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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT DISCUSSES NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT DISCUSSES NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
5 March 2013

The Conference on Disarmament today began a series of thematic discussions on the core issues on its agenda with a plenary meeting dedicated to nuclear disarmament.

Ambassador Sujata Mehta of India, President of the Conference on Disarmament, hoped that these thematic discussions which would be conducted in parallel with her on-going consultations on a programme of work, would give delegations an opportunity to share their views, without detriment to Member States’ right to address any other subjects as they may wish, in accordance with the rules of procedure.

During the discussion, delegations reiterated their commitment to the Conference on Disarmament as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum and reaffirmed the priority given to nuclear disarmament.  Some speakers noted that, given the failure of the Conference to engage in substantive work for over a decade, it was not surprising that some sought to find alternative fora.  Some speakers stressed the importance of consensus-based negotiations as well as the principles of multilateral disarmament, including the indivisibility of security and the importance of maintaining global strategic balances.  Delegations also stressed the importance of confidence-building measures and the general perception of security for the achievement of disarmament. Many speakers reiterated support for the objective of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East and regretted that it was not possible to convene the conference as planned in 2012.

While some speakers were in favour of a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament, others preferred a comprehensive approach through a nuclear disarmament convention. However, there were also speakers who suggested combining the two approaches.  Delegations reiterated the dual commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation contained in the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty and welcomed the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, to be held in April in Geneva, as an opportunity to follow up on the implementation of the 2010 Action Plan. Some speakers noted the threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons to international security and the view that, in light of their indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, their use ran counter to humanitarian law.  Delegations called on Member States to show flexibility and hoped that the Conference could begin substantive work on the basis of a balanced programme of work agreeable to all.

Speaking in today’s plenary discussion were Cuba, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland, France, China, Egypt, Syria, Japan, Kazakhstan, India, Algeria, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Mexico and Republic of Korea.

The President of the Conference indicated that, continuing with the thematic discussions on the four core issues on the agenda, the next plenary meeting of the Conference would be dedicated to a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, in parallel with her on-going consultations on a programme of work and without detriment to Member States’ right to address any other subjects as they may wish, in accordance with the rules of procedure.

The next public plenary of the Conference will be held on Tuesday, 12 March at 10 a.m.


Statements

Cuba expressed support for the optimisation of the disarmament machinery of the United Nations, including the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disamament negotiating forum. Cuba was convinced that the current paralysis was attributable to the lack of political will to achieve real progress, in particular in the field of nuclear disarmament, rather than problems with the working methods. Cuba expressed disagreement with those who believed that disarmament treaties could be negotiated in other forums other than the CD which, in the view of her Government must be preserved and strengthened. Cuba reaffirmed the importance of multilateralism as the basic principle of negotiations on nuclear disarmament and, .  calling for the adoption of a balanced Programme of work, Cuba reiterated that the Conference could begin negotiations, in parallel, on a series of treaties prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons, prohibiting an arms race in outer-space and providing negative security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states, as well as a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  Cuba promoted the beginning of negotiations on a non-discriminatory multilateral treaty, effectively and verifiably, forbidding the production of fissile material.  The negotiation of a treaty on fissile material would be a positive but insufficient measure if further steps towards nuclear disarmament were not defined.  

In the following days, the Arms Trade Treaty conference would take place in New York and any criterion or parameter for the transfer of arms to be included in a treaty should be precise, objective, transparent and consistent.  Cuba would not support any criterion that could be applied in a discriminatory way.  International security was threatened by the existence of nuclear weapons and their elimination was a matter of survival for humanity.  Nuclear disarmament must occupy the highest priority in the programme of work of the Conference on Disarmament, which should start as soon as possible negotiations on a possible convention prohibiting the development, production, storage and use of nuclear weapons, leading to a total elimination, non-discriminating and verifiable, of nuclear weapons on the basis of a concrete calendar.

