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17 October 1995

Press Release


19951017 China Says Ban Should Not Restrict Peaceful Nuclear Explosions; Control of Conventional Arms, Trust Fund for Land-Mines, Also Discussed

The representative of China this afternoon said his country would cease its nuclear tests once a comprehensive test-ban treaty entered into force. However, such a treaty should not ban peaceful nuclear explosions or in any way restrict the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Addressing the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) as it continued its general debate, he said such a ban should also employ an effective international monitoring system for verification, and must provide for on-site inspection.

The representative of South Africa said a comprehensive test ban should not include the concepts of peaceful nuclear explosions, safety tests or low- yield tests, all of which could frustrate the purposes of a comprehensive ban. Noting that nearly all of the Security Council's permanent members had accepted a "zero-yield ban", the representative of Australia called for consolidation of that consensus.

Stressing that the Balkans were "overstocked with all kinds of conventional armaments", the representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia attached the highest priority to the control of conventional arms. The representative of Argentina highlighted the importance of regular reports submitted to the Register of Conventional Arms. The representative of Thailand expressed appreciation for United Nations efforts to establish a trust fund for countries affected by land-mines.

Statements in exercise of the right of reply were made by the representatives of France, Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 18 October, to continue its general debate.

Committee Work Programme

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general exchange of views. (For background information on the documents and reports before the Committee, see Press Release GA/DIS/3020 of 11 October.)


EMILIO J. CARDENAS (Argentina) said the decision this year to indefinitely extend the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) consolidated the aspirations for a world free of nuclear weapons. Together with Brazil, Argentina advanced towards a thorough coordination of their respective nuclear policies. The first bilateral monitoring agency in the nuclear field was thus established. An agreement of complete safeguards was also made with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). With Brazil and Chile, Argentina took those actions needed to accede to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco). Cuba's signing of that agreement was a welcome milestone.

The conducting of nuclear tests was a matter of extreme concern, he said. The completion of a comprehensive test ban, without any exceptions, should be completed in 1996. Argentina supported efforts in the Conference on Disarmament to conclude a ban on the prohibition of fissionable material -- the "cut-off convention". It also supported the Secretary-General's appeal for full compliance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and Their Destruction (chemical weapons Convention). He also attached special importance to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (biological weapons Convention) and called for the ad hoc group on the Convention to continue its work on a verification protocol.

On 2 October, Argentina ratified the Convention on certain conventional weapons, he said. Argentina had suspended the export and transfer of all types of anti-personnel mines for a period of five years. The presence of 100 States and 60 organizations at the recent international session on mine clearance demonstrated the will of States to put an end to the spread of those weapons. With contributions of $22 million, the voluntary trust fund for assistance in mine clearance could now become operational.

The proliferation of conventional weapons required the urgent attention of the international community, he said. The regular reports submitted to the Register of Conventional Arms provided a useful means of building confidence among States. Argentina had reported not only arms transfers, but the stocks of military material. It was thus strengthening the system of collective security at the regional and global level.

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RICHARD STARR (Australia) said the NPT represented "the best and most effective fruit of our post-war search for collective security". Its success depended on faithfully following its principles.

The first commitment was clear, he said. A comprehensive test-ban treaty was needed as soon as possible, and not later than 1996. The Conference on Disarmament would have to approve a completed text by the end of June 1996 to achieve that goal. The fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nations, in one of its last acts, would endorse a collective determination to end nuclear testing forever. In addition, Australia was now "close to having all five of the Security Council permanent members on record as accepting a `zero yield' ban", he said.

The continuation of nuclear testing by China, and the re-commencement of nuclear testing by France in the South Pacific, were aberrations, he said. Such acts belonged to a different era that had been deliberately and decisively left behind. His Government condemned continued or resumed nuclear testing. The tests "fly in the face of the unambiguous wishes of the international community". The three nuclear-weapon States that were maintaining testing moratoria were to be congratulated.

The consolidation and enhancement of security assurances for non- nuclear-weapon States would be an important step in establishing a common understanding of the process of disarmament and its effects on non-nuclear States, he said. He also supported the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a cut-off convention banning the production of fissile material for explosive purposes.

Concrete steps were being taken in promoting nuclear-weapon-free zones, he continued. Australia welcomed, in particular, indications that the United States was moving towards a final decision on adherence to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. He acknowledged the effects of the Treaty of Tlatelolco and welcomed the conclusion of an African nuclear-weapon-free zone. He also expressed appreciation for progress in a number of other areas, including the decision by the Conference on Disarmament to expand its membership and the progress made on the Register of Conventional Arms.

