UNITED STATES SEEKS COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR-TEST BAN BY APRIL 1996, ARMS CONTROL DIRECTOR TELLS FIRST COMMITTEE
UNITED STATES SEEKS COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR-TEST BAN BY APRIL 1996, ARMS CONTROL DIRECTOR TELLS FIRST COMMITTEE19951017 Says World's Nuclear Arsenals More Than Sufficiently Tested; Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, Recent Nuclear Testing Also Addressed
The Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency of the United States, John D. Holum, said this morning that his country was committed to the completion of a comprehensive nuclear-test ban by April 1996, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate.
"The world's nuclear arsenals have been more than sufficiently tested", he said. "Now it is we who are being tested." It was also necessary to dismantle the excess armament of the cold war. The United States continued to dismantle up to 2,000 nuclear weapons a year, the highest rate that technical limitations would permit. He also expressed strong support for a ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes and called on all nations to join the moratorium on anti-personnel land-mines.
Citing the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), the upcoming treaty on an African nuclear-weapon- free zone, and the Declaration on the Denuclearization of the South Atlantic, the representative of Brazil said it was realistic now to envisage the whole southern hemisphere as a zone free of nuclear weapons.
The representative of Singapore stressed that a stable balance of power between the United States, China and Japan was crucial to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The indiscriminate reduction of arms could be destabilizing if it affected that balance. The representative Japan said a world free of nuclear testing, once beyond imagination, was now within reach. However, conducting nuclear tests -- by any country and for any reason -- ran counter to international efforts to end them.
The Observer for Switzerland said disarmament treaties must be balanced, verifiable and universal, while the representative of Bolivia emphasized the link between economic and social tasks and political and security issues. TheFirst Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/DIS/3023
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representative of Slovenia stressed the need to adapt existing security mechanisms to meet new realities, while the representative of Belarus cited the importance of security guarantees to non-nuclear States.
Many speakers expressed regret that two nuclear Powers had resumed testing in the period following the decision to extend indefinitely the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Several speakers welcomed a recent agreement on the prohibition of laser weapons designed to cause permanent blindness, reached at the Review Conference on the Convention on certain Conventional Weapons. However, concern was expressed that agreement had not been reached on a ban of anti-personnel land-mines.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. to continue its general debate.
Committee Work Programme
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on disarmament and international security initiatives, including efforts to conclude a comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty by 1996, as well as efforts to begin negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
It would discuss the final text of a treaty on an African nuclear- weapon-free zone, as well as efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones in the Middle East and south Asia. It will consider the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Also at the centre of the Committee's debate are issues concerning the illicit transfer of arms, efforts to ban land-mines and security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.
The Committee would also address transparency measures, the ban on biological weapons, the prevention of an arms race on the ocean floor, prohibition of the dumping of radioactive wastes, the role of science and technology in international security and disarmament and the reduction of military budgets.
(For background information on the documents and reports before the Committee, see Press Release GA/DIS/3020 of 11 October.)
HISAMI KUROKOCHI (Japan) said that in the face of progress made in the past year, it was regrettable that nuclear testing continued. Conducting nuclear tests -- by any country and for any reason -- ran counter to the efforts of the international community to end them. Because the decision last May to conclude the comprehensive test-ban treaty negotiations by 1996, nuclear-weapon States must exercise restraint. There was now a consensus, with the indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), that the comprehensive test-ban treaty should be given the highest priority.
She said Japan would introduce a resolution calling for an immediate end to nuclear testing. A world free of nuclear testing was once beyond imagination, but it was now within reach. As her Foreign Minister had told the General Assembly, Japan would host the signing of such a treaty. The indefinite extension of the NPT should not be construed as a replacement for a test-ban treaty. She strongly hoped that the United States and the Russian Federation would work for further reductions. Japan was engaged in joint measures with the United States for storing the nuclear materials derived from dismantling their nuclear weapons.
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She said the goal must be a nuclear-free world, with assured nuclear non-proliferation and a reduction in nuclear stockpiles. Her country would convene a seminar next year on nuclear disarmament in connection with the extension of the NPT, in the hope that it would further the comprehensive test-ban process. The various efforts of the United Nations should result in practical achievements. In that respect, the Conference on Disarmament had
failed to enact a ban on the production of fissile material, which was a great disappointment. Those negotiations should begin without further delay.
She said she was gratified that negotiations were under way on other weapons of mass destruction -- biological and chemical weapons. However, a legal framework was needed to strengthen the biological weapons Convention prior to its review conference in 1996. Further, many countries had not yet ratified the chemical weapons Convention. Japan had ratified it in September. Other States should sign and ratify that Treaty at the earliest possible date.
The problem of conventional weapons must not be overlooked, particularly given their use in regional conflicts she said. The control of anti-personnel land-mines and small weapons was a matter of great urgency. In that context, Japan had welcomed the adoption of the Convention on certain conventional weapons, and said there was a need to strengthen its protocol. Transparency was also important and the regional centres of the United Nations played a valuable role in increasing transparency. She regretted the possible closing of those three centres and hoped that at least the centre in Kathmandu would remain open.
