CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT ADDRESSED BY DIGNITARIES OF TEN COUNTRIES
Minsters from Kazakhstan, Jordan, Iran, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea address the Conference
28 February 2012
The Conference on Disarmament held a plenary meeting this morning, hearing addresses from the Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Jordan, Iran, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan and Indonesia, the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Republic of Korea.
The dignitaries unanimously reiterated their support for the Conference on Disarmament as the main international forum for negotiations on the denuclearization process and on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear disarmament, the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, the provision of negative security assurances and the prevention of an arms race in outer space were all equally important issues that required collective action, speakers said. All stakeholders were called upon to make efforts to denuclearize the Middle East and the Korean peninsula. The ongoing upheavals in the Middle East could be a catalyst for freeing the region of nuclear weapons, one speaker said. Other speakers agreed that it was vital to establish a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons in the Middle East, given the radical changes the countries currently faced.
States’ obligations towards the International Atomic Energy Agency were raised, as were perceived double-standards relating to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Some speakers referred to the right of all States to peaceful nuclear activities for energy purposes, and referred to monopolization of the scientific knowledge and technology of peaceful nuclear energy. Disarmament and non-proliferation education was also discussed, and some speakers talked about related forums, programmes and initiatives they had arranged. Several speakers said that the Conference should expand its membership and expressed desire to be accepted as a new member. A speaker also suggested further involving civil society in the work of the Conference, while several States supported the appointment of a Special Coordinator to the Conference.
In addition to Ministers from Kazakhstan, Jordan, Iran, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Permanent Representatives to United Nations Office at Geneva of the United States, Republic of Korea and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also took the floor during the plenary.
The next meeting of the Conference will be held on Wednesday, 29 February at 3 p.m, when it will be addressed by other high-level representatives of United Nations Member States.
YERZHAN KARYKHANOV, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said the lack of substantive work in the Conference on Disarmament for the past 16 years was a cause of concern, and political will from Member States was all that was needed. Kazakhstan sincerely hoped that the Conference on Disarmament would overcome the stalemate for the sake of security and peace on Earth. Kazakhstan supported the Secretary General of the Conference’s proposition to convene a special high-level meeting to revitalize it Conference, and to establish a Group of Eminent Persons to explore ways to break the stalemate. The principle of consensus was important and should remain, as it was fair and allowed adoption of balanced documents that took into account the interests of all stakeholders. However it was unacceptable that the principle of consensus was used to block the work of the Conference.
Nuclear disarmament, the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, the provision of negative security assurances and the prevention of an arms race in outer space were all equally important issues that required collective action. Kazakhstan remained a strong supporter of the global process of non-proliferation and nuclear threat reduction. A universal declaration of a nuclear-weapon-free world under the auspice of the United Nations, was needed, to enshrine the commitment of all States to a world without nuclear weapons. It was regrettable that some influential countries still refused to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Given the growing interest of various countries in nuclear energy, Kazakhstan, one of the largest supplier of uranium products in the world, was ready to make a significant contribution to the common cause in accordance with its obligations towards the International Atomic Energy Agency.
NASSER JUDEH, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, said that the Kingdom of Jordan was deeply convinced that there was no substitute for diplomacy and constructive dialogue to address the global challenges threatening international security and stability. The best approach to address disarmament was to reach agreed solutions through multilateral negotiations. In that spirit, Jordan attached special importance to the Conference on Disarmament, and looked forward to restoring its contribution to enhancing international stability. Real political will of Member States was needed for the Conference to finally achieve its mandate. The Minister expressed Jordan’s desire to become a full-fledged member of the Conference, and said the time had come for it to expand its membership. Jordan strongly supported the appointment of a Special Coordinator.
Jordan had always called for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The ongoing upheavals in the Middle East should constitute a catalyst for freeing the region of nuclear weapons. The establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons was particularly important given the radical changes Middle Eastern countries currently faced, and made it imperative for Israel to become part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Establishing a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East should result in dismantling nuclear weapons arsenals, wherever they exist in the region. It would also compel all states of the region that had not done so to accede to and ratify biological weapons conventions. The Minister stressed the importance of promoting the NPT as well as the significance of effective international cooperation in enhancing international nuclear security through preventing the smuggling of nuclear materials and devising institutional frameworks.
ALI AKBAR SALEHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, said that Iran attached great importance to the Conference on Disarmament. The international community faced serious common challenges and threats to security. The gravest threat was the existence of nearly 23,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of a few countries capable of destroying the whole world many times over. The danger such weapons would be enormously increased when some of those countries felt free to officially threaten non-nuclear weapon States with the use of those immoral and illegitimate weapons. Humankind continued to live under the shadow of the threat of nuclear weapons while the inhumane massacre in Hiroshima and Nagasaki remained imprinted in living memory. The root causes of the Conference’s deadlock were the lack of political will and double-standard policies. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was similarly threatened by double-standards. Nuclear energy was not equated with nuclear weapons, and the right of all states to peaceful nuclear activities should be guaranteed. Selfishly monopolizing the scientific knowledge and technology of peaceful nuclear energy and depriving others of it through various means, including the atrocious assassination of scientists, was an illusion which would certainly not lead to the preservation of their preserved supremacy.
