Title: "Opening NPT Debate Overwhelmingly Backs Indefinite Extension." Remarks by foreign ministers from throughout the world on the first day of debate at the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference. (950419)
OPENING NPT DEBATE OVERWHELMINGLY BACKS INDEFINITE EXTENSION (NPT Excerpts: Statements at NPT review conference) (1840) United Nations -- On the first day of general debate at the 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference April 18, an overwhelming number of the foreign ministers who addressed delegates at the United Nations advocated the indefinite extension of the 25-year-old treaty.
And even those delegates who did not specify how they would vote next month on extending the NPT praised the accomplishments of the treaty and discussed how it might be strengthened in the future.
Following are excerpts of their speeches: -- French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who spoke on behalf of the 15 members of the European Union and six Eastern and Central European states (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovak Republic):
"The European Union has unequivocally committed itself by a common action to the indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT. This commitment is not surprising. Firstly, because Europe has been so often and so grievously devastated over the centuries.
"We know the requirement of security. We know the price of peace. Secondly, because we are convinced...that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a threat to peace and international security. And, lastly, because our countries know that in the face of this threat, the NPT meets a fundamental need of the international community.
"At present, 178 states have acceded to the treaty whereas only 141 had done so at the last review conference in 1990. If we are now coming closer to the objective of universality, it is indeed because our states realize that the NPT serves their interests.
"It is in the interest of the international community to counter the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is in its interest to promote access to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It is in its interest that the process of disarmament be continued. These are the three essential aspects of the NPT....
"However satisfactory the results of the implementation of the treaty may be, we cannot be content. The world is indeed still going through a phase of change and instability. We still do not know the nature of the new balances on which the next century will be founded. In the case of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the situation is also ambivalent. On the one hand there are the increasing successes of the NPT, an ever-growing number of accessions, stronger international safeguards, more diversified means of verification and greater international solidarity. On the other, new regional ambitions are surfacing for which the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction could constitute particularly dangerous means of domination.
"In view of this observation we have to do our utmost to reduce the risks of uncertainty and instability, to increase confidence among states without which there is no security and to strengthen the international legal status of the NPT by making it permanent....
"What unites those who are in this room today is more important than what divides them. Our countries all want to maintain the NPT. No one wishes to see new states acquire nuclear weapons....No one wants a return to the period of distrust and absurd competition which provided justification for the arms race.
"For the countries of the European Union this is a powerful reason for conferring on the NPT the permanence which it lacks and which is fundamental to fully realizing its objectives. Anyone can see the possible consequences of a treaty whose future is uncertain."
-- Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Angel Gurria: "We understand, on the one hand, the concern of those who consider that limiting the effectiveness of the treaty may endanger an instrument that, although imperfect, continues to be the basis of the non-proliferation system. But, on the other hand, we have the obligation of struggling for nuclear disarmament as we have done since this international instrument was formalized.
"It is not a matter of simply extending the treaty. The extension is not an end in itself. Accordingly, Mexico believes that any decision arising out of this conference should consider...a test ban treaty within the year, beginning negotiations on a ban of fissile material production for military purposes, binding negative securities, strengthening the IAEA safeguards and approval of a reinforced review mechanism guaranteeing a periodic evaluation of the treaty.
"Seldom in recent years has there been a topic attracting the attention of the international community more than this. Seldom have we had, as now, the opportunity to achieve significant agreement on such an important matter."
-- Canadian Foreign Minister Andre Ouellet: "Early on Canada took a deliberate political decision not to use our technical expertise and capabilities to make nuclear weapons....
"We come to this meeting as a major player in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. In Canada, under the unique umbrella provided by the NPT we are engaged in a wide spectrum of activities from the mining and export of uranium to the design, production and export of one of the world's safest reactors: the CANDU. We have nuclear relations with 31 countries in all regions of the world.
"Finally, we approach this meeting in the broader context: that of strengthening the United Nations and the framework of international norms and principles that turn the reality of interdependence from a source of potential conflict and difficulty, into an asset and advantage....
"Canada believes the NPT must link permanence with accountability. Future review conferences will ensure that every five years we have the opportunity to strengthen compliance with Article VI as well as the other provisions of the treaty.