Sri Lanka attached great importance to the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral negotiating forum and expressed its disappointment that it had once again failed to reach consensus on a programme of work.  The adoption of a programme of work could only be possible through confidence building and equal respect for the security of all Member States, and a transparent, sustainable, and credible plan for multilateral nuclear disarmament was required in order to achieve the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.  Member States should continue to make concerted efforts to reach an early agreement.  Sri Lanka had supported the convening of the Fourth Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to disarmament to discuss and consider issues pertaining to disarmament and remained disappointed at the persistent lack of consensus on  convening it.  The importance of strengthening nuclear disarmament mechanism was evident by recent events in violation of United Nations Security Council’s resolution 1874.  There was an urgent need to reach an early agreement on a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument to assure non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; and Sri Lanka hoped that the high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament convened by the General Assembly on 26 September would provide an opportunity for Member States to continue discussions.  It was imperative to start negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specific time frame.  Sri Lanka reiterated that it was vital that the Conference began substantive work on the basis of a comprehensive and balanced programme of work, and focused debates on all agenda items could help create a better understanding of positions and help move the Conference forward.

Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, continued to be deeply troubled by the persistent impasse and stressed that exchanging views on main issues was not a substitute to the main focus of the Conference on Disarmament, which was the adoption and implementation of a programme of work leading to negotiations.  The European Union reaffirmed its commitment to global efforts to seek a safer world for all and to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the objectives of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and remained committed to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  The international community continued to be faced with major proliferation challenges which must be addressed in a resolute way to maintain the credibility and effectiveness of the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime.  The recent Democratic People's Republic of Korea nuclear test had been condemned by the international community: it represented a threat to regional and international peace and security and a serious affront to the principles set out in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

International concerns about the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme had increased in light of the latest reports of the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.  The European Union’s objective was the achievement of a comprehensive negotiated long-term settlement.  For the European Union the immediate commencement and early conclusion of the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, on the basis of the document CD/1299 and the mandate contained therein, and subsequently reiterated in CD/1864, remained a clear priority.  All European Union Member States supported General Assembly resolution 67/53 on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  The mechanism established by this resolution represented a useful contribution to helping the Conference on Disarmament without undermining its authority.  The European Union reaffirmed its commitment to the Conference as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community and regretted that the Conference, so far, remained unable to agree on a programme of work

Russian Federation said that Russia had repeatedly stated its willingness to discuss any issues related to nuclear disarmament in the context of the Conference on Disarmament.  The main instrument for disarmament was the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Russia had comprehensive approach to fulfilling its obligations under all three pillars of the treaty.  Russia recalled that the Treaty of Moscow had been superseded by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in 2011.  Russia had substantially reduced its number of strategic non-nuclear weapons and secured all non strategic nuclear arms within its territory.  Russia called on other countries with non-strategic nuclear arms to follow these measures to clear the way for further reductions in arsenals.  The rapid establishment of nuclear weapon free zones would promote peace and non-proliferation, in particular in the Middle East.  In April, Russia would convene in Geneva a P5 meeting on the implementation of the NPT Review Conference 2010 Action Plan.  Russia was concerned by attempts to move away from or reinterpret the original 2010 NPT RevCon Plan of Action.   

Effort to delegitimize the use and possession of nuclear weapons distracted attention from concrete steps to the elimination of nuclear arsenals.  The P5 had decided not to participate in the Oslo Conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  Such a discussion should take place at the Conference of Disarmament with the participation of all States with nuclear potential and on the basis of consensus.  While the Conference had been unable to carry out negotiations for over a decade, nevertheless, efforts to pull apart of the agenda of the Conference threatened to fragment multilateral disarmament.   Ignoring this fact could lead to the illusion of progress while international contradictions were in fact being exacerbated.  Russia did not support and would not participate in the new open ended working-group.  Discussions on fissile materials should take place in the context of the Conference on Disarmament and Russia was prepared to move forward on a verifiable and irreversible reduction of nuclear arms, but a step-by-step process towards nuclear disarmament, would be possible only on the basis of the fundamental principles of global strategic balance and the indivisibility of security.

United Kingdom said that nuclear disarmament was a very important topic for the United Kingdom and the Conference on Disarmament was the pre-eminent forum in which the international community addressed it.  In 2007 the Parliament had debated and approved the decision to continue with the programme to renew its nuclear deterrent and the 2010 strategic defence and security review set out that the United Kingdom would maintain a continuous submarine based deterrent.  The United Kingdom’s record on disarmament was strong and it had greatly reduced its nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War, weapons had been de-targeted and the United Kingdom’s policy was to consider using nuclear weapons only in extreme circumstances of self-defence.  Unilateral actions would not produce results and this was why dialogue among the P5 had been instigated in London in 2009.  The P5 had continued to interact and Russia would host a conference in April this year.  It was important to demonstrate progress across a range of issues, especially on plans to report on the commitments made in the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Action Plan.  Building confidence between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states was equally important in order to find a realistic route towards global disarmament. 

