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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Summary of third meeting, September 10, 1997

Summary Record of the third meeting (Closed)

Held at United Nations Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 8 April 1997, at 3 p.m.

Chairman : Mr. PATOKALLIO (Finland)

CONTENTS

GENERAL DEBATE ( continued )

This record is subject to correction.

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week of the date of this document to the Chief, Official Records Editing Section, Office of Conference and Support Services, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza.

Any corrections to the records of this meeting and of other meetings of the Conference will be consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the Conference.

The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m .

GENERAL DEBATE ( continued )

1. Mr. NG (Singapore) said that the work of the first Preparatory Committee meeting, which would be of crucial importance for the review process of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) culminating in the 2000 Review Conference, should focus on concrete goals. A thorough review of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament since the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of Parties to the Treaty, including an assessment of whether the principles adopted at the Conference had been implemented, should be undertaken, and appropriate steps towards the significant enhancement of international security should be outlined. Such efforts would promote the full implementation of NPT. His delegation was firmly committed to an indefinite extension of NPT. It fully supported the nuclear disarmament regime and considered NPT, which was the only international treaty aimed at containing nuclear proliferation, to be one of the cornerstones of global security. The Treaty also provided the best available framework for international cooperation in the field of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. While NPT had its shortcomings and certain nuclear-weapon States had not fully lived up to their commitments, it had been largely successful in curtailing the spread of nuclear weapons in the world. A short review of developments since 1995 would amply show how much progress had been achieved. The opening up of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty for signature, the ruling of the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, the progress towards the universality of NPT, and the conclusion by the nuclear-weapon States of the treaties of Pelindaba and Rarotonga establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa and the South Pacific were all concrete examples of the positive developments in the nuclear disarmament regime brought about by the work of NPT. Moreover, the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, which had entered into force on 27 March 1997, was an important contribution by the countries members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to the international disarmament regime and signalled the international community's concerted efforts to rid the region of any nuclear threat. ASEAN was working actively with the nuclear-weapon States with a view to enabling them to sign the Protocol to the Treaty.

2. Nevertheless, much remained to be done. All countries, in particular the nuclear-weapon States, must redouble their efforts to meet the objectives of the Treaty. The end of the cold war had provided the international community with a great opportunity to pursue nuclear disarmament as a matter of the highest priority. The arguments put forward by the nuclear-weapon States for maintaining their nuclear arsenals were no longer justifiable. Nuclear-weapon States must be mindful of their obligations under article VI of the Treaty to work towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons. His delegation hoped that the nuclear-weapon States would make a clear political commitment to that end, since, together with the non-nuclear-weapon States, they had an obligation to future generations to ensure that the principles and objectives of NPT were firmly upheld.

3. Mr. GUANI (Uruguay) reaffirmed the position that his delegation had taken at the 1995 Conference - the most important disarmament conference ever held -and stressed that mankind was waiting to see tangible progress from the Conference.

4. The indefinite extension of the Treaty did not mean that it had been extended for an infinite period nor, even less, that the nuclear-weapon States suddenly no longer posed a serious threat simply because they had unilaterally renounced the use of nuclear weapons in the name of a new humanist philosophy.

5. In the current crucial post-cold-war period, which urgently called for new doctrines as mankind entered the twenty-first century with the serenity of those who had exhausted outmoded concepts, Uruguay's message was very clear. As Mr. Dhanapala, the President of the 1995 Conference, had pointed out, the twenty-first century had seen the creation of nuclear weapons and the twenty-first century would see their destruction.

6. Since 1995, the international community had contributed greatly to NPT, indirectly but in the spirit of the Treaty. He mentioned by way of example the signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice regarding the legality of the use of nuclear weapons, the declaration making the South Atlantic a nuclear-weapon-free zone, and the report of the Canberra Commission, which contained an appeal to the nuclear-weapon States to commit themselves unequivocally to eliminating their nuclear arsenals and to begin negotiations to that end. His delegation welcomed the recent initiatives adopted at Helsinki and the spirit of cooperation that the two parties had shown.

7. The obligations enumerated in articles I and VI of the Treaty had not been implemented since the last review conference. Moreover, international security was threatened by widespread mistrust, which jeopardized the entire arms control process.

8. His delegation was concerned at the recent increase in the transport of plutonium and highly toxic wastes. This was a matter of priority for Uruguay, since certain questions relating to the safe transport of such materials had not yet been resolved, and the lack of adequate measures made it necessary to establish a regime of State responsibility in the event of an accident.

9. The International Maritime Organization had not yet elaborated compulsory measures, and the Preparatory Committee would also have to consider that question.

10. The prospect of the export and transport of plutonium and other radioactive materials by sea routes near the coast of Uruguay led his delegation to call more emphatically for security guarantees, especially since it was highly probable that such activities would increase without the knowledge of the interested parties.

11. Since the adoption of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Uruguay had advocated the prohibition and total destruction of nuclear weapons, supported all international initiatives pertaining to nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, guarantees to non-nuclear-weapon States and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Nevertheless, the nuclear issue existed and could not be ignored.

12. His delegation hoped that the Preparatory Committee would not become entangled in procedural debates that would prevent it from examining matters of substance. The desire to reach consensus did not mean that it was absolutely necessary to get results. The committees and working groups must set realistic objectives and be strengthened as needed.

13. Finally, a structure had been established; it must now be accompanied by concrete measures to prevent both "horizontal" and "vertical" proliferation, for which the Treaty was the ideal framework.

14. In conclusion, Uruguay hoped that the twenty-first century would dawn on a world where nuclear weapons no longer had a place.

15. Mr. CAMPBELL (Australia) said he was firmly convinced that the enhanced review process would strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Over the next three years or more, all parties would agree that the aim should be a treaty which provided an even greater degree of security from the proliferation of nuclear weapons and impetus towards their reduction and eventual elimination. To that end, the progress made must be determined objectively and dispassionately, in order to pursue those goals which had not yet been met.

16. There had been several outstanding achievements since May 1995. Eight more States had become parties to the Treaty, bringing the total number to 185. The negotiation, adoption and signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by many States marked a very important step on the road to nuclear disarmament. Since the Review and Extension Conference in 1995, the Treaties of Pelindaba and Bangkok, creating nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa and South-East Asia, had been concluded. The Treaty of Bangkok had entered into force; the nuclear-weapon States had signed the relevant protocols of the Treaty of Pelindaba, and in 1996 the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France had signed the relevant protocols of the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga. Furthermore, the International Court of Justice had issued an advisory opinion which had emphasized the normative value of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the commitment in article VI to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to ... nuclear disarmament". The United States had ratified the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II), and the recent Helsinki summit meeting between the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation had produced an agreement on an extended implementation period for START II and on guidelines for START III, which envisaged further reductions of warhead stockpiles for both countries to some 80 per cent below cold war peaks.

17. Significant progress had been made in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) towards the adoption of a package of measures which would strengthen IAEA safeguards. Australia looked forward to the adoption of the model protocol by the IAEA Board of Governors on 15 May and urged States to initiate and conclude negotiations to allow the Agency to adopt the protocol as soon as possible, thereby fulfilling an important objective of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. With regard to control of nuclear exports, the Working Group on Transparency of the Nuclear Suppliers Group had taken specific measures to promote dialogue and strengthen cooperation with non-member States. In that regard, the open-ended international seminar on the possible contribution of nuclear export control to nuclear non-proliferation, was to be held on 6 and 7 October 1997, immediately following the IAEA General Conference, should help to increase transparency, thereby strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

18. Much progress had also been made with respect to the legal and institutional frameworks which facilitated the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The International Convention on Nuclear Safety had entered into force and the first Conference of the Parties would be held in late April 1997. The conclusion of negotiations on a convention on the safety of radioactive waste management and spent fuel was also near. Some progress, although slow, had been made in the negotiations to improve the international nuclear liability regime. In the Asia-Pacific region, the Tokyo Conference on Nuclear Safety in Asia had given significant impetus to regional cooperation on nuclear safety issues, and would be further stimulated by a second conference in Seoul in late 1997. But, looking back over the past two years, it was plain that the desired objectives were far from being met. Unresolved regional tensions in South Asia and the Middle East continued to pose obstacles to the realization of the goal of universal membership in the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Although the signature by the nuclear-weapon States of the protocols to the nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties had extended security assurances to many non-nuclear-weapon States, little progress had been made towards the consideration of a legally binding instrument in that area. The Treaty of Tlatelolco, 30 years old in March 1997, still required one more ratification before it could formally enter into force. However, perhaps the most significant disappointment over the past two years had been the failure to commence negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials, which had been viewed as the second priority objective for global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament after the conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

19. Some steps should be taken to ensure a successful outcome for the 2000 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Negotiations must be launched in 1997 for a treaty banning the production of fissile materials. Furthermore, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty must be signed and ratified by as many parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as possible, especially by those whose ratification was required for that Treaty to enter into force. The greatest possible number of States must also conclude safeguards agreements with IAEA incorporating the measures set out in the "93 + 2" programme. The five States Members of the United Nations which were not parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty must accede to and ratify it. The United States of America and the Russian Federation should begin negotiations for further strategic arms reductions as soon as possible and in accordance with the guidelines agreed at the recent Helsinki summit meeting. The nuclear-weapon States which had not yet done so must ratify the protocols to the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones as soon as possible. Further consideration should also be given to more comprehensive assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.

