19 May 2006

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Faces Crisis of Compliance, Confidence, Secretary-General Says in Address to University of Tokyo

He Stresses Need to Strengthen Regime while Lauding Japan's Commitment to Disarmament, Development, Humanitarian Assistance

NEW YORK, 18 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's address at the University of Tokyo today, 18 May:

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today.  It is also a privilege to receive an honorary degree from this renowned university.  As only the third person to receive such recognition, I know you have admitted me to some very distinguished company, including my good friend and development advisor, Professor Amartya Sen.  Thank you for the honour that you bestow not only on me, but on the Organization I am proud to serve, and in which Japan plays such an important role. I'm also grateful to you, Mr. President and Professor van Ginkel, for recognizing my partner and my wife.  And you are right that she has been a great source of support throughout this journey.

Indeed, I am very happy to be making this visit to Japan, during the year in which you mark your fiftieth anniversary membership in the United Nations.  The distance Japan has travelled over that time is nothing short of remarkable.  At the end of the Second World War, Japan was defeated, devastated and occupied.  Today, Japan's transformation is the envy of many countries throughout the world.

Well beyond its standing as a global economic power, Japan is strongly committed to multilateralism, democracy and the peaceful resolution of disputes.  It is a constant supporter of humanitarian relief and United Nations peacekeeping.  The name "Kyoto" is now identified with the global pact aimed at restricting carbon emissions and slowing down climate change.  And the name "Hyogo" now graces the world's agreed framework for action to cope with natural disasters, an endeavour to which Japan is contributing mightily, based on its own tragic experiences.

Japan has become one of Africa's main development partners.  Your Prime Minister has just visited Ethiopia and my own country, Ghana -- where, while taking stock of the serious challenges facing Africa, including conflict and HIV/AIDS, he will also have witnessed the yearning of ordinary Africans for self-reliance.  I am confident that his commitment to the TICAD process, and his announcement last year that Japan would double official development assistance to Africa over the next three years, will indeed help Africans to become more self-reliant and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

At the same time, Japan's commitment is global.  Even as we speak, Japanese nationals are working in various parts of Afghanistan, helping with that country's recovery.  Japan's efforts there, in Timor-Leste and elsewhere have covered many fields, from humanitarian assistance to security sector reform.

But one area in particular stands out, Japan's commitment to the control of deadly weapons.  In post-conflict situations, that has meant consistent, proactive Japanese support -- from strategic guidance and funding to training and diplomatic coordination -- for the process of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants into society.

Japan is also party to the convention banning landmines, and has taken steps to crack down on illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons.  It sponsors an annual General Assembly resolution on disarmament that enjoys strong support from the international community, and played a leading role in establishing the UN conventional arms register.

It is not hard to understand why this issue should strike such a chord.  Japan has a unique and terrible experience of the perils of deadly weapons.  Last year, people around the world joined Japan in marking the sixtieth anniversary of the tragedies at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  And, since 1945, Japan's antipathy to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction has become an integral part of its national identity.

Japan's great success as a nation, while adhering to the self-imposed standard of not manufacturing or possessing nuclear weapons, has sent a powerful message around the world.  You have shown that a State does not need nuclear weapons to be "normal".  Nor does it need to be armed to the teeth, in order to exercise influence.  The sources of true greatness lie elsewhere.

I fear, however, that the world is losing sight of this essential truth.  We seem to have reached a crossroads.  Before us lie two very divergent courses.  One path can take us to a world, in which the proliferation of nuclear weapons is restricted and reversed, through trust, dialogue and negotiated agreement, with international guarantees ensuring the supply of nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes, thereby advancing development and economic well-being.

The other path leads to a world, in which a rapidly growing numbers of States feel obliged to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, and in which non-State actors acquire the means to carry out nuclear terrorism.  The international community seems almost to be sleepwalking down the latter path -- not by conscious choice, but rather through miscalculation, sterile debate and the paralysis of multilateral mechanisms for confidence-building and conflict-resolution.

Twice last year, Governments had the chance to strengthen the foundations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT].  In May, at the NPT Review Conference, and again at the World Summit in September last year in New York, Governments could have agreed on more robust inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA].  They could have established incentives and guarantees for countries to forego the enrichment and reprocessing of fissile materials.  And they could have agreed on energetic steps to meet disarmament requirements.  Both times, they failed.

