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FOREIGN MINISTER OF FINLAND ADDRESSES CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT
Conference Holds Thematic Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament
19 June 2012

The Conference on Disarmament this morning listened to a statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland and held a thematic discussion on the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament and prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters, with a general focus on nuclear disarmament.

Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, said the Conference must begin negotiations on key issues without further delay. The preference of Finland was commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, which would be a step closer to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The impasse was not the result of its procedural rules. Political will was needed to make the Conference do what it was mandated to do: negotiate. The Minister spoke about Finland’s role as Host Government for a 2012 Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, about its work in de-mining programmes and developments related to ‘everyday weapons of mass destruction’ - conventional arms including small and light weapons.

Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto of Finland, Outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament, announced that today’s thematic plenary meeting would focus on the issue of cessation of the nuclear arms race and prevention of nuclear war with a general focus on nuclear disarmament. He then read out a short factual presentation on the topic prepared by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

In the discussion, States said no nuclear weapons, irrespective of their type or location, could ever be safe in any hands, whether State or non-State actor. As long as those weapons existed the possibility of their use, whether by accident or design, remained. Similarly, as long as some States continued to possess them, citing security reasons for doing so, others may aspire to acquire them. What did not exist could not proliferate. Another State said more than 40 years after the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was adopted there were still over 20,000 nuclear weapons, of which around 5,000 nuclear arms were ready for use immediately. It would only take the explosion of 100 nuclear war heads to cause a nuclear winter. Some States voiced deep concern about the nuclear-weapons modernization programmes that were being undertaken by nuclear-weapon States. Many States agreed that no effort should be spared to achieve the universality of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The New Agenda Coalition called upon India, Israel and Pakistan to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty promptly and without conditions, and said that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea should rescind its announced withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and verifiably terminate its nuclear weapons programme.

States speaking in the thematic discussion today were Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ethiopia, South Africa, speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and South Africa), Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran, United States, United Kingdom and Algeria.

States that took the floor to speak in right of reply were Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, United States and Egypt.

The next public meeting of the Conference on Disarmament will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 26 June, under the Presidency of France.

Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

ERKKI TUOMIOJA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, said the Conference must begin negotiations on key issues without further delay. The preference of Finland was commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, which would be a step closer to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Interesting proposals, including those presented by the Secretary-General, could help the Conference move out of the current stalemate but were not enough. The impasse was not the result of its procedural rules. Political will was needed to make the Conference do what it was mandated to do: negotiate. Thematic discussions did not replace negotiations but could at best pave the way for negotiations. The very existence of the Conference seemed to be jeopardized. The Conference must redeem itself before it was too late, as if it was lost, a lot would be lost. It was only as a Conference Member that a smaller country such as Finland had a permanent right to participate on an equal footing in negotiations on potential new treaty instruments in the field of nuclear disarmament. Finland urged all States to work towards concrete nuclear disarmament through concrete actions and continued to assess that short-range tactical nuclear weapons systems remained in a blind spot of the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation scenery: the time was right to introduce treaty-based measures on those weapons.

Finland had been designated as the Host Government for a 2012 Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. Ultimately the responsibility for a successful Conference lay with the States of the region. The Facilitator of the Conference would do his utmost to foster common ground in that process. Finland was ready to host the Conference at any time in 2012 and December had frequently been mentioned in consultations as a possibility. The Minister spoke about developments related to ‘everyday weapons of mass destruction’ - that was conventional arms including small and light weapons. Irresponsible transfers of conventional arms could easily lead to destabilization of security in various States and regions, contribute to human rights abuses and add to internal conflicts. It was unfortunate that international trade in conventional arms, from the most technologically sophisticated weaponry to more common arms, remained outside globally binding rules. Today no set of commonly agreed norms existed. Finland, as one of the co-authors of the International Arms Trade Treaty, had actively aimed to further its negotiations towards a universal regulation of the international arms trade. The International Arms Trade Treaty was now really within reach and the momentum must not be lost.

On January 9 2012 Finland acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, the so-called Ottawa Convention, which would enter into force for Finland on 1 July 2012. A key obligation for Finland was to destroy its anti-personnel mines by 2016, although it had respected humanitarian aspects of the Convention for a long time already. Finland had always had a responsible mine policy and started funding humanitarian mine action in 1991. To date Finland had contributed over eighty million Euros to mine detection and clearance, assistance for the care, rehabilitation and social and economic integration of mine victims, as well as support to mine awareness projects. In spite of budget-cutting pressures Finland would continue its funding and even hoped to increase it to six million Euros annually by 2014. The Minister concluded that the Conference on Disarmament still remained regrettably in a stalemate, despite having achieved so much in the past. There was no good reason why the body should not be allowed to do so again in the future.