20. As many States parties as possible should sign and ratify the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and the future convention on the secure management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. The States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty should also adopt measures to ensure that their nuclear trade and cooperation complied with their collective commitment undertaken in 1995, when it had been decided to require, as a necessary precondition for any delivery of nuclear materials, the application of the full-scope safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, his delegation was aware that the States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty had embarked on a new and different process, which would necessarily continue to be experimental on the qualitative level until they had worked out how best to strengthen the review process. In that regard, the decisions adopted at the 1995 Conference and at the five preceding review conferences could contribute considerably to solving the procedural issues. In conclusion, he emphasized that Australia attached great importance to the review process, and hoped that a thorough review of all aspects of the Treaty would take place in the spirit of the decisions taken in 1995.

21. Ms. RAMIRO-LOPEZ (Philippines) said that times had changed a great deal since the 1967 negotiations on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that such changes should of course be taken into account. Nuclear-weapon-free zones were multiplying, the latest one having been created in the region of the Philippines, and a comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty had been adopted. The Philippines liked to think that all countries desired a world without nuclear weapons, but noted that they did not agree on how to achieve that goal.

22. Concerning procedural matters, she supported the compromise text which appeared under agenda item 6, on the understanding that it was a rolling text; she also supported the formula which had been agreed upon concerning the chairmanship of the preparatory committees and the presidency of the Conference in the year 2000. Financing questions would, however, have to be reviewed. Finally, she supported the Chairman's suggestion to allow States which were not parties to the Treaty to be present at the discussions, considering that it was a measure which was in the interest of universality.

23. As for the substantive issues, her delegation believed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was an intermediate step towards true nuclear disarmament. While universality and non-proliferation were important issues which had not yet been fully resolved, the international community should not forget that, from the very beginning of negotiations, the ultimate goal had been nuclear disarmament. She welcomed the progress achieved, but more should be done to ensure that countries' defence strategies were no longer based entirely on deterrence. Talks should also be continued towards the reduction of nuclear stockpiles, including unilateral reduction; a regime of legally binding positive and negative security assurances should be adopted; and attention should be paid to ensuring respect for nuclear-weapon-free zones. In working towards those ends, it was important to avoid deepening old divisions or creating new ones.

24. The international community should not forget the commitments made in 1995, which had been the result of a compromise. The decision to support the indefinite extension of the Treaty had not been an easy one for the Philippines. Her Government had, however, taken that decision in good faith, thinking of what could be achieved with a strengthened Non-Proliferation Treaty.

25. Mr. ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) recalled the importance of the role of the Preparatory Committee and said that significant developments had taken place in the non-proliferation and disarmament fields since 1995. The signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was extremely important, and he welcomed the process of establishing a comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty organization, which would enable the States signatories to prepare an effective treaty mechanism, particularly in respect of verification, well in advance of the treaty's entry into force. The most important challenge was, however, to secure the treaty's earliest possible entry into force; bearing in mind that treaty's significance for international security and stability, the need for appropriate measures could not be overemphasized.

26. His delegation welcomed the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa, South-East Asia and the South Pacific. The creation of similar zones in the Middle East, as well as in such geo-strategically important regions as Central Asia and Central Europe, on the basis of arrangements freely negotiated among the States concerned, would contribute to both regional and global peace and security.

27. His delegation welcomed the joint declaration in which the Central Asian republics had endorsed the idea of creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in their region.

28. Five years previously, Mongolia had proclaimed itself a nuclear-weapon-free zone, with support from both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States. His Government had taken steps to institutionalize that status, bearing in mind the experience of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones. His Government hoped that the States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, particularly the nuclear-weapon States, would offer their valuable support for that purpose.

29. He stressed the importance of the ruling of the International Court of Justice that there was an obligation not only to pursue negotiations for nuclear disarmament in good faith but also to bring them to a successful conclusion. That ruling was important not only because it was aimed at the elimination of nuclear weapons, but also because it promoted public awareness of the illegality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

30. Recalling the prospect for the signing of a START III treaty, he commended the efforts of the United States of America and the Russian Federation to reduce their nuclear arsenals.

31. However, he regretted the lack of tangible progress in respect of the two major objectives of the 1995 Conference, namely "the determined pursuit by the nuclear-weapon States of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons" and banning the production of fissile materials.

32. Non-proliferation and disarmament required nuclear-weapon States to refrain from developing increasingly sophisticated systems which, even if designed for defensive purposes, could disturb geo-strategic relationships and undermine security, thereby restarting the nuclear-arms race. Such a course of events would be contrary to the spirit and principles of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and of the 1995 Conference, as well as the very purpose of the Treaty.

33. The objectives agreed at the 1995 Conference called for negotiations on the Convention on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, pursuant to article VI of the Treaty and the ruling of the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

34. A material guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was, for non-nuclear-weapon States, the total elimination of such weapons, an objective that could not be reached in the near future. It was therefore logical that the nuclear-weapon States should give legally binding negative security assurances to other States, as envisaged in paragraph 8 of the principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

35. Nuclear safety and nuclear liability were of paramount importance for nuclear and non-nuclear States, and his delegation applauded the entry into force of the Convention on Nuclear Safety. The draft convention on the safety of radioactive waste management should be adopted as soon as possible, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material should be ratified and the recommendations of IAEA on that subject should be applied, and the measures contained in the Moscow Programme for Preventing and Combating Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Material should be implemented.

36. Nuclear safety should include measures for an effective nuclear liability regime that would ensure the compensation of victims of activities which, although not prohibited by international law, nonetheless had catastrophic consequences.

37. Finally, with regard to the organization of work of the Preparatory Committee, he said that it was important to reach consensus on decisions and, where necessary, keep to the rules of procedure of the 1995 Conference.

38. The conclusions of the session should be duly recorded so as to ensure the continuity of the work of future sessions, since the review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty was a continuing negotiation process the objectives of which must correspond to the spirit and the letter of the treaty itself, as well as to the agreed decisions of the 1995 Conference.

39. Mr. SCHEINMAN (United States of America) said that his country strongly supported the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. He mentioned the benefits of extending the Treaty as well as the terms of decisions 1 and 2 of the 1995 Conference, and indicated that his delegation considered that the process leading up to the 2000 Conference would be different from those in the past and that discussions would require careful and focused deliberation. His delegation was prepared to contribute to the success of those efforts.

40. Two priorities were inherent in strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The first was the need to ensure the strength of the Treaty as a bulwark against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and as the foundation for the nuclear disarmament process and eventual international nuclear cooperation.

41. It was essential to bear in mind that the obligations of the States parties stemmed from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which should, therefore, be considered the primary source of guidance. He drew particular attention to the provisions of article VIII, paragraph 3, of the Treaty, and also paragraph 4, of the decision concerning strengthening the review process for the Treaty. It was crucial that the process remained true to its fundamental purpose and did not deviate from what had been agreed in 1995, no matter how well-intentioned "creative" interpretations might be.

42. Secondly, the three main goals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, to promote nuclear disarmament and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under an effective safeguards system) were mutually reinforcing and inseparable. They defined the second priority of the Committee, namely, that the various aspects of the Non-Proliferation Treaty must be considered with the same care by the Preparatory Committee and by the 2000 Review Conference. His delegation was fully prepared to deliberate on the substantive issues which related to the operation of the Treaty. His delegation recognized the importance of an in-depth discussion of procedural questions, and of the fact that all States must take part in strengthening the review process.