This sent a terrible signal.  We should not forget that, with near universal membership, the Treaty has entrenched a norm against nuclear proliferation.  Indeed, it has helped to confound President Kennedy's famous prediction that, by now, there would be 25 or more countries with nuclear weapons.  The success of the NPT, the global support it enjoys, and its resilience, too often pass unremarked.  All the more credit should go to Japan for its exemplary adherence to both the letter and the spirit of the Treaty.

Today, however, the NPT regime faces a twin crisis -- of compliance, and of confidence.

The Treaty embodies a contract between the nuclear weapon States and the rest of the international community.  The former committed themselves to move towards general disarmament, and to refrain from threatening the non-nuclear States with nuclear weapons, while facilitating their access to nuclear energy.  In return, the latter committed themselves not to acquire or manufacture nuclear weapons, and to accept on-site verification.

Today, each of these pillars has been put into doubt.  While some progress toward disarmament has taken place, nuclear weapons worldwide still number in the thousands, many of them on hair-trigger alert.  Moreover, the emphasis seems to have shifted towards having fewer, but more potent weapons, and current politico-military thinking seems to embrace the notion of using such weapons in conflict.

To these old challenges have been added new ones, above all the vulnerability exposed by the extensive trafficking in nuclear technology and know-how, by the scientist A.Q. Khan and others.  Perhaps most damaging of all, there is also a perception that the possession of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction offers the best protection against being attacked.

All of this undermines the Treaty's integrity and authority.  If we want to avoid a cascade of nuclear proliferation, we need a major international effort to strengthen the regime before it is too late.

Some countries, understandably, emphasize proliferation as a grave danger.  Others argue that they are imperilled by existing nuclear arsenals.  Some insist that the spread of nuclear fuel-cycle technology poses an unacceptable proliferation threat, while others counter that access to peaceful uses of nuclear technology must not be compromised.

There are merits to all of these arguments.  The only way forward is to provide reassurance on all these fronts at once.  To strengthen verification and increase confidence in the regime, all countries should agree to make the International Atomic Energy Agency's Additional Protocol the global standard for verifying compliance with nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

The regime will not be sustainable if many more countries develop the most sensitive phases of the fuel cycle, and are equipped with the technology to produce nuclear weapons at short notice.  If countries are to voluntarily forego the development of fuel-cycle facilities, they need assurances that they will have access to nuclear fuel and technology.  I commend the IAEA for advancing efforts to find multilateral approaches to the civilian nuclear fuel cycle.

All countries should also affirm their commitment to a moratorium on testing and to early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.  Prompt negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty for all countries is indispensable.  And world leaders must think seriously about what more can be done to reduce both the number and the role of nuclear weapons in the world.

More must be done to ensure compliance with Security Council resolution 1540, which is designed to make it harder for terrorists to get their hands on nuclear technology and fissile material.  This must go forward in concert with the well established work of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.  And we need to expand nuclear-weapon-free zones to areas and regions not yet covered.

Alongside these practical steps, there is clearly a need to build a common understanding of the most immediate nuclear threats.  We must break the deadlock between those who insist on disarmament before further non-proliferation measures, and those who argue the opposite.  This debate is self-defeating and threatens our security.

We must also wrestle with two specific situations that continue to cause acute international concern.  There have been many setbacks in efforts to address the situation on the Korean Peninsula.  But, last September, in the first substantive agreement to emerge from the six-party talks, the participants agreed on a set of principles for a verifiable denuclearization of the Peninsula.

The principles covered security, political, economic and other areas, and included various commitments from each of the participants. Importantly, the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] committed itself to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes, returning to the NPT and allowing IAEA safeguards.  The United States, for its part, affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Peninsula, and no intention of attacking or invading the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons.

The hopes raised by that agreement make the current impasse a matter of great disappointment.  Mutual distrust and other factors have prevented the participants from being more flexible, and kept them from getting started on actually implementing the principles. 

Still, there is no viable alternative to the six-party talks.  The international community must do everything possible to move the process forward and resolve the situation peacefully.  I strongly commend Japan for the active role it has played in this very complex and sensitive diplomatic initiative.  On a separate matter, I am also hopeful that Japan and the DPRK will fully resolve the question of abductees and other painful outstanding issues.