Statements

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI, Permanent Representative of Indonesia, said as he prepared to leave Geneva for his next assignment he wished to share his personal reflections on the Conference on Disarmament. He recalled a posting to Geneva in the 1990s when the Conference was completing difficult negotiations for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty but said that since 1996 no programme of work had been agreed. There was a glimmer of hope of progress in May 2009, when the Conference adopted Programme of Work CD/1864 under the Presidency of Algeria. Unfortunately it failed to implement that Programme of Work for the remainder of the year and thus was unable to start any substantive work. Since that time a number of constructive proposals had been put forward. A draft decision on a Programme of Work for the 2012 session, contained in CD/1933/Rev.1, proposed by Egypt in March, again failed to reach consensus. Members had allowed the Conference to remain dormant for 16 years, and must ask themselves whether they wanted to be held hostage by their inability to reach consensus on a balanced and comprehensive programme of work. Bold initiatives and innovative approaches were needed. The membership should be enlarged and other stakeholders should be invited to attend meetings. As Indonesia was a democratic country it was difficult to explain to domestic constituencies that the Conference on Disarmament was the only United Nations institution in which non-governmental organizations were not allowed to actively participate, when other United Nations institutions had embraced civil society, including the Human Rights Council. The nuclear issue affected the common people and was not only the prerogative of governments. The Ambassador concluded by saying it was high time that the Conference’s way of doing things was reviewed, for example to become a result-based organization. If there was no result in the near future in the Conference, then Members should admit defeat and find other places, events or mechanisms to pursue their dream of a world that was free of nuclear weapons.

Ambassador KARI KAHILUOTO of Finland, Outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament, announced that today’s thematic plenary meeting would focus on the issue of cessation of the nuclear arms race and prevention of nuclear war with a general focus on nuclear disarmament. He then read out a short factual presentation on the topic prepared by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR):

Nuclear disarmament was the subject of the first resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946. At its initial session in 1979 the Committee on Disarmament agreed a list of 10 issues for its future work, the first of which was all aspects of nuclear weapons. In 1998 the Conference on Disarmament established subsidiary bodies on fissile material and negative-security-assurances, but not on nuclear disarmament per se. Thereafter no progress had been made on any of the core issues, including nuclear disarmament. None of the programmes of work proposed during the current deadlock had entailed a negotiating mandate for nuclear disarmament. Most recently, in 2012, the proposed programme of work CD/1933/Rev.1 sought to strengthen the relevant mandate through the term ‘deal with nuclear disarmament’ in contrast to CD/1864’s notion of an exchange of views on the issue.

Malaysia said it was already a party to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which were completed in record time, and wondered why a similar convention on nuclear weapons could not even be initiated. Complete and total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only solution against the possible use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Malaysia strongly believed that taking nuclear weapons off alert status was an immediate action and practical step to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war. In that regard Malaysia called for recognition that reductions in alert levels would contribute to the process of nuclear disarmament. Malaysia was deeply concerned by the nuclear-weapons modernization programmes that were being undertaken by the nuclear-weapon States and would eventually deal a serious blow to the viability of any disarmament negotiating treaty.

Ethiopia welcomed all efforts in support of Nuclear Weapons Free Zones and said it was imperative that agreement on a legally binding negative security assurances instrument against the use and threat of nuclear weapons was reached. Ethiopia reiterated its position that multilateralism in disarmament negotiation was the most dependable and inclusive avenue for concerted global action against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the dangers they posed to international peace and security.

South Africa, delivering a statement on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden and South Africa), said no nuclear weapons, irrespective of their type or location, could ever be safe in any hands, whether State or non-State actor. As long as those weapons existed the possibility of their use, whether by accident or design, remained. Similarly, as long as some States continued to possess them, citing security reasons for doing so, others may aspire to acquire them. There was no justification for the continued retention of nuclear weapons. The only guarantee against their use was their complete elimination and assurance they would never be produced again. What did not exist could not proliferate.

The entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty remained an important outstanding issue which constituted a core element of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Significant progress had been made to meet the nuclear non-proliferation objectives of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in limiting the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, in order to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world the Coalition believed concrete actions must be taken, which included enhanced transparency measures; follow-on measures to the New START Agreement and support for the successful convening of the 2012 Conference on the establishment of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. Finally no effort should be spared to achieve the universality of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and all States should desist from actions that could negatively affect prospects in that regard. India, Israel and Pakistan should join the Non-Proliferation Treaty promptly and without conditions. Moreover, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea should rescind its announced withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and verifiably terminate its nuclear weapons programme.

