India Assumes the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament
19 February 2013
The Conference on Disarmament this morning held a public plenary, under the incoming presidency of India, in which it heard a number of delegations express their concern about the nuclear test carried out on 12 February by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the response of that country. Statements were also made about the need for the Conference to adopt a programme of work.
Ambassador Sujata Mehta of India, the incoming President of the Conference, expressed her intention to build on the work of her predecessors to ensure a smooth and substantial start to the 2013, and to reinforce the position of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum.
A number of speakers strongly condemned the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s nuclear test on February 12, noting that it constituted an extremely serious violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea said it feared that existing double standards and inequality were disturbing the progress of the Conference on Disarmament and reiterated that its recent actions were aimed at countering aggressions and were defensive countermeasures. Other delegations welcomed India’s assumption of the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament and urged Ambassador Mehta to continue to consult widely and to build on previous efforts in order to find a balanced programme work.
The Conference accepted the request by Kyrgyzstan to attend the 2013 session of the Conference as an observer.
Addressing the conference today were the Netherlands, on behalf of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, Nigeria, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, United States, Canada, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Algeria and Poland.
The next public plenary of the Conference will be held on Tuesday, 26 February, at 10 a.m.
Ambassador SUJATA MEHTA of India, President of the Conference on Disarmament, thanked her predecessor Ambassador Dekany of Hungary for the efforts made towards the revitalization of the Conference and reiterated her intention to show the same spirit and reinforce the position of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. India’s priorities, in particular nuclear disarmament, were well known. India would like to see the role of the Conference on Disarmament, as the sole multilateral negotiating body, upheld and strengthened. During her presidency, Ambassador Mehta aimed to remain faithful to and discharge her responsibilities in strict compliance of the rules of procedure of the Conference on Disarmament and to build on the efforts of presidencies to ensure a smooth and substantial start to the 2013 session and intended to follow in the same vein, consulting widely.
Netherlands, speaking in their national capacity, reiterated the support of the Netherlands for the work of the Presidency and expressed gratitude and appreciation to the outgoing Hungarian Presidency. Speaking on behalf of the ten States of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, the Netherlands recalled the statement issued on 14 February by members of the initiative in which they strongly condemned the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s nuclear test on February 12. It constituted an extremely serious violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1718, 1874 and 2087. The test, following the launch of a ballistic missile in December 2012, indicated that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continued to develop unclear and ballistic missile capabilities, contrary to its international obligations and commitments, including those under United Nations Security Council resolutions and the 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement.
This unacceptable nuclear test seriously undermined the peace and security of North East Asia and the World. It also constituted a grave challenge to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Further action by the international community was imperative in response of provocations by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. This test was yet another reminder of the urgency of further strengthening the international framework for the non-proliferation and disarmament of nuclear weapons, including the entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the effective implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative called upon all countries to continue efforts to attain and sustain a world free of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction, to abstain from carrying out any action contrary to the international effort to promote peace, mutual trusts, friendship and cooperation.
Nigeria said that it was a matter of great regret to have come to the end of yet another presidency of the Conference on Disarmament without agreeing on a programme of work. Being the first presidency of the 2013 session, Nigeria had hoped, perhaps against hope, that the kind of concrete results that would have set a positive tone for the rest of the year could have been achieved. Nigeria regretted that the Conference was not living up to the legitimate expectations of the international community, as made clear in relevant resolutions adopted at the sixty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly. Nigeria called on all Member States to show flexibility and to demonstrate the political will required to make the work in the Conference move forward. Nigeria had not and would not downplay the significance of national interests and especially national security interests, in the calculations of Member States. Showing flexibility did not amount to giving up or compromising national interests and showing a willingness to negotiate was not, in any way, a sign of weakness or capitulation.
