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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Chinese Statement, April 8, 1997

Statement by H.E. Mr. Sha Zukang

April 8, 1997, New York

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to begin by warmly congratulating you, on behalf of the Chinese delegation, on your assumption of the chairmanship of the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Just as the saying goes, the first step is always difficult. However, we are convinced that with your wisdom and diplomatic skill, you will certainly guide the current session to a success. I wish to assure you that the Chinese delegation will support and cooperate with you.

Mr. Chairman,

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1997 NPT Prep Com 

At present, the overall international situation continues to move toward relaxation. The international relations are undergoing drastic adjustments, and the transition towards multipolarity has accelerated. It has become a common aspiration of the world people to establish a new international political and economic order, which is peaceful, stable, just and reasonable. The pursuit of peace, stability, cooperation and development has become a common objective and trend of the times. However, there are still many destabilizing and uncertain elements affecting the international situation. One should not fail to see that even after the end of the military confrontation between the Eastern and Western blocs, the Cold War thinking persists, and some countries are still bent on strengthening their military alliance, expanding military bloc and building up their armaments. Under such a situation, we are facing both opportunities and challenges in the field of international arms control and disarmament. The preparations for the NPT Review Conference and the review process of the Treaty will certainly be affected by the overall international situation.

Mr. Chairman,

It will be fair to say that since the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995, significant progress has been achieved in the field of international arms control and disarmament. Last September, the 51st UN General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), realizing an aspiration cherished by several generations. With the Chemical Weapons Convention coming into force this month, a whole category of weapons of mass destruction will be completely prohibited and destroyed. The States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons have formulated a new protocol banning laser blinding weapons, and revised the protocol on landmines, introducing further restrictions on the functions and use of anti-personnel landmines. The parties concerned are working hard to enhance the effectiveness of the Biological Weapons Convention The African countries have concluded the Treaty of Pelindaba while the South East Asian countries have reached agreement on the Treaty of Bangkok, further expanding the area covered by the nuclear-weapon-free zones in the world. Not long ago, the United States and the Russian Federation, the two countries possessing the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenals, issued a joint statement indicating their willingness to further reduce their strategic nuclear weapons already deployed.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation welcomes the above-mentioned developments. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that these developments are far from meeting the expectations of the international community. In the nuclear disarmament held, large nuclear arsenals will still exist even in 2007. Though the Cold War has already come to an end, some countries are still adhering to the policy of nuclear deterrence based on the first use of nuclear weapons, and are trying to find all excuses to justify their development and deployment of missile defense systems which undermine strategic security and stability.

Mr. Chairman,

China's position on clear disarmament is clear-cut. We stand for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. Two years ago, Vice Premier and Foreign Minister of China, Mr. Qian Qichen pointed out at the NPT Review and Extension Conference that, "the indefinite extension of the NPT should in no way be interpreted as perpetuating the nuclear-weapon states' prerogative to possess nuclear weapons. Complete prohibition of nuclear weapons should be the primary objective of the international community. A convention on the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons should be concluded like the conventions banning all biological and chemical weapons. Such convention should provide for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons under effective international supervision".

The Chinese Government is of the view that the indefinite extension of the NPT, the conclusion of the CTBT, and the negotiation and conclusion of a convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapon purposes, are all intermediate steps leading to the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. Pending the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, the nuclear-weapon states concerned should abandon their policy of nuclear deterrence; states with the largest nuclear arsenals should further reduce drastically their nuclear stockpiles, and should destroy those removed nuclear warheads rather than simply transferring them from deployment to storage, all nuclear-weapon states should undertake not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstance, commit themselves unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones, and conclude, at an early date, international legal to such effect; states with nuclear weapons deployed outside their borders should withdraw all these weapons home; all nuclear-weapon states should pledge their support to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, respect their status and undertake corresponding obligations; no country should develop and deploy space weapon systems or missile defense systems which undermine strategic security and stability.

China's very limited nuclear force is for the sole purpose of self-defense, and for maintaining world peace, countering nuclear blackmail and threat, preventing nuclear war and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons. China has never shied away from its responsibility towards nuclear disarmament. China is the only nuclear-weapon state which has unconditionally undertaken and strictly abided by the commitment not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear weapon-free zones. China has never joined in the nuclear arms race. China has never deployed nuclear weapons outside its borders. China has never even threatened to use nuclear weapons against any country.

Mr. Chairman,

The prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation is one of the three major objectives of the NPT. Though the Treaty has its limitations and defects, and is unbalanced in setting out different rights and obligations for different States Parties due to historical reasons, we are convinced that over the past twenty years and more, it has played a significant role in containing nuclear weapons proliferation, and promoting international peace, security, stability as well as nuclear disarmament. China supports the efforts to enhance the universality of the NPT, and hopes that the effectiveness and efficiency of the IAEA safeguards system be strengthened through appropriate measures.

As a State Party to the NPT, China has strictly abided by its obligations on nuclear non-proliferation under the Treaty. China is a responsible country, and has never applied double standards. China has all along pursued the policy of not endorsing, encouraging or engaging in nuclear weapons proliferation and not assisting other countries in developing nuclear weapons. When carrying out cooperation with other countries in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, we adhere to three principles. First, the export should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes. Second, the export should be subject to IAEA safeguards. And third, the export should not be retransferred to a third country without China's prior consent. China does not provide assistance m unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

Mr. Chairman,

The promotion of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy is another important objective of the NPT. The prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation should facilitate international cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and guarantee the legitimate rights of large number of developing countries to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In this regard, it is inadmissible to apply double standards.

As a developing country with some nuclear industrial capabilities, China has actively conducted mutually-beneficial international cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. With the further implementation of the policy of reform and opening-up and economic development, China will surely expand and enhance its international cooperation for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Mr. Chairman,

Now I would like to touch upon the procedural issues concerning the current session of the PrepCom. As is known to all, the 2000 NPT Review Conference will be the first of such meeting after the indefinite extension of the Treaty. The three decisions and one resolution adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference are important documents to guide the Review Conference and its PrepComs. The Chinese delegation is of the view that while taking into full account of the above-mentioned documents, the following relationships should be handled appropriately, so as to enhance the NPT review process, and ensure the success of the 2000 Review Conference and its PrepComs:

I. The Relationship Between the Prepcoms and the Review Conference

As stated in paragraph 4 of the decision on Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty adopted in the 1995 Review Conference, the future PrepComs, while making procedural preparations for the Review Conferences, should also consider principles, objectives and ways to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, as well as its universality, and to make recommendations to the Review Conferences. This has defined the relationship between the PrepComs and the Review Conference. The PrepComs can consider all the substantive issues relating to the implementation of the Treaty, and make recommendations. However, all decisions should be made at the Review Conference.

II. The Relationship Between the NPT Provisions and the "Principles and Objectives" Document

The decision on Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament adopted by the 1995 Review Conference, is aimed at "the full realization and effective implementation of the provisions of the Treaty". There is no doubt that the Treaty and the decision are closely related. However, we should admit that the Treaty is the source, while the "Principles and Objectives" document is its derivation. The consideration of the substantive issues at the Review Conference and its PrepComs should be based on the Treaty, while fully utilizing the "Principles and Objectives". That is to say, the review process should focus on the implementation of the provisions and preamble of the Treaty, while taking into full consideration of relevant principles and objectives contained in the "Principles and Objectives" document.

III. The Relationship Between the NPT Review Conference, Its PrepComs and the Conference on Disarmament

The nature of the substantive work of the NPT Review Conference and its PrepComs is different from that of the Conference on Disarmament. The NPT Review Conference and its PrepComs are principally of political conference. Their task is to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, through reviewing past operation, by affirming achievements, identifying areas where further progress should be sought, and seeking ways and means to better implementation. "Review" is not "negotiation". However, the CD is the sole multilateral negotiating body for disarmament and arms control with extensive representation. The task of the CD is to formulate, through negotiations, legally binding international instruments. The outcome of the NPT Review Conference is bound to have impact on the CD negotiations. Nonetheless, the former should not replace the ongoing or future work of the CD.

IV. The Relationship Between the Established Practices and New Situation

The established practices certainly have their own rationale. However, these practices must be adjusted according to new situation. On relevant procedural issues, if the practices have served our purpose in the past, and no State Party has serious difficulty with them, then those practices can be followed. Yet, the consideration of substantive issues and the handling of its result, involves some procedural arrangement for the PrepComs. In this regard, the States Parties should make a decision after thorough discussion. Nevertheless. we have to bear in mind that from the first PrepCom to the 2000 Review Conference covers a long span of time, during which the international situation and developments relating to the NPT may undergo changes. The three or four sessions of the PrepCom constitute a continuous process. Therefore, the outcome of the PrepCom at earlier sessions can only be preliminary rather than conclusive. When drafting reports of the PrepComs, we should take into account this fact.

V. The Relationship Between the Main Articles of the NPT

The three major objectives of the treaty, namely, nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, are equally important and mutually complementary, and none of them should be neglected. The review process should be comprehensive and balanced, giving equal attention to the three objectives, and should take into consideration of those principles and objectives set forth in the 20 operative paragraphs of the "principles and objectives" document.

Mr. Chairman,

As stated in a Chinese poem, "braving the hardships in the way, the arduous journey begins today". The preparation and review process we have just initiated implies a heavy responsibility. However, the Chinese delegation believes that there are more agreements than differences among us, and the limitations and defects of the NPT will be gradually redressed and corrected through continued progress in nuclear disarmament and enhanced cooperation between countries in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The three objectives of the Treaty will be fully realized China is ready to join other States Parties in our common efforts to fulfill the historic mission

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.