether large or small, theatre or strategic; and establishing a timetable for the complete elimination of those weapons, along with safeguards to ensure that they were not used militarily or politically.

    Calling for “real progress” to begin on the 13 steps agreed in 2000, he said the legality of nuclear activity should be studied in connection with articles II and III of the Treaty.  The illegal transfer of nuclear technology must be made a crime under Security Council provisions.  At the same time, the provisions for the legal transfer of nuclear know-how should be strengthened, as it would be useful to developing countries in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Regional conflicts must be resolved, and safe nuclear power must be developed to ensure the well-being of all peoples and all future generations.  He asked States parties to imagine a world free of nuclear weapons, with enough nuclear fuel to provide electricity and clean drinking water for all.  Such fuel would help to eliminate poverty and deal with the problems of climate change, well beyond what had been contemplated at Kyoto, he said.

    JOHAN VERBEKE (Belgium) said that, in reviewing progress made on the NPT, the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation system and the prerequisite for moving forward on nuclear disarmament, it would be inappropriate to sit back complacently.  He noted the challenges facing nuclear non-proliferation, including some States not cooperating with the IAEA.  Also, the fact that some States had committed to the Treaty at a time when they should have declared work on the development of nuclear weapons undermined confidence in the Treaty and threatened its credibility.  In addition, the existence of trafficking networks posed a clear threat to international security, given the dangers that would arise if nuclear weapons fell into the hands of terrorist groups.

    Sometimes, too little had been done too late to achieve the goals that had been set, he noted.  The CTBT had not yet entered into force, and the fissile material cut-off treaty negotiations were still pending.  While welcoming steps by the nuclear-weapon States to reduce their arsenals, he said there was still a long way to go in that regard.  The standard of verification was the comprehensive safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol.  It was crucial that more States acceded to those instruments.  Current challenges demanded a global approach.  The recent adoption of the International Convention on Nuclear Terrorism and Security Council resolution 1540 showed that such an approach could yield fruit. 

    The universalization of the Treaty was now a priority, he said.  That requirement was negatively affected by developments in certain countries.  He condemned the declaration by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of its withdrawal from the NPT, which ran counter to diplomatic efforts to resolve that crisis.  The Conference should consider the consequences of withdrawal by a party.  Possible action in that connection could include involvement of the Security Council.  In addition, it would be in Iran’s interest to remedy the lack of confidence that had developed due to some of their nuclear activities.  In light of that lack of confidence, Iran should show restraint concerning some parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.  He added that constraints on the right to develop nuclear programmes could only apply in absolutely disturbing cases of proliferation.  He urged Iran to continue negotiations begun in the Paris Agreement, as well as suspend enrichment and reprocessing activity.

    The universal nature of the non-proliferation and disarmament commitments must be analysed in the context of regional conflicts, he said, referring to South Asia and the Middle East.  Consideration of proliferation problems would enter into play in the search for a comprehensive and lasting solution, particularly in the Middle East.  The international community should, in an innovative manner, contribute to the establishment of security safeguards for States, whether or not those States were parties to the NPT.  He welcomed the 2002 Moscow Treaty, which was an important milestone on the road leading to the complete elimination of nuclear arsenals.

    He was also in favour of a lesser role for nuclear weapons in security policies, in order to minimize the chances of such weapons being used.  He was aware that that goal could only be achieved gradually and cautiously, but efforts in that regard must be persistent and well coordinated.  The reduction and final elimination of nuclear weapons was part of the global process of achieving disarmament.  The potential offered by the Conference on Disarmament was not being utilized, and he regretted that agreement could not be reached on its programme.  That could lead to delays on the negotiations on the fissile material cut-off treaty.

    KYAW TINT SWE (Myanmar) said that nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament must go hand in hand, as they were unquestionably two interdependent goals.  Recent trends in the policies of some nuclear-weapon States, however, indicated that attempts had been made to delink the issue of nuclear non-proliferation from nuclear disarmament.  All attention had been given to non-proliferation, without paying due attention to disarmament.  Horizontal non-proliferation was accorded greater emphasis than the vertical non-proliferation on the parts of some nuclear-weapon States.  Consequently, the issue of nuclear disarmament was facing great difficulty in taking its rightful place in the agenda of multilateral disarmament negotiating forums.  There was now a discernible inclination by some nuclear-weapon States towards discarding the existing multilateral system in addressing non-proliferation and security issues.  Yet, multilateral frameworks, such as the Conference on Disarmament, remained the best forums for negotiating disarmament and non-proliferation matters.

    He reiterated the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of July 1996, which had unanimously concluded that there existed an obligation to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.  He continued to attach great importance to that opinion.  He reiterated his call for full implementation of the 13 practical steps agreed in 2000, but an objective assessment of implementation of those benchmarks had shown virtually no progress.  It must be stressed here that the indefinite extension of the NPT did not imply the indefinite possession by nuclear-weapon States of their nuclear arsenals.  Establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones was another yardstick for measuring progress.  He strongly shared the belief that such zones contributed to the twin goals of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.  Hopefully, such a zone could be realized in the not-too-distant future in the Middle East.

    Turning to the question of security assurances, he said that those had been widely recognized as a key to strengthening the NPT.  That issue had assumed even greater importance and more urgency in the light of recent developments.  Also critical was emphasis on a policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons and non-use and non-threat of use of those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference had underscored the importance of that issue by stating that further steps should be considered to assure non-nuclear-weapon States parties against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  It also explicitly mentioned those steps could take the form of a legally binding multilateral instrument.

    Regarding the third pillar of the NPT -- the peaceful uses of nuclear technology -- he stressed the inalienable right of all States to develop, research, produce and utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination, as well as the inviolability of nuclear facilities.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones should not prevent the use of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes.  In that connection, he underscored the important role of the IAEA in verifying that nuclear energy was used only for peaceful purposes.

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