Cuba said more than 40 years after the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was adopted there were still over 20,000 nuclear weapons, of which around 5,000 nuclear arms were ready for use immediately. It would only take the explosion of 100 nuclear war heads to cause a nuclear winter. Billions of funds were allocated to develop new types of nuclear weapons, counter to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. There was no doubt that international security and the survival of the human race was threatened by the existence of nuclear weapons. The Conference was the appropriate forum to contribute to such important efforts through adoption, without delay, on a Convention for Nuclear Disarmament. As everybody knew, the failure to adopt a programme of work was a consequence of a clear lack of political will by certain States. Clearly the status quo suited some States which based their domination interests on nuclear arsenals that threatened the life of the planet. There could be no greater priority for the Conference on Disarmament than achieving the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea said the peace it advocated was one whereby the sovereignty and dignity of every nation and country were ensured and everybody could promote friendship and cooperation with equal opportunities. Countries which should play a responsible role in ensuring global peace vied with each other in spending the bulk of their State budgets on developing new types of weapons, paying lip service to peace while pushing ahead with policies of hegemony. Nuclear disarmament was the most important element in building a peaceful world and required the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The basic reason for the lack of progress by the Conference was the refusal of some States to disarm. Priority should be given to concluding at an earlier date an international convention placing all States under an obligation to prohibit use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and eliminate them completely. Nuclear weapon States should immediately stop development of nuclear weapons systems and adopt a comprehensive programme with an agreed timeframe to reduce their nuclear weapons. Nuclear-weapon States should also remove their nuclear threats, end qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons, withdraw nuclear weapons deployed abroad and withdraw the nuclear umbrella provided to selective countries. Nuclear-weapon States should also give up nuclear doctrines based on first-use of nuclear weapons, pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and respond to the call for negotiations to conclude a relevant international convention. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea would make its contribution to global efforts to realize nuclear disarmament with a high sense of responsibility.

Iran said the continued existence of tens of thousands of nuclear warheads was a deep and serious threat to international security. As long as they existed and were modernized there was always a risk of their use and vertical and horizontal proliferation. Nuclear-weapons States must not dodge their responsibilities for nuclear disarmament. The Non-Proliferation Treaty in no way allowed for indefinite possession of nuclear weapons. After so many years the lack of progress in implementing disarmament under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was disturbing and deplorable. While tens of thousands of nuclear warheads had been disassembled over the past 50 years many had been re-manufactured into different types of weapons or weapons-grade fissile material. Actions must be taken, starting with transparency. The principles of irreversibility and verifiability were of the utmost importance. A ban of use was the most urgent task of the present day. The international community could not wait forever for the total elimination of nuclear weapons: a clear timeline with target implementation dates, namely 2025 as proposed by the Non-Aligned Movement, was urgently needed.

United States drew particular attention to the role played by Ambassador Djani of Indonesia for ASEAN in the negotiations for the signing of a protocol on a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Southeast Asia. The United States referred to the address by the Foreign Minister of Finland in which he highlighted the importance of convening a 2012 Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. The United States stressed that they worked in close contact with other conveners of the Conference, and agreed with the Minister’s statement that “ultimately the responsibility for a successful Conference lay with the States of the region”. Finally the United States look forward to hosting, in Washington D.C. at the end of the month, another conference of the P5 nuclear-weapons States which would hopefully contribute towards the collective goal of nuclear disarmament.

United Kingdom said in the spirit of interaction it would reply to some comments today, including the very thoughtful and thorough statement by South Africa. The United Kingdom especially agreed with South Africa’s proposal to work on a framework; step-by-step interlinking instruments to bring us closer to a world free of nuclear weapons. In reply to Iran’s statement that nuclear weapons States refused to negotiate on disarmament, the United Kingdom said that simply was not true. It agreed with CD/1933, and would go along with it again if it was brought to the table. What was true was that the Conference was stuck at an impasse and nobody was getting anywhere with their aims or goals. The delegate also paid tribute to the work of Ambassador Djani of Indonesia.

