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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS STATEMENTS ON NEGATIVE SECURITY ASSURANCES AND ON PREVENTION OF AN ARMS RACE IN OUTER SPACE

CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT HEARS STATEMENTS ON NEGATIVE SECURITY ASSURANCES AND ON PREVENTION OF AN ARMS RACE IN OUTER SPACE
12 August 2014

The Conference on Disarmament this morning held a public plenary, hearing concluding remarks by its President, a statement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking on behalf of the Group of 21, on negative security assurances, and addresses by Russia, Cuba, Belarus, China and Pakistan on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

Ambassador Anthony Andanje of Kenya, President of the Conference, updating the Conference, said that following sustained negotiations, the mandate of the informal position of the Friend of the President had been reworded.  The Coordinators on the substantive agenda items on the schedule of activities had submitted their reports and there would be an informal meeting on Friday, 15 August at 10 a.m. to provide delegations with an opportunity to make brief comments.  As this was the last plenary meeting under Kenya’s Presidency, he expressed gratitude and appreciation to his colleagues of the P6 for their support, congratulated the coordinators of the substantive agenda items on the schedule of activities for their excellent work, and commended delegations for their patience and cooperation. 

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking on behalf of the Group of 21  on negative security assurances, said the Conference on Disarmament should start negotiations on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, including a nuclear-weapons convention prohibiting the possession, development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of nuclear weapons, leading to the global, non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, with a specified framework of time.  Pending this, there was an urgent need to reach an early agreement on a universal, unconditional, irrevocable and legally-binding instrument to effectively assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under all circumstances. 

Russia said a draft resolution on the non-placement first of weapons in outer space was planned for submission to the First Committee of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations and in the very near future a text of the draft resolution would be distributed to Missions in Geneva.  The essence of this draft resolution was an invitation to all States to look at the opportunity of entering into a political commitment not to be first to place weapons in outer space.  Filling the legal vacuum until a universal legally binding instrument was concluded was the point of this initiative on the non-placement of weapons in space first. 

Cuba agreed that the legal framework was not sufficient for the international community to face all of the security issues that were linked to the use of outer space and there was a need for a legally binding agreement so that outer space could be protected from any arms race.  Belarus was positive in its appreciation of the Russian initiative to submit for examination by the First Committee a new draft resolution on the non-placement first of weapons in outer space.  China said it supported any efforts which would prevent the placement of weapons in outer space and an arms race in outer space.  Pakistan also
said it fully supported this initiative and would co-sponsor the draft resolution in the First Committee of the General Assembly. 

The next plenary of the Conference on Disarmament will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 19 August under the presidency of Malaysia.


Statements

ANTHONY ANDANJE (Kenya), President of the Conference on Disarmament, said he would provide an update on outstanding issues.  Following sustained negotiations, the issue of the informal position of the Friend of the President under his predecessor had been resolved and the mandate had been reworded.  The Coordinators on the substantive agenda items on the schedule of activities had submitted their reports.  These reports would be issued as one document with a CD number and circulated to all Member States.   Many delegations had suggested that an opportunity be created to have a look at the report and there would therefore be an informal meeting on Friday, 15 August at 10 a.m. to provide delegations with an opportunity to make brief comments.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking on behalf of the Group of 21  on negative security assurances, said the Group of 21 reaffirmed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  The Conference on Disarmament should start negotiations on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, including a nuclear-weapons convention prohibiting the possession, development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of nuclear weapons, leading to the global, non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, with a specified framework of time.  Pending this, there was an urgent need to reach an early agreement on a universal, unconditional, irrevocable and legally-binding instrument to effectively assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under all circumstances. 

Pending the total elimination of all nuclear weapons, the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned,  was a positive step and an important measure towards strengthening global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  The Group of 21 reiterated its strong support for the early establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of all nuclear weapons.  The Group of 21 remained concerned that convening a conference on establishing a nuclear weapons free zone and other weapons of mass  destruction in the Middle East in 2012 was not realized and deeply regretted the delay of concrete actions for this purpose.  This conference should be held without any further delay in order to maintain the credibility and sustainability of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime.  While the Group of 21 believed that nuclear-weapon-free zones were positive steps towards strengthening global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, it did not subscribe to the arguments stating that declarations that had been made by the nuclear weapon States were sufficient, or that security assurances should only be granted in the context of nuclear-weapon free zones.  In addition, given their geographical limitation, security assurances guaranteed to States who were members of  nuclear-weapon-free zones could not substitute for universal legally-binding security assurances. 

