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Middle Powers Initiative:  The United Nations Debate over the New Agenda
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by Jim Wurst


The draft resolution in the UN based on the New Agenda Coalition declaration was the most debated text during the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) in October and November 1998. The following three speeches are indicative of the scope of the debate. The first statement is by Darach MacFhionnbhairr of Ireland, introducing the draft "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: the need for a new agenda" (L.48) on 27 October, in which he laid out the arguments for the agenda and addressed criticisms of the proposal. The second statement is by US Ambassador Robert Grey, who, on 29 October, detailed Washington's objections to the draft. The third statement is the rebuttal to the US speech, delivered on the same day by Peter Goosen of South Africa.

Darach MacFhionnbhairr (Ireland):

I wish to introduce the draft resolution contained in document L.48 entitled "Towards a nuclear weapon free world: the need for a new agenda" on behalf of the delegations of Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Ireland, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, Togo, Uruguay and Venezuela. The purpose of this draft resolution is to revitalize the way we approach the nuclear disarmament agenda. Its intention is to galvanize the international community in common action for the purpose of eradicating these weapons for once and for all.

It is the prerogative and duty of the membership of the United Nations gathered in the General Assembly to examine and to express the will of the international community on issues of such importance to humanity. Enacting the proposals contained in this draft would have far-reaching consequences, for the nuclear weapon states, for those states which have not joined the international community in relinquishing their option to develop nuclear weapons and for the international community as a whole, which has the responsibility to bring about a multilateral, non-discriminatory and universal regime for a nuclear-weapons-free world.

The draft resolution before this committee proposes an agenda, or the contours of an agenda. It does not presume to supplant other resolutions on nuclear disarmament before this Committee, but offers a way forward that is contingent upon the demonstration of an unequivocal commitment by the nuclear weapon states to approach their responsibilities with regard to nuclear disarmament from a novel perspective, mainly the speedy and total elimination of their respective nuclear arsenals. This draft resolution calls upon them to demonstrate such an undertaking. Without it we face the prospect of the continued existence and indefinite retention of nuclear weapons.

This draft resolution charts an agenda which in broad terms can, and indeed must be addressed if the international community is to seriously grapple with the elimination of nuclear weapons. The agenda focuses on the need to use existing mechanisms and approaches. It provides the balance between bilateral, unilateral and multilateral approaches, each of which, in its own respect, can and must contribute to the pursuit and achievement of nuclear disarmament.

The effects of following the approach set out in this resolution would be decisive. These weapons will rapidly be relegated as anachronisms which remain a threat only so far as the process of the destruction requires cautious handling in conditions of security to be elaborated between the nuclear weapons states. The threat of proliferation, which will always remain a concern in a world of nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, will ease as a result.

The consequences of ignoring the urgency of speedily and totally eliminating nuclear weapons was borne in on us earlier this year. Let these events be the defining catalyst for us all to act together, now.

This draft resolution provides the outline of a plan of action. Details of this plan can be changed. Time tables can be set, new and alternative approaches can be examined. All of these things we can do. We can do little, however, until the nuclear weapon states have demonstrated an unequivocal commitment to the speedy and total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, to be followed by a new level of engagement in those negotiations which are a first and integral part of the process leading to nuclear disarmament.

In this draft resolution, the sponsors attempt, with a reasonable proposal that builds upon existing, legally binding commitments by the Nuclear-Weapons States to secure the final push towards the realization of the Article VI provisions of the NPT, thereby enabling the international community to fulfill the goals of the treaty as a whole.

Mr. Chairman, I wish to respond to a number of criticisms which have been leveled at this draft resolution by a number of delegations. It is claimed that statements made by the sponsors indicate that they are not prepared to consider changes that would make the resolution acceptable. In response, the sponsors, who have labored solidly since the 9th of June, 1998 Joint Ministerial Declaration on Nuclear Disarmament, document A/53/136, to elaborate a draft resolution which would have the overwhelming support of the international community, have engaged all delegations which have been willing to work with them, and a large number of delegations have engaged in such a dialogue. The sponsors have accordingly amended many paragraphs in the original text to accommodate the concerns of delegations. The sponsors of this draft have invited the five Nuclear-Weapon States to engage in a dialogue on this text.

