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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Cluster 1 South Africa, April 27, 1998

Cluster 1

Mr. Chairperson,

Thank you for giving me the floor.

The debate which is to take place under our substantive consideration of the issues which are grouped together under Cluster I is one of the most important elements of our work. While my Government is of the view that all aspects of the NPT are important and that they should all be attended to in substantive deliberations by this PrepCom, the issue of nuclear disarmament must (and will inevitably) be a focus at this and future meetings of the NPT States parties owing

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1998 NPT Index

to the high priority which has been placed on it by the international community, including my own Government.

Mr Chairperson,

The achievement of our common goal of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons requires that we should all work actively towards achieving the universality and non-proliferation objectives of the NPT. The elimination of nuclear weapons requires that the nuclear weapons option which is still being held on to by some members of the international community, as well as the full implementation of the non-proliferation objectives of the Treaty, should be met. For South Africa, universality of the NPT and non-proliferation are the flip-side of the nuclear disarmament coin. My delegation has prepared itself to participate in the debate on the issue of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, for which provision has been made in this PrepCom's programme of work. The requirement for the NPT States parties to work for the universality of the NPT should, however, not he limited to one particular region or country. South Africa believes that we should actively discuss and consider situations in all regions of the world. Of recent concern to us, also as they relates to their impact on the NPT itself and to the nuclear non-proliferation accomplishments achieved over the last 28 years, have been the recent developments in South Asia. The States parties to the NPT should consider what actions they can take in combination or individually to convince all of the States which continue to maintain the nuclear weapons option that national, regional and international security is not enhanced or guaranteed by a reliance on nuclear weapons, but that it rather constitutes a threat to their security and ours.

In this context, it is also a pleasure for me to announce that South Africa deposited its instrument of ratification to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, the Pelindaba Treaty, with the Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (GAD) on 27 March 1998, which is intended to reinforce Africa's commitments under the NPT.

Mr Chairperson,

As my delegation at the PrepCom's meeting in 1997 stated, South Africa continues to see the non-proliferation obligations of the NPT as one of its most important international commitments, and it continues, either nationally or in cooperation with others, to take active measures to prevent the proliferation of dual-use technologies, material and equipment for all weapons of mass destruction. We, however, believe that the non-proliferation obligations of the NPT should not be given a limited and self-serving interpretation. From South Africa perspective Articles I and II of the NPT are not limited to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons or their technologies, material or equipment, but also relate to obligations for preventing any recipient from obtaining, directly or indirectly, control over such weapons or explosive devices. It is for this reason that we placed on record at the 1997 PrepCom our concern about the non-proliferation implications of the plans for the expansion of NATO and the proposals which have been made for a dialogue in Europe on the future role of nuclear deterrence in the context of the European Defence Policy. The planned expansion of NATO would, in our view, entail an increase in the number of non-nuclear-weapon States which participate in nuclear training, planning and decision-making and which have an element of nuclear deterrence in their defence policies.

Mr Chairperson,

When considering the nuclear disarmament issue in the context of the NPT, which constitutes the only obligation for the ultimate arid complete elimination of nuclear weapons which has been undertaken by all five nuclear-weapon States, we should take a closer look at the provisions of the NPT itself on this issue. Article VI of the Treaty stipulates that:

"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

The obligations of Article VI are therefore clearly obligations undertaken by all of the Parties to the Treaty. The argument that Article VI contains divided obligations and that the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament is the sole preserve of the nuclear-weapon States, while general and complete disarmament is for all of the Treaty parties is not correct. The fact that it Is only the States which possess nuclear weapons that can actually eliminate these weapons is self evident, but the obligation of all States Parties to have an interest and to be involved in all of the obligations contained in Article VI cannot be repudiated. The task which South Africa would argue faces the NPT States parties is to determine, as a part of the Strengthened Review Process agreed to in 1995, how we are to achieve and structure this involvement.

As all of the delegations represented here are aware, the debate as to the international community's involvement in nuclear disarmament has largely been focused in the Conference on Disarmament, here in Geneva. This debate has to date largely proven to be fruitless, despite the submission of a number of proposals for the establishment of an ad hoc committee or some other institutional mechanism on this issue. During the current session of the Conference on Disarmament, two formal proposals on this issue have been submitted to the CD by NPT States parties -- South Africa and Belgium -- and have drawn widespread (but unfortunately as yet not consensus) support. Both of these proposals were built around the NPT nuclear disarmament obligations. The proposal of South Africa focused its attention on the commitment undertaken in the 1995 Principles and Objectives to pursue systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons, while Belgium focused on the NPT's Article VI obligations themselves.