Many countries were gathering in Oslo to discuss the humanitarian consequences of a nuclear detonation but the United Kingdom and the rest of the P5 were not attending.  While the topic under discussion in Oslo was a serious one and the United Kingdom understood the serious consequences of nuclear weapon use, the Oslo event would divert attention and discussion away from what had been proven to be the most effective means of reducing nuclear dangers: a practical step-by-step approach that included all those who held nuclear weapons.  The United Kingdom reiterated its support for the objective of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East and regretted that it had not been possible to convene the conference as planned in 2012.  The United Kingdom had signed and ratified the protocols to three nuclear weapon free zones and was working hard with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and P5 partners to sign the protocol to the Treaty of Bangkok.  The risk of new States acquiring nuclear weapons was great, as was the risk of sensitive knowledge and materials falling in the hands of non-state actors, and the United Kingdom strongly supported the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and was active in helping to build the international environment that would deliver this.

United States recalled that when President Obama signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Prague he stressed his intention to pursue further reductions in strategic, non-strategic, deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons.  The ongoing dialogue within the P5 process was also breaking new ground. This process was contributing to political dialogue and cooperation on nuclear weapons issues to an unprecedented extent.  In addition to providing a senior level policy forum, this process had spawned a series of expert exchanges during the “intersessional period”.  The United States had also demonstrated leadership through unilateral transparency measures, including the United States releases in 2010 of the United States nuclear weapon stockpile figures.  The United States reaffirmed its commitment to the shared goal of nuclear disarmament and continued to implement the 2010 NPT Review Conference’s Action Plan across all three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Amidst pressing challenges, the United States continued to be concerned about those who had violated their Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations and undermined confidence in the non-proliferation regime.  This transgression stood directly in the way of the shared goals for a world free of nuclear weapons.

The Conference on Disarmament had had a central role to play in multilateral nuclear disarmament.  Entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty remained a top priority to the United States, which, she said, was moving forward with the ratification process. The United States remained committed to launch negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty as the next logical step towards multilateral nuclear disarmament.  The United States understood that the Conference’s failures had led states to look elsewhere, but did not support non-consensus based efforts to develop nuclear disarmament proposals through the open ended working group set up by the General Assembly, and did not see how this mechanism fit into the existing consensus framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Action Plan.  After careful consideration the United States had also decided not to attend the Conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons taking place in Oslo.  The United States was acutely aware of the consequences of nuclear weapon use and would continue to give the highest priority to avoiding any such use by enhancing nuclear security worldwide

Switzerland said that nuclear weapons did not contribute to international security; and the continued possession of weapons by some States was likely to lead to proliferation and the acquisition of such weapons by other States.  While the Conference on Disarmament ran the risk of spending an additional year in a deadlock situation, there had been important steps in the field of disarmament.  The Conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons taking place in Oslo was among those important steps taking place this year; it would contribute to disarmament.  Nuclear weapons’ destructive capacity brought questions about their use and their compatibility with international law, because it was impossible to contain their effects in time and space.  The support that this topic had garnered would lead to new developments in the months to come; this debate concerning the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was also related to the common responsibility for nuclear disarmament included in the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Switzerland hoped that all States, whether nuclear weapons or not, would participate in this debate.

The Second Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) in April would also constitute an opportunity to continue to work on several measures as part of the Action Plan adopted in 2010.  The Conference on Disarmament also had a central role to play in the implementation of the 2010 NPT RevCon Action Plan, specifically on nuclear disarmament, negative-security assurances and a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.  Switzerland regretted that the Conference on a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East had not taken place in 2012 and called on all parties so that the Conference could take place as soon as possible.  The work of the open ended working group established by the General Assembly was a third element that would mark 2013 and provide a unique framework for exchanges on equal footing by all Members States of the United Nations and civil society, in an inclusive context.  Switzerland had no doubt that this process would lead to proposals on how to make headway on nuclear disarmament and would contribute to the Conference, either through its example or recommendations.

