CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT DISCUSSES NEGATIVE SECURITY ASSURANCES
Concludes First Part of its 2013 Session
26 March 2013
The Conference on Disarmament this morning held a thematic discussion on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, namely negative security assurances.
Ambassador Triyono Wibowo of Indonesia, President of the Conference, summing up the discussion, said that many speakers had said that while nuclear weapon free zones were a good way to deal with the issue, it was not far-reaching enough as many areas of the world were still not covered by these zones.. They had, in this connection, expressed disappointment that a conference on a Middle East nuclear weapon free zone had not materialized as planned in 2012. Delegations said that strong statements and assurances from nuclear weapon States were very important, however they noted that negative security assurances could not depend on promises, and there was an urgent need to negotiate a negative security assurances treaty in the Conference.
The President said that he was engaged in consultation with Member States to seek views on the most viable steps to advance the Conference. Within the six-week recess, he was planning to continue further consultations with Member States to seek possible elements for a draft programme of work. Indonesia would take into consideration the concerns and positions of Member States. Upon resumption, if the result of his intensive consultations indicated that submission of a draft programme of work seemed not doable, the Conference would address the remaining agenda items five, six and seven. That would mean that the plenary on 14 May would be devoted to an exchange of views on agenda items 5 and 6, new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: radiological weapons, and a comprehensive programme of disarmament respectively. The plenary on 21 May would be devoted to agenda item 7 on transparency of armaments. He further indicated that during the recess Indonesia would organize in its national capacity and in collaboration with UNIDIR, an informal seminar to explore ways and means of unblocking the stalemate which the CD had been experiencing.
Speaking in today’s thematic discussion were Ireland on behalf of the European Union, Iran, Japan, United States, Myanmar on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Kazakhstan, Algeria, China, India, Syria, Turkey, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Chile and Republic of Korea.
The second part of the 2013 session of the Conference will be held from 13 May to 28 June and the first plenary will be on Tuesday, 14 May.
European Union recognized the legitimate interest of non-nuclear weapon States in receiving unequivocal and legally binding security assurances from nuclear-weapon States. Positive and negative security assurances strengthened the nuclear non-proliferation regime and could play an important role: they could serve both as an incentive to forego the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and as a deterrent to their acquisition. The European Union was committed to promoting further consideration of security assurances and welcomed the respective adjustments in the nuclear postures of some nuclear weapon States. The European Union also continued to attach great importance to the development of internationally recognized nuclear- weapon- free zones. The European Union reiterated its commitment to a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and strongly condemned the recent nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which represented a serious threat to regional and international peace and security and clearly violated the relevant resolution of the United Nations Security Council. The European Union also regretted the postponement of the conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.
Iran said the credibility of the non-proliferation regime depended on the commitment of nuclear weapon States. Nuclear weapon States had made only partial and declarative commitments, but these did not constitute good assurances. Some nuclear weapon States were reluctant to start negotiations on negative security assurances. Iran deplored that 33 years after this issue was presented to the Conference on Disarmament, negative security assurances still eluded them. The international community should not be silent about the threats of nuclear weapon States against non-nuclear-weapon States and members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as they were a blatant breach of the United Nations Charter and other international instruments. The total elimination of all nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee. Pending achievement of this, nuclear weapon States must provide legally binding commitments to non-nuclear weapon States and the Conference should pursue this issue as a matter of priority and urgency by establishing an ad hoc committee to negotiate a binding instrument.
Japan provided its basic support to the concept of negative security assurances. As such, it was fundamentally important for all States possessing nuclear weapons to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in their national security strategies. Negative security assurances could make a significant contribution to reducing the role of nuclear weapons. Negative security assurances were in the legitimate interests of non-nuclear-weapon States. Japan commended the strengthened assurances promised by the United States and the United Kingdom not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States that were party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. Japan also believed that the establishment of nuclear- weapon- free zones, where appropriate, was a practical step in promoting and realizing legally binding security assurances. In this connection, Japan strongly hoped that the Protocol of the Southeast Asia Nuclear- Free Zone Treaty entered into force at an early date.