43. He listed some steps taken by his country since the end of the 1995 Conference to fulfil its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, noting that a more comprehensive outline of those actions was attached to the text of his statement.

44. The recent completion of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty represented a considerable achievement. It was an historic accomplishment that not only crowned 40 years of efforts but also contributed to warding off nuclear dangers. President Clinton had been the first head of State to sign that Treaty on 24 September 1996, and his country was committed to bringing it rapidly into force.

45. With regard to the strategic arms reduction (START) treaties, he reiterated his country's goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. Since 1995, his country had continued to take steps in that direction and had implemented START I, ratified START II and, very importantly, reached agreement with the Russian Federation to begin negotiations on a START III treaty as soon as START II entered into force.

46. During the recent Helsinki summit meeting, the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation had reaffirmed their commitment to further reduce the nuclear threat and strengthen strategic stability and nuclear security. Both countries had agreed that START III would establish, by 31 December 2007, a ceiling of 2,000 to 2,500 strategic weapons. They had also agreed, in support of the deep reduction process, that START III would be the first strategic arms control agreement to include measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and the destruction of those warheads. Once the objectives set had been achieved, the United States would have reduced its total deployed strategic warheads by more than 65 per cent of the level permitted under START I.

47. The United States had taken a number of unilateral steps to reduce the risks associated with nuclear weapons, to modify the nuclear force posture associated with the cold war and to ensure that excess nuclear material from dismantled weapons was not returned to military use. Those steps included not only detargeting and removing strategic bombers from alert status but also cancelling a number of strategic modernization programmes and reducing non-strategic nuclear forces.

48. In that spirit, the United States had already eliminated nearly 10,000 strategic and non-strategic nuclear warheads and would continue to do so. At present, the United States had reduced its non-strategic nuclear arsenal by 90 per cent and its strategic nuclear arsenal by 47 per cent from the cold war peak. In addition, it had unilaterally withdrawn more than 225 metric tons of fissile material from its nuclear stockpile and had voluntarily offered to place the excess material under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Twelve tons of high-enriched uranium and plutonium were already under IAEA safeguards.

49. With regard to the IAEA and "Programme 93 + 2", it was understood that effective international safeguards were the indispensable condition of effective non-proliferation. Negotiations had recently been completed in Vienna on a protocol that would strengthen the effectiveness of safeguards and complete the crucial work on "Programme 93 + 2" which had been undertaken following the Gulf War and the discovery of a clandestine nuclear programme in Iraq. The United States had actively contributed to moving the process forward and was pleased that it had been completed. He emphasized that his country would accept the Protocol without reservations and apply all its provisions, making its commitment to the Protocol legally binding.

50. With regard to nuclear-weapon-free zones and negative security assurances, he recalled that the United States had signed the protocols concerning South Pacific and African nuclear weapon-free zones, bringing to three the number of nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaties with which the United States was associated. Through those protocols, the United States had provided negative security assurances to the roughly 90 non-nuclear-weapon-States parties to those treaties. The assurances contained in those protocols complemented assurances provided through national statements and reaffirmed in Security Council resolution 984 (1995).

51. The United States continued to support the basic objective of universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, welcomed the addition of eight States and was committed to continuing efforts to achieve a truly universal treaty.

52. The United States was as committed to peaceful nuclear cooperation as to non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. It remained the leading supporter for the IAEA technical cooperation programme, which had a central role in implementing article IV of the Treaty, both in terms of direct financial support and support in kind such as training, fellowships and cost-free experts. It continued to provide nuclear assistance on a bilateral basis and would continue to do so while the non-proliferation regime remained on a secure basis and recipient States complied with the provisions of the Treaty.

53. With regard to a convention on the prohibition of the production of fissile material, much remained to be done in order to achieve a world completely free of nuclear weapons, and a collective effort was required. It was a matter of urgency that such a convention should be achieved, limiting production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and bringing all fissile material production capacity everywhere under IAEA safeguards, thereby complementing the constraints imposed by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty on the improvement and development of nuclear weapons.

54. In 1992 the United States had ceased production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons, and since 1993 it had worked tirelessly to initiate negotiations on an international treaty. President Clinton had declared such a convention one of his administration's highest arms-control and non-proliferation priorities, and had urged the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. It was regrettable that the actions of a few countries had precluded that process. His delegation hoped that the States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty would work with them in support of the mutual commitment made in 1995.

55. Realizing the objectives of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament and ensuring that nuclear energy and technology were dedicated to exclusively peaceful purposes under effective international controls was a long-term proposition, of which the Treaty was the legal and political cornerstone. Current opportunities must be seized, and the consequent responsibility accepted, in order to ensure that non-proliferation and disarmament goals were reached.

56. Mr. Sung Hong CHOI (Republic of Korea) briefly recalled the historical nature of the 1995 Conference and the three decisions which it had adopted. He then reviewed developments in the situation since 1995, mentioning in particular the increase in the number of States parties, the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa and South-East Asia and the consolidation of the existing zone in the South Pacific region, which were also meaningful steps towards a nuclear-weapon-free world. However, there was still a great deal to be done and many obstacles to be overcome before the provisions of NPT and the decisions adopted at the 1995 Conference could be fully implemented.

57. His delegation believed that the first session of the Preparatory Committee would be decisive in determining whether a wise course had been set.

58. The first session was particularly important, since it would set precedents for subsequent sessions and the 2000 Review Conference. In the view of his delegation, consideration of procedural and substantive matters could only be conclusive if a climate of confidence was promoted among all participants. It was therefore important to maintain a commitment to agreements already made and to take into account existing international political reality.

59. He therefore hoped that the work of the Preparatory Committee would allow for a realistic way to be found to implement article VI of the Treaty, an objective that could be reached only through a step-by-step approach. He fully supported the programme of action described in paragraph 4 of decision 2 of the 1995 Review Conference and believed that the next step for the Conference on Disarmament would be to negotiate an international convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.

60. His delegation also encouraged the Preparatory Committee to consider creating an international, legally binding instrument concerning security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. That would be an effective confidence-building measure, as it would guarantee faithful implementation of Security Council resolution 984 (1995).

61. With regard to IAEA safeguards, his delegation had noted with satisfaction that the text of a model protocol for the second part of "Programme 93 + 2" had recently been agreed, and hoped that it would be adopted as planned. However, it should be stressed that a flagrant case of non-compliance with IAEA safeguards agreements existed, posing a serious challenge to the overall safeguard system. His delegation deemed it appropriate that States parties to the Treaty continued to pay attention to such cases of non-compliance.

62. The realization of the objectives of NPT depended on how well the parties to the Treaty worked together. The full compliance of the parties with their obligations and the timeliness of their response to cases of non-compliance were crucial to preserving the Treaty's integrity.

63. His delegation was convinced that NPT provided a solid foundation for a global position against nuclear proliferation and reaffirmed its commitment to the Treaty and to working to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

64. Mr. KAREM (Egypt) said that he hoped that the global non-proliferation regime which, with NPT as its cornerstone, represented a transitional stage on the road to complete nuclear disarmament, would allow the objective for which it had been created to be rapidly achieved. In the meantime, Egypt would do its utmost to ensure that the greatest possible number of States became parties to NPT and complied fully with their obligations.

65. Although it had been 27 years since NPT had entered into force, the lofty goals of the Treaty were no closer to being realized. While some progress had been achieved, nuclear stockpiles remained enormous. Such a situation was completely contrary to the objective of the Treaty and should induce the international community to work more vigorously towards a strengthened review process.

66. The year 1995 had marked a significant development, in that it had removed any doubts concerning the Treaty's life expectancy. The 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons had decided that "as a majority exists among States party to the Treaty for its indefinite extension, in accordance with its article X,2, the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely". It was imperative to recall that the documents adopted at the conclusion of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference had been conceived of as a package comprising three decisions and one resolution on the Middle East.

