Index

21 September 2000

Press Release
DCF/404



CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT CONCLUDES 2000 SESSION

20000921

Adopts Annual Report to General Assembly

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 21 September (UN Information Service) -- The Conference on Disarmament, the world's sole multilateral forum for disarmament negotiations, today concluded its 2000 session by adopting its annual report to the General Assembly.

In the report, the Conference requested the current President and the incoming President to conduct appropriate consultations during the intersessional period and to make recommendations, if possible, that could help to commence early work on various agenda items. These consultations should take into account proposals and views presented and discussions held in the 2000 session.

Ambassador Petko Draganov of Bulgaria, President of the Conference, said that his consultations so far had confirmed that the Conference was still short of a compromise on a programme of work. Although there was a broad measure of agreement on most of the elements for such a programme, there were two issues, nuclear disarmament and the prevention of an arms race in outer space, that still had to be tackled.

The Conference had decided to examine at the session the following questions: nuclear disarmament and cessation of the nuclear arms race; prevention of nuclear war; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements for guaranteeing non-nuclear-arms States against the use or the threat of such weapons; transparency in armaments; new types and systems of weapons of mass destruction; radiological weapons; a global programme of disarmament; and consideration and adoption of the annual report and any other report, as appropriate, to the General Assembly.

This was the second year during which the work of the Conference was stalemated because of the inability of its Member States to agree on a programme of work. Despite a number of draft proposals by the rotating Presidents of the Conference, disagreement remained on the agenda items on nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space.

At the opening of the 2000 session, Vladimir Petrovsky, Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Personal Representative of the Secretary- General, read out a message from United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he noted the deplorable lack of progress on the disarmament and international security issues which the international community considered the highest priority: the multilateral search for genuine measures of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and prevention of an arms race in outer space. He said the fact that the Conference remained deadlocked on these issues was part of a wider and disturbing stagnation in the overall disarmament and non- proliferation agenda. Mr. Annan hoped the Conference would continue its search for compromises in a spirit of flexibility and with a real sense of urgency.

This year, international developments concerning the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the proposed United States National Missile Defense System spilt over onto the work of the Conference.

China warned that there would be grave consequences if a United States national missile defence system was developed and deployed. It would undermine the global strategic balance and stability and threaten international peace and security. It was obvious that once the ABM Treaty was discarded and the door for the national missile defence system was opened, advanced weapon systems would be brought into outer space, leading to its weaponization. Referring to the stalemate in the work of the Conference on the programme of work, China said it was asking that when a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) was negotiated, the negotiations on a treaty preventing the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space should start as well.

The United Sates said the amendments to the ABM Treaty that the United States was proposing would bring the instrument up to date and would enable it to continue fulfilling its essential purpose. The United States agreed that it was appropriate for the Conference on Disarmament to keep the agenda item on prevention of an arms race in outer space under review. But it had also pointed out that there was no arms race in outer space. Plans of the United States for a possible national missile defence system did not involve placing any weapon in outer space. Many successive Presidents of the Conference had reached the conclusion that an FMCT was ripe for negotiation in the Conference, whereas nuclear disarmament and outer space were not. It was the unwise and unrealistic insistence on immediate negotiations on a new outer space treaty that kept the Conference from establishing an appropriate subordinate body to discuss nuclear disarmament.

The United States also said it was committed to work with Russia to identify adaptations of the ABM Treaty which would make its provisions consistent with a limited national missile defence. Bilateral discussions on ABM issues were continuing.

In response, the Russian Federation unambiguously stated that it was not holding negotiations on adaptation of the ABM Treaty with the United States which was a factor of global significance which constituted the basis for strategic stability. The Russian Federation considered that prevention of an arms race, both in outer space and on Earth, fully and completely depended on the viability of the 1972 ABM Treaty. Russia supported the re-establishment in the Conference of an ad hoc committee on the prevention of an arms race in outer space in order to elaborate specific practical arrangements which would block the ways of transforming the space near Earth to another arena of power confrontation.

Throughout the 2000 session, the Conference heard calls from its Member States to break the stalemate affecting its work and warnings that this stagnation was affecting the credibility of the body.

The rotating Presidents of the Conference held presidential discussions and informal open-ended consultations with the various States and regional groups. But a consensus evaded the Conference.

During the session, the Conference heard statements from the following Government officials: the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Norway; the Minister for Disarmament of New Zealand; the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Mexico; and the First Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus.

This year, the Presidency of the Conference was, as always, rotated according to the English alphabet. The Presidency was held by Ambassador Harald Kreid of Austria; Ambassador Iftekhar Chowdhury of Bangladesh; Ambassador Sergei Martynov of Belarus; Ambassador Jean Lint of Belgium, Ambassador Celso Amorim of Brazil; and Ambassador Petko Draganov of Bulgaria who will hold the post until 31 December.

The Conference fixed the following dates for its 2001 session which will be held, as usual, in three parts: from 22 January to 30 March; from 14 May to 29 June; and from 30 July to 14 September.

Conference Membership

The following countries are members of the Conference: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Mongolia, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

Representatives of the following non-member States also participated in the 1999 work of the Conference as observers: Albania, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei Darussalam, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Holy See, Iceland, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritius, Nepal, Oman, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Sudan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Uruguay and Zambia.

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