United States recognized the importance that many countries placed on security assurances and the Government had provided such assurances to States that had renounced nuclear weapons and that were in full compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. Negative security assurances were one of the benefits that non-nuclear weapon States derived from being parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and fulfilling their non-proliferation obligations. The fundamental role of United States nuclear weapons, which would continue as long as nuclear weapons existed, was to deter nuclear attack on the United States, its allies and partners. The United States had over the years reduced its nuclear arsenal by about eighty seven percent. The Conference had been striving to take the next logical and essential step toward the goal of global elimination of nuclear weapons by initiating negotiations on a treaty to ban the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The United States regretted that this had yet to happen. The United States also strongly supported nuclear weapon free zones that were properly crafted, fully complied with, and adopted in accordance with internationally accepted guidelines.
Myanmar, speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said as nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority on the disarmament agenda of ASEAN, they committed themselves to continuing their efforts to reach the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. In strengthening their efforts to global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, ASEAN underscored the importance of the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free zones where they did not exist, especially in the Middle East. ASEAN emphasized the importance of preserving Southeast Asia as a nuclear- weapon -free zone and free from the threat of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. It was also necessary, in the context of nuclear- weapon -free zones, that nuclear weapon States provided unconditional assurances of not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against all States in nuclear weapons free zones. ASEAN was deeply concerned about the effect on regional peace and stability caused by the recent underground nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. ASEAN encouraged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully comply with its obligations to all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and reaffirmed support for the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
Kazakhstan was firmly convinced that the total elimination of all nuclear arsenals was the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of such weapons. That was why launching multilateral negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and nuclear disarmament at the Conference on Disarmament was a high priority for Kazakhstan. Pending total abolition of nuclear weapons, codifying nuclear security assurances in a universal and legally-binding manner was considered by Kazakhstan as a fully justified objective. The establishment of nuclear weapon free zones was a positive step towards building a safer world. However, the establishment of such zones was not an end in itself and, given their geographical limitation, such assurances could not substitute for a universal and legally binding agreement. It was an additional tool to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the current international realities. Although nuclear weapon free zones now covered more than half of the world, most of the negative security assurances protocols were still under negotiations or had not been ratified by some nuclear weapon States, including the Treaty on a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Central Asia.
Algeria reiterated that the only effective guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons resided in their total elimination. The issue of negative security assurances was not a new one and had been on the agenda of the Conference since it was created in 1978. In various General Assembly resolutions, the Conference on Disarmament had been asked to conclude an effective international agreement to guarantee non-nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. All efforts made within the Conference and the Nuclear Non-Prolifeation Treaty did not respond to the expectations of non-nuclear-weapon States because of the deterrence needs of nuclear weapon States. Algeria believed, as did the Non-Aligned Movement, that negative security measures must be codified in a universal, binding and unconditional instrument. This would further consolidate the nuclear non-proliferation regime as a whole. Algeria noted the strengthened guarantees by the United States and the United Kingdom, but continued to believe that the current negative security assurances regime was limited in scope. Algeria supported effective agreement to create a Middle East zone free from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and it hoped that the conference on this subject could be held and could reach its defined objective.
China said that to negotiate and conclude an international legal instrument on negative security assurances was the strong aspiration of the majority of countries. The provision of legally binding security assurances by nuclear-weapon States to non-nuclear-weapon States constituted an important intermediate step towards a world without nuclear weapons. Efforts to establish nuclear weapon free zones should be respected and supported. The Conference should carry out substantive work on negotiating and concluding an international legal instrument on negative security assurances as soon as possible. China’s position on negative security assurances remained clear and consistent. Ever since the first day when it came into possession of nuclear weapons, China had committed not to be the first to use such weapons at any time and in any circumstances, and unconditionally not to use or threat to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States or nuclear weapon free zones. China supported the early start of substantive work in the Conference to conclude an international legal instrument on negative security assurances.
