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DCF/258

TEST-BAN SHORN OF DISARMAMENT CONTEXT WILL PERPETUATE NUCLEAR WEAPON RELIANCE, FOREIGN SECRETARY OF INDIA TELLS DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE

22 March 1996


Press Release
DCF/258


TEST-BAN SHORN OF DISARMAMENT CONTEXT WILL PERPETUATE NUCLEAR WEAPON RELIANCE, FOREIGN SECRETARY OF INDIA TELLS DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE

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GENEVA, 21 March (UN Information Service) -- A comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty shorn of its disarmament context would be only an arms control treaty designed to perpetuate the reliance on nuclear weapons by those countries that had concluded extensive testing programmes, the Foreign Secretary of India told the Conference on Disarmament this morning.

As the sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations continued its debate on a nuclear-test ban, Salman Haidar said India had always followed a consistent policy on a comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty -- it should bring about a halt to the qualitative development, upgrading and improvement of nuclear weapons and mark the first irreversible step towards genuine nuclear disarmament within a time-bound framework. However, even as the current negotiations on a test-ban treaty were in progress, new justifications for retaining nuclear weapons had been put forward and new roles were envisaged for them.

However, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Hennadiy Udovenko, said a link between a nuclear-test ban and nuclear disarmament, attractive as it was, could lead to the failure of negotiations. Therefore, he could not support the inclusion in a nuclear test-ban treaty text of such an interrelationship.

Mexico's Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Sergio Gonzalez Galvez, called for flexibility. He said the nature of the treaty was to put an end to the qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons. All negotiators agreed that a ban on nuclear tests represented an indispensable first step towards nuclear disarmament. It was, therefore, difficult to understand an absolute refusal to accept a reference to the need for a nuclear disarmament programme. Nor did it seem reasonable to deny the prohibition of nuclear tests a value in itself, demanding its linkage to a legally binding process of nuclear disarmament.

Also this morning, the Conference was addressed by its current President, Ejoh Abuah (Nigeria), and by the Chairman of the Group of Scientific Experts to Consider International Cooperative Measures to Detect and Identify Seismic Events, who introduced a progress report. Mr. Abuah told

delegates that the great enthusiasm and broad support for an early conclusion to negotiations on a test-ban treaty should now be translated into concrete action through the elimination of the many brackets that still held up the consensus adoption of the treaty. He recalled the statement of the Secretary- General two days ago in which he had reminded the Conference that it was racing against time.

Statements

SALMAN HAIDAR, Foreign Secretary of India, said that although he was glad to see the progress registered in many areas of negotiations on a comprehensive test-ban treaty, large gaps remained in areas central to the purpose of the treaty. To India's regret, the opportunity had not been taken during the current session of the Conference to adequately address those key issues.

From the start, he went on, India had followed a consistent policy on a comprehensive test-ban treaty -- that it should bring about a halt to the qualitative development, upgrading and improvement of nuclear weapons and mark the first irreversible step towards genuine nuclear disarmament within a time-bound framework. But even as the current negotiations were in progress, the world had witnessed disturbing developments. New justifications for retaining those weapons had been put forward and new roles were envisaged for them. India had voiced its concern at those developments and, after careful consideration, had put forward proposals designed to ensure that the treaty was indeed an integral step in a time-bound process of global nuclear disarmament. Those concrete and substantive proposals would need to be addressed, as they were essential in defining the nature of the treaty.

He recalled that last week the Group of 21 had formally proposed the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament to commence negotiations on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament within a specified framework of time. Nuclear disarmament was not the concern of one group of countries alone, but was of universal relevance. An unwillingness to move in that direction, coupled with a reluctance to focus on the disarmament aspects of the treaty text, would raise doubt about the level of commitment to the disarmament agenda. A comprehensive test-ban treaty shorn of its disarmament context would be only an arms control treaty designed to perpetuate the reliance on nuclear weapons by those countries that had concluded extensive testing programmes.