Parallel to these initiatives we have seen a number of ideas being formulated both by States and by non-governmental organisations on how the nuclear disarmament obligations of all of the NPT States parties in terms of Article VI can be translated into effective reality. The proposals which have been put forward by States and from within the NGO community can be divided into two broad categories. Firstly, proposals on the substance of nuclear disarmament which investigate what measures can be taken individually, jointly or multilaterally towards diminishing the threat posed by nuclear weapons as well as on their reduction and eventual elimination. Within this category we find proposals for taking nuclear weapons off alert, transparency measures for nuclear weapons and military stockpiles of fissile material, no-first use, non-stationing of nuclear weapons outside the territories of nuclear-weapon States, the multilateralisation of the ABM Treaty, commitments not to modernise or increase the size of nuclear arsenals, etc which have been put forward, inter alia, by the Canberra Commission, former United States General Lee Butler, the Stimson Center, the US National Academy of Sciences and others.

Secondly, there are proposals which have focused on the mechanisms which we can establish to provide a framework for achieving nuclear disarmament or for structuring the international community's involvement in the nuclear disarmament debate and process. Within this category we find initiatives such as those put forward by Belgium, Egypt and South Africa in the Conference on Disarmament as well as by members of the NGO community such as the Acronym Institute. It should be emphasised here that, from South Africa's perspective, and I believe that we are correct in saying this, that these initiatives are not, and I underline not, intended to in any way to undermine or threaten the nuclear disarmament negotiations between Russia and the United States. These would continue to be of paramount importance to the reduction of nuclear weapons and for their eventual elimination, and so also will be the future negotiations involving the other nuclear-weapon States.

Mr Chairperson,

Given the fact that the disarmament obligations contained in Article VI of the NPT are the obligations of "Each Party to the Treaty", it is South Africa S view that we should establish the practice within the Strengthened Review Process for the States parties to deliberate on the practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons which were envisaged in the "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament" decision adopted at the 1995 NPT Conference. The purpose of these deliberations would be to provide:

The nuclear-weapon-States with a structured opportunity to brief the Treaty parties on the steps which they have undertaken and are undertaking in this regard; The non-nuclear-weapon States with a structured opportunity to engage the nuclear-weapon States as to "the practical steps and systematic and progressive efforts" which have been identified and which could be undertaken unilaterally, as a result of bilateral or plurilateral negotiations, or multilaterally; The opportunity for the international community, as represented by the NPT parties, to jointly support or assist initiatives undertaken or agreements achieved; and Thereby to allow each of the NPT States parties, non-nuclear-weapon States and nuclear-weapon States alike, to fulfil Article VI's provision that its obligations apply to each of the parties to the Treaty.

It is South Africa's view that if an initiative such as this were to be implemented within the Strengthened Review Process then it would enhance confidence in the indefinitely extended NPT, complement initiatives already undertaken, lay the groundwork for future-- steps towards our common goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons, and it would allow us to begin identifying the measures to achieve what is termed complete and general disarmament under strict and effective international control. It would also be in line with the thinking which has underpinned proposals made in other international fora by such NPT States parties as Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Japan, South Africa and others as well as by members of the NGO community such as Rebecca Johnson from the Acronym Institute.

Mr Chairperson,

It is South Africa's intention to promote, seek support for and have language included in the recommendations agreed to at this session of the Preparatory Committee on the proposal outlined above We will be seeking to have:

As has been done at this session for the FMCT, Security Assurances and Middle East issues, to have specific time made available at the 1999 Preparatory Committee meeting for deliberations on the nuclear disarmament issue to be held along the lines of the mandate which we have outlined above. A recommendation to the year 2000 Review Conference included in our work which would call for the establishment of a subsidiary body to Main Committee I, established at the forthcoming and future review conferences for deliberations on the nuclear disarmament issue to be held along the lines of the mandate which we have outlined above A recommendation to the year 2000 Review Conference included in our work which would call for future Preparatory Committee meetings to ensure that specific time is made for deliberations on the nuclear disarmament issue to be held along the lines of the mandate which we have outlined above.

Mr Chairperson,

Some may attempt to argue that deliberations such as those which I have outlined should be conducted within the Main Committee I cluster. This issue and the obligation of "Each of the Parties to the Treaty" under Article VI of the NPT is of such importance, and has boon the cause of extended debates, that South Africa believes that it cannot be submerged in the Cluster I process. The Cluster I process will be dealing with the review, the preparation of recommendations, a general debate etc on all of the issues (nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, nuclear-weapon-free zones, universality, security assurances, etc) covered by the cluster and does not lend itself to the focused deliberations which South Africa believes need to take place on nuclear disarmament.

Mr Chairperson, I thank you.