India believed that non-nuclear weapon States had a legitimate right to be assured against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons posed the gravest danger to humanity and to international peace and stability and the best assurances against their use or threat of use was their complete elimination. In the current international climate there was greater support for progressive steps for de-legitimization of nuclear weapons, which India believed were essential for achieving the goal of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. In India’s view, de-legitimization would not make nuclear weapons disappear in an instant; it would rather be a process that would help ease the path towards achieving global zero. As part of the Group of 21, India supported the conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear weapon States as a matter of priority. The negotiation of such an instrument in the Conference would complement other measures to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines and would improve the international climate for promoting nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects.
Syria said that as long as nuclear weapons existed, the threat of their proliferation and their use or threat of use would remain and their total elimination was the only guarantee to end this danger. There was an urgent need to reach a legally binding, unconditional instrument to assure non-nuclear weapon States from the use or threat of use of such weapons. This had to be recognized as the legitimate right of non-nuclear weapon States, especially in light of the growing concerns about military doctrines that supported increasing and developing military alliances related to nuclear deterrence, and that accepted the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Syria welcomed the creation of nuclear weapon free zones as a positive development towards non-proliferation, until the total elimination of all nuclear weapons was possible. Syria also wished to reiterate the urgent need to create a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East, and expressed its concern about the postponement of a conference to that effect which was supposed to be held in Finland in 2012. Syria rejected all pretexts that attempted to justify its postponement. Syria underlined the importance of negative security assurances by nuclear weapon States, however, these assurances were insufficient because they were conditional. Negotiations must start in the Conference on a legally binding and unconditional instrument.
Turkey supported the elaboration of legally binding international instruments, which would assure the non-use of nuclear weapons by nuclear weapon States against non-nuclear weapon States. Turkey, along with numerous other members of the Conference had repeatedly called for legally binding security assurances by nuclear-weapon States to the non-nuclear weapon States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. These assurances would help to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. Turkey was of the opinion that nuclear weapon free zones played a significant role in enhancing regional and global peace. They were important tools in generating security and confidence. Turkey was disappointed about the decision to postpone the international conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone that was free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, and it sincerely expected that the conference could take place at the earliest convenience as it would represent not only an important confidence building measure at this critical stage in the Middle East, but also a significant stimulus to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Process.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said it asked for the floor to comment on the statement by the European Union. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected the European Union’s statement. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had never recognized Security Council resolutions against the country. Reinforcement of the defensive capabilities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was solely aimed at defending the country against threats from foreign aggressors. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea encouraged the European Union and other members of the international community to look at the question of the Korean peninsula in a neutral and impartial manner instead of talking about the country’s self defence measures taken recently. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was the result of the threat posed by the very existence of these weapons. It was regrettable that States maintained policies based on double standards. The high-handed policies of nuclear weapon States had reduced the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other disarmament conventions to dead papers that were of no use, and this was a sure way of plunging the world into a nuclear weapons race. The provision of negative security assurances was necessary; otherwise, nuclear weapon States were free to reverse their commitments any time as they were not universally binding. It was vital for the Conference to establish a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances.
Pakistan said that the Conference on Disarmament had been discussing the need for a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances for years, and this issue was second in importance to nuclear disarmament. The demand for an instrument on negative security assurances crystalized in 1968 and it continued to this day. The Conference had been dealing with this issue for more than 30 years. Since 1978, Pakistan had spearheaded efforts to seek negative security assurances for non-nuclear weapon States. Even when Pakistan became a nuclear weapon State, it had declared that it would not use its nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon States and it was ready to negotiate on a legally binding instrument on the issue. The Conference must respond to the calls to start negotiations on a negative security assurances legally binding instrument. Positive assurances so far were conditional and non-binding and were no more than political declarations. Negative security assurances could provide security, particularly for countries that were not part of a military alliance and had no military deterrents. The conclusion of a treaty on negative security assurances would be a good confidence building measure and could help lay the foundation in the Conference on other core issues. Pakistan believed that the issue of negative security assurances was eminently suitable for negotiation in the Conference at the present stage, as there was overwhelming support for such a treaty.