SERGIO GONZALEZ GALVEZ (Mexico) said technological progress in the last four decades had resulted in different vertical and horizontal non- proliferation implications and, consequently, in different political meanings of a comprehensive nuclear-test ban. On the one hand, the great majority of the non-nuclear-weapon States had already assumed the commitment of not carrying out nuclear tests through other treaties of universal aspiration or

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regional significance. A comprehensive test-ban treaty would, therefore, mean new obligations only for the nuclear States and for very few non-nuclear- weapon States with specific technological development. On the other hand, it was a fact that a test-ban treaty would not mean in itself an impediment to horizontal proliferation, given that such tests were not indispensable for the production of first-generation nuclear weapons.

What was sought with a test-ban treaty was to prevent the development of new nuclear weapons, he said. The nature of the treaty then was to put an end to the qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons. That was why it was very important that the scope of the treaty be sufficiently broad to include the certainty that its entry into force would definitely prevent the development of technologies that could substantially improve the design of nuclear weapons or the development of new ones.

Negotiations had revealed difficulties that required important and urgent political decisions, he went on. The first difficulty seemed to be the degree to which the cessation of nuclear tests should be inscribed in a process of nuclear disarmament. There was no real conceptual difference in that regard, and all negotiators agreed that a ban on nuclear tests represented an indispensable step of the nuclear disarmament process. Therefore, it was not easy to understand the absolute refusal to accept a reference to the need for a nuclear disarmament programme. Nor did it seem reasonable to deny the prohibition of nuclear tests a value in itself, demanding its linkage to a legally binding process of nuclear disarmament.

A second difficulty was to be found with the so-called nuclear peaceful explosions, he added. The treaty should not contain asymmetric obligations. If those explosions were allowed, only a very limited number of States would be able to carry them out. Additionally, it would be impossible to guarantee that peaceful nuclear explosions would not be used for military purposes.

Another identified difficulty, he continued, was the entry into force of the treaty. It was evident that the treaty would be effective when it was ratified by those few States that had not yet signed legally binding commitments that prevented them from carrying out nuclear tests. However, the sole political will of those States should be sufficient as the basis of commitments that could very well be adopted outside the context of the treaty, without the need to condition its entry into force on the ratification of a determined number of particular States.

HENNADIY UDOVENKO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said his country had been the first State in the world to have declared its intention to eliminate nuclear weapons deployed on its territory. That decision had been adopted under the conditions of the so-called "Chernobyl syndrome" and the understanding of what a nuclear disaster could bring about. The decision had also been influenced by estimates indicating that the maintenance of the

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third largest nuclear arsenal in the world would cost Ukraine tremendous resources, in addition to those being devoted to eliminating the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.

Thus, he continued, Ukraine had made a substantial contribution to the reduction of the nuclear threat and the creation of a safer world. Within that context, Ukraine considered the conclusion of a test-ban treaty as an extremely important element of the process of ending the nuclear arms race. At the same time, Ukraine could not support the inclusion in the text of provisions which would establish a link between a nuclear-test ban and nuclear disarmament. However attractive that interrelation was in practice, it might lead to the failure of treaty negotiations.

He said the principles and objectives adopted by last year's Review and Extension Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) contained a realistic programme for movement towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Conclusion of a test-ban treaty in 1996, and the urgent resumption of negotiations on the elaboration of the convention on the prohibition of production of fissile materials for military purposes, should be the first steps on that road. Ukraine also supported the inclusion of nuclear disarmament as a separate item in the agenda of the Conference.

A comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty, he said, should ban all nuclear explosions on the basis of a true "zero yield" formula. It should also incorporate a mechanism ensuring efficient control over its observance. An international monitoring system (IMS) comprising four monitoring technologies should become the core of such a mechanism. The IMS would benefit from the inclusion of Ukraine's infrasound stations into the monitoring network. As for on-site inspections, those should not be of a routine character.

Turning to the question of expansion of the Conference's membership, he said admission of new members corresponded to the realities of today's world. Ukraine could become a member of the Conference, based on its vast experience in, and contributions to, the field of arms control. In preserving the features of a club for a select few, the Conference would be unable to increase its working potential, which was badly needed in order to resolve a number of urgent problems on its agenda.

OLA DAHLMAN, Chairman of the Group of Scientific Experts to Consider International Cooperative Measures to Detect and Identify Seismic Events, reported on the Group's last meeting, held between 12 to 23 February, and introduced a progress report. The main topic of the session, he said, had been the evaluation of the first year of the Third Technical Test, or GSETT-3. The GSETT-3 had not only demonstrated the feasibility of establishing and operating an international seismological monitoring system and provided large amounts of scientific and technological experiments; it had also established an important infrastructure which could be directly incorporated into the IMS.