Mr. Chairman, it is argued that the text presents dangerous new concepts, such as nuclear-weapons capable States. In response, the Ministers in the 9 June Joint Declaration were specific as to the states which were covered by this term, namely Israel, India and Pakistan. However, to further avoid any possible misapprehension, the sponsors have moved the reference to nuclear-weapons capability after the reference to states, lest there be any suggestion that the sponsors were attempting a new status of nuclear weapons capable states. The text therefore reads, "States that are nuclear-weapons capable, and that have not acceded to the NPT." There are only three such non-NPT states.

It is further argued that the text does particular harm by reformulating agreed language on FMCT in a way that could prejudge the negotiations. In response, early drafts of the resolution used a formula for the Fissile Material Treaty which was generic and which could not be misconstrued as there was agreement in the CD, a body which proceeds by consensus, on the mandate of these treaty negotiations. However, as a number of delegations preferred the text of the full mandate, the text of the draft resolution has been amended accordingly.

It is argued that at a time when the international community has raised its serious concerns about the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, the draft resolution makes no reference to them and thereby lends aid and comfort to India and Pakistan, that it rewards India and Pakistan for testing and is not in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1172. In response, Mr. Chairman, there is another draft resolution before this Committee specifically dealing with nuclear testing. The origins of this, our draft resolution, are in a Joint Ministerial Declaration, which was in preparation well in advance of recent tests.

The goals of this draft resolution are universal, they are forward-looking and were as relevant before as they are after the recent nuclear tests. This is a proposal for a new agenda, not a response to action taken by certain states. The sponsors purpose is to focus on actions that are required now. The urgency of immediate action to eliminate nuclear weapons has, however, been heightened by the recent tests.

Mr. Chairman, it is argued that the draft resolution does not acknowledge the threat posed by those states parties to the NPT who do not live up to their obligations under that treaty. In response, Mr. Chairman, this draft resolution is a call for an agenda. The draft resolution on the report of the IAEA before the plenary of the General Assembly considers questions of compliance with safeguards agreements concluded under Articles II and III of the NPT. The Security Council is also apprised of questions relating to proliferation.

It is argued that the draft, by implicitly rejecting the agenda contained in the Principles and Objectives agreed at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, also tends to undermine the international non-proliferation regime. The agenda set by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the NPT, Mr. Chairman, includes the negotiation of the CTBT, since concluded, the fissile treaty negotiations about to begin, and negative security assurances also under consideration. Our draft calls for the signature or ratification, as appropriate, of the first, in paragraph 10, the determined pursuit of the second, paragraph 12, and the conclusion of negotiations on the third, paragraph 17.

The purposes of this resolution is to re-ignite the pursuit of nuclear disarmament, phrased at all time in conformity with the Principles and Objectives of the NPT and with any decisions and resolutions adopted by the parties to that treaty. The draft, in operative paragraph 15, underlines the importance both of the agenda and the review process set out in the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. The entire draft resolution is informed by the sponsors unequivocal commitment to the NPT and its full implementation.

Mr. Chairman, it is argued that a negative vote is required on this resolution to send a sufficiently strong signal that initiatives that are likely to undermine the non-proliferation regime are unacceptable. Mr. Chairman, in response, the sponsors of this resolution, delegations representing non-nuclear weapons States, parties to the NPT, are acting here to protect the NPT, including its non-proliferation provisions. This agenda is an approach which, if adopted by all the delegations in this assembly, would reinforce those provisions.

Mr. Chairman, the text of this statement which I have read is being circulated in the Committee and it contains an explanatory note on the draft resolution, paragraph by paragraph, which I will refrain from reading in the Committee but which is contained in the text which will now be circulated. Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to reiterate on behalf of the sponsors of this draft resolution, that we are in dialogue with a large number of states and we invite others to contact us so that consideration can be given to their concerns.

Ambassador Robert Grey (United States):

I take the floor today to comment on the resolution entitled, "Towards a Nuclear Free World: The Need for a New Agenda," tabled by a group of eight nations. The United States delegation listened carefully to the discussion of this resolution on Tuesday and would like to comment on both that discussion and the text itself.

In listening to the comments of its sponsors, we noted that while the resolution is one of the longest on this year's agenda, its supporters referred almost entirely to its first operational paragraph. They clearly consider that the heart of the resolution is its call for the nuclear weapon states to "demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to the speedy and total elimination of their respective nuclear weapons." I would have thought it unnecessary to demonstrate once again the commitment of the United States to nuclear disarmament, a commitment we undertook when we adhered to the NPT, but let me recall for others the steps we have taken and are taking in fulfillment of our Art. VI commitment. Some of the most important ones are described in resolution L.49 on bilateral nuclear arms negotiations and nuclear disarmament.