67. At the time of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, Egypt had held the firm view that the form in which the Treaty should be extended should be linked to progress achieved in the review process. However, the Treaty had been extended indefinitely despite that view, as if indefinite extension had been the goal in itself, regardless of the outcome of the review process. That mistaken perception, which had prevailed among some, would no doubt be short-lived. The adoption of the package of decisions in 1995 had allowed for the indefinite extension of the Treaty. While not favouring an indefinite extension, for reasons it had clearly stated at the time, Egypt had not prevented the extension decision from being taken. It sincerely hoped that the package of decisions would prove to be more than a mere formality. Nuclear-weapon States must honour their undertakings and face up to the weaknesses and deficiencies in the implementation of the Treaty in a comprehensive and candid manner. The very fact that a decision on the strengthening of the review process had been included in the 1995 package made it clear that the reviews conducted since 1970 had been flawed and ineffective.

68. Bearing that in mind, the forthcoming meetings of the Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons would be viewed as being the harbinger of the strengthening of that Treaty's operation.

69. Egypt believed that the Preparatory Committee should consider ways and means of promoting the full implementation of and universal adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, especially among those States possessing nuclear capabilities. The most serious criticism directed at the Treaty was the continuing disparity between the rights and obligations and therefore the commitments of its parties. Five States maintained the right to uncontrolled and unconditional acquisition of nuclear weapons, while non-nuclear-weapon States agreed not to acquire any nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices, and to subject their nuclear installations to full scope IAEA safeguards.

70. That problem was directly linked to nuclear disarmament, although some positive developments had occurred bilaterally, between the United States and the Russian Federation, and multilaterally by the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

71. While encouraging any efforts which would contribute to nuclear disarmament, Egypt maintained that multilateral efforts were indispensable and consequently rejected the argument that negotiations on any disarmament-related subject should only involve States which possessed a given type of weapon.

72. On the basis of that conviction, Egypt had made numerous proposals in various international forums concerning the mechanism for negotiations on nuclear disarmament. In Egypt's view, the Geneva Conference on Disarmament had an important role to play in that regard, and it was high time that the Conference assumed that role. With that in mind, Egypt had recently submitted to the Conference a proposal for a mandate for an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament to be set up in the Conference on Disarmament. Egypt believed that the proposed mandate presented a balanced text which did not in any way prejudice the views of any delegation, and was hopeful that an agreement could be rapidly reached on the matter.

73. Another problem which was still far from being solved was that of security assurances. The continuing absence of legal and comprehensive security assurances to protect those States Parties to the Treaty which had voluntarily renounced and abandoned the nuclear military option was indeed a great disappointment, since it defeated the very purpose of non-proliferation. In that regard, Egypt reiterated that the unilateral declarations issued by the nuclear-weapon States were insufficient. Furthermore, both Security Council resolutions 255 (1968) and 984 (1995) focused solely on the element of assistance and neglected other imperative elements that would ensure the non-use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty. Hence, Egypt believed that the Preparatory Committee should devote sufficient time to preparing a legally binding instrument providing guarantees of that nature to non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty, eventually to be adopted by the 2000 Review Conference as an annexed protocol to the Treaty.

74. The IAEA safeguards regime was an essential instrument for fulfilling the objectives of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Egypt fully supported the ongoing process of strengthening and improving the effectiveness of the IAEA safeguards system, and was looking forward to a final agreement on formulation of a protocol for the implementation of the second part of Programme 93 + 2 (Safeguard Strengthening Measures), which was an encouraging sign of the strengthening of IAEA's role in that regard.

75. The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones constituted an important measure for gradually freeing the world from nuclear weapons through specific arrangements freely arrived at among the States of each region. In that context, Egypt welcomed the recent establishment of two nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa and South-East Asia through the Pelindaba and Bangkok Treaties, and welcomed the signature of the attached protocols by the nuclear-weapon States.

76. Turning to regional concerns, his delegation stressed once again the importance of achieving universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. That was a priority objective underscored not only by the Treaty itself, but also in the Decision on Principles and Objectives of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament and in the resolution on the Middle East adopted at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. In that regard, his delegation welcomed the latest accessions to the Treaty by the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Oman, which meant that all States in the Middle East were parties to the Treaty with the exception of Israel, which had not yet acceded to the Treaty or even declared its intention of doing so. Israel's attitude was an impediment to attaining universal adherence to the Treaty. It created an imbalanced situation which, if prolonged, could not but further aggravate the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and undermine the efforts deployed by various regional and extraregional parties aimed at establishing such confidence-building measures as establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, a potential cornerstone for the achievement of a just and comprehensive settlement in the region.

77. It was also regrettable that no progress had been achieved in the implementation of the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. The Preparatory Committee should follow up on the implementation of the provisions of that resolution and report to the 2000 Review Conference on the progress achieved in that regard. In that context, the Preparatory Committee should recommend ways and means of ensuring that all parties directly concerned should seriously engage in practical and urgent steps required for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The depositary States of the Treaty had a special responsibility in that regard, as co-sponsors of the draft resolution submitted for adoption by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. With regard to the procedural aspects, his delegation considered that the progress reports by the Chairman of the Preparatory Committee should be accompanied by concrete ideas in the form of texts aiming at achieving preliminary agreement on the review documents to be adopted by the 2000 Review Conference. In conclusion, confident that several of the States Parties to the Treaty present at the current session had constructive proposals and initiatives aimed at enhancing and strengthening the Treaty, his delegation would spare no effort to contribute to the attainment of a successful conclusion to the work under way.

78. Mr. KISLIAK (Russian Federation) said that the Russian Federation attached great importance to the full and objective examination of the functioning of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, because it represented one of the main elements of the system of collective security and strengthening of international cooperation. It was the duty of the Preparatory Committee to prepare for the review of all the Treaty's provisions which would take place at the 2000 Review Conference, on the basis inter alia of the documents adopted at the 1995 Conference, in particular the decisions concerning the principles and objectives of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament and the strengthening of the Treaty review process.

79. He welcomed the accession of new States to the Treaty, which served the primary objective of universality, and invited those States which had not yet done so to accede to the Treaty. The work of the Preparatory Committee should result in recommendations for its strengthening.

80. His delegation hoped that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would be signed by all countries with the relevant technology; their signatures were critically important to its entry into force. By signing that Treaty, States, in particular the nuclear Powers, would fulfil their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the decision taken at the 1995 Conference to extend it indefinitely.

81. Since 1995, the Russian Federation had retrieved the nuclear weapons formerly deployed in the territory of the former Soviet Union. The Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine had thus demonstrated that they honoured their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The President of the Russian Federation had proposed that all the nuclear Powers should limit the deployment of nuclear weapons to their own territory. The provisions of the agreements on strategic arms limitation concluded between the United States of America and the Russian Federation were being systematically applied. The START II Treaty was currently being considered by the State Duma, but the two countries had already reached an understanding on new and substantial reductions that would leave them with arsenals only about one fifth the size of those they had possessed during the cold war. Their Presidents had recently signed at Helsinki a special declaration on that subject. Several years earlier, his country had stopped producing fissionable materials for nuclear weapons. Moreover, the Russian Federation was carrying out a systematic programme to convert explosives contained in nuclear warheads into fuel intended for peaceful uses. An initiative by the Russian Federation, the United States and IAEA was intended to place the nuclear materials thus recovered under Agency control.

82. The Russian Federation reaffirmed its support for the opening without delay, within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament, of negotiations on the elaboration of a multilateral convention banning the production of fissionable materials for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices.

83. Mr. Yeltsin's proposal to the General Assembly in 1994 concerning the elaboration by the nuclear Powers of a treaty on nuclear safety and strategic stability had stemmed from the desire for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, one of the goals of the disarmament process begun within the framework of efforts to achieve general and complete disarmament under effective international control.

84. The nuclear-weapon-free zone established in Africa would help to reduce even further the geographical sphere of nuclear preparations. In November 1996, the Russian Federation had signed the protocol to the Treaty establishing that zone. It hoped that the nuclear Powers would also soon be able to accede to the Treaty establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in South-East Asia. It noted with concern, however, the lack of progress in that regard in the Middle East and South Asia. It was ready to cooperate constructively with the countries involved, within the framework of the discussions on the development of a system of security in Europe, regarding the proposal to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Europe.

85. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was one of the pillars of international cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. As such, it needed the support of all States, large or small, with or without nuclear weapons.