The document CD/1299 had laid the foundations for each member of the Conference on Disarmament to bring out all issues of interest to them on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), be it stockpiles or future production. So whether the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) was viewed from a perspective of disarmament or from a perspective of non-proliferation, by the letter and spirit of CD/1299, both perspectives could have been accommodated in the negotiations envisaged in the Ad-Hoc Committee on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) proposed by Ambassador Shannon, just as they could have been negotiated under CD/1864, CD/1933, and CD/1948. Nigeria remained committed to working with each and every delegation to chart a way forward for the Conference on Disarmament.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea congratulated Ambassador Mehta on the assumption of the Presidency. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was confident that her able leadership and diplomatic skills would guide the work of the Conference to progress and reiterated the support of its delegation. The application of double standards was the expression of arbitrary practices in international relations which had not been helpful to the development of the international situation. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea feared that existing double standards and inequality were disturbing the progress of the Conference on Disarmament. It was not possible to foster the work of the Conference as long as these double standards existed. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea reiterated that its recent actions were aimed at countering aggressions and were defensive countermeasures. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had taken these resolute measures for self-defence as a primary counteraction measure for self-defence and dignity of the nation, in which it had exercised self-restrain. It was quite a natural self-defence measure in reaction to the United States’ ever increasing threat. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea took the opportunity to reiterate that its nuclear deterrent did not pose any threats to non-nuclear states, including those friendly to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and asked states, including the Netherlands, not to interfere. These countries should be reminded that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea did not read peoples faces and did not engage in empty talks, and would react to any attempts to violate its sovereignty.
United States welcomed India’s presidency and efforts to find a way forward. Concerning the comments made by the delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, in addition to the statement read out last week, the United States’ delegation said that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which would only further its isolation and undermine international efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region. There was nothing defensive in the carrying out of nuclear tests in violation of international obligations, United Nations resolutions which demanded that Democratic People's Republic of Korea did not carry out additional tests, and which reiterated the determination of the United Nations Security Council to take action in case of future tests.
Canada congratulated India on the assumption of the Presidency of the Conference and associated itself to the statement made by Netherlands. Canada would not remain impartial in the face of such provocations. The statements made last week by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea were deeply troubling; as it was the statement that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would continue to flunk United Nations and Security Council resolutions. This attitude was profoundly contradictory and called into question the continued participation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the Conference on Disarmament.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, reacting to the statements made by the United States and Canada, said that its words were based on reality. If the United States took a hostile approach towards the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, it would render the situation complicated and this would lead only to successively stronger steps being taken by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Canadian behaviour would be calculated separately in another occasion.
Bangladesh, reiterating its support, was delighted to see its closest neighbour presiding over the Conference on Disarmament and hoped that its leadership would contribute to the work of the Conference. Last week it had been a disappointment that the Conference had failed to achieve consensus and there had been a huge gap between the hopes and concerns of delegations, a balanced programme of work was therefore essential. Too much time had been spent focusing on discussions and exchanges of views, and it was time to demonstrate political will to move beyond the comfort zone and take action.
Republic of Korea congratulated Ambassador Mehta on the assumption of the Presidency and hoped that the Conference would make progress under her leadership. Recalling the statement made by the Netherlands on behalf of the Non Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), said that the recent nuclear test constituted a flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. It was clear that the test posed a threat and challenge to the entire international community as well as the Korean Peninsula and North East Asia. The Republic of Korea reiterated the call on Democratic People's Republic of Korea to suspend nuclear tests and its nuclear programme.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, responding to the comments made by the Republic of Korea, said that as it had been declared on many occasions, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had never recognised the resolutions concerning sanctions by the United Nations Security Council and, as the saying went, a new born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. “South Korea’s erratic behaviour would only herald its final destruction.”
Republic of Korea said that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was committing enormous resolution to developing nuclear capabilities while food shortages persisted and, amidst this poor allocation of resources, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continued to request humanitarian assistance. In this context, the Republic of Korea urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to focus on improving the living situation of its people and to halt its nuclear and ballistic programmes.
United Kingdom was struck that the discussion on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was heading in the wrong direction. Any reference to the destruction of a United Nations Member State was completely inappropriate. The Security Council was engaged, there had been in the past reference to Six-Party Talks, and Members had attempted to find constructive solutions to the current situation.
