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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, New Zealand Statement, May 10-21, 1999

Statement from Mr. Clive Pearson

New York
10-21 May 1999

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Mr Chairman,

In many important respects, the NPT is in a defining phase. There have been threats and challenges to non-proliferation from both within the Treaty architecture as well as from outside it. And, they are threats and challenges that we shall have to consider and confront at this PrepCom and deal with substantively at the Review Conference next year.

Looking outside the Treaty, the environment is looking more disturbing.

The nuclear tests undertaken in South Asia last year were irreconcilable with claims by both countries of a cornrnitment to nuclear disarmament. Last month, both countries tested missile delivery systems which raises flirther concerns about regional arms escalation: an approach that has the potential to escalate tensions when restraint is the imperative. We call upon those States to implement the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1172 adopted unanimously on 6 June 1998.

Within the NPT house too, the view is depressing in some respects.

Progress on a number of other fronts - START ratification, fissile materials negotiations and debate on nuclear disarmament in the Conference on Disarmament, for example - is currently at a standstill.

Mr Chairman, we have serious issues to address at this PrepCom:

How, for example, are we going to promote and achieve universalisation of the NPT? Some creative thinking and forward-looking engagement is required, but this cannot be at the expense of re-designing the Treaty's geometry

How are we going to underpin the non-proliferation norms of this Treaty? At the outset, firrther ratifications and entry into force of the CTBT are an immediate priority. Wider adherence to the IAEA Additional Protocol is another area requiring urgent attention. Ratifications of the Protocols to nuclear weapon-free zone treaties should be completed. An end to the procrastination over negotiating a fissile materials treaty would also go a long way in strengthening and underpinning the provisions of the NPT. Action on all these fronts would demonstrate a total and unambiguous political commitment to our non-proliferation machinery.

And fmally, but most important, how is the review process going to deliver a new impetus to the nuclear disarmament agenda? For New Zealand, the way forward on this crucial obligation must be to demonstrate an unequivocal commitment to speed up the process. We sense that complacency may be creeping into the multilateral political process, thus undermining the international civil society consensus we are here to represent.

Anything short of an unambiguous call to kick start the multilateral nuclear disarmament agenda will not do, we believe. And the time and place to embark on this undertaking is in the 2000 Review Conference. That is why, Mr Chairman, 2000 will be a defining moment for this Treaty.

We have updated New Zealand language on nuclear disarmament which we submitted at PrepCom I that articulates our thinking.

Mr Chairman, as we direct our attention to accountability and stewardship of the Treaty, we must ensure that the decisions we took in 1995 are not in any way downgraded, or worse, assumed to be no longer binding. They are solemn undertakings.

Meagre interpretations of what we agreed to pursue in 1995 must be challenged. At the same time, we shall have to achieve a balance in what we seek in 2000 to ensure it is realistic and achievable. We believe we must, and can, agree on a road map to take us forward on nuclear disarmament in a way that is measured, yet meets the obligations that apply to all States parties.

Mr Chairman, fundamental to the future of the NPT will be the degree of accommodation that can be achieved between the reciprocal obligations and imperatives of disarmament and non-proliferation. One is not possible without the other. And, at the same time, we must ensure that the legitimate expectations of States parties, as set down in this Treaty, do not continue to be suppressed by complacency or minimalism.

There is a crucial distinction that cannot be overlooked. The agreement to extend the NPT indefinitely in 1995 did not, in any way, confer an understanding providing for the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons. And, we should remind ourselves also that nuclear disarmament is not contingent on the quite separate call in the Article VI of the NPT for a treaty on "general and complete disarmament". Attempts to make such a linkage would be unacceptable.

Mr Chairman, the NPT may not be a perfect instrument, but it remains as relevant today as it was when it entered into force. New Zealand would reject totally any talk that the Treaty might need to be revisited or that its basic geometry might be re-engineered in the interests of political expediency.

The NPT is as indispensable as ever. Moreover, it must stay that way.

Mr Chairman, I thank you.