France welcomed the substantive discussions on one of the agenda items and, while this did not constitute negotiations, they were useful and indispensable to make progress towards consensus.  France had never participated in any nuclear arms race and had no intention to do so.  France’s deterrence mechanism, which included only extreme cases of self-defence as enshrined in the United Nations Charter, did not contradict international law.  France had dismantled ground components of its nuclear deterrent and implemented one-third reductions of its submarine arsenal.  France stopped producing plutonium in 1992 and highly enriched uranium in 1996, and had dismantled its facilities for the production of fissile material for nuclear arms.  France, as the first state along with the United Kingdom, to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and to dismantle nuclear-test sites, called on all States who had not yet done so to ratify the treaty and, in the meantime, to maintain a moratorium.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty provided a new roadmap, adopted by consensus and based on gradual and concrete approach.  This step-by-step approach was the only realistic approach and the one that worked best.

France stressed the risks to these roadmap posed by different initiatives, in particular, the General Assembly’s resolution creating a non-consensus open ended working group; similarly, the convening of a conference on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons.  France would continue to work with other P5 members to reinforce mutual confidence as disarmament efforts for disarmament depended first and foremost on mutual trust among States and the general perception of security.  The recent and unacceptable test by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had reminded everyone of the issue of proliferation; and the Iranian question remained of concern and a challenge for the international community.  The recent reports by the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency had only heightened concerns about this situation and France regretted that, last week in Almaty, Iran had failed to take concrete measures.  The next stage was that of quantitative limitation of arsenals and the negotiation in the Conference on Disarmament of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, was an imperative fixed by a number of resolutions and the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty Plan of Action adopted in 2010.

China supported the President’s proposal on how to proceed with the work of the Conference on Disarmament.  The thematic discussions on the four core issues in the agenda would contribute to systematic and in-depth exchanges of views on issues of common concern in order to explore feasible ways to promote multilateral disarmament process and the work of the Conference.  China also supported further consultations by the Presidency with all parties to facilitate the adoption of a programme of work acceptable to all.  China hoped that all parties would fully accommodate each other’s legitimate security concerns and further demonstrate flexibility in a pragmatic and constructive manner.  In recent years there had been new progress in the field of international nuclear disarmament.  The objective of the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons should be pursued and nuclear weapons states should fulfil, in good faith, their obligation for nuclear disarmament, and publicly undertake not to seek permanent possession of these weapons.  Countries with the largest arsenals should continue to make drastic reductions of their arsenals in a verifiable and irreversible manner.  The principles of maintaining global strategic balance and stability, and undiminished security for all, should be upheld.  Nuclear disarmament and the international strategic security situation were closely related.  The development of missile defence systems that disrupted global strategic balance and stability should be abandoned.  The step-by-step approach should be adopted and the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Action Plan had formulated a detail roadmap for the international nuclear disarmament process.
The existing multilateral disarmament machinery was to be safeguarded. Establishing new mechanisms to address nuclear disarmament would only undermine the authority of existing ones, divert limited resources and create disorder in the international nuclear disarmament process.

Egypt said it had made its position clear at the first meeting of this session and stressed the importance of intensifying efforts for negotiations to reach a world free of nuclear weapons.  This year was an opportunity to make headway in the nuclear disarmament agenda and numerous conferences would be convened.  At this very moment, the Oslo Conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was taking place and showing that the use of nuclear weapons could not be consistent with international humanitarian law.  The open ended working group on taking forward multilateral disarmament established by the General Assembly in pursuance of resolution 67/56 would also be meeting and Egypt hoped that all delegations would participate in the work and review the subject.  The General Assembly had agreed about the need to hold a high level meeting at the next session of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament and this decision might strengthen the political commitment needed towards freeing the world from nuclear weapons.  The Second Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) of the NPT would also take place in April.  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons could be a vehicle to achieve nuclear disarmament as long as nuclear weapon States fulfilled their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty and started negotiating in good faith on nuclear disarmament, and the universality of the Treaty was achieved.  Another challenges related to the lack of confidence, particularly regarding commitments that must be honoured by states as some states chose to selectively honour their commitments.  The nuclear programs of certain countries had been ignored and countries had been allowed to acquire nuclear weapons as a result and promoting proliferation, despite international commitments. The presence of nuclear weapons constituted a threat to international peace and security, lead to arms races, and increased the intensity of conflicts.  The first item on the agenda of the Conference was the cessation of nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament. The Conference should start negotiations at the soonest on legally-binding instruments to achieve nuclear disarmament and attain a world free of nuclear weapons.