To review those specifics, let me just point out that since the height of the Cold War, the U.S. has almost completely eliminated its nonategic nuclear weapons, going from 15 Systems in 1971 to two systems today. We have eliminated more than 10,000 nuclear warheads from our military arsenal, along with more than 1,700 missile launchers and bombers under the INF and START I treaties. We have not conducted a nuclear weapon test explosion since 1992. We ceased the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons many years ago and have removed more than 200 tons of fissile material from our military stockpile. Once we have completed the next step in strategic arms control, as agreed by the U.S. and Russia, we will have made reductions of 80 per cent from Cold War peaks of deployed weapons. If this doesn't demonstrate a commitment to nuclear disarmament -- in deeds, not words -- I don't know what does.

The logic of this paragraph also puzzles the United States. If the commitments we have already undertaken are sufficient, the world would gain nothing from their repetition. Alternatively, if the sponsors of the resolution do not consider those commitments trustworthy, why should we think they find another one more reliable?

As I have noted, the sponsors of this resolution stress the first operative paragraph. But the U.S. takes seriously the entire resolution and urges this committee to consider all its provisions carefully. We have held our counsel while we waited to see what would emerge from the deliberations the eight held with other members of this body, but now that we see a more developed text we have decided to make our views known. The United States could upport some of the ideas it expresses, but finds many mor fundamentally misconceived or flawed in practice.

Let me elaborate:

-- We reject the alarmist tone expressed in the first several preambular paragraphs. As ACDA Director and Under Secretary of State Holum said to this committee a few weeks ago, the U.S. "identifies with the yearning for more progress--and with disappointment that the progress can be difficult and slow." This does not cause us alarm, however, but rather gives us the determination to work harder at the task of making more progress. What is alarming, but paradoxically not addressed explicitly in this resolution, is nuclear testing by India and Pakistan.

-- We have a similar reaction to the fourth preambular paragraph. The U.S. has had a long history of successfully controlling nuclear weapons and cannot accept the assertion that their mere existence leads to their use. There have, of course, been no instances in which nuclear weapons have been used for more than 50 years.

Let me turn now to the operative sections of the resolution.

It makes some useful points on the NPT, CTBT and related issues and we appreciate the revision of the paragraphs on cut-off to conform with the decision to start negotiations in the CD. On the other hand, we join others in pointing out that the call for the three non-members of the NPT to adhere to that agreement makes no mention of the recent tests by two of the states concerned.

I have already discussed OP1. Let me repeat: the U.S. has made a commitment to nuclear disarmament. If that is not sufficient, we fail to see what a repetition would add.

The resolution calls twice for the "seamless integration" of five-power negotiations into the current bilateral process. This sounds good, but what does it really mean? Have the sponsors considered the alternatives? Are we sure a five-power process would be most effective, or might there be parallel processes? the United States doesn't have answers to these questions now, and we suspect neither does anyone else, nor will they until the process has moved further along.

In one of the few concrete proposals it contains, the resolution calls on the nuclear weapons states to de-alert those weapons. The U.S. has considered carefully this issue and has agreed with Russia on pre-launch notification of strategic launch vehicles and space launchers. However, we believe the wholesale adoption of de-alerting measures leads to instability. Because such measures are unverifiable, a situation could arise--similar to the August 1914 rush to mobilization--in which the potential that one country might quickly return to alert status could start a dangerous rush by all to do so, leading to greater instability. We have instead targeted our efforts at improving command and control systems--a more valuable approach than wholesale de-alerting.

The U.S. finds the call for the IAEA to explore verification of a nuclear free world premature and will certainly not abdicate that responsibility when we are dealing with the total elimination of nuclear weapons. We suspect other states will not accept that idea either.

The calls for the CD to create an Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament and for the convening of a nuclear disarmament conference--like much of this resolution--substitute more talk for concrete action. The U.S. has consistently described the problems with this proposal, especially the negative affect it would have on real nuclear disarmament reductions and talks with the Russian Federation. We believe there would be no purpose served by running the serious risk of slowing or even stopping this proven and productive disarmament process, and that position will not change. And in any case we already are fully engaged in nuclear disarmament discussions in multilateral fora. We discuss nuclear disarmament here, in the UNDC, in plenary sessions of the CD, in the NPT enhanced review process and potentially in an SSOD IV, should the international community agree to hold one.