As you all know, the non-proliferation regime faces another test of its integrity and effectiveness.  It is a matter of great concern that the IAEA has still not been able to verify that Iran's nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes.  Both the IAEA Board of Governors and the Security Council have called on Iran to cooperate fully with the Atomic Agency, and to suspend its uranium enrichment work.  In essence, Iran needs to enable the IAEA to lift the cloud of suspicion hovering over its nuclear activities.

We should redouble our diplomatic efforts to convince the Iranians that it is in their own interest to do this.  It is my strong hope that the current discussions in the Security Council will give new momentum to the quest for a negotiated solution.  I also appreciate efforts to broaden the scope of the diplomatic dialogue, including those by the European Union.  And, I understand that the Russian offer to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian soil is still on the table.

It would be very much in Iran's interests, as well as those of the world at large, to seize on such openings.  Indeed, the only way forward is through negotiations, with all parties sitting at the table, face to face.  There is also a need to lower the temperature, and refrain from actions and rhetoric that could further inflame the situation.  Otherwise, we will see only an increase in global tensions, in an already volatile period, and unwelcome delays in resolving this matter.

None of us want to live in a world of permanent instability, where nuclear weapons have become the currency of international relations.  Alternative solutions are within our reach.  The NPT has proved an effective instrument and remains so still today.  It is an achievement worth holding on to.  I trust that Japan will uphold its long-standing principles, help us diminish the perceived value of nuclear weapons, address the underlying tensions that lead States to pursue them, and take the lead in building an international system of collective security that works.

The failure to chart a way forward on disarmament and non-proliferation remains one of the main unfinished pieces of business from the World Summit.  A second was reform of the Security Council.

There continues to be a very broad consensus that the current make-up of the Council does not reflect today's geopolitical realities.  You will also find little disagreement with the idea that the Council needs to be more representative, especially of the developing world, and needs to increase the involvement in decision-making of those who contribute most to the UN, financially, militarily and diplomatically.  I have said often that reform of the United Nations will not be complete, without reform of the Security Council, and I continue to press Member States to recognize that this is a matter of both effectiveness and legitimacy.

But let me stress that UN reform involves many other things, as well.  It would be a serious mistake to regard this as the sole barometer of our progress.  And many important steps have been taken since the Summit.

Member States have established a new Human Rights Council, to enable us to make a fresh start in this vital area.  Japan, as a newly elected member, can help ensure that the new body fulfils its promise.  The new Peacebuilding Commission will give us much needed additional capacity to address the unique challenges of post-conflict situations.

The Central Emergency Response Fund has been strengthened, so that we can deliver more aid, more quickly in humanitarian emergencies.  A Democracy Fund has been launched.  I have also set out a number of recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy, and all 191 Member States are, for the first time ever, seeking agreement on such a strategy.

Member States are also carrying out a comprehensive mandate review, to ensure that our work reflects the current priorities of Member States, rather than those of yesteryear.  A panel is exploring how the work of different parts of the UN system in the environmental, developmental and humanitarian areas can be better coordinated and made to reinforce each other.

I am grateful to Mr. Keizo Takemi, a member of Japan's House of Councillors, for agreeing to serve on this panel.  In doing so, he is following the path of distinguished Japanese leaders, who have given their time to advance important UN causes, such as clean water and combating HIV/AIDS, including former Prime Ministers Hashimoto and Mori.  Of course, they join UN leaders, such as Yasushi Akashi, who has done so much to advance peacemaking and peacekeeping, and Madam Ogata, who has set the global standard for improving the lives of refugees and advancing human security.

And finally, we are focusing, as never before, on improving UN management.  This is a crucial time in the life of the international community and the United Nations.  More than ever before, the human race faces global problems -- from poverty and inequality to climate change and bird flu, from terrorism and AIDS to genocide and the odious traffic in human lives and bodies of human beings.  We need to come together and work out global solutions.

Japan has every interest in a strong, effective United Nations, and I believe the overwhelming majority of Japanese understand this.  That said, I know that a main challenge for the future is to reach younger generations of Japanese.  Your capacity for faith and idealism is unlimited, and I know you want a United Nations that is effective, you want the Organization to be more than just a symbol.  You want a living, breathing Organization that makes a difference in the daily lives of people throughout the world.

We are trying to do just that.  We are trying to stitch countries together into a strong fabric of international community.  And we need Japan and its people to be fully engaged in that great effort.  I know I can count on you, and look forward to the great work that you will accomplish.

Domo arigato gozaimashita.

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