Syria reaffirmed its commitment to the declared position of the Group of 21 on nuclear disarmament, since it constituted a threat to international peace and security and humanity at large.  Syria emphasised the importance of working on transparency and equity and measures related to fissile materials should effectively contribute to disarmament and non-proliferation, and not only address stockpiles and production.  There should be a balanced treatment of all Members States and no issues on the agenda should be given preference over others.  Stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of nuclear weapons states continued to pose threats, in particular in the Middle East.  Syria regretted the postponement of the Conference on the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East.  This was also a test for the credibility of the international community.  Syria rejected pretexts and justifications absolving Israel for its responsibilities, the postponement disregarded  Member States of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and would have repercussions on the treaty and its review process.   Syria called on the international community to bring pressure on Israel to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to submit its facilities under the Safeguards Protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Syria reaffirmed it willingness to contribute to efforts to advance the work of the Conference.

Japan reiterated its position on the issue of nuclear disarmament and said that Japan strove to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.  In this context, the particular characteristics of nuclear weapons should be taken into account: they were possessed by a few States whom, however, showed dependence on them for their security.  Practical measures should be taken in a progressive manner.  Japan was willing to participate in discussions on how a nuclear disarmament framework or nuclear weapon convention could appear.  At the same time a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) was an important component of progress towards disarmament.  The Conference on Disarmament could resume negotiations on an FMCT as a step towards the achievement of its ultimate goals.  Japan emphasized the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and its elevation to legal status through ratification, and Japan called on States to ratify the treaty as soon as possible.  Japan also called on states to maintain a moratorium on testing until the entry into force of the treaty.  Japan also stressed the significance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and, as its Second Session of its Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) would soon take place in Geneva, Japan looked forward to finding progress in the implementation of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Action Plan.

Kazakhstan said that Kazakhstan stood ready to continue to interact with all States to break out of the current stalemate.  Bilateral and unilateral steps constituted modest progress but the international community remained under the threat of nuclear weapons, and disarmament could not be achieved through these measures without a view for total elimination.  Violations of moratoria on nuclear tests showed the need for the Conference on Disarmament to get back on track.  The agenda for 2013 included a number of important events, including the Oslo Conference on the consequences of nuclear weapons and the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) in Geneva.   Kazakhstan hoped that these events would be instrumental and success depended on the good will and participation of States.  The existence of weapons of mass destruction was immoral and contradicted international law, as the catastrophic ecologic consequences illustrated by previous tests showed that the impact of nuclear weapons was uncontrollable in time and space.  A legal framework for a total elimination of nuclear weapons was a primary task and the time had come for the unconditional fulfilment of Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations along its three pillars.  Kazakhstan remained committed to ensuring the full implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a multilateral agreement in the field of nuclear disarmament.  Among other steps, upholding a moratorium on nuclear testing, the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and declaring a moratorium on the production of fissile material for military purposes, reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, promoting the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones, and multilateral measures to prevent arms races, could contribute to nuclear disarmament.

India said that its foremost priority had been and continued to be nuclear disarmament, as it was that of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Group of 21, however, more than two decades after the end of the Cold War the Conference was not closer to begin negotiations.  India was conscious that nuclear disarmament lay at the end of a long process and specific measures should be taken in order to command consensus leading to a mandate for negotiations. India said it was conscious that global nuclear disarmament would only happen at the end of a long process and invited delegations to begin negotiations  in the Conference by establishing a subsidiary body to start consultations on specific measures that had the potential to command consensus, leading to a mandate on negotiations such as the one proposed by the G21 in document CD/1571. India was convinced that the goal of nuclear disarmament could be achieved by a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework that was global and non-discriminatory, including the dialogue among nuclear-weapon states and reducing the reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines.  India’s resolutions in the First Committee illustrated efforts towards delegitimizing nuclear weapons. As part of the Group of 21 and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), India supported the negotiation of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear weapon in the CD.  Delegitimation was not a magic wand but a process that could contribute to achieving a global zero.  India hoped that the Conference on Disarmament would continue to make a contribution to disarmament issues, in particular, to nuclear disarmament.  No forum could have an exclusive right to discuss an issue as important as nuclear disarmament. In fact, nuclear disarmament was always on the agenda of both the UNDC and the UNGA. However, if the goal was the global and non-discriminatory elimination of nuclear weapons, the international community should build on proposals in the framework of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.