United States reiterated its appreciation for the statement made by the Netherlands on behalf of the Non Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative. As the United Kingdom and Canadian delegations, the United States was profoundly disturbed to hear these threats in the Conference on Disarmament. The phrase “heralding” the destruction of the Republic of Korea was inconsistent with the goals and objectives of this body. In its statements, the United States had used language that follows the Security Council resolutions instead of hostile rhetoric, and it was profoundly troubling to hear Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s in this forum.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that its nuclear testing aimed at self defence, amidst intensified United States nuclear blackmail against states. The nuclear test had been conducted against the backdrop of demonstrations of huge military muscle by the United States and its followers, war atmosphere created by them, the mobilisation of dangerous means for blocking its economic development, and dishonest elements threatening Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s vital rights. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea intended to counter this policy and to react with an all-out counter-action.
Germany congratulated India on the assumption of the Presidency. Concerning the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Germany had already made a statement last week and associated itself with the statement made by the Netherlands on behalf of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative. At first Germany had not been sure about the use of the phrase “destruction of another Member State” but, after being confirmed by other delegations, stressed that this was indeed troubling and inappropriate.
Spain joined in congratulating the President and expressed its stupefaction at the words used by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. In thirty years the delegation had not heard anything like it and this threat of the use of force, prohibited by international law, was not admissible.
France congratulated the President and expressed its gratitude for the efforts previously made by Ambassador Dekany. Following other delegations, France said that there were some things that should not be heard in this body, such as the statements by a Member State that it did not recognise Security Council resolutions, which was incompatible with participation in the Conference. Threats concerning the “destruction” of other Member States went beyond what was acceptable.
Algeria welcomed the new President and reiterated its full support and cooperation to reach a solution to the problems facing the Conference. Algeria also thanked Ambassador Dekany for the efforts made during his Presidency and, while last week agreement could not be found on the proposal put forward by Ambassador Dekany, an absolute refusal had not been made either. Algeria called anew to continue consultations based on the ideas available so far, including in decision CD/1867 and subsequent decisions, in order for the Conference to find a programme of work that would eventually lead to international instruments which would embody the principles of the United Nations. Algeria reiterated its full support for efforts to find a solution for the programme of work.
Poland welcomed the statement made by the Netherlands on behalf of Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative. Poland was deeply embarrassed by the infringement of numerous United Nations resolutions and stressed that, while a respectful treatment and friendly attitude had been previously extended to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, this had not been appreciated. Threats like those heard today were inacceptable. The indication by a Member State, in violation of United Nations resolutions, that it would violate these resolutions further and that it posed a threat to other Member States, constituted grounds for indignation. Poland wondered if this called for limiting the presence of such a Member State in this forum and reiterated its sympathy for the entire Korean nation, particularly those starving in the north.
Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that some countries, including France, had talked about the threats it allegedly posed to Member States. It was quite clear that their purpose was to mislead the public opinion against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a dignified Member of the United Nations. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was under constant nuclear threat by the United States and had long been placed by the United States on the list of pre-emptive nuclear strikes. There had been more than 2,000 nuclear tests and at least 9,000 satellite launches over the 60 years spanning the United Nations’ history, but there had never been a United Nations Security Council resolution banning a nuclear test or launch. The United States had conducted more nuclear tests and launched more satellites than others and yet, it had cooked up Security Council resolutions banning the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s nuclear tests and satellite launches. This was the preaching of international law and double standards. Had the Security Council been impartial, it would have not taken issue with the exercise of self-defence and technologic and scientific activities for peaceful purposes of a sovereign country. The current nuclear test constituted the primary countermeasure taken by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and, in which, it had exercised maximum self-restraint. A second and a third stronger step would be successively taken.
Republic of Korea, in reference to Security Council resolutions, recalled that the United Nations Charter clearly stated that actions required by the Security Council resolution in order to promote peace and security should be taken by all Members of the United Nations. Security Council resolutions concerning the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had been adopted under Chapter VII and therefore the Democratic People's Republic of Korea should adopt them. The Republic of Korea urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to improve the living conditions of its people before continuing with nuclear tests making threats against other Member States.
Ambassador SUJATA MEHTA of India, President of the Conference on Disarmament, before the conclusion of the meeting, urged delegations to endeavour to maintain a high level of courtesy in the dialogue in keeping with the solemn nature of practice and negotiations in the forum.
For use of the information media; not an official record