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Regional Initiative

This presentation will deal with a question of special concern to people's of several regions who strive to ward off deadly nuclear threats by establishing Nuclear Weapon Free Zones (NWFZs).  We expect that the official policies of NPT states will positively respond to NGO discussion  of this question. The NPT Review and Extension Conference of 1995 adopted a Decision on "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non Proliferation and Disarmament" emphasizing the conviction of NPT states that "the establishment of internationally recognized NWFZ...enhances global and regional peace and security".  The Conference also endorsed a resolution calling for "the establishment of an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction".  These are politically binding commitments by all NPT states.

Mr. Chairman, the refusal of the nuclear weapons states to start negotiations in good faith on

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1998 NPT Index

effective measures leading to complete nuclear disarmament has made the establishment of NWFZs a matter of utmost urgency.  They express the political will of the countries of a region to refrain from acquiring, producing, testing and storing nuclear weapons, to prevent nuclear states from deploying these weapons on their territories and to distance the people of the region from nuclear threats.

Already, NWFZs have covered several regions and continents including territories under jurisdiction of big powers.  We call on those states that have not already to ratify the Nuclear Weapons Free Zones treaties in existence.  Taking them together enables a great part of the Southern Hemisphere comprising Latin America, Africa, South East Asia, the South Pacific and the Antarctic Continent to remain outside the nuclear arms race.  In addition to these internationally recognized treaties, hundreds of cities and towns have been declared NWFZs by their local authorities.  Other initiatives to expand areas free from nuclear weapons are on the agenda of NGOs with the hope that PrepCom delegates will take them in due consideration.

Among them is a NWFZ urgently requested by the countries of the independent republics of the Former Soviet Union in Central Asia.  A conference last September was held to this end in Tashkent with the full support of the regional governments.  Practical steps are expected to build towards establishing this zone before the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

 Another zone which requires due consideration is envisaged to release tension engendered by NATO expansion.  NATO member states promised in their Founding Act with Russia of May 1997 that they have no intention of deploying nuclear weapons in the territory of the new NATO members located in Central and Eastern Europe.  However, legally binding measures are stipulated by the Founding Act to prevent such eventualities in future. Only a legally binding commitment by an internationally recognized treaty on the establishment of a NWFZ between Russia and NATO could release this tension.  This zone may expand in the future, instead of NATO expansion, to strengthen peace and security in Europe.

It should be noted that Europe was the cradle of NWFZs.  Efforts to establish these zones in Central Europe, in the Balkan and the Adriatic regions, and in North Europe has been made long before the establishment of the Latin American Zone.  The reason why they failed to achieve their targets has been eradicated of late.  Confrontation between the US and USSR does not exist any more, the Warsaw Pact has been dismantled and no nuclear threat is leveled at the US and its allies.  Similar to what has already happened to the former Warsaw member states in Central and Eastern Europe and to the European Republics of the Former USSR, Non-Nuclear Weapons State members of NATO, US-Japan Alliance and other military alliances can also be transformed into Nuclear Weapon Free Countries.  All nuclear weapons together with their delivery systems deployed in the territories of all Non-Nuclear Weapon States of nuclear capable alliances should be eliminated.

Mr. Chairman, at the time of the Cold War, NGOs together with many governments called for the removal of nuclear weapon capable fleets from the Baltic, Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, and from the Indian Ocean to avoid possible nuclear confrontations between US and USSR fleets.  These slogans have almost disappeared since the end of the Cold War.  However, another danger is looming at present.  Huge capable fleets carrying effective land and air nuclear capable forces are freely moving in seas and oceans ready to intervene in defence of the so called "vital interests" of certain powers.  To inhibit these operations, Third World countries try to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Consequently, the nuclear Genie is re-released and grown uncontrollably beyond any region.  Establishing NWF Seas and Oceans particularly those close to regions of tension is a matter of urgency.  International water is the heritage of the entire human family and should benefit all peoples.

Finally, regional "security" based on the deployment of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction has been triggered by conflicts between the two Koreas in North East Asia.  Under the pretext of safeguarding national security a state involved in the conflict tends to acquire nuclear weapons or seeks the nuclear umbrella from a "friendly" NWS.  To counter this act, other countries make every effort to possess weapons of mass destruction.  Moreover some Nuclear Weapons States pursue a double standard policy condoning the possession of nuclear weapons by their local allies and threatening, at the same time, to prevent other countries by force, conventional and non-conventional, from acquiring any weapons of mass destruction.  A deadly connection between conflicts and these weapons has emerged.

In this connection, we welcome your decision to place on your agenda the question of establishing a Middle East Free from Weapons of Mass Destruction, hoping that your effort will prompt the parties concerned to immediately start negotiations to achieve this target.

Mr. Chairman, the components and targets of this programme are of a special nature.  They seek to establish NWFZs in the Northern hemisphere after many zones have been established in the South, to start the establishment of zones where nuclear weapons are deployed (whereas the former zones had been established in regions already free from nuclear weapons), to free the international water of seas and oceans from nuclear weapons while former zones had been only established in the territories of several regions, and to establish zones free from all Weapons of Mass Destruction, as well as, nuclear weapon free countries to be added to NWFZs.

These new types of zones will give a powerful impetus to the efforts now underway to eliminate all nuclear weapons and conclude a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Combined efforts by NGOs and NPT states are very much needed to implement this programme.

Thank you.

Statement Coordinator: Bahig Nassar, Coordinating Centre of Arab Peace Organizations,
16 Mohammed Shafik Str., El Mohandessein, 12411, Giza, Cairo, Egypt.
Tel:  + 20 2 346 7892/355 5502 Fax + 20 2 578 6298 email: aruna@intouch.com