Algeria recalled it had previously expressed its views on nuclear disarmament but took the floor to interactively participate in the discussions and to respond to the views of nuclear weapons states or those engaged in nuclear deterrence.  Speakers were keen to mention the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) of the NPT and the importance of promoting and strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime.  The importance of any disarmament system derived from its ability to provide security for all participating States.  The first element the Conference should give attention to was nuclear disarmament, as existing arsenals still posed dangers.  In order to overcome the impasse an agreement about a common point should be found.  The 1978 First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament had provided a roadmap, including nuclear disarmament.  The United Nations Charter provided the foundation and Algeria did not believe that the principle of legitimate self-defence was absolute.  There were humanitarian principles which defined crimes against humanity, crime of war, and of genocide, which could not be trespassed on the basis of the right to legitimate self-defence.  Algeria was participating in the Oslo Conference and believed that one of the first steps for disarmament was delegitimization of these weapons; for this reason, this meeting also had an important symbolic weight.  It was the first time that non-nuclear weapon states were meeting to give their views about nuclear disarmament and hoped that the international community would accord the meeting the importance it deserved.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea commended the President for her advancement of the work of the Conference and welcomed the Ambassador of Cuba to Geneva.  Nuclear disarmament was the highest priority and constituted the absolute solution to the problem of nuclear proliferation, which stemmed from the threat posed by nuclear-weapon states which had an interest in freezing the status-quo and degrading non-nuclear weapon states to subordination.  Nuclear disarmament was the fundamental issue related to world peace and security and should be given the highest priority, and the orientation should be towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Piecemeal reduction of nuclear weapons and commitment to negative-security assurances should be regarded as a mockery and deepen mistrusts; on the other hand, complete and total nuclear disarmament, withdrawal of nuclear weapons outside the borders of nuclear weapon states, could make a contribution to nuclear disarmament.

It had been the United States’ hostility that had led to the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula, after the United States refused to recognize its sovereignty and threatened to eliminate the ideology and political system of Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  The nuclear deterrence mechanism had been developed to counter the United States and, while Democratic People's Republic of Korea aspired to peace, as anyone else, it would not sacrifice its sovereignty.  If the European Union wanted a true resolution of the situation in the Korean Peninsula it would have to tell the United States to stop its hostile acts against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea instead of commenting on its countermeasures.  The Democratic People's Republic of Korea would take stronger steps in succession in order to defend its sovereignty, dignity and vital rights.

Mexico said that while this was an interesting exchange of views, these discussions did not replace the need for a programme of work and substantive negotiations on the Conference on Disarmament’s agenda items.  

Republic of Korea drew the Conference’s attention to United Nations Security Council resolutions 17/18 and 20/87, the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document, and International Atomic Energy Agency resolutions, concerning the obligations of Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  While the international community was making efforts for nuclear disarmament, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was running counter these efforts.  The Republic of Korea called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to cease its nuclear efforts.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that the nuclear threat “South Korea” was talking about was only to cover the scenario in which it, along with its master, would wage a nuclear war against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as they both were staging military drillings and joint military exercises, dangerous provocative acts seeking a preventing nuclear strike at the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  In face of these attempts, it was clear who the real criminal posing threats to the Korean Peninsula was.  “South Korea” should bear in mind that the warnings made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea did not constitute empty talk and they were advised not to perpetrate their despicable acts in this forum any longer.

United Kingdom appealed to delegations to the Conference on Disarmament not to allow threatening language in the Chamber.  Delegations should maintain a respectful tone and show courtesy to each other.  The language currently used did not seem conducive to peace and security and there were other, more constructive, ways of talking to each other.

Concluding Remarks

AMBASSADOR SUJATA MEHTA of India, President of the Conference on Disarmament, welcomed the remarks made by the delegation of the United Kingdom and reiterated her call on delegations to maintain a high level of courtesy in the dialogue in keeping with the solemn nature of practice and negotiations in the forum.  Summarising the thematic discussion, Ambassador Mehta said that, among the key points made during the plenary, it was clear that nuclear disarmament continued to be the highest priority in disarmament and non-proliferation and there was an expectation that the Conference on Disarmament would play its due role.  There were also two main approaches to achieve nuclear disarmament, on the one hand, a step-by-step and, on the other, a more comprehensive framework or convention.  Ambassador Mehta mentioned that some speakers had pointed at the possibility of combining both approaches, for example, through a binding commitment to a series of subsequent and interrelated negotiations.  Responding to the comments by the Mexican delegation on the fact that plenary discussions could not be a substitute  for negotiations within the Conference, Ambassador Mehta indicated that these thematic discussions were taking place without prejudice to her on-going efforts to achieve a Programme of Work.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC13/010E