Iran was, together with Egypt, one of the main supporters of establishing a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. The only obstacle to that was the possession of nuclear weapons by the only country in the region not party to NPT, which constituted a serious threat to security in the region. That country’s repeated and constant use of inhumane weapons against civilians had further intensified security concerns in the region, while the country persistently refused to join the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards System. It was a matter of concern that in its defiance of the demands of the international community it enjoyed the full support of some nuclear weapon states. Members of the NPT were punished while those who were outside it were rewarded generously. The Minister emphasized that Iran did not see any glory, pride or power in nuclear weapons, rather the opposite based on the religious decree issued by Iran’s supreme leader, that the production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin. It had been clearly stated that there were two alternatives in dealing with the Iranian peaceful nuclear programme: one was engagement, cooperation and interaction, and the other was confrontation and conflict. Iran had always insisted on the first alternative. Iran did not seek confrontation, nor did it want anything beyond its inalienable legitimate rights, justice, and the refusal of double standards. Iran urged all countries in the august body of the Conference to work together for total elimination of nuclear weapons to pave the way for Sustainable Security.
ANIFAH AMAN, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, said that the Conference on Disarmament had achieved many significant outcomes since its inception in 1979, but the significance of those had been reduced by the inability of the Conference to move forward over the past 15 years. Malaysia remained steadfast in its belief that the Conference would be able to achieve its objectives by re-conquering its relevancy as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. Malaysia was convinced that all nuclear weapons had to be eliminated for the survival of mankind. International peace could not be achieved through the doctrine of deterrence or strategic superiority since the prolonged existence of nuclear weapons increased the sense of insecurity among states.
The Minister reiterated Malaysia’s support for an expansion of Conference membership from its current 65 members, and for greater engagement with civil society. The challenge of nuclear disarmament was one that should not only be addressed by the Conference on Disarmament, and Malaysia supported the convening of the Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament. The Minister welcomed the discussions of the P5 nations on nuclear disarmament, as part of their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and said the de facto veto possessed by each Member State of the Conference on Disarmament should not be abused. While national security concerns were paramount in the decision-making process, the goals of total disarmament were equally as important.
ENRIQUE CASTILLO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, said that his country believed disarmament had to be achieved through dialogue and diplomacy within United Nations forums. For years Costa Rica had requested inclusion as a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but the rules of procedure in the area of membership were not appropriate. Several decades ago, Costa Rica decided to base its security on diplomacy and cooperation with international bodies. It was not normal that a country such as Costa Rica, who had achieved full disarmament, was not a member of the Conference on Disarmament, and Costa Rica had many contributions to the work of the Conference. Costa Rica called upon the Member states to impose a moratorium on the production of fissile material. Since 2002, all the states of the Latin American region had become part of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. To complement the provisions of that treaty, a new binding instrument was needed.
RYUJI YAMANE, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, recalled United States President Barack Obama’s 2009 speech in Prague in which he increased momentum for nuclear disarmament. In the same year the Conference on Disarmament adopted a programme of work and agreed to a mandate on each of its core agenda items of nuclear disarmament, a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, negative security assurances and the prevention of an arms race in outer-space. Despite that progress, the Conference, which had produced important disarmament treaties in the past, had remained in stalemate. That was a cause for concern for the whole world. Various attempts had been made to overcome the situation, but an effective breakthrough was yet to be found. If the Conference on Disarmament was unable to promptly start negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, than the raison d’être of the Conference would be questioned.
Japan attached great importance to maintaining and strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime during the review process that would begin this year. In that spirit, Japan launched, together with Australia, the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which was a cross regional group of ten countries making proposals for the realization of a world without nuclear weapons. Japan had devoted itself to disarmament and non-proliferation education, and had decided to jointly hold, with the United Nations University, ‘the Global Forum on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education’, in Nagasaki on 10 and 11 August 2012, after it was postponed due to the Great East Japan Earthquake. The distinguished delegates of the conference would be welcome to join that forum, as well as attend the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremonies. Finally, in November 2011, a permanent exhibition on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, similar to the one in New York, was opened here in United Nations Office at Geneva. Japan hoped it promoted understanding of the terrible devastation caused by the use of nuclear weapons and further deepens the recognition of the necessity of strengthened disarmament efforts by the whole international community.