He was deeply disappointed that no agreement on anti-personnel land- mines had yet been achieved. On the matter of regional initiatives, he would appreciate ongoing support by the United Nations for such regional initiatives as the regional centre in Kathmandu. The chemical weapons Convention represented one of the most important steps in security for the international community. To be effective, however, that instrument needed immediate ratification. There was no room for complacency on the matter. Regarding the biological weapons Convention, there must be a coherent and effective verification mechanism. Recent activities by Iraq underscored the need to enforce and refurbish the principles of such a Convention.

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SHA ZUKANG (China) said the decision to extend indefinitely the NPT should not be interpreted to allow the perpetual possession of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon States. Legally binding instruments should be negotiated on the non-use or threatened use of nuclear weapons against non- nuclear-weapon States. Disarmament still had a long way to go. Gigantic nuclear arsenals remained practically intact, while some nuclear-weapon States insisted on policies of deterrence and continued their research and development of space weapons. His Foreign Minister had called for a comprehensive ban of nuclear weapons and had advanced such proposals as a ban on the first-use of nuclear weapons.

He supported a total ban on nuclear weapon testing within the framework of the complete prohibition and destruction of nuclear weapons. "The treaty should have a clearly defined scope to provide a comprehensive ban on all nuclear weapon test explosions and not ban peaceful nuclear explosions, or in any way restrict the peaceful uses of nuclear energy", he said. Its verification regime should be effective and fair. National technical means could have no place in the international monitoring system -- that was an important issue of principle. China attached great importance to the comprehensive test-ban negotiations and would work towards the conclusion of such a treaty as soon as possible, not later than 1996.

He said China had long undertaken not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances. It had also unconditionally undertaken not to use or threaten to use such weapons against non-nuclear- weapon countries and nuclear-weapon-free zones. He strongly appealed to all nuclear-weapon States to conclude a treaty on no first-use or threat of use against such States and zones.

China's possession of a limited number of nuclear weapons was solely for self-defence, he said. Its nuclear weapons were not directed against any other country and it had never participated in the nuclear arms race. China had exercised the utmost restraint in nuclear testing. Once the comprehensive test ban entered into force, China would cease its nuclear weapon tests.

He said his Government had consistently supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones. China was also ready to work towards the conclusion of a fair and universal convention on the cut-off of fissionable materials for weapons purposes. China supported the objectives of the chemical weapons Convention and was preparing for its early ratification. His country also supported measures to strengthen the biological weapons Convention. He hoped that outstanding issues on the banning of land-mines would be resolved.

NASTE CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that no efforts should be spared to remove threats to peace and prevent conflicts. The democratization of the process of disarmament, its transparency and all

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activities aimed at regional and global integration were essential to the development of those regions not immediately threatened by nuclear war.

He said that integrating the Balkan people into the European community as soon as possible was the most important step towards maintaining European and global security. But, first, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be stopped and a political solution to the conflict reached. Further "Balkanization" of the Balkans was the most serious threat to Europe and the rest of the world. "Europeanization" of the Balkans should not be delayed and normalization should be encouraged by the international community.

The NPT represented the most important treaty of the disarmament process, he said. The conclusion of the comprehensive test-ban treaty remained a priority, as did the control of conventional arms, which would build confidence in many States. Transparency of production and stockpiles was essential. The Balkans was overstocked with all kinds of conventional armaments, the weapons of future wars.

He reviewed a number of other disarmament issues, saying the chemical weapons Convention should be ratified by all States and should enter into force without delay, efforts to ban production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons should be negotiated, and binding security assurances for non- nuclear States was essential. He added that the question of demining should be handled with the "utmost urgency".

KHIPHUSIZI J. JELE (South Africa) said the NPT Review Conference had articulated a link between the indefinite extension of the Treaty and such objectives as conclusion of a comprehensive test-ban treaty, the early conclusion of negotiations on a "cut-off" convention, and the determined pursuit of nuclear and general and complete disarmament. While apartheid South Africa had pursued nuclear weapons for its national security, democratic South Africa saw its international and regional security in complete nuclear disarmament. "The NPT provides us in Africa and the international community with greater security than did the nuclear weapons which we have destroyed", he said.

Although the nuclear-weapon States had undertaken to exercise utmost restraint in nuclear testing, two such States had proceeded with testing, he continued. South Africa strongly urged them to reconsider that policy and to honour their commitment to a moratorium. South Africa also took great satisfaction at the progress made regarding the African nuclear-weapon-free zone. Such a treaty would considerably expand the total area of nuclear- weapon-free zones and was a further step towards complete nuclear disarmament.

