Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In this we were honouring our 1995 decision to extend the treaty indefinitely and the commitment to give it new life and momentum through more stringent and more frequent scrutiny of its implementation.
That crucial decision was not one of simply devoting more time and effort to the process of judging our achievements or shortcomings. It had the equally significant purpose of setting ourselves a dynamic and evolving programme of action, through the vehicle of the Principles and Objectives. The Principles and Objectives are fundamental to the enhanced review process. We place particular importance on the undertakings they contain for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
New Zealand was satisfied with the outcome of our first PrepCom last year. We made a good start in establishing flexible procedures for the new review process. We managed to find a formula for recording, and carrying forward to this session, the valuable initiatives and proposals that delegations put forward. New Zealand is pleased that there was agreement that this current review session should give special attention to three particular issues: this should provide an opportunity to ensure our PrepCom is substantive in content.
Mr Chairman, we have weighty issues of both substance and procedure to deal with over the next two weeks. I want to touch first on substance.
For New Zealand, nuclear disarmament, and the objective of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, remain an absolute priority. There have been positive developments since the 1995 Review Conference. But, overall our feeling is one of disappointment that more substantive movement has not been possible. We are not pessimistic, however. As we look towards our Conference in 2000, we continue to believe that we must grasp the opportunity, and make this a turning point in the process to which we are all committed: that of achieving a nuclear weapon free world.
Mr Chairman, how can we make 2000 a defining moment? As far as New Zealand is concerned, the essential first step is the unequivocal commitment by nuclear weapons states to the elimination of nuclear weapons, and to taking immediate practical steps which will contribute to that end. Such an outcome would be entirely consistent with the fundamental undertakings on which the NPT is founded, and with the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.
Developments over the past year which give us encouragement include the efforts which are continuing by the Russian administration to press the Duma for early ratification of START II. We very much welcome and applaud the ongoing bilateral effort to achieve meaningful cuts in nuclear hardware. We want to see also the earliest possible commencement of negotiations on the START III process which hold the promise of further deep reductions in weapons numbers.
We want to see the other three nuclear weapon states join this process as soon as possible. In the meantime, we reiterate our 1997 call on them to make a political commitment not to increase their nuclear weapon inventories.
New Zealand welcomes the recent ratifications of the CTBT by the United Kingdom arid France. This is a significant commitment to the treaty, which will soon, we hope, be followed with ratification by the other key countries. It as essential that those countries which have not yet signed the CTBT continue to be urged to accept the anti-testing norm. We need to look at ways to engage constructively and persuade them to join this new international commitment. New Zealand is well on the way to enacting the legislation necessary for our own ratification of the treaty.
We are also encouraged by the number of countries that have already concluded Protocols to give effect to the IAEA's strengthened safeguards. Our own domestic procedures to implement these are almost completed. These enhanced safeguards are fundamental to ensuring real and lasting confidence in the non-proliferation regime. They provide the foundation for the verification regime we will need worldwide in eliminating nuclear weapons. Credible and sustainable non-proliferation instruments are of the essence in creating a secure basis for substantive further progress in nuclear disarmament.
Mr Chairman, we can at last look forward to some movement on nuclear issues within the Conference on Disarmament. After a year of inactivity the Conference has finally agreed on a process which will accord priority to intensive consultations on the nuclear agenda.
At this point in time, the greatest contribution we can make is to engage in negotiations to halt the production of fissile material. New Zealand, along with many other delegations, continues to regard this as the immediate priority on the nuclear disarmament agenda. Our deliberations on this issue here must be directed at ways to move forward with this long overdue initiative.
Equally, we believe the recent decision in the CD to engage in intensive consultations on nuclear issues must live up to expectations by seriously addressing opportunities and proposals for moving the nuclear disarmament process forward. We consider the imperative is to create a mechanism that can contribute meaningfully to the aims of the ongoing bilateral process in a way that does not undermine it.
The Canberra Commission Report pointed the way forward and we urge the nuclear weapon states to consider it seriously. We want to see progress on steps such as taking weapons off alert; no first use undertakings; removing warheads from delivery vehicles; ending deployment of non-strategic nuclear weapons. There are other steps which the nuclear weapon states can surely identify and work towards.
With these foundations - a strong international norm against nuclear testing; an ongoing bilateral process of weapons reduction; a new and enhanced safeguards structure; a process for considering proposals in the CD, - we can focus on the way ahead. With respect to our unfinished business on fissile cut off and negative security assurances, we should use this opportunity for some creative new thinking on how we can realistically proceed, both in the NPT setting and elsewhere. Beyond this, we must keep our eyes fixed on the goal of reaching agreement in 2000 on a programme of action which will represent a real turning point towards a future free of nuclear weapons.
Mr Chairman, I would now like to address the issues of procedure before us. Issues of procedure become issues of substance in the NPT setting. Our review process is after all new and we are still working out how best to implement the agreement to give it greater substance. We are. setting out on uncharted waters and there are bound to be differences in interpretation and ambiguities over both process and outcomes.
What product should we be looking to produce for the 2000 review? How are we going to develop and capture the various proposals contained in the Chairman's Working Paper? How do we carry forward the Principles and Objectives in a way that ensures continuing relevance and currency?
We are open minded. But, if we are to succeed, we must show that the enhanced review process is capable of delivering concrete outcomes. We do not regard the PrepCom process as a minimalist exercise of simply preparing the ground for a meeting in 2000. We must look to develop and to blend together the initiatives we have before us in a way that achieves the greatest possible degree of consensus. We shall need to entertain new proposals along the way.
There may be many areas on which we can agree now: those can be folded into the consensus recommendations already before us. But, we do not think that we need to necessarily be bound by consensus at this time. Rather our inclination would be, in areas where this is not achievable, to capture initiatives and proposals on the basis of them enjoying broad support and agreement.
Confining ourselves to a consensus product might risk a sterile and probably meagre outcome. On many issues there is a strong coincidence in approach. But, on others there are obvious differences. We should not be coy in recognising them or in attempting to paper over them.
Our mandate is to look back as well as forwards, but we believe the emphasis should be on looking ahead. We shall need to ensure that both our obligations and undertakings on nuclear disarmament and the other undertakings of this Treaty are appropriately addressed.
We need to direct our effort to constructing a manageable framework that will take us beyond 2000. The Principles and Objectives provide the right blueprint. They will need to be revisited, but not overhauled in 2000. The trick will be to ensure they retain currency and, at the same time, capture meaningful and realistic objectives, targets and new initiatives. Our brief requires a dynamic and cumulative approach.
Above all, we must ensure that the bargain we struck, in extending this Treaty indefinitely in 1995, remains paramount. This could be a defining moment in testing this new and enhanced review process for its capability to deliver the goods. We do not have much time to do this - only a matter of weeks.
Mr Chairman, we need an outcome in 2000 that brings us much closer to a nuclear weapon free world. Anything less would be a betrayal of the confidence we showed in 1995 when we endorsed the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a permanent regime.
Mr Chairman, I thank you.