86. IAEA had primary responsibility for, among other things, strengthening safeguards, preventing the illicit transfer of nuclear materials and creating effective verification mechanisms for nuclear-weapon-free zones. The Russian Federation was taking part in the Agency's efforts to institute and put into effect an effective system of detection for secret nuclear activities (93 + 2 Programme).

87. The Russian Federation believed that, in order to economize, the quantity and volume of documentation usually prepared for the Review Conference should be reduced. In its view, the established practice for the allocation of the expenses of the Preparatory Committee sessions should be followed.

88. Mr. SUKAYRI (Jordan) said that the States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which had entered into a new and different stage in its qualitative assessment after its indefinite extension, should give priority attention to the problems remaining unresolved, above all, its universality.

89. His delegation, along with other Parties, welcomed the fact that, since the 1995 Review and Extension Conference, eight new States had acceded to the Treaty. If the purpose of the Preparatory Committee meetings was "to consider principles, objectives and ways in order to promote the full implementation of the Treaty, as well as its universality", all effort should be directed towards that goal.

90. In its decision entitled "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament", the 1995 Review and Extension Conference had not only stressed the importance of universality, but had also called on all States to accede to the Treaty at the earliest date, particularly those States that operated unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. One State among the major nuclear threshold States, well known throughout the world, not only had not acceded to the Treaty, but also operated significant unsafeguarded nuclear facilities.

91. Moreover, in the only resolution adopted by the Conference, States Parties called upon "all States of the Middle East that have not yet done so, without exception, to accede to the Treaty ..." All of them had done so, with the exception of Israel, the only State in the region with significant nuclear capability. ]

92. Another outstanding issue was that of nuclear-weapon-free zones. Since 1974, the General Assembly had adopted 23 resolutions calling for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Those resolutions, however, had never been implemented. The 1995 Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons had reiterated that appeal, both in its decisions on the principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and in its resolution on the Middle East, whose paragraph 5 read:

"[The Conference] ... calls upon all States in the Middle East to take practical steps in appropriate forums, aimed at making progress towards, inter alia , the establishment of an a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems, and to refrain from taking any measures that preclude the achievement of this objective".

93. Pursuant to that resolution, the Arab League was currently elaborating a plan for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region. Israel had thus far done nothing to contribute to that effort. Moreover, in paragraph 6 of the above-mentioned resolution, the Conference " call upon all States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and in particular the nuclear-weapon States, to extend their cooperation and to exert their utmost efforts with a view to ensuring the early establishment by regional parties of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems". The feeling in the region was that Israel did not intend to contribute to the achievement of that objective either.

94. Even though many other questions ( inter alia , security assurances and peaceful uses of nuclear energy) had remained outstanding since 1995, he had chosen to focus his statement on the problems of universality and nuclear-weapon-free zones because those problems were of the utmost significance for the Middle East region. The current situation in that part of the world was far too volatile for it to be exposed to a nuclear threat as well. His delegation therefore called on the States parties to the Treaty participating in the current session of the Preparatory Committee to make every effort to convince Israel to accede to the Treaty, to apply the IAEA comprehensive safeguards to all its nuclear facilities and to take all necessary steps for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone or a zone free of all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Jordan would spare no effort to achieve that noble objective within the context of both the Middle East peace process and efforts to eliminate the nuclear threat to the region, until such time as a comprehensive, just and lasting peace could be achieved.

95. Mr. WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) said that the positive impact of the decision taken in 1995 to extend the Non-Proliferation Treaty indefinitely depended on the implementation of the decisions on the review process and on the principles and objectives for non-proliferation. It was imperative to achieve a fair and equitable balance between the obligations and responsibilities of the nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States. In that connection, he referred to article VI of the Treaty and to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice issued on 8 July 1996, whereby the parties had an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations lending to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

96. Universality took precedence among the objectives that must be attained in order to strengthen the Treaty. Second, as unilateral security assurances lacked credibility and were not verifiable, he advocated the elaboration of a legally binding international instrument without loopholes or exceptions, which would provide assurance to non-nuclear States against the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The third objective, a ban on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, would constitute a symbolic step demonstrating that the "good faith" negotiations called for in article VI of the Treaty were under way. The fourth objective would be the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. In that connection, his delegation supported the proposal to establish an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament put forward by the Group of 21 during the Conference on Disarmament. The nuclear-weapon States should reaffirm their commitment to the abolition of nuclear weapons within a specified framework of time. It would also be important for the Russian Federation and the United States of America to indicate the additional bilateral measures they planned to take with a view to reducing their arsenals, and for China, the United Kingdom and France to indicate what they were prepared to do in the light of those reductions.

97. There were other objectives that must be attained in order to strengthen the Treaty, including the consolidation of the nuclear-weapon-free zone that had just been established in the southern hemisphere, preferential treatment for the exports of States parties to the Treaty in the area of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the substitution of unilateral restrictions and constraints on exports by transparency and dialogue, the implementation of the programme to strengthen the IAEA safeguards and the implementation of the resolution concerning the Middle East adopted by the Conference of the Parties in 1995.

98. New York should be the venue for the meetings of the Preparatory Committee. Non-governmental organizations and States that were not parties to the Treaty should be authorized to participate in its work and one of its objectives should be the preparation of a "rolling text" with a view to establishing a final document for the Conference to be held in the year 2000. To that end, inter-sessional meetings with no financial implications could be organized.

99. Mr. BERNHARDSEN (Norway) expressed full support for the statement delivered by the representative of the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union. Like the European Union, his delegation welcomed the progress achieved on the questions that had been under consideration since the last Conference of the Parties, held in 1995; he also stressed that there was no dividing line between the problems of non-proliferation and disarmament. A global ban on nuclear weapons remained the ultimate objective of the parties to the Treaty; the nuclear-weapon States had a particular obligation in that regard. While welcoming the fact that the Russian Federation and the United States of America had agreed in Helsinki the month before to begin negotiating a further reduction of their strategic arsenals, he believed that other nuclear-weapon States should also participate in the negotiations on nuclear disarmament. The responsibility of those States for nuclear disarmament was so great that it would be difficult to imagine such negotiations taking place in a multilateral forum.

100. Norway had a broad concept of disarmament that went beyond disarmament per se. It believed, in particular, that disarmament could not be achieved as long as nuclear weapons were still being stored, and that they must be completely destroyed. The Norwegian concept of "management of disarmament" included the secure and environmentally safe handling of chemical and nuclear material from weapons scheduled for destruction. In response to the serious problems posed by the activities conducted north of its borders, his Government had drawn up a plan of action in which management, storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste were a priority.

101. As for negotiations on a convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, his delegation deemed it essential to provide for a system of monitoring enrichment and reprocessing facilities. It further proposed that the nuclear Powers should begin to provide, on a voluntary basis, information on their stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. Cooperation measures could be taken in order to clarify and confirm those declarations. The nuclear Powers could then permit international inspection of their stocks, with the aim of ensuring that the inventory in storage could be used for peaceful purposes only.

102. His delegation hoped, moreover, that the IAEA Board of Governors would adopt the protocol aimed at strengthening the Agency's powers, thereby enabling it, within the framework of the "93 + 2" Programme, to detect undeclared nuclear activities.

103. As far as nuclear exports were concerned, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime played a useful role in the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear material and technology as well as of missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction.

104. Mr. de SILVA (Sri Lanka), after reviewing the decisions of the 1995 Conference of the Parties, said that only the total elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction would constitute a security assurance for the international community, including the non-nuclear-weapon States. The final goal of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons should be the establishment of a comprehensive disarmament regime. It was important, in that regard, to truly live up to the commitments made by the nuclear-weapon States at the Conference of the Parties held in 1995. Those commitments concerned a complete ban on nuclear tests, the unimpeded transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and the complete elimination of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

105. It was therefore essential for the States that had not already done so, particularly those possessing nuclear capabilities, to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which did not preclude the peaceful use of nuclear energy by such States.

106. The renunciation by the nuclear-weapon States of the use of nuclear weapons was a crucial necessity for the non-nuclear-weapon States. In the absence of adequate security assurances, the peace and security of the non-nuclear-weapon States would not be guaranteed, while fear and mutual distrust would continue to prevail.

107. Mr. MESDOUA (Algeria) recalled that his country had acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons on 13 January 1995. Since then, it had subjected its two research and radio isotope reactors to the system of safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, and signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in October 1996.