Finally, the U.S. considers the affirmation that a nuclear free world would require "a universal and multilaterally negotiated legally binding instrument..." completely premature. The U.S. believes it more important to concentrate on the practical measures needed before we reach that point, rather than considering now the legal form of an agreement.

Let me conclude with some general comments. Although frustrated by the pace of progress on nuclear disarmament, we--and we expect many others--do not see the need to replace the existing agenda with a new one. We all know what has to be done to move us further along the path of nuclear disarmament. Those actions include:

-- the continuation of the destruction of strategic offensive weapons as provided for under START I;

-- the completion of ratification of the START II agreements and the beginning of START III negotiations;

-- the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;

-- the start of serious, good-faith negotiations on a treaty prohibiting the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

-- the universalization of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This is an ambitious agenda, but not an unrealizable one. Some seem to consider it already accomplished; we do not. It includes tasks for the United States and Russia, for the other nuclear weapon states, for NPT parties, for those countries that have not signed the NPT -- for the international community as a whole. If we could achieve it, we would have made decisive steps in the direction the eight nations call for.

But what does this resolution include that will advance us in that direction? For the most part, it is an expression of concern that "something must be done." But apart from actions already under way and the call for an international conference on nuclear disarmament, what does it contain? And what will another international disarmament
conference accomplish? In fact, it could well distract attention from the NPT review process and other established fora for negotiation and discussion of disarmament issues, while giving non-parties to the NPT another excuse for their failure to adhere to the Treaty.

The United States urges the sponsors and others inclined to support the eight-nation  initiative to reconsider their approach, which offers little beyond the exhortation to do something. The U.S. can suggest no panaceas, no easy ways forward. The process of nuclear disarmament is deliberate and painstaking. It takes advantage of opportunities for progress, when they arise.

In our view, we don't need a new agenda, but a rededication to the agenda I have already outlined. It is a challenging agenda but an achievable one if we have the collective will to pursue it. It may not be a "new agenda" but it is a realistic one.

Peter Goosen (South Africa)

I must admit that one of the characteristics of these types of debates, when one as a representative needs to respond to a statement such as the one we have just heard from the American Ambassador, is that unlike being able to read through a carefully crafted written statement, one can speak from the heart, openly stating one's case.

I regret that, after having initiated the debate, the Ambassador of the United States has been unable to remain behind to participate, but I am sure that he is ably represented.

The United States has raised many issues which we believed had successfully been addressed at our last meeting, when the draft resolution was addressed in this thematic debate and I referred to the South Asian tests, the importance of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and so on. But the United States also raises important new issues which need to be addressed and answered. The approach that I will take is to work my way through the statement made by the Ambassador of the United States and the particular points that I highlighted while he made it.

One point he made very early in his statement, which I must say sent a certain amount of happiness through my heart, was when he said, "I would have thought it unnecessary to reiterate once again the commitment of the United States to nuclear disarmament."

It seemed to me that in making that statement the Ambassador of the United States indicated that he in fact has no substantive difficulty with operative paragraph 1 of the draft resolution, which he correctly identifies as the heart of the draft resolution that has been put forward on the new agenda. He went on to say in a later part of his speech, "The logic of this paragraph also puzzles the United States. If the commitments we have already undertaken are sufficient, the world will gain nothing from their repetition."

Therefore, if an unequivocal commitment has been made by the United States to the speedy achievement of nuclear disarmament, then it would seem to me, from the words the United States Ambassador used, that fundamentally and substantively the United States has no difficulty with operative paragraph 1. I should emphasize that for that
I am pleased and look forward to the United States being able to support the paragraph. It is an important paragraph. It calls upon the nuclear-weapon States to demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to the speedy and total elimination of nuclear weapons and without delay to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to the elimination of these weapons, thereby fulfilling their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

I was certainly pleased that the United States, as we heard earlier when we last undertook the debate, did not take, and clearly did not see, this language as an attempt in any way to remove the importance of the obligations that the United States has undertaken in Article VI, and that in fact the feeling is that they have already made the
commitment that is being asked for.

The next point that the United States Ambassador made, which I thought was important to pick up on, was that: "...the United States takes the entire draft resolution seriously and urges the Committee to consider all its provisions carefully." I join the United States Ambassador in making that appeal to all delegations represented in this room. He is quite correct. This draft resolution is not merely about operative paragraph 1. It is about all its paragraphs. It is about the need for a new agenda.