DANILO TURK (Slovenia) said there was a substantial gap between current security requirements and existing international arrangements. The new realities had still not been matched by appropriate and adequate security mechanisms. Existing mechanisms must be further adapted and new ones developed. The Committee had a vital role to play in that process. It should consider some of the specific issues raised in the Secretary-General's reports An Agenda for Peace (document A/47/277-S/24111), New Dimensions of Arms Regulation and Disarmament in the Post-Cold War Era (document A/C.1/47/7) and Supplement to an Agenda for Peace (document A/50/60-S/1995/1).
He said Slovenia welcomed the outcome of the NPT Review Conference. The indefinite extension of the Treaty laid a solid foundation for genuine nuclear disarmament. However, it was regrettable that two nuclear Powers had decided to resume testing soon after the Conference. Following the Treaty's extension, the primary responsibility for its implementation lay with the nuclear Powers themselves. He also welcomed progress made towards negotiating a nuclear-test ban and a ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes.
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He drew attention to the agreement to expand the Conference on Disarmament by 23 States, but said the date of that limited expansion remained uncertain, while the situation of 12 other candidates, including Slovenia, was left unclear. The Conference would be strengthened by its enlargement. He welcomed the recent adoption of a Protocol IV to the Convention on certain conventional weapons, by which laser weapons designed to cause permanent blindness would be banned. However, the lack of agreement on the issue of land-mines was disappointing. It was deplorable that reporting to the Register of Conventional Arms was still far from being comprehensive and universal and incentives to promote universal reporting should be considered.
Sufficient emphasis should continue to be placed on regional approaches to international security, he said. Slovenia had been an active participant in the Partnership for Peace programme, with a view to becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It would continue to support the security mechanisms of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and would also support efforts to end the Balkan conflicts. In addition, cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements remained essential.
ALBERT CHUA (Singapore) said the Asia-Pacific region had become the most economically dynamic region in the world. In light of that, it must be recognized that the restructuring of relations between countries could be destabilizing. Arms reduction would not necessarily produce the conditions necessary for peace, prosperity and growth. In fact, the indiscriminate reduction of arms could be destabilizing, if it changed the balance of power among major Powers. For example, the withdrawal of United States forces from a region could result in destabilizing the entire region.
He said the Asia-Pacific region was experimenting with an integrated approach to security issues. One concrete achievement was the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in 1992, which opened a dialogue among regional powers. The aim was to reduce risk and build confidence among participants. As a sign of the Forum's growing maturity, it had started tackling difficult issues such as the South China Sea disputes. Strong support for that effort had been demonstrated and ASEAN was now considering the means by which non-South-east Asian States could accede to the agreements.
Confidence-building and preventive diplomacy must complement and strengthen existing political and security arrangements he said. To that end, continued and long-term United States engagement in the region remained vital. The ASEAN had adopted a Program of Action for a Zone of Peace, which had moved away from its initial exclusionary focus and now aimed at engaging the interests of major Powers to ensure a balance of power.
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JOHN D. HOLUM, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency of the United States, said the world must continue to move away from the divisive ideological struggles of the cold war era and focus on the substantive security interests of all nations. All dangerous weapons must be controlled, including conventional weapons. The United States called on all nations to join the moratorium on anti-personnel land-mines. The Committee must press for the earliest entry into force of the chemical weapons Convention. President Clinton was leading an effort for its prompt ratification by the United States Senate.
The results of the NPT Review Conference represented a triumph for all nations, he said. It confirmed that the Treaty's extension was not an end, but a new beginning. For decades, many States had championed a comprehensive nuclear-test ban as fulfilment of the Treaty's article VI. The United States welcomed progress in the Conference on Disarmament towards concluding such a ban. President Clinton was committed to the completion by April 1996 of a text that could be endorsed by the Assembly and signed prior to the start of its next session. "The world's nuclear arsenals have been more than sufficiently tested", he said. "Now it is we who are being tested."
The United States strongly supported a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear explosive devices, he said. It was ironic that some countries which have been the strongest proponents of the cut-off have lost enthusiasm for it, now that it was potentially at hand. They should consider carefully whether they wanted to leave themselves open to a competition that could last forever and never be won. "The fissile material cut-off cannot solve every problem, but it will solve an important one, by capping the amount of material for nuclear explosives, not just in the nuclear-weapon States but also in parts of the world that can least bear the risks of escalating arms races", he said.
It was also necessary to dismantle the excess armament of the cold war, he said. The United States continued to dismantle up to 2,000 nuclear weapons a year, the highest rate that technical limitations would permit. Although the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II) must still enter into force, that would happen, because START II was clearly in the interests of both the Russian Federation and the United States. Meanwhile, START I reductions were running more than two years ahead of schedule. In addition, the United States and Russia were moving on from limiting delivery vehicles and weapons systems towards more visibly and irreversibly eliminating nuclear warheads.
He said progress was being made towards universal adherence to the NPT, to a point where its membership approached the United Nations roster itself, with only nine countries remaining outside the Treaty. Progress was also being made on the NPT Conference principle endorsing nuclear-weapon-free zones as a useful complement to the Treaty. A long-standing desire for strengthened
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security assurances for non-nuclear States had be met by declarations from each of the five nuclear-weapon States and by Security Council resolution 984 (1995).