108. Developments since the 1995 Conference of the Parties included: the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of 8 July 1996 on nuclear disarmament; the accession of eight States to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, raising the number of States parties to a record 186; and the establishment of a nearly nuclear-weapon-free zone in the southern hemisphere.

109. The international community had thus made nuclear disarmament a priority; that meant that efforts had to be intensified to ensure that the commitments entered into by all the States parties under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons would be fully implemented. In that regard, the Group of 21 had proposed negotiations on a phased nuclear disarmament programme and a related programme of action.

110. It was essential, in that context, to begin negotiations with a view to concluding a convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, an issue which was closely linked to that of existing stockpiles, which were to be placed under effective international monitoring.

111. A satisfactory formula should also be devised to give non-nuclear-weapon States assurances against the use or threat of nuclear weapons that went beyond Security Council resolution 984 (1995) of 11 April 1995, which had the same flaws as resolution 255 (1968). Pending the elimination of all nuclear weapons, non-nuclear-weapon States were entitled to unconditional, credible, and effective security assurances, which should be subject neither to interpretation nor to a veto, but should be codified under a legally binding instrument to be drawn up within the framework of the Conference on Disarmament.

112. It would also be necessary to give concrete expression to the legitimate right of developing States to have access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and to reconcile that right with the IAEA system of safeguards.

113. Concrete measures should be taken to promote the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East, and to address the legitimate expectations of Arab countries in that regard, as demonstrated by the recent accession of Djibouti, Oman and the United Arab Emirates to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The new political climate in the Middle East made it even more urgent to achieve breakthroughs in that area.

114. In order to promote progress towards universality, the entire international community - States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations - should be involved in the deliberations of the Conference to be held in the year 2000.

115. Ms. RODRÍGUEZ (Peru) mentioned the main developments since the 1995 Conference of the Parties, including the thirtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, to which all Latin American and Caribbean States, with the exception of Cuba, were parties. While considerable progress had certainly been made, nuclear dangers remained, although they took different forms. The complete elimination of nuclear weapons should therefore remain the final objective of the parties to the Treaty.

116. To that end, efforts should be made to attain, as soon as possible, the objectives of a complete ban on the production and stockpiling of fissile materials for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the establishment of satisfactory and binding security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States, the strengthening of multilateral safeguards, detection and verification mechanisms, the improvement of safety, as well as the intensification of cooperation in the area of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

117. In conclusion, she noted that the questions under consideration could not be resolved without political will.

118. Ms. BESKER (Republic of Croatia) said that Croatia, a non-nuclear-weapon State, had subscribed to the basic decisions that had been adopted at the 1995 Conference as the reconfirmation by the States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of their unequivocal commitment to full implementation of the Treaty and to meeting the obligations contained in the Decision on Principles and Objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament went hand in hand with the promotion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

119. She welcomed the fact that new States had acceded to the Treaty and urged all those States that had not yet done so, particularly States with nuclear facilities that were not subject to safeguards, to accede to the Treaty. Nuclear proliferation remained a global security threat, and it was in the interest of all countries, at the national and international levels, to cooperate through the United Nations and other bodies to prevent that threat. In that regard, she welcomed the removal of nuclear weapons from the territories of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones could contribute significantly to the enhancement of regional and global peace and security. Croatia welcomed the conclusion of the Treaty of Pelindaba, for Africa and the Treaty of Bangkok, for South-East Asia, as well as the signing of the Rarotonga Protocols by France, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.

120. Concerning the system of safeguards, she welcomed the excellent work of IAEA with respect to the implementation of the safeguards agreements with States parties under article III, paragraph 1, of the Treaty, as well the progress achieved in strengthening the effectiveness of the system.

121. With regard to nuclear disarmament, the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in September 1996 had been a major achievement, even though it was regrettable that not all countries had acceded to that Treaty. She regretted that the Conference on Disarmament had not yet started negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for non-peaceful purposes and urged delegations to the Conference to make every effort to achieve a consensus on starting negotiations. Croatia strongly supported the conclusions of the Canberra Commission and was in favour of including the Commission's report in the agenda of the NPT review process. It also believed that it was necessary to conclude a legally binding instrument that prohibited the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

122. Croatia acknowledged the progress made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in improving the quality of programming and enhancing the implementation of technical cooperation projects while focusing attention on user needs. It therefore appealed to donor countries to continue to support technical cooperation activities, particularly in view of the existing imbalance in the distribution of resources between the Agency's two major activities.

123. During the previous two years, the international community had sought to keep up the momentum created by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference. The challenge now was to elaborate a concrete and action-oriented agenda for further progress towards the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

124. Mr. VOHIDOV (Republic of Uzbekistan) said that his Government was convinced that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was an important instrument for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, creating the necessary conditions for nuclear disarmament and promoting global security. The work of the Preparatory Committee should be guided by the historical decisions adopted at the 1995 Conference and the Committee should, above all, consider ways of implementing the provisions of the Treaty and identify those areas in which progress was necessary and possible. Its efforts should be targeted at the realization of the fundamental principle of the Treaty's universality. It was essential for all States, particularly threshold and nuclear-weapon States, to accede to the Treaty.

125. Uzbekistan was also convinced that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of agreements freely arrived at among the States of the zone concerned contributed to regional and international peace and security and helped to decrease tensions. Situated as it was in a region which, regrettably, was plagued by conflict, especially in the neighbouring States of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, Uzbekistan attached particular importance to the principle of non-proliferation based on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and, in 1991, had introduced a proposal to declare central Asia a nuclear-weapon-free zone. That proposal had been favourably received in the region and, in a joint declaration adopted on 28 February 1997 at Almaty, the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan had called upon all interested countries to support the proposal to declare central Asia a nuclear-weapon-free zone open for all the other countries of the region to join. Uzbekistan would do its utmost to make a reality of that noble aspiration and planned to host, from 14 to 16 September 1997, in Tashkent, an international conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in central Asia.

126. The idea of declaring central Asia a nuclear-weapon-free zone was directly related to the question of granting to non-nuclear-weapon States security safeguards against the threat or use of nuclear weapons. Uzbekistan supported the proposal to elaborate a legally binding international instrument establishing a regime of negative security assurances. Such an instrument could be adopted as a protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons.

127. Mr. AL-HARIRI (Syrian Arab Republic) said that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was the cornerstone of the international community's efforts to avert the nuclear threat and to achieve complete disarmament. Two years had gone by since the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties but efforts to ensure the universality of the Treaty and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons had had limited results and the Conference had therefore decided to extend the Treaty for an indefinite period. At that time, the Syrian delegation had observed that that decision would open a dangerous breach which would jeopardize the Treaty by perpetuating the shortcomings which the majority of States parties had come to acknowledge. It would mean relying entirely on the good faith of the nuclear-weapon-States parties to the Treaty, which enjoyed advantages to the detriment of non-nuclear-weapon States.

128. His delegation again asked, as it had done in 1995, whether the nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty had in fact fulfilled the obligations which they had assumed under the Treaty, namely, whether they had indeed reduced their nuclear arsenals, combated nuclear proliferation or even offered to non-nuclear-weapon States as they had pledged to do assistance in the field of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Unfortunately, the response was negative. What was more, some of the countries involved had tried to prevent the transfer of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes to non-nuclear-weapon States which were parties to the Treaty and implemented its provisions. At the same time, the States in question engaged, overtly or clandestinely, in massive transfers of the latest technologies to Israel, a State which still refused to sign the Treaty but which had nevertheless succeeded in acquiring a huge nuclear capacity that was an extremely dangerous threat to peace and security in the Middle East. Such an attitude was contrary to the spirit of the Treaty, all the more so as all the Arab States without exception had acceded to the Treaty and aspired to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, provided that Israel acceded to the Treaty and subjected its nuclear installations to the IAEA full-scope safeguards system. Moreover, the nuclear-weapon States had pretended to be unaware of the proposal made at the Conference on Disarmament held at Geneva at which 28 countries had called for the establishment of a timetable for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The same States had also turned a deaf ear to a request that non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty should be granted sufficiently strong security assurances against the threat or use of such weapons, despite the advisory opinion on the subject issued by the International Court of Justice.