The United States Ambassador then went on to address some specific aspects of concern that the United States has with the text of the draft resolution. The first point that he made was that the introductory preambular paragraphs were alarmist in tone. Let me be frank and honest before the Committee. There is something I do every time I come to the United Nations to attend a disarmament meeting. I walk past the exhibit that appears on the ground floor of this building. I would encourage all representatives in this Committee room to walk past that exhibit. It is an exhibit of the outcome and the residue left after nuclear weapons were used in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I walk past that exhibit to remind me of why I am here. Once one walks past that exhibit and sees the effects of these weapons, I do not think that one could be called alarmist because of the language included in the text of this draft resolution.

I do not make the point to try to score debating points, because this is not a debating point. I see the point that the United States is making on this particular issue, but I urge the United States to try to see the issue from the perspective which we, the delegations that have put forth this draft resolution, see it. That is nowhere more clearly emonstrated than in our near environs, not very far away.

The next point taken up by the Ambassador of the United States is the argument that the draft resolution makes no mention of the recent tests by the two States concerned. Again, the draft resolution is not about nuclear testing. There is another draft resolution about nuclear testing, and we will have the opportunity to demonstrate there our
positions on the nuclear testing that has taken place, as South Africa was able to do in all the forums in which it participates, both nationally and in conjunction with others.

This draft resolution deals with the consequences of nuclear weapons. It attempts to set a new agenda, and I continue to believe -- and I made this point the last time we had the debate -- that it very forcefully takes up the point on the issue of the States that were responsible for the conduct of these tests. It does so in operative paragraphs 7, 8 and 10. For ease of reference -- and I am sure, Mr. Chairman, you will give me a little leeway -- I will yet again read out those paragraphs to refresh the memory, because it is some of the strongest language that I have seen on this issue.

Paragraph 7: "Calls upon those three States that are nuclear-weapons capable and that have not yet acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to clearly and urgently reverse the pursuit of all nuclear weapons development or deployment and to refrain from any actions which could undermine regional and international peace and security and the efforts of the international community towards nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation."

In the statement that the Ambassador of the United States made he also referred to the NPT, but in this context I will also raise the NPT, because paragraph 8 of the draft resolution: "Calls upon those States that have not yet done so to adhere"-- not just to adhere to the NPT, but to adhere -- "unconditionally and without delay to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to take all necessary measures which flow from adherence to this instrument."

It then also takes the issue of testing head on.

Paragraph 10: "Calls upon those States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify, unconditionally and without delay, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), pending the Treaty's entry into force, to observe a moratorium on nuclear tests."

It is my contention that one could not get clearer on this particular issue.

The next point raised by the Ambassador of the United States, which I must say he raised in an interesting way -- and it would be worthwhile to have debate and discussion on this matter, because I think we could both gain something from such a debate -- was that de-alerting measures lead to instability. That is totally different from my concept of de-alerting measures.

The United Kingdom, I think, stated that it had taken steps like this, not to create instability we presume, but to slow down the reaction time that could lead to a nuclear-weapons exchange. That is the intention of de-alerting. It is not to create instability but to create stability through delay; in the time it would take for a decision to start a nuclear war there would be a delay as to when those weapons would be launched. Hopefully, in the time provided and the way these weapons are de-alerted, sense and good reason will prevail.

The next point raised by the Ambassador of the United States was when he said, "My government has always considered verification to be a national responsibility." I should also like genuinely to engage in a debate with the Ambassador of the United States on this issue.

They really do not understand-- and I am being very frank-- because I thought that at the heart of the Chemical Weapons Convention and of the negotiations we are currently conducting on the protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, in which I myself have played some small role, and on the whole safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), what we are establishing are mechanisms to verify, in the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention, compliance with that Convention, which bans those weapons. While in the case of the Biological Weapons Convention, the South African delegation is working very closely with the United States delegation to verify that those weapons are also banned; and in the case of the safeguards system, because the reference was here made directly to the IAEA, to ensure that countries meet the safeguards agreements which they have undertaken and their obligations as non-nuclear-weapon States under the NPT.

I have never really seen verification as being purely a national responsibility. I can see the national responsibility element to verification, but I could never see it as being purely a national responsibility. That is a very distinct point, and we would seek an exchange on it.

On the issue of the ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament-- which are not quite the words the draft resolution uses, but we will provide leeway on that because the wording of the draft resolution uses in this particular instance; an ad hoc committee "to deal with nuclear disarmament," is a little more ambiguous than the way the Ambassador of the United States puts it -- those of us who participate in the Conference on Disarmament are all fully aware of the numerous proposals that have been made from across political groupings to have the nuclear disarmament issue addressed. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I should like to go through one or two of those proposals.