Algeria said it attached particular importance to nuclear disarmament which was the Conference’s first priority and the priority of the international community. Two essential elements needed to be achieved in order to reach nuclear disarmament. The first condition was that nuclear weapons must be de-legitimized. So long as they had a certain status and political importance for certain countries to ensure their interests and security, it would not be possible to talk about disarmament. Secondly, to ensure that obligations towards nuclear disarmament had a time-bound framework. Without a deadline it would be difficult to reach disarmament. The success of that approach was shown by the measures to prohibit chemical and biological weapons. Progress had been made, such as the New START Agreement and bilateral achievements, but those processes did not achieve the necessary break with the doctrine and ideology of the Cold War, which still existed. CD/1864 was a step forward compared to all previous initiatives, and echoing the United Kingdom, it was the first time in the life of the Conference when all States accepted the establishment of a subsidiary body on PAROS and nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately that step forward was not implemented.

Right of Reply

Democratic People's Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said he had taken the floor again in order to make a brief comment on the observations made by the New Agenda Coalition on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Those remarks were one-sided and did not give any help to settlement of the issue. The New Agenda Coalition was fully aware of what was needed to resolve the issue fundamentally, and withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was a legitimate self-defence measure to protect the security of a country from an outside force. The New Agenda Coalition was well advised to avoid making such remarks in the coming days.

Iran, speaking in a right of reply, said it understood that in the United Kingdom’s statement the Ambassador said she had no problem in starting negotiations on nuclear disarmament in the Conference on Disarmament. If that was the case, Iran welcomed that announcement by the United Kingdom.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had developed nuclear weapons programmes which were a serious threat to the Korean peninsula, Southeast Asia and the world. A United Nations Security Council resolution urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abandon nuclear weapon programmes and return early to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Republic of Korea echoed that call.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said it took the floor once again to respond to the utterances by “South Korea’s” delegation. In the first place the Democratic People's Republic of Korea categorically rejected “South Korea’s” utterances as a grave provocation against it. It was a hard fact that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had produced nuclear weapons; the United States’ consistently hostile approaches provoked the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to develop those weapons as a nuclear deterrent. If “South Korea” felt worried by those realities it should tell the United States to revoke its hostile polices against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and not blame its fellow countrymen. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea would never give up what had been declared but would react to any provocation with the toughest measures.

Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, first noted that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had not addressed them by their proper name, the Republic of Korea. Secondly, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had mentioned it possessed nuclear weapons. Regarding the nuclear weapon programme in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a couple of weeks ago the Democratic People's Republic of Korea announced it had revised its constitution and declared it was nuclear-armed. Security Council resolutions stated that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea could not have nuclear-weapon State status in accordance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was strongly urged to fulfil its commitments under the Six-Party Talks. Finally, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes were developed while the Democratic People's Republic of Korea faced a chronic food shortage. United Nations agencies including the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization said the food shortage in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was one of the most pressing issues in the world. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had spent a huge amount of money developing its missile programme - around 150 million United States dollars – which had contributed to the food crisis. That sum was enough to buy 1.4 million tonnes of rice which would partially end the food shortage in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It would be better for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to improve the living conditions of its people than to continue to violate Security Council resolutions and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Ambassador KARI KAHILUOTO of Finland, Outgoing President of the Conference on Disarmament, intervened at this point in the dialogue and noted that under the rules of procedure of the General Assembly he would ask the delegates of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, who had now taken the floor in a right of reply two times each, to end their discussion.

United States, speaking in a right of reply, said that since its country had been named in a previous statement it took the floor to put in an appeal that all seriously consider the issues at hand rather than engage in such attacks. The Ambassador said that for a country to treat Conference Members to a lecture on nuclear disarmament, which was listened to seriously, and then to boast about possessing nuclear weapons, was quite extraordinary. She urged all delegates to focus on the agenda at hand and try to keep polemics out of the discussion.

Egypt, speaking in a right of reply, said it took the floor in response to the words of the United Kingdom, and to welcome their statement regarding the CD/1933 Programme of Work and her invitation that that document could be taken up again as a way forward.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea, speaking in a right of reply, said they would be guided by the rules of procedure but they had only exercised their right of reply once to the remarks made by the delegation of “South Korea”. The remarks made by the “South Korean” delegation today had been provocative and pin-pointed the security of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Did the “South Korean” delegation know the essence of the security issue? The position of “South Korea” was understood: “South Korea” was not an independent entity as it was under the protection of others. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was an independent and sovereign State which dealt very much with national security, and could not tolerate threats to its national security. If somebody lost their security they would be dying. Everybody had to defend themselves. There were difficulties with living standards but they were being overcome and in the near future the world would see the Democratic People's Republic of Korea become a prosperous country. “South Korea” was advised to stop following the policy of others but to try to promote peace and security in the world, and not to provoke a fight between the north and south, especially in this forum.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC12/022E