129. The Syrian Arab Republic was convinced that the Treaty could achieve the objectives for which it had been concluded only if all States in the world, without exception, acceded to it. Indeed, in order for the Treaty to be credible, yield positive results and attain the sought after objectives, it was essential to ensure its universality. That principle was valid at both the global and regional levels.

130. The Syrian delegation also wished to reaffirm that in order to achieve complete nuclear disarmament, it was imperative that nuclear-weapon States should agree on a timetable for the elimination of nuclear weapons in accordance with the obligations arising under article VI of the Treaty and definitively renounce the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. The international community must also do everything within its power to ensure that all nuclear installations in the world, without exception, came under the Treaty regime and were subject to the IAEA full-scope safeguards system. That requirement applied in particular to Israel, which possessed a huge nuclear arsenal that posed an extremely dangerous threat to peace, security and stability in the Middle East and demonstrated total contempt for international law and for decisions which had been unanimously adopted by the international community.

131. Ms. ARYSTANBEKOVA (Kazakhstan) said that her country scrupulously honoured the obligations which it had assumed as a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation Treaty of Nuclear Weapons. During the previous year, it had eliminated its last remaining nuclear missile launchers, thereby destroying at the same time the fourth largest nuclear arsenal on the planet.

132. The decision of the 1995 Conference to extend the Treaty indefinitely had been one of the most outstanding events with regard to the strengthening of non-proliferation regime. But the international community still had much to do to achieve the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world: it must, inter alia , organize the monitoring of compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, prohibit the manufacture of fissile materials for military use and prevent the illegal transfer of nuclear materials. At the national level, Kazakhstan had passed a law on export control which was consistent with the general efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In 1991, the President of Kazakhstan had taken the historic decision to close the Semipalatinsk test-site: nuclear testing had been prohibited in Kazakhstan for six years. However, his country did not consider nuclear testing to be a thing of the past, for the scale of the damage caused to the population and the environment had yet to be determined. His country believed that it was entitled to assistance from the international community and, above all, the nuclear Powers in eradicating the consequences of nuclear testing.

133. On the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Semipalatinsk test-site, the President had decided to organize, in September 1997, an international conference on the problems of nuclear non-proliferation to which the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international organizations had been invited as well as experts on non-proliferation from nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States.

134. On 28 February of the current year, the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan had met in Almaty to consider problems relating to the ecological security of the central Asian region and had proclaimed 1998 Environmental Protection Year in the region, under the auspices of the United Nations. In the Almaty Declaration, the above-mentioned countries signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty had emphasized that Central Asia must become a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

135. Mr. HASAN (Iraq) said that the current session was of exceptional importance as it was the first follow-up meeting to the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. At that time it had been hoped that the Non-Proliferation Treaty would be given a new boost after the decision had been made to extend it indefinitely, and after a set of texts comprising three decisions and a resolution had been adopted. Since that time there had been a number of new and important developments which had given cause for optimism. Among those were: the accession of new Member States to the Non-Proliferation Treaty; the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty which, despite its shortcomings, was of great importance; the report of the Canberra Commission, as well as a number of other encouraging developments which bore witness to the high priority that was being given to nuclear disarmament.

136. His delegation hoped that the work of the Preparatory Committee and of the next Review Conference would lead to tangible progress being made towards achieving the following objectives: ensuring the universality of the Treaty; adoption of an accelerated programme, accompanied by a timetable that would permit the reduction and, eventually, the complete elimination of nuclear weapons; provision of security assurances to non-nuclear-weapons States parties to the Treaty, which might take the form of an internationally binding instrument, to protect them from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; development of nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in regions of tensions such as the Middle East; and the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

137. Recalling that the 1995 Review Conference had adopted a resolution relating to the Middle East, his delegation noted that nothing had been done as yet to implement that resolution. During the same period, three States from that region - Djibouti, the United Arab Emirates and Oman - had acceded to the Treaty, which meant that all States of the Middle East except Israel were now parties to the Treaty. The fact that Israel remained outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime was damaging to the non-proliferation regime, and made it impossible to ensure the universality of the Treaty or to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. His delegation therefore invited the Preparatory Committee and the next Review Conference to give the problem the full attention that it deserved. In that regard, his delegation noted that the Security Council in its resolution 487 (1981) had called upon Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency and, in paragraph 14 of resolution 687 (1991) which had been adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, had called for the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. It was essential to uphold those resolutions, not only to maintain the credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty but also because it was important to rectify the mistakes of certain States, including certain parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and even Depositary Governments, which, by making their know-how and funds available to Israel, had enabled that country to gain significant nuclear capacity thereby posing a serious threat to regional and international peace and security.

138. Mr. NGO QUANG XUAN (Viet Nam) recalled the main tasks of the Preparatory Committee and said that no effort should be spared in the preparation of the 2000 Review Conference to guarantee its success. Since the 1995 Review Conference, considerable progress had been made in the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: four nuclear-weapon-free zones had been created (the Treaties of Tlatelolco, Rarotonga, Pelindaba and Bangkok), leading to the prospect of a nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere; the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had been adopted and preparations for its implementation had begun; the International Court of Justice had given its advisory opinion on the legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons which, notably, recognized the existence of an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament. His country also welcomed the negotiations that were being conducted by the nuclear-weapons States to reduce their nuclear arsenals and congratulated the eight new States which had become parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty since 1995.

139. The present situation was still far from satisfactory. It was important that all obligations deriving from the Treaty should be strictly observed with regard to non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. His country supported the proposals put forward by the non-aligned countries that were parties to the Treaty. In that connection, the implementation of the decisions on strengthening the review process for the Treaty and on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament should be made obligatory.

140. His Government would make every effort to help build a world free from nuclear weapons. In order to accelerate the process of nuclear disarmament, a time-frame would need to be worked out for the various steps to be taken. To that end, his country together with 27 other States had presented at the 1996 Geneva Conference on Disarmament a proposal for a programme of action for the elimination of nuclear weapons. His country also welcomed the commencement of negotiations on a treaty to prohibit the production of fissile materials for other then peaceful uses.

141. In order to protect all non-nuclear-weapon States from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, a legally binding system of security assurances needed to be established. For that reason, his country supported the proposal by the non-aligned countries to start negotiations on the preparation of such an instrument during the preparatory process so that it could be adopted as protocol to the Treaty at the Review Conference in the year 2000. The efforts made by non-nuclear-weapon countries to implement article VII should be supported. In that regard, his country asked the nuclear-weapon States to recognize and respect the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, including the Bangkok Treaty to which his country was a party. States parties must find ways to turn the southern hemisphere into a nuclear-weapon-free region.

142. Mr. KAZIMIERZ (Poland) said that his delegation had not intended to speak in the general debate at the present session of the Preparatory Committee, as the representative of the Netherlands had already done so very competently in the name of the European Union and the associated countries, which included Poland. His delegation had been prompted to speak by the suggestion put forward that same day by the representative of Ukraine that the Group of Eastern European States should chair the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

143. There was no need to stress the importance of the role that the Group had played in the implementation of the Treaty during its first 25 years of existence. The Group could have chaired the 1995 Review Conference but had thought that, given its importance, the Conference should be chaired by the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. He welcomed the fact that the Group of Eastern European States had been chosen to chair the second session of the Preparatory Committee, which was to be held the following year, but nonetheless would like the Committee to take note of the Group's wish to be chosen to chair the Review Conference in the year 2005.

144. Mr. JAZRI (Malaysia) said that the present session of the Preparatory Committee offered the States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons an exceptional opportunity to advance the cause of global nuclear disarmament. It was also an opportunity to consider the way in which the States parties had fulfilled their obligations as set out in the Preamble and article VI of the Treaty, and how they had carried out the commitments undertaken during the 1995 Conference.

145. His delegation had placed its confidence in the Non-Proliferation Treaty which, despite its flaws, was a global instrument intended to check nuclear proliferation horizontally as well as vertically. Like the other non-nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty, Malaysia had foresworn in good faith any intention to develop and produce nuclear weapons. Together with other South-East Asian countries, it had concluded a treaty which would prohibit the deployment of nuclear weapons in any form in the territories of that region, and it would welcome the creation of further nuclear-weapon-free zones in other parts of the world.

146. While such zones were important for non-proliferation they were not a substitute for the achievement of the primary goal, namely, the global elimination of nuclear weapons. Such weapons created not security but, rather, insecurity for the whole world.

147. The efforts made by a number of nuclear-weapon States, such as the United States of America and the Russian Federation, to reduce their nuclear stockpiles were encouraging but feel far short of the expectations of the non-nuclear-weapon States. The nuclear Powers had set no time-frame for the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals and had made it clear that they would not enter into negotiations on the question.

148. His delegation hoped that the Non-Proliferation Treaty review process would also provide the opportunity to consider what might be done to bring those countries which were not yet parties to the Treaty into the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime and so make it universal. In that regard, his delegation emphasized that if the nuclear-weapon States would fulfil their commitments on questions of security assurances, fissile material cut-off and the drafting of a timetable for complete nuclear disarmament, they would make the Treaty's goal of universality easier to achieve.

149. The adoption by a large majority of non-nuclear-weapon States of General Assembly resolution 51/45 M, which Malaysia had introduced and which pertained to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice issued on 8 July 1996, had demonstrated how disappointed the international community was by the lack of seriousness and the extremely slow pace of negotiations on nuclear disarmament that were to lead to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. In it the General Assembly had underscored that there was an obligation not only to pursue negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects, in accordance with article VI of the Treaty, but also to bring those negotiations to a conclusion.

150. The General Assembly had also called upon all States to fulfil that legal obligation immediately by commencing multilateral negotiations in 1997, leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear-weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination. His delegation was heartened to note that the European Parliament had made the same call in its resolution of 13 March 1997, making clear to all the States parties to the Treaty and, in particular, to the nuclear-weapon States, the path to be followed.

151. Mr. KHARRAZI (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that from the moment it had been signed, the Non-Proliferation Treaty had been perceived as having contributed to halting the arms race and to the process of nuclear disarmament. However, its achievements had not always been equal to its aims. The 1995 Conference had adopted decisions on the strengthening of the review process for the Treaty and on the principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament as well as a resolution on the Middle East, and had decided to extend the Treaty indefinitely. Although that undeniably represented progress, it should not be forgotten that the vitality and success of the Treaty would depend upon the way in which States parties worked together during the coming years to fulfil the commitments they had undertaken in 1995 and to observe all the provisions of the Treaty.

152. With regard to the strengthening of the review process, the 1995 Review Conference had indicated that the Preparatory Committee should consider the principles, objectives and means that would make it possible to guarantee the full implementation of the Treaty, to promote universality and to formulate recommendations for the Review Conference. It followed that the sessions of the Preparatory Committee must make a real contribution to the review process, taking into consideration the 1995 decision on principles and objectives, with a view to enabling the Review Conference to assess how the provisions of the Treaty were being implemented and to identify those aspects which still left something to be desired.

153. The Treaty and the decision on principles and objectives invited the nuclear Powers to conduct negotiations in good faith with a view to achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament. Despite the important progress that had been made over the previous two years, such as: the General Assembly's adoption of resolution 51/45 O on nuclear disarmament; the historic advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons; the signing of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), despite its shortcomings, the nuclear disarmament programme put forward by the Group of 21; the resolution of the European Parliament on the Non-Proliferation Treaty; and some other initiatives in that sphere, there was nothing to indicate that the nuclear-weapon States had committed themselves to the path of nuclear disarmament. They had objected to the extension of the Treaty, which would lead to greater responsibility. Contrary to the provisions of General Assembly resolution 51/45 O, they had opposed the creation within the Conference on Disarmament of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament. Together with some of their allies, they had defended the lawfulness of nuclear weapons before the International Court of Justice. They had agreed to sign the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty only after developing procedures that enabled them to guarantee and improve the quality of their nuclear weapons without having to carry further testing or develop new types of nuclear weapons.

154. The decision on principles and objectives indicated that, with the end of the cold war and the easing of international tensions, increased confidence between States would help strengthen nuclear disarmament on the basis of the text of the Treaty. If nuclear-weapon States wished to show their determination to observe article VI of the Treaty and contribute to the elimination of nuclear weapons, they should immediately agree to initiate, in the framework of the Disarmament Commission, negotiations on legal instruments concerning the following points: elaborating a programme of action aimed at significantly reducing, according to a set timetable, the number of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, prior to eliminating them altogether; prohibiting the production or stockpiling of fissile material for military uses; prohibiting the threat or use of nuclear weapons; and providing effective, unconditional and full security assurances, both positive and negative, to non-nuclear-weapon States. Those assurances could also be provided to non-nuclear-weapon States parties to the Treaty in the framework of a protocol to the Treaty which could be adopted at the Review Conference in the year 2000.

155. The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones was considered as the first step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. They were also critical to achieving one of the basic goals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the Middle East, the challenge was to contain the nuclear threat posed by Israel and to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region as a matter of urgency. Israel should be forced to place all its nuclear facilities under the IAEA safeguards system. Indeed, Israel's refusal to submit to international control could destabilize the Middle East. The international community should find a solution to that problem in order to reduce the nuclear threat in the region and ensure a genuinely universal application of the Treaty.

156. The implementation of all the provisions of the Treaty must be ensured in order to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, without jeopardizing the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The States parties which complied with the Treaty's provisions and the IAEA safeguards agreements should be able to freely use nuclear materials, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes. Obviously, no non-representative group of States parties could be an appropriate forum for reviewing the rights and obligations provided for under the Treaty. Any decisions taken by such groups had a considerable impact on the security of all States parties, which should therefore participate in the debates of such groups. The failings of the Nuclear Suppliers Group had further hampered access by parties which complied with the Treaty's provisions to nuclear materials and technology for peaceful purposes; discriminatory controls had even been imposed on such parties.

157. Mrs. BOURGOIS (France), speaking on behalf of the delegations of the People's Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America, said that the initial meeting of the States that had agreed in 1995 to the indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was of particular importance. Stressing the importance of the Treaty's indefinite extension, the delegations of those countries reaffirmed their continued support for the documents adopted by consensus at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty. They welcomed the accession to the Treaty, since the 1995 Conference, of the following eight countries: Andorra, Angola, Chile, Comoros, Djibouti, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Vanuatu.

158. Since 1995, very significant progress had been made in the area of nuclear disarmament, notably with respect to the programme of action set out in the Decision on Principles and Objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by more than 140 States, including the five nuclear-weapon States which had signed on the first day of its opening for signature, 24 September 1996, was a historic event. By banning any nuclear-weapon-test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, constraining the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and ending the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons, the Treaty constituted an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects. The above-mentioned delegations stressed the importance of an early signature and ratification of the Treaty by all States in order to facilitate its entry into force.

159. The delegations also confirmed their countries' readiness for the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a non-discriminatory, universal and internationally and effectively verifiable convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices, a goal contained in the Decision on Principles and Objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament as its second step, following the completion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The new constraints to be added to the Treaty would strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. The delegations stressed the importance for the States which were not yet parties to the Treaty to join the negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, in accordance with the statement of the Special Coordinator of the Conference on Disarmament.

160. Considering that all States must contribute to the relaxation of international tension and to the strengthening of international peace and security, the nuclear-weapon States reaffirmed their determination to continue the pursuit of efforts by the nuclear-weapon States to reduce nuclear weapons globally and then to eliminate them, and to promote the pursuit by all States of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. In that context, they welcomed the recent understanding reached by the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States of America on further reductions of nuclear weapons. They also welcomed the removal of all nuclear weapons of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the territories of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

161. The nuclear-weapon States reaffirmed their conviction that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned, enhanced global and regional peace and security. By signing the Protocols to the Treaty of Rarotonga and the Treaty of Pelindaba, the nuclear-weapon States had given security assurances in treaty form to the very large number of States concerned. The five countries also remained ready to work with the signatories to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone to remove those obstacles currently preventing the nuclear-weapon States from signing the Protocol to that Treaty.

162. Those steps were in line with the security assurances provided by the five countries in their national declarations, which were referred to in United Nations Security Council resolution 984 (1995), and constituted a positive development with regard to the relevant paragraph of the Decision on Principles and Objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

163. The five countries were ready to contribute to global nuclear non-proliferation objectives by doing their part in support of the programme for strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the IAEA safeguards system.

164. Lastly, those countries reaffirmed their commitment towards cooperation in the field of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I, II and III of the Treaty and the Decision on Principles and Objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.