me personally by electing me to the Chair of the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. I am fully aware that the post I am assuming is not only prestigious and demanding but one of great responsibility. I shall spare no effort to live up to your expectations and I shall rely on your support and cooperation in the discharge of my mandate.
I will also rely on the experience and the results of the first session of the Preparatory Committee which was chaired with distinction and success by Ambassador Pasi Patokallio of Finland. I need not add that the second session of the PrepCom will build upon the results of and benefit from the experience of its 1997 session.
I would also like to express my appreciation to all members of the Committee who, during the preparations for this session, have already extended their cooperation and assistance to me.
Let me finally greet [my good friends and colleagues, Mr. Vladimir Petroysky, the distinguished Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva and Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament as well as] Mr. Abdelkader Bensmail, the deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament.
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
As the Chairman of the second session of the NPT Preparatory Committee, I should like to make a brief statement concerning a number of substantive issues that, I believe, will need to be addressed over the next two weeks. In doing so, I will also touch upon recent developments that have occurred during the twelve months since the Preparatory Committee held its first session in April last year.
Significant progress, both bilateral and multilateral, has been achieved in recent years in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The 1995 decisions to indefinitely extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and strengthen its review process, the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the consolidation of Nuc1ear-Weapon-Free Zones and the START process between the Russian Federation and the United States have all contributed in reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. There is no doubt, however, that much more needs to be done.
The historic decisions reached by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, largely made possible owing to the diplomatic skills and statesmanship of Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, the President of the Conference, clearly demonstrated the importance that States Parties attach to this Treaty as a fundamental basis of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and an integral part of the international security system. This can also be seen in the further strengthening and universalization of the Treaty since the 1995 Conference with the accessions of additional countries, including the declared decision by Brazil to adhere to the Treaty as its 187th Party. Let us hope that such developments will encourage other States not parties to accede to the Treaty at an early date.
The IAEA safeguards under the NPT are an integral part of the international non-proliferation regime. They play a vital role in ensuring the implementation of the Treaty. With the adoption, in May 1997, of the IAEA safeguards model Additional Protocol to Existing Safeguards Agreements between States and the IAEA, the effectiveness and efficiency of the IAEA's safeguards system will be further strengthened and in turn benefit the NPT regime. I hope that the efforts currently under way to assure States' adherence to this Protocol will be successful and that all States Parties will soon accept this instrument, which gives effect to the newly strengthened safeguards system. I am also encouraged by the news that the first part of the strengthened system, which could be put into effect immediately, is in fact being already implemented.
The recent ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) by two nuclear-weapon States, France and the United Kingdom, has provided significant boost to the Treaty, bringing the total number of CTBT ratifications to 13 out of a total 149 signatories. It is worth noting in this context that the United States Government has submitted the CTBT to the Senate seeking its consent to the ratification. The international community should encourage the other nuclear-weapon States to follow suit, since ratification of the CTBT by all nuclear-weapon States is vital to persuading other countries to join the Treaty and to accelerating the process of its ratification. This, in turn, would contribute significantly to the cause of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament while allowing mankind to reap the benefits of a world free from nuclear testing.
Since the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, impressive achievements have also been made with regard to nuclear-weapon-free zones in various parts of the globe. Efforts are being pursued to link existing nuclear-weapon free zones in Latin America, the South Pacific, Offence and Southeast Asia while proposals are being made for the establishment of new ones in other regions such as Central Asia and the Middle East. Such zones do contribute significantly to nuclear non-proliferation efforts and deserve active support from the international community and, in particular, from the nuclear-weapon States. Among the favourable developments in this context, one might mention the ongoing consultations on the protocols to the Treaty on the Denuclearization of Southeast Asia, the Bangkok Treaty, with a view to assuring their acceptance by the nuclear-weapon States.
In connection with bilateral efforts in the field of nuclear disarmament, the U.S.- Russian agreement at the Helsinki Summit last year to proceed to START III talks, once START II is ratified by the State Duma, could have a major impact on further reduction of the nuclear arsenals of the two nuclear Powers. I am hopeful that the State Duma will soon ratify START II, thus clearing the path for both States to commence negotiations within the START III process.
It is gratifying to note the progress, made recently, here in Geneva, at the Conference on Disarmament on its programme of work. The Presidential Declaration identifying the agenda item "Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and Nuclear Disarmament" as being of an extremely high priority and the President's conclusion that it was necessary to substantially increase consultations on this item under his authority, are very encouraging developments. The President of the CD will hopefully be able to substantially advance his consultations on appropriate methods and approaches for dealing with "the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament, taking into account all proposals and views on this item. I also welcome the decision to establish an ad hoc Committee to negotiate with a view to reaching agreement on effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. The international community could feel encouraged by these positive developments, which will allow the Conference to embark on its substantive work after more than a year of pause and reflection.
Having made this brief review of recent positive developments some of which having a direct impact on our work, I have to caution you, however, that much remains to be done. As part of the review process, we are mandated by Article VIII (3) of NPT "to review the operation of this Treaty with a view to assuring that the purposes of the preamble and the provisions of the Treaty are being realized". In doing so, we shall also be guided in our work under the strengthened review process by the principles and objectives adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
The second session of the Preparatory Committee comes at a very special time. This coming July will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This fact should add more impetus to our work. Indeed, we are called upon to continue our substantive consideration of all aspects of the Treaty and to focus on preparing concrete and forward-looking recommendations to the Review Conference. We will also need to make better procedural preparations.
As Chairman of this session, I must ask the members of the Committee to bear in mind the relatively short time available to conclude our work. Therefore, let us wisely use each of the working days at our disposal, combine our efforts in resolving the numerous issues that lie before us to prepare a solid foundation for the Committee's third session and the Review Conference itself. I sincerely hope that the constructive and cooperative spirit which prevailed during the first session will continue throughout this session and that we shall be able to expand the consensual area to be eventually recommended to the NPT Review Conference 2000.