2. The European Union has, in its earlier statements, already stressed the great importance it attaches to the immediate commencement of FMCT negotiations as one of the three measures of the programme of action ~n nuclear disarmament contained in the Principles and Objectives of 1995. It is very appropriate that the Preparatory Committee should devote special time to this issue of high priority and I welcome the opportunity to elaborate in more detail the position of the EU.
3. I have also had occasion to stress the importance that the EU attaches to nuclear disarmament. An effectively verifiable ban of production of fissile material for nuclear explosive devices forms an indispensable step towards the achievement of the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and general and complete disarmament. In other words, an FMCT is not only a contribution to, but an integral and indispensable part of nuclear disarmament and an important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
4. For these reasons, the Member States of the European Union have a very clear position and objective: they will continue to work strenuously towards FMCT negotiations, they will actively and constructively participate in negotiations, and they will undertake all efforts to promote an early and successful outcome of negotiations.
5. Therefore, the European Union strongly welcomed the decision in 1998 by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to re-establish the ad hoc committee to negotiate a nondiscriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. For a long time, the European Union has steadfastly supported the commencement and early conclusion of such negotiations. The European Union is convinced that such a treaty, by irreversibly limiting the fissile material stockpiles available for use in nuclear weapons and by establishing an effective verification system, will strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and will constitute a significant step towards the achievement of complete nuclear disarmament.
6. In 1993 the General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously recommended such negotiations. In the decision on "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament" the States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty unanimously recognised the importance of such negotiations in the full realisation and effective implementation of article VI of the NPT. In 1995, and again in 1998, the Conference on Disarmament decided to establish an ad hoc committee. The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously welcomed this decision in 1998 and encouraged the Conference on Disarmament to re-establish this ad hoc committee at the beginning of its 1999 session.
7. At this meeting of the Preparatory Committee, numerous delegations have called for such negotiations. The European Union welcomes, in particular, the renewed call by the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries "for the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations, as an essential measure of nuclear disarmament as well as non-proliferation of nuclear weapons
8. While this unity of purpose is impressive , it does raise a troubling question: How can one explain, in view of this broad agreement and last year's decision by the Conference on Disarmament, that these negotiations have not already begun in January of this year? Pointing to the lack of agreement on the programme of work of the CD as a whole is clearly not a satisfactory explanation, as this problem has not impeded important decisions in the past, such as those on the CTBT negotiations.
9. This untenable situation is a matter of grave concern to the EU. We should urgently utilize the window of opportunity opened by the existing broad consensus. Developments since the last meeting of the Preparatory Committee give ample warning against any feeling of complacency ih the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
10. Thus negotiations should start immediately. We must not let this opportunity slip out of our hands. That is why the EU appeals to all States Parties of the NPT, in particular to those who are members of the CD, to demonstrate their commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and to nuclear disarmament by doing everything in their power to facilitate immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations, to clearly express this common will in the recommendations to the Review Conference, and thereby to send a strong and unambiguous signal to the Conference on Disarmament.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman