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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, South African Statement, April 8, 1997

Statement from Ambassador K. J. Jele

08 April 1997

Mr. Chairperson,

I wish to join previous by also extending our congratulations to you on your assumption of the Chairmanship of the first Preparatory Committee meeting for the year 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). As this is the first PrepCom to be held in terms of the decision on the "Strengthened Review Process" adopted at the I .ø95 Review and Extension Conference, there are high expectations not only about its outcome, but also about

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1997 NPT Prep Com 

its substantive nature. This PrepCom is also the first test of the "Strengthened Review Process", and it must therefore show that the decisions, understanding, and the delicate balance achieved in 1995 can continue to have the confidence of all the Treaty's parties. There is little doubt that the content and adoption of the decisions on the "Strengthened Review Process" and the "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament", together with the Resolution on the Middle East, facilitated and formed the basis upon which it was possible for the decision on the indefinite extension of the Treaty to be taken by consensus. The comprehensive agreement reached in 1995 emerged from a positive process which was unprecedented, increasing everyone's stake in the Treaty.

It is therefore essential if we are not to undermine what was achieved in 1995, that we remain true not only to the letter but also to the spirit of 1995. The review of the NPT is no longer a five yearly event. it is a process which starts today and which will culminate in the year 2000. The Treaty is now under a constant, formalized review. The Preparatory Committees are no longer as they were in the past, they are now an integral part of the review process. If they are seen any differently or if their potential is limited then this may lead to a difficult path ahead.

Mr. Chairperson,

The agreement which was reached at the 1995 Conference gave the PrepComs additional powers and functions. Their functions are now to (a) "consider principles, objectives and ways in order to promote the full implementation of the Treaty. as well as its universality" and (b) "to make recommendations thereon to the Review Conference." It is clear therefore that the PrepComs are to consider not only the current "Principles and Objectives", but also new principles objecting and ways whereby the Treaty's full implementation and universality can be promoted. The language which was used gave the PrepComs substantial authority to assure that the " purposes of the Preamble and the Provisions of the Treaty are being realized."

To this end, the States parties - both the weapon States and the non-weapon States - will at this PrepCom meeting need to provide an account of the steps taken since 1995 on their own or together with others, to achieve the goals which they set for themselves. They will also need to make concrete suggestions on what the next steps could be so as to ensure that the objectives of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty arc translated into reality. The Strengthened Review and the Principles and Objectives were not intended as ends in themselves. They were inter alia intended as vehicles by which we could start a process to achieve "the ultimate goals of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, and a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." In short, Mr. Chairperson, we must look forward as well as back.

The issue of nuclear disarmament must be a focus at this and future PrepComs due to the high priority which has been placed on it by the international community, including my own Government Nuclear disarmament should. however, not be the only issue dealt with. It is essential that all aspects of the Treaty should be considered. We are pleased that the proposal which you have made .. to group into clusters the issues which will need to be addressed -- will allow us to do this. Another essential element of our work during the two weeks of this meeting is to deliver concrete results in the form of a product. This will ensure that we pass on the results of our work to the future PrepComs which can at the end of this process be synthesized into recommendations to the Review Conference; and that our work is focused and we do not fall into the trap of futile debate. My delegation is flexible at this stage on whether this product is in the form of a "rolling text" or a Chairman's report containing a list of proposals supported which can later be developed into a "rolling text". What is imperative is that any text/report needs to gain the support of this PrepCom. A mechanism which has proven its ability to draw the necessary support was the President's Group, established by Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala at the 1 995 Conference. My delegation recommends this approach to you Mr. Chairperson; we believe that it was a practice which proved its success and that it should be emulated.

Mr. Chairperson, I would now like to cover specific issues related to the substance of our work at this PrepCom

We in Africa have made a significant contribution to the objective of universality of the NPT. The remaining African States which were not parties to the NPT in 1995 have now all acceded to the Treaty. As we draw closer to our goal the States parties should redouble their efforts to achieve this end because the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament are one of the cornerstones of international peace and security. Those countries which have not adhered to the Treaty. those which still aspire to nuclear weapons and those which still wish to maintain the nuclear weapons option, must be brought to realize this. As South Africa's own experience has shown, the continued confidence which is placed in nuclear weapons by all of the States which either possess or aspire to possess nuclear weapons is misguided These weapons do not guarantee security. but threaten it -- then security and ours.

South Africa continues to see the non-proliferation obligations of the NPT as one of its most important international commitments. We shall continue to take active measures to prevent the proliferation of the dual-use technologies, material sad equipment for all weapons of mass destruction it is because of this type of vigilance by States, acting either singly or in cooperation with others, and by the international community as a whole, that we have seen no new major threats of nuclear proliferation since the NPT Review and Extension Conference. My Government also wishes to commend the IAEA, UNSCOM and other international bodies for their work in this area. We would, however, like to place on record our concern about the non-proliferation implications of the plans for the expansion of NATO and the proposals which have been made for a dialogue in Europe on the future role of nuclear deterrence in the context of the European Defence Policy. The planned expansion of NATO would entail an increase in the number of non-nuclear-weapon States which participate in nuclear training, planning decision-making and which have an element of nuclear deterrence in their defence policies. The important work which is being done in the IAEA for the strengthening of its safeguards should also be considered here.

Since 1995 we have seen significant developments in the area of nuclear d disarmament . included amongst these are the conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion on the "Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons", the release of the Canberra Commission Report on the Elimination of Nuclear weapons, the "Proposal for a programme of action for the elimination of nuclear weapons'', the statements by retired senior military officers on the utility of nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament and the recent Helsinki Summit. I only wish to take up a few of these here:

The CTBT is an accomplishment of which the States parties to the NPT can rightfully be proud of. Not only was the call for a CTBT an important part of the Treaty's Preamble, it was also in the "Principles and Objectives" which we adopted in 1995 that the deadline for a CTBT by 1996 was first set All of the nuclear-weapon States have signed the Treaty, and we should work for the early entry into force of the Treaty and for its signature and ratification by all the members of the NPT. Disappointing, however, was the refusal by the nuclear-weapon States to see the CTBT as an opportunity to go further in their commitment to nuclear disarmament. It is also to be regretted that the CTBT negotiators were only able to include nuclear test explosions in the Treaty's scope and that there are provisions (no matter how complicated and strict) to conduct so-called peaceful nuclear explosions. In the context of the NPT, the concept of peaceful nuclear explosions (Article V) has long been considered a dead letter.

The Advisory Opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice on 8 July 1996 on the Legality of the Treaty or Use of Nuclear Weapons, and particularly the unanimous opinion that "(t)here exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective control" is of direct relevance to the NPT States parties. The Advisory Opinion not only reinforces Article Vi of the NPT and the provisions of the "Principles and Objectives"; it also recognizes the legal obligation for the weapon States to pursue good faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament in ail its aspects and to bring them to a conclusion - a finite obligation.

A very significant statement was made on 4 December 1996 by General Lee Butler, the former Commander in-Chief of the United States Strategic Command, and General Andrew J. Goodpaster. the former Supreme Allied Command. in Europe who called for step-by-step reduction of nuclear weapons and the nuclear threat with the ultimate objective of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons from all nations. They stated that "... the tune for action is now for the alternative of inaction could well carry a high price." Generals Butler and Goodpaster were pined on 5 December by 60 other retired senior military officers from 17 countries' including all of the nuclear-weapon States.

The Helsinki Summit Yeltsin between President Clinton and President Yeltsin also brought a very positive development in the field of nuclear disarmament Their commitment to the implementation of the START 11 Treaty and their very detailed agreement on the negotiations for a START 111 Treaty are significant steps forward. The other nuclear-weapon States should follow this example and join in the process of structured and verified nuclear disarmament.

Balanced against these developments has been the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to commence immediately negotiations on a non discriminatory and universally applicable convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. This PrepCom should strongly renew the call of the "Principles and Objectives" for these negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament and all States parties who are members of she Conference should work actively to achieve this goal.

The inability of she Conference on Disarmament to reach a consensus on a mechanism, which would allow for substantive work on she nuclear disarmament issue--the establishment of which is a clear priority of my country and of she international community as a whole -- is also regrettable. There has been resistance to establishing an Ad Hoc Committee on Nuclear Disarmament in the Conference, whether this is with a mandate so negotiate a programme for nuclear disarmament wish a mandate to deliberate on she future steps required for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, or even without a mandate. We have heard concerns expressed about this being she start of a "slippery slope" and that it would deny the bilateral and plurilateral dimensions of nuclear disarmament In bosh cases the concern is unfounded Firstly, she nuclear disarmament negotiations between Russia and she United States will continue to be of paramount importance so she reduction of nuclear weapons and for their eventual elimination, ant so also will be the future negotiations involving the other nuclear-weapon States. Secondly, it is the commitments of the weapon States in the NPT and the Principles and Objectives" which form the foundation for nuclear disarmament, not an Ad Hoc Committee which is intended to use the disarmament expertise found in the CD to identify future steps on the road towards the MT's goal of the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. This is an issue which this PrepCom will seriously have m consider.

We have seen considerable progress in the establishment of nuclear-weapon free zones since the 1995 Conference. We have also witnessed the establishment of two additional zones in Africa and South East Ada, and the Treaty of Tlatalolco has celebrated its 30th anniversary As an African country, South Africa is particularly proud of the establishment of the African nuclear-weapon-free zone -- the treaty of which is named after a site in South Africa. The Pelindaba Treaty, which had been an ideal since the 1960 s, has been signed by 45 African States and the relevant Protocols have been signed by all of the nuclear-weapon States. We would use this opportunity to call on the only remaining State which has territory within the zone, and which has not yet done so, m sign the Treaty Protocol which applies m it as soon as possible

A setback for the cause of nuclear-weapon-free zones was the disappointing vote on the resolution on "The Nuclear-Weapon-Free southern Hemisphere and Adjacent Areas" at the 51 st session of the General Assembly. South Africa will continue to work to achieve consensus on this important resolution.

South Africa hopes to see progress at this PrepCom in the area of security assurances As delegations will. paragraph 8 of the "Principles and Objectives" stated that "... further steps should be considered to assure non-nuclear-weapon States patty to the Treaty against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. These steps could take the form of an internationally legally binding instrument." In this regard it should be noted that the 1990 Review conference had reached an agreement on the need for such an instrument, but this could not be formalized because of the failure of the Conference to achieve agreement on a Final Declaration. The dispute which caused this failure did not revolve around the consensus which had been reached on the issue of security assurances.

Mr. Chairperson. South Africa proposes that this PrepCom should decide to take up the work on security assurances envisaged in the "Principles and Objectives", with a view to completing this work before the year 2000 so as to make a recommendation to the Review Conference. My delegation is flexible on whether the mechanism which is established for this purpose undertakes its deliberations during the intercessional period or if the work is done dun. the remaining PrepComs before the year 2000. The issue at stake is the granting of legally binding security assurances to the non-nuclear-weapon States parties of the NPT, thereby fulfilling the undertaking which should be given to the States which have voluntarily given up the nuclear-weapons option by becoming parties to the Treaty. The arguments that declarations made by the nuclear-weapon States are sufficient or that these assurances should only be granted in the context of nuclear-weapon-free zones, are not valid. These assurances should be legally binding and given in the context of the NPT. The primary undertaking not to aspire to nuclear-weapons has been made under the NPT; it is therefore in the context of this Treaty that security assurances should also be given. Security assurances to the nonnuclear-weapon States parties of the NPT have been a long sought-after goal of the international community The argument that such an initiative would not fall within the mandate of this PrepCom is not correct given the expanded role of the PrepComs.

The negotiation of legally binding security assurances within the NPT umbrella, as opposed to some other forum, would provide a significant benefit to the Treaty parties and would be seen as an incentive to those who remain outside the NPT Security assurances rightfully belong to those who have given up the nuclear weapon option as opposed to those who are still keeping their options open. They would strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and confirm the role of the NPT and its indefinite extension.

South Africa along with all other parties to the NPT draws assurance from the nuclear safeguards system. The Principles and Objectives recognize. however, that regular review is necessary, and that is why this system of safeguards is currently in the process of being strengthened. My delegation fully supports this strengthening process, and welcomes the additional assurance that strengthened safeguards will give concerning the absence of undeclared nuclear activities. We are particularly satisfied with the assurance by the IAEA that the process will be cost-neutral in the medium- to long since the primary aim of the exercise was to improve the efficiency of safeguards as well Our support for the process is not unconditional, however: we look to the nuclear-weapon States to give undertakings they to, in parallel with our comprehensive safeguards, will be introducing confidence-building safeguards measures of their own. We look forward to their statements when the model strengthened safeguards protocol is considered by the IAEA Board in May of this year. In this regard, we were considerably encouraged by the trilateral discussions between the Russian Federation, the United States and the IAEA in Moscow last year, concerning the safeguarding of excess nuclear material from weapons programmes. We trust that these discussions will lead to concrete results, and that they are merely the start of the process.

Moving on to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Mr. Chairperson. my delegation notes that this issue is often linked to the issue of safeguards, particularly in terms of the relative budgets for the two activities It is easy to see why this connection i, made, since it would appear that in some cases there is a greater willingness to fund safeguards than there is to fund spreading the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear power to developing countries. My delegation would like to make it clear that we regard both activities as equally important, and we do not think that support for one should in say way be conditional on support for the other. The "Principles and Objectives" clearly call for the IAEA to be financially equipped to carry out its work in this area My delegation therefore notes with concern that the contributions to the IAEA's Technical Cooperation fund, which are not obligatory, do not reflect the undertakings of all States which agreed to the "Principles and Objectives" The fond is in fact, almost entirely dependent on the contributions of some six or seven donors. In this regard, my delegation is concerned to note that developing countries are just as guilty as developed countries. South Africa believes that a solution should be found to this question, to find ways and means of finding Technical Assistance through predictable and assured means. My delegation, however, finds itself increasingly convinced that the only way forward is the incorporation of the IAEA's Technical Cooperation fund into the regular budget, and we will be taking this matter further in Vienna in the coming months.

Mr. Chairperson, the "Principles and Objectives" also call for greater transparency m nuclear- related export controls, and my delegation would like to place on record our support for this process As a member of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group and the Zangger Committee, we are currently closely involved in preparations for the information seminar on nuclear export controls scheduled to be held in Vienna immediately after the Iaea's General Conference this year. We support the system of export controls as an essential component of global non-proliferation efforts, out we to recognise that greater transparency will lend increased confidence and credibility to the system.

Mr Chairperson,

To conclude, a heavy responsibility rests on your shoulders and on the shoulders of your successors. The "Strengthened Review Process" has given us an opportunity. We are able to move away from the sterile reviews of the past where success was measured in terms of the achievement of a Final Declaration which rewarded the areas where the NPT parties agreed to disagree Our focus should be to turn the "Strengthened Review Process" into the vehicle which will lead to the achievement of the Treaty's own purposes and provisions.