Regarding negotiations on a comprehensive test-ban treaty, he said, "We do not think that a comprehensive test-ban treaty should include the concepts of peaceful nuclear explosions, safety tests or low-yield tests, all of which

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could frustrate the purposes of a comprehensive test ban." South Africa saw a future test ban as an instrument for both non-proliferation and disarmament. South Africa also looked forward to the start of negotiations for a ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes. The purpose of a "cut- off" convention would be to strengthen the international nuclear non- proliferation regime and to ban the production of such materials through a legally binding and internationally verifiable commitment.

He said his country strongly favoured the early entry into force of the chemical weapons Convention, which would ban an entire category of weapons of mass destruction. It was also participating in efforts to strengthen the biological weapons Convention by establishing effective verification measures. He urged all States to accede to the Convention on certain conventional weapons and called for renewed international efforts to conclude a ban on anti-personnel land-mines. South Africa was very concerned about the proliferation of other conventional arms. It was also essential that membership of the Conference on Disarmament be expanded.

NITYA PIBULSONGGRAM (Thailand) said that since the last session, there had been mixed signals, both encouraging and discouraging developments. There was, for example, renewed enthusiasm for a comprehensive test-ban treaty and the NPT Review Conference had been favourably concluded. However, nuclear testing had been resumed by two nuclear-weapon States and the possibility of nuclear proliferation to non-nuclear-weapon States had increased. He urged the nuclear-weapon States to observe the moratorium on nuclear testing.

He said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had been working towards the establishment of a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. Such a treaty would be ready for signature at the Fifth ASEAN Summit Meeting in Thailand in December. Citing the recent gas attack against innocent commuters in Tokyo, he said that full support for an effective and universal chemical weapons Convention was essential. At present, steps were being taken in Thailand to ratify the Convention. In addition, strengthening the biological weapons Convention would require the establishment of verification measures that should protect sensitive commercial proprietary information and protect national security needs.

The Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Kathmandu encouraged confidence-building measures, he said. He pledged continued support and willingness to participate in the important work of the centre. Regarding conventional arms, he said that openness and transparency were greatly needed. His country had contributed to the Register on Conventional Arms, but the Register required universal and non-discriminatory application. Further, much remained to be done on the menace of land-mines, which had caused a loss of life and property among the Thai population. Thailand did not manufacture land-mines and the efforts of the United Nations to establish a trust fund for land-mine affected countries was appreciated.

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The dramatic increase in number of conflicts in past few years posed new challenge to peace-keeping operations, he said. To meet that challenge, new thinking was needed. Regional cooperation could do much to assist global efforts. The ASEAN Regional Forum, involving 18 countries, provided a useful vehicle and a viable model for regional cooperation.

Right of Reply

JOELLE BOURGOIS (France), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said one delegation had spoken of nuclear tests in unacceptable language. The question of nuclear testing must be seen in the context of the complete banning of nuclear tests. France's goal was the complete ban of all nuclear tests and explosions by 1996. France had been the first to announce, on 10 August, its endorsement of the "zero-yield option".

Attacks that had been levelled against her country were unfounded, she said. France's campaign was entirely in accordance with the commitments it had undertaken. Her country had carried out the minimum number of tests required for the security and reliability of its arms. France was fully ready to pursue the goal of nuclear disarmament and had taken important unilateral measures to reduce its arsenal, which was maintained at the strict level of sufficiency.

ALEXIOS STEPHANOU (Greece) drew attention to an "incorrect demonination" of the former Yugoslav Republic of Yugoslavia in the statement by that country's representative. Citing Security Council resolution 817 (1993), he said the difference over that country's name had not yet been settled.

Mr. CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said the relations between his country and Greece had started to develop satisfactorily on both sides and promised to be very fruitful in future. However, Greece's interpretation of resolution 817 was incorrect. No obligation had been placed on his country not to use its constitutional name. It would continue in the future to use its constitutional name, which was "Republic of Macedonia".

Mr. STEPHANOU (Greece) said the representative of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had given his own interpretation. However, there was no question of interpretation of resolution 817, as it was self-explanatory. If it were interpreted to imply that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia could be referred to otherwise, the resolution would have been devoid of any meaning.

Mr. CALOVSKI (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that, in his statement, he used the name of his country, which was "the Republic of Macedonia". Resolution 817 did not oblige him to refrain from using his country's constitutional name.

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For information media. Not an official record.