First is the one by South Africa. Although I list it first I am sure you will not mind my prejudice. The idea is to deliberate within the Conference on Disarmament on the issue of nuclear disarmament and identify the steps that would be needed to lead us to this point. There is a concept that preceded this because of the frustration of nobody knowing how we were going to get to nuclear disarmament, the elimination of nuclear weapons, to which we all, except for a few countries in this room, committed ourselves under the NPT. That is one proposal.

There is a proposal by your delegation, Mr. Chairman. The delegation of Belgium made a proposal in the Conference on Disarmament on this issue. There are proposals by the delegations of Japan, Canada, and countries of the Non-Aligned Movement. This is not just a desire of the small group of countries that have come forward with this rather strange draft resolution -- or so it would appear in terms of the reaction to it -- but seems to me to have a much broader base of support. There is a desire by the international community, which comes from across political groupings, to have this issue dealt with in the Conference on Disarmament. That is why in the text of the draft resolution we do not refer to an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament, which is code language for all of us who participate in the Conference on Disarmament, but use the words "to deal with
nuclear disarmament."

The next point I would like to raise is where the Ambassador of the United States said that he considered "... the affirmation that a nuclear-free world will require 'a universal and multilaterally negotiated legally binding instrument' completely premature."

I should like to read the full quotation because that is only part of the quotation, and I think it puts a spin on the idea contained in the draft resolution that is not here.

The paragraph in full states: "Affirms that a nuclear-free world will ultimately require the underpinnings of a universal and multilaterally negotiated legally binding instrument or a framework encompassing a mutually reinforcing set of instruments."

To me that seems clear. In terms of trying to ban chemical weapons we ended up with an instrument, and with the Biological Weapons Convention we ended up with an instrument. There will have to be at some point in time -- and we do not raise the issue of time in the draft resolution -- an instrument or instruments that will legally commit States not to aspire to nuclear weapons and not to attempt to acquire them. If that provision were not in the draft resolution, the weapon States as they currently exist today would be totally justified in having reservations about destroying their own weapons. While threat of nuclear weapons proliferation remains and while the threat of a nuclear outbreak remains, and while there is not a verification system or a legal network to prevent it, we can never reach the point of nuclear disarmament.

Not only is the text of our draft resolution based on logic, but we have made a determined effort not to prejudge the issue. It says that there can be a holistic agreement or a set of instruments. In other words, it addresses both sides of the debate on this particular issue -- the step-by-step approach or any other approach that one might wish to bring forward.

The Ambassador of the United States then goes through the list of what he regards as being the agenda. The problem I have with the listing made by the Ambassador of the United States is that I do not disagree with it. I actually agree with and support the listing. But that is not what this draft resolution is about. In the draft resolution we acknowledge these steps. In the eleventh preambular paragraph we welcome "... the achievements to date and the future promise" -- what good words -- "of the START process." In the twelfth preambular paragraph we say: "... and in this connection noting certain recent unilateral and other steps" taken. There is nothing in opposition, but we are looking further down the track at what steps would be needed to take us to zero, that zero to which we have all committed ourselves.

I now come to my last point. In the last paragraph of his speech, the Ambassador of the United States said, "It could well distract from the NPT review process and other established forums for negotiation and discussion of disarmament issues." This concern is raised with the sponsors of the draft resolution. Because this is not what we intended to do, and to make it clear that it was not our intention to do this, we inserted paragraph 15 which underlines the point and states:

"Recalls the importance of the Decisions and Resolutions adopted at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, and underlines the importance of implementing fully the 'Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty' Decision."

So the draft resolution in fact moves in support of the NPT review process and in no way tries to undermine it.

As I said the other day, I would be far outside my instructions and would be unhappily looking to retirement in the very near future if I were to do anything that would undermine that review process. I have really tried to take a positive attitude to the speech of the Ambassador of the United States. We are deeply disappointed that he is unable to acknowledge the draft resolution for what it truly is: a genuine, reasonable and moderate attempt to seek the middle ground for achieving the self-undertaken obligation under the NPT to eliminate nuclear weapons. What makes this even worse is that we are convinced that those delegations that have spoken on this issue in this Committee realize the moderation of this draft resolution and the agenda that it sets forth. That is why they are on the defensive.


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