Russia said it was prepared to engage in efforts in the Conference to develop a comprehensive agreement on the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. This issue was important to consider in the context of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Russia had consistently supported non-nuclear weapon States that were parties to the NPT to obtain such negative security regimes. Russia supported the establishment of a nuclear weapon –free- zone in Southeast Asia. At the present juncture, Russia had provided negative security assurances to 120 States around the world, and was ready to expand into nuclear weapon free zones. It was important to translate into practical terms establishing zones that were free from nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction; if this were to be created swiftly, this would resolve the proliferation issues. Russia regretted that the conference on creating a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East was not held. Russia was exerting every possible effort to hold it as soon as possible. The Conference on Disarmament had a mandate to work on security issues because of its unique format. Russia reiterated its support for the Conference to start negotiating a legally binding instrument on this issue.
Chile said negative security assurances had been part of the 1979 agenda of the Conference on Disarmament, and the Conference had a huge body of resolutions over more than 30 years on the subject. Negative security assurances were a transitory and irrevocable form of protection against nuclear weapons. Until the world reached the ultimate goal of getting rid of nuclear weapons, the work of the Conference on Disarmament should focus on an instrument to provide permanent guarantees to non-nuclear weapon States. Chile had renounced the use of nuclear weapons and it was sure that such steps and initiatives had value added, along with the nuclear weapon free zones. Negative security assurances should be assurances or guarantees that had a universal effect. The Conference should work on reaching an agreement to develop the structure of a binding instrument with a verification role. It was useful in this context to look at the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons which highlighted the need to regulate this key issue.
Republic of Korea believed that one of the practical ways to deal with nuclear weapons was to alleviate the security concerns of non-nuclear weapon States by offering them negative security assurances. These assurances should only be provided to States which were committed to their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Republic of Korea sincerely hoped that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could respect its commitments under the 2005 declaration of the Six-Party Talks and pertinent resolutions of the Security Council.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said it wished to take this opportunity to say a few words to “South Korea” since it had provoked the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in this forum. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea wished to tell “South Korea” that it categorically rejected all United Nations Security Council resolutions against it and had never recognized these resolutions. “South Korea” was standing against a fellow country in coalition with other forces, and this was increasing the threat of a killer war in the Korean peninsula. The growing tension in the Korean peninsula was the inevitable result of “South Korea” which was playing the game of the hostile American power against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
TRIYONO WIBOWO, President of the Conference on Disarmament, summing up the discussion, said that many speakers had said that although nuclear- weapon -free zones were a good way to deal with the issue, they were not enough and did not cover other parts of the world, and had expressed disappointment that a conference on a Middle East nuclear weapon free zone had not materialized as planned in 2012. Delegations said that strong statements and assurances from nuclear weapon States were very important, however they noted that negative security assurances could not depend on promises, and there was an urgent need to negotiate a negative security assurances treaty in the Conference.
The President said that he was engaged in consultation with Member States to seek views on the most viable steps to advance the Conference. Within the six week recess, he was planning to continue further consultations with Member States to seek possible elements for a draft programme of work. Indonesia would take into consideration the concerns and positions of Member States. Upon resumption, if the result of his intensive consultations indicated that submission of a draft programme of work seemed not doable, the Conference would address the remaining agenda items five, six and seven. That would mean that the plenary on 14 May would be devoted to an exchange of views on agenda items 5 and 6, new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons: radiological weapons, and a comprehensive programme of disarmament respectively. The plenary on 21 May would be devoted to agenda item 7 on transparency of armaments.
The President said that Indonesia was planning a lunchtime seminar in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research on “exploring avenues to address the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament”. The timing of the lunchtime seminar was in conjunction with the Second PrepCom 2015 NPT RevCon (22 April to 3 May) but the exact date would be announced later.
For use of the information media; not an official record