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HAN CHANG ON (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said the non-nuclear States had always called for the cessation of nuclear tests, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, assurances against first use of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament, and the total abolition of nuclear weapons. However, the last several decades had not seen the solution of those issues, but rather the improvement of nuclear weapons with the introduction of sophisticated technology. In practical terms, the nuclear threat came more from the very existence of nuclear weapons, rather than from nuclear tests. From that viewpoint, his delegation fully shared the stand of many non-nuclear-weapon States to define clearly the idea of nuclear disarmament in a test-ban treaty. His delegation also supported the proposal of the Group of 21 for the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament.

His country was pleased to see the recent resolution of disputes and conflicts in several parts of the world. The situation in the Korean peninsula, however, contrasted with those positive developments. There was no meaningful change there in terms of the armistice, which had been an outcome of the cold war. The Korean Armistice Agreement stipulated that, within three months after the Agreement was signed, a political conference at a high level would be held to settle, through negotiation, the questions, among others, of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Korea and of the peaceful settlement of the Korean question. But that had not been implemented.

There was no guarantee that an accident in the area would not turn into a war, he said. His Government had put forward two years ago a proposal to establish a new peace mechanism. On 22 February, it had made another proposal in consideration of the position of the other side. In the light of the seriousness of the situation, that proposal, could not be refused on the grounds of cold-war thinking. Concerning the membership of the Conference, he said his Government hoped for an early resolution of the issue of expansion.

ALESSANDRO VATTANI (Italy) said he wished to underline the common will expressed by all members of the European Union to secure the maximum support to reach conclusion of a test-ban treaty by June 1996. The Italian position in the negotiations for a treaty adhered to a formula for the total exclusion of any nuclear-test explosion. It seemed impossible to make a distinction between the data achievable through nuclear-weapon tests and so-called "peaceful" explosions. Both enterprises could give similar results applicable in the military field and in the improvement and proliferation of nuclear armaments.

Concerning the mechanism for entry into force of the treaty, his Government favoured securing the involvement in the ratification of all of the most concerned parties, he said. As for the executive council of the organization of implementation of the treaty, his Government aimed at a position in line with her commitments in sharing the financial burden for the United Nations system. With regard to verification, an efficient and highly

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reliable system with the capability to strongly deter any attempt to circumvent the rules of the treaty should offer an innovative and fundamental instrument to provide adequate assurances. Moreover, it was of the greatest importance that procedures be developed to capture time-critical phenomena through on-site inspections carried out promptly after a possibly ambiguous event. The Italian delegation would give its full support to satisfactory compromise solutions in those negotiations.

To make its goals a useful reality, and taking into account the present constant evolution of international relations, as well as the evident restructure and adjustment of regional political influences and assets, the Conference was inevitably bound to revise its present composition in line with the factual realities, he added. For that reason, the issue of the expansion of the Conference was acquiring an increasing urgency. He recommended the effective and conclusive implementation of the so-called "admission in principle" decided by the Conference on 21 September 1995.

YONG SHIK HWANG (Republic of Korea) said he wished to explain why foreign forces had not been withdrawn from his country. United States forces had come to the peninsula as part of a United Nations effort to turn back a surprise North Korean attack. Those forces continued to be stationed in the country because the North Korean threat had not diminished since the signing of the Armistice Agreement. United States forces needed to stay not only to ensure the military balance of the peninsula, but also to deter another attack from North Korea.

HAN CHANG ON (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said it had been his country which had been the object of a surprise attack in June of 1953.

Speaking at the opening of this morning's meeting, the President of the Conference, EJOH ABUAH (Nigeria), said there was great enthusiasm and broad support for an early conclusion to negotiations on a test-ban treaty. The Conference should now translate that enthusiasm and support into concrete action through the elimination of the many brackets that still held up the consensus adoption of the treaty. He recalled the statement of the Secretary-General two days ago in which he had reminded the Conference that it was racing against time. During his tenure, he would continue consultations on the subjects of nuclear disarmament, expansion of membership, and review of the agenda.

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For information media. Not an official record.