"There is simply no substitute for the NPT. Its benefits for non-nuclear weapons states, in terms of bringing the nuclear weapons states into compliance over time with the fundamental standards set out by the NPT are invaluable....
"Indefinitely extending the NPT means enshrining permanently the legal commitment to dismantle all nuclear arsenals. The NPT is the only multilateral legal instrument to contain such an injunction. Without it, we have nothing."
-- German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel: "The NPT is not flawless and it cannot solve all problems, but to those who criticize it for this reason, I say, better is the enemy of good.
"In spite of all its deficiencies the treaty has lived up to all expectations in the past 25 years. Dangerous developments toward the proliferation of nuclear weapons have been halted or reversed....All successor states of the Soviet Union have acceded. Africa has become a non-nuclear weapons region. If we can extend the treaty indefinitely, it will be easier to persuade the other countries to join....
"We renounced all kinds of weapons of mass destruction long ago. No one can suspect us of wanting to perpetuate a two-class society. At the same time, however, we are the best proof that renunciation of nuclear weapons is in no way a disadvantage....
"We well appreciate the concerns of the non-nuclear weapons states and will therefore continue to urge further energetic steps toward disarmament.
"But we reject the idea of making the treaty's extension conditional! That would only play into the hands of those who seek a pretext to justify their own nuclear ambitions. For us the durability of the nuclear non-proliferation regime has absolute priority over all other considerations...."
-- Indonesian Ambassador Izhar Ibrahim: "We are aware of the significant advances made in nuclear arms limitations in the INF Treaty as well as START I and II and the dismantling of thousands of nuclear weapons accumulated from the over armament of the Cold War period. But they did not go far enough.
"To demonstrate the recognition of their obligations, the two major nuclear powers should initiate negotiations leading towards an agreement or agreements that would set a timetable for a drastic cut of nuclear weapons far below the level of 3500 under START II. A strengthened NPT requires a pledge to conclude a comprehensive test ban treaty, a prohibition of the production of weapons-usable fissionable materials which should also include existing stockpiles and the elimination of nuclear arsenals.
"Cooperation in the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be fostered and access to nuclear technology should be on an assured and predictable basis....
"An indefinite extension would mean the permanent legitimization of nuclear weapons and the five privileged powers will be permitted to keep their nuclear arsenals while others are barred forever from acquiring them. It will thus lead to a permanent division of the world into nuclear haves and have-nots, ratify inequality in international relations and relegate the vast majority of non-nuclear nations into a second class status....
"The second option of a single extension would mean the expiry of the treaty....Indonesia shares the uncertainties inherent in this option....
"The third option of fixed periods, in our view, would constitute a modality for the advancement of specific disarmament measures as set forth both in the preamble and in article VI of the NPT. At specified periods the nuclear weapons states would be obligated to achieve specific agreements leading to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons...."
-- Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono: "When the treaty entered into force 25 years ago, there were in my country vigorous arguments against its ratification by those who cited its discriminatory nature. Nevertheless, Japan ratified the NPT in 1976, convinced of the important role which the treaty was expected to play in stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Today I can say in all confidence that this decision was the right one. For without the NPT the number of nuclear weapons states would surely be much greater than it is now, and the international community would be seriously destabilized....
"The international community is not free from the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Indeed, it may even be said that, in this post-Cold War world which is fraught with uncertainty, including the danger of regional conflict, concern over nuclear proliferation is greater than ever before. Under these circumstances, it is essential to ensure that the basic framework of nuclear non-proliferation is as strong as possible.
"Japan has therefore concluded that the NPT should be extended indefinitely. It believes that the best way to respond to the threat of nuclear proliferation is first of all to consolidate the existing non-proliferation regime by making the NPT permanent. Inherent in a decision to extend the treaty for a fixed period or periods is the possibility of its being terminated; in view of the importance of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, I believe that utmost efforts should be made to avoid that eventuality....
"Japan calls upon states not parties to the NPT to accede to it at the earliest possible date. The nuclear weapons states should further pursue their efforts for nuclear disarmament with the ultimate objective of the elimination of nuclear weapons. And all states should fully implement their commitments in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to facilitate progress in nuclear disarmament."