Efforts to conclude a universal and legally-binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States should be vigorously pursued and the conclusion of such an instrument would be an important step towards achieving the objectives of arms control, nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation in all its aspects. 

Russia said that in Havana on 11 July, a joint declaration was signed on the non-placement first of weapons in outer space.  Russia and Brazil, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Argentina and now Cuba were united in order to promote the initiative on not placing any kind of weapon first in orbit.  A draft resolution on the non-placement first of weapons in outer space was planned for submission to the First Committee of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations and in the very near future a text of the draft resolution would be distributed to Missions in Geneva.  The essence of this draft resolution was an invitation to all States to look at the opportunity of entering into a political commitment not to be first to place weapons in outer space.  Ensuring reliable international legal guarantees that would exclude the appearance of weapons in space around the earth was only possible via the conclusion of a universal legally binding instrument.  The basis for such work existed in the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects.  The process from the beginning of negotiations to the entry into force of the treaty would take a significant amount of time and filling in the legal vacuum during this period was the point of this initiative on the non-placement of weapons in space first.  Russia called upon participants of the Conference on Disarmament not only to support the draft resolution to the First Committee of the General Assembly but to also join it as co-sponsors.

Cuba said outer space was a common heritage and must be explored and used only for peaceful ends.  Efforts to ensure the use of outer space for peaceful purposes must be ensured.  All States had the inalienable right to access to outer space for research and peaceful use according to the 1967 treaty.  The safety and security of outer space must be their main aim.  In the past few years, there had been initiatives that had been of concern in this area.  They must scale up their efforts to ensure that they had a coordinated and consistent approach with regard to the peaceful use of outer space.  The legal framework in force on this matter was not sufficient for the international community to face all of the security issues that were linked to the use of outer space and there was a need for a legally binding agreement so that outer space could be protected from any arms race.  The draft treaty presented to the Conference on Disarmament by Russia and China represented a good foundation for the Conference to bring its debate forward on this matter and begin negotiations.  Cuba would co-sponsor the draft resolution to the General Assembly, which also represented a similar effort.  Cuba was ready to begin work in the General Assembly and the Conference on Disarmament on this matter.

Belarus said that in the course of informal consultations among participants to the Conference on Disarmament, Belarus had set out its developed position on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  Belarus’ position was quite well known.  It had always championed active work within the Conference on this item of the agenda.  Belarus supported the draft treaty submitted by Russia and China on this matter.  Belarus was positive in its appreciation of the Russian initiative to submit for examination by the First Committee a new draft resolution on the non-placement first of weapons in outer space.  Belarus hoped it would be adopted by consensus.  Belarus stood ready to be co-sponsor of the resolution. 

China thanked Russia for the presentation on the draft resolution and believed it was consistent with the spirit of preventing weaponization and an arms race in outer space.  China would study the draft resolution carefully.  China had been engaged in work on preventing an arms race and the placement of weapons in outer space in the Conference on Disarmament  and together with Russia had proposed a draft treaty in this regard.  China supported any efforts which would prevent the placement of weapons in outer space and an arms race in outer space.

Pakistan welcomed the statement just made by Russia.  Pakistan fully supported this initiative and would co-sponsor the draft resolution in the First Committee of the General Assembly. 

ANTHONY ANDANJE (Kenya), President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that as this was the last plenary meeting under Kenya’s Presidency, he would like to make some concluding remarks.  It had been a matter of great pride for him and his country to preside over the deliberations of the Conference.  He expressed gratitude and appreciation to his colleagues of the P6 for their support.  He congratulated the coordinators of the substantive agenda items on the schedule of activities for their excellent work and commended delegations for their patience and cooperation.  Members of the Secretariat were thanked for their logistical support and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research for the excellent presentations provided.  The next plenary will be on Tuesday, 19 August at 10 a.m.


For use of the information media; not an official record

DC14/028E