KIM BONG-HYUN, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said that now was the time for the Conference to act on issues such as the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, and on the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. In four weeks the Republic of Korea would host the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, which would contribute to securing vulnerable nuclear materials and strengthening measures to prevent nuclear terrorism, which was one of the biggest challenges to international security.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear issue had long presented a serious challenge to the nuclear disarmament and international non-proliferation regime. Over the years, the DPRK had announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, conducted two nuclear tests and revealed its uranium enrichment programme, after long denying its existence. The Minister recognized the importance of dialogue with the DPRK, reiterated its call for a peaceful denuclearization of the DPRK and hoped the DPRK would demonstrate its willingness and sincerity towards denuclearization through concrete actions. It looked forward to the continued support of the international community in engaging with DPRK and urged the DPRK to respond to repeated calls for the abandonment of all nuclear weapons programmes in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, began by reiterating Indonesia’s support to the work of the Conference on Disarmament for the overall cause of disarmament and non-proliferation. Progress was possible, and inaction was not the solution. Indonesia had the political will to make things change, as exemplified by the recent ratification by Indonesia of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and by the conclusion of negotiations by Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, under Indonesia’s chairmanship, with the Nuclear Weapon States on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone Treaty.
The Minister believed that in 2012 the Conference on Disarmament could regain its spirit of achievement. First, political will was imperative, and the key for that was to build mutual confidence and to address the trust deficit. Second, the global pursuit of disarmament and non-proliferation should include the general public, civil society and the media. Third, all Nuclear Weapon States had to demonstrate in concrete ways their commitment to disarmament. Fourth, steps had to be taken to revitalize the Conference and strengthen its mechanisms. A comprehensive Programme of Work had to be adopted, membership of the Conference should be enlarged, and an ad-hoc committee on nuclear disarmament should be established. As long as even a single nuclear weapon existed, humankind remained in danger of a possible nuclear catastrophe – by design or by accident. The future of the Conference was in the hands of its member States, and the world could not be allowed to fall hostage to its inability to make progress.
GULNARA ISKAKOVA, Permanent Representative of Kyrgyzstan, delivered her statement on behalf of the Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Ruslan Kazakbaev, who was unable to attend. She said that, despite not being a member, Kyrgyzstan supported the work of the Conference on Disarmament. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty were two essential instruments. Kyrgyzstan had joined the protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2006, and a denuclearized zone had been established in central Asia. A fundamental concern was preventing non-State actors accessing nuclear weapons; in that regard the Government of Kyrgyzstan had made efforts to strengthen the control of the arms trade. A National Programme had been established to implement resolution 1540 of the Security Council. A priority for the Government of Kyrgyzstan was the fight against antipersonnel mine and ensuring environmental protection while producing uranium.
SO SE PYONG, Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that his country was committed to the Conference on Disarmament and expected it to start its substantive work on all core issues including nuclear disarmament. He was concerned that some States pursued to leave aside the Conference and turn to alternative negotiation processes. Arms conflicts and insecurity continued to persist in different parts of the world, threatening the right to existence of sovereign states. The Korean peninsula was not excluded from that. The nuclear issue, accompanied with the periodically explosive situation and continuing tension on the Korean peninsula originated from the hostile relations between the DPRK and the United States which gave rise to mistrust and confrontation. In the ‘Nuclear Posture Review’ of April 2010 the United States officially announced that the DPRK was excluded from the list of countries that received Negative Security Assurance. In essence, the United States policy of pre-emptive nuclear strike against the DPRK remained unchanged. Despite unanimous aspirations for peace, arms build-up and nuclear war exercises were ceaselessly conducted in the Korean peninsula by the Republic of Korea and the United States. Those two countries were to blame for harassed peace, escalated tension in the region and stalled north-south relations. Dialogue and confrontation could be incompatible. Dialogue could not be made amid gun-report and naturally ended up in disputes. If south Korea was truly interested in a dialogue and an improvement of north-south relations, it should immediately stop the fellow countrymen-targeted war clamour.
The withdrawal by the DPRK from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was a legitimate self-defence measure undertaken to protect the supreme interests and security of the country from the United States’ increasing nuclear threats. The DPRK’s uranium enrichment programme was purely for peaceful nuclear energy; and the Minster took the opportunity to reiterate the State party’s categorical rejection of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874. Over half a century had passed since the end of the Korean war but no peace mechanism was established so far; the cold war legacy continued to exist. Therefore, the DPRK and the United States were in a state of war, in legal or technical points of view. The conclusion of the peace agreement proposed by the DPRK, and resumption of the six party talks without preconditions, could be a powerful driving force to ensure denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. Resumption of those talks depended entirely upon the attitude of the United States to the positive efforts of the DPRK to ensure peace, stability and denuclearization.
LAURA KENNEDY, Permanent Representative of the United States, rejected the comments made by the Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and hoped to see the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea demonstrate its willingness towards denuclearization. She affirmed that Iran’s nuclear activities were contrary to its international commitments, and that Iran had to comply with requests from the International Atomic Energy Agency, although Ms. Kennedy reiterated Iran’s right to benefit from nuclear energy.
LEE JOO-IL, Republic of Korea, said that the military exercises mentioned by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea constituted a defence exercise without provocation, and sought to reinforce the alliance between his country and the United States.
JON YONG RYONG, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that the military exercises took place while his country was negotiating with the United States, which demonstrated the arrogance of that country.
For use of the information media; not an official record