He stressed that the NPT's effectiveness was closely linked with the effectiveness of its safeguards regime -- an important principle endorsed and enhanced at the Conference. The United States had worked closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to strengthen nuclear safeguards. The United States would also continue to strongly support peaceful uses of nuclear energy under effective international safeguards.
The United States would live up to its commitments, he said. Those who trifled with their prior commitments damaged the very fabric of international security with their cynicism. Those urging disarmament on others must also practice it themselves. He invited all countries to join in the constructive new dialogue of the post-NPT extension era.
EDGAR CAMACHO OMISTE (Bolivia) said peace among nations was possible if relations and mutual respect were developed. Disarmament and security were the cornerstones for the United Nations system and the construction of a better world. Despite the United Nations Charter, more than 100 local and regional wars had occurred since its adoption. Still, the use of nuclear weapons had been avoided. A binding instrument prohibiting once and for all the testing of nuclear weapons should be adopted as soon as possible.
He said the phenomenon of the arms race continued to cause uncertainty. On average, each year $2 per person was spent to maintain peace, but more than $150 per person to support the military. Those resources must be diverted towards initiatives of peace and human rights. The end of the cold war had opened a cornucopia of possibilities. International peace and community must be addressed in the context of shared responsibility. Respect for international law and general disarmament would discourage the use of force and promote negotiated solutions to disputes. The demilitarization of international relations must be promoted.
CELSO L.N. AMORIM (Brazil) said the Committee had taken steps to rationalize and improve the effectiveness of its work. The next step should involve greater political will by all States to respond to the concerns of the international community. The mechanical repetition of pre-set positions could undermine reform efforts. The Committee should build on its achievements. It might prepare the ground for resumed dialogue between developed and developing countries on the question of international transfers of advanced technologies.
The indefinite extension of the NPT provided a basis for further accomplishments in nuclear disarmament, he said. However, the resumption of testing by two nuclear Powers had rekindled memories of the worst years of the cold war. The only way to leave that regrettable situation behind was to
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conclude a comprehensive test-ban treaty as soon as possible, and no later than mid-1996. Brazil called on all States to support the "Australian formula" for the scope of such a ban, to accept adequate norms for on-site inspections, and to support an early conclusion of the ban. A comprehensive test ban must absolutely forbid all nuclear testing.
He drew attention to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, the Rarotonga Treaty, the upcoming treaty on an African nuclear-weapon-free zone, and the Declaration on the Denuclearization of the South Atlantic. It was realistic now to envisage the whole southern hemisphere as a zone free of nuclear weapons. Progress in nuclear disarmament and the formation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones would gradually eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons.
ALYAKSANDR M. SYCHOU (Belarus) said the most important factors on which collective security depended were preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction and micro-disarmament. Belarus had made progress in a number of efforts aimed at promoting international security. In addition, it had declared a moratorium in September on the use of anti-personnel land-mines.
He said attempts to reduce military expenditures were continuing and he hoped that the process of arms reduction in Belarus would be evaluated in the context of its economic condition. His country wanted to help create a safer world, but that objective required substantive external support. He attached the utmost importance to the role of the United Nations in promoting collective security. Nuclear-weapon-free zones would strengthen regional stability, he added, but they could also lead to the destabilization of certain territories.
Any resumption of nuclear testing would provoke a review by other States, he continued. Nuclear tests were a step towards the vertical spread of nuclear weapons. Such testing could provoke other nuclear Powers to embark on a similar course.
Maximum restraint on the use of nuclear testing should prevail and the comprehensive test-ban treaty should be approved no later than late 1996. He welcomed the unilateral moratoria on testing initiated by some States.
He supported security guarantees for non-nuclear States, to assure the independence of Belarus. He also supported the adoption of unilateral declarations by States on the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and a ban on the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons. He would welcome an expanded membership on the Disarmament Conference as soon as possible.
OLIVIER F. DESARZENS, Observer for Switzerland, said peace and international security could not be ensured through an arms race. It was also essential that disarmament treaties be balanced, verifiable and universal.
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Switzerland had supported the extension of the NPT for an indefinite period. However, it regretted the resumption of nuclear testing by two Powers. It was hoped the Conference on Disarmament would complete its negotiations on a comprehensive test-ban treaty as quickly as possible and that all nuclear Powers would refrain from further testing.
He said Switzerland supported a ban on the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes. Blocking the nomination of a chairman for the ad hoc committee dealing with that question in the Conference on Disarmament sent the wrong signal. It was hoped the biological weapons Convention would be supplemented by a mechanism for effective verification. Challenge inspections must be permitted. On 10 March, Switzerland became the twenty- seventh State to ratify the chemical weapons Convention, which might enter into force next year. However, the two States possessing the most significant chemical arsenals must ratify it as soon as possible.
The Convention on certain conventional weapons had adopted a Protocol banning certain laser weapons that caused blindness, he said. However, it was regrettable that the Convention's recent Review Conference had not completed action on the question of land-mines. Its efforts to control such weapons must continue.
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