Go to Home Page
  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Norwegian Statement, May 10, 1999

Statement from H.E. Mr. Bjorn Skogmo

NEW YORK, 10 MAY 1999

Mr. Chairman,

Printer Friendly

May I join previous speakers in congratulating you on your election as Chairman of the Third Preparatory Committee for the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation continue to be a primary concern of the international community. Our ultimate goal remains complete nuclear disarmament. The 1995 decisions, including inter alia indefinite extension of the Treaty of the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the agreement on a strengthened review process and the adoption of the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, were supposed to provide a permanent and stable underpinning for the existing global non-proliferation regime and international nuclear disarmament efforts. The agreement reached at the Review and Extension Conference in 1995 was, inter alia, a consent to discuss substantial issues between review conferences. The Principles and Objectives was supposed to form the basis for a multilateral discussion on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation with a view to achieving practical, realistic results.

Now, four years later, it looks as if this process has still not fallen into place. The strengthened review process has not fulfilled its potential as a valuable instrument in our efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and promote nuclear disarmament. The Second Prep. Com. last year was a disappointment. It proved impossible to reach any formal decision on recommendations for the third session and the 2000 Review Conference. The strengthened review process has so far not been able to contribute to a satisfactory multilateral dialogue on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. This is cause for concern, particularly at a time when stability is under considerable strain in regions such as South Asia.

Our challenge here in New York is to lay the groundwork for a continuous and constructive dialogue that can help to bring the process leading up to the 2000 Review Conference to a successful conclusion. If we could agree on a strategy for our further efforts that clearly defines the substance, direction and objectives of the strengthened review process, this would be an important step in the right direction.

We must use this opportunity to strengthen the NPT process as a valuable instrument for promoting international and regional stability. In earlier statements today, several important proposals have been set forward on the future principles and objectives of the review process, on the content of the documents that will be produced at next years review conference, and how the review mechanisms can be strengthened in the period following next year's conference. The Norwegian delegation is ready to take part in the discussions over the coming two weeks in order to reach results.

The Non-proliferation Treaty is the major channel for addressing nuclear issues. But to address the wider issues of nuclear disarmament, other fora should also be utilized regarding nuclear disarmament. All the various measures are important and necessary, and must be viewed as mutually reinforcing parts of a whole if we are to achieve the desired results. Although we do not believe that the CD should be mandated to negotiate nuclear weapons reductions, we see a clear role for the forum related to nuclear disarmament and nuclear arms control.

Nuclear issues concern all countries. The international community has a legitimate interest in being kept informed about the progress achieved as well as any difficulties and challenges encountered in the nuclear disarmament process. This is why Norway, together with Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, has submitted a proposal that the CD should establish an ad hoe working group to study ways and means of establishing an exchange of information and views on efforts towards nuclear disarmament. By establishing a procedure for reporting on nuclear issues and policies, the CD could serve as an important forum for discussion and exchange of information. This would give the nuclear weapons states an opportunity to supply information both on the results achieved through unilateral and bilateral initiatives and on their nuclear policies, thus demonstrating their commitment to nuclear disarmament.

A priority for the CD must be to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices. The next step in our nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts is commencement of these negotiations, as envisaged in the Principles and Objectives Document of 1995. It would he highly unfortunate to meet in NPT 2000 without having started negotiations on this important issue.

At the same time, it is important that the entire field of fissile material is addressed in a comprehensive manner. The international community must seek to find ways of dealing with the various elements in an overall context. Focusing exclusively on a ban on future production is not enough. The issue of stockpiling and highly enriched uranium for non-explosive purposes must also be dealt with.

In our view the main focus of the negotiations should be on the production of fissile material. Norway believes that the treaty provisions regarding production must include a credible verification regime that will provide the same degree of assurance with regard to compliance as other non-proliferation and arms control agreements. Both from a principle and practical point of view, the IAEA safeguards and existing export control regimes should be used as a basis when drawing up the verification arrangement for this treaty.

It is important to find a way to multilaterally address fissile material that are now surplus or in excess of military requirements. Fissile material that has been removed from the military production cycle and is redundant is steadily increasing. It represents increased danger in terms of proliferation. This inventory should no longer have the status of military non-verifiable material. It should gradually be made subject to a transparent, nonmilitary and civilian regime subject to international verification.

Serious consideration should be given to developing and establishing an international norm for states in dealing with stockpiles of surplus material. Such a norm should ensure irreversibility. None of these stocks should be returned or diverted to weapon programmes and the material should be rendered inaccessible to military use as soon as practicable. Furthermore, this norm should ensure security and safety, so that the stocks are made secure from theft and sabotage and that they will not harm human health or the environment. Lastly, this norm should ensure strengthened national control of such stocks by establishing an effective international standard for material accounting and self-auditing

The Joint Statement of Principles for Management and Disposition of Plutonium by the United States and the Russian Federation, agreed at the September summit meeting in Moscow, is a pathbreaking initiative in this regard. It demonstrates what can be achieved through a voluntary process. We would like to see this initiative expanded to the multilateral level, enabling close co-operation with other countries that possess a nuclear capability.

Highly enriched uranium that is produced for non-explosive purposes, and used as fuel for the propulsion of naval reactors also involves a risk of proliferation and is cause for concern. We should also address this issue in a multilateral context with a view to improving safety and the control of such material. We should also consider devising arrangements to ensure that this material is in fact used for non-explosive purposes by confirming both the amount of the material intended for such use and the actual area of use. When confirming the amount of the material, this should be done without specific reference to its design and composition.

When it comes to military stockpiles, Norway presented at the first Prepcom in 1997 a four-step proposal for increased transparency and confidence-building measures for such material. The proposal emphasises the importance of establishing voluntary measures that would increase transparency on holdings of plutonium and highly enriched uranium through reporting, inspection and safeguard procedures with a view to introducing agreed, monitored net reductions from these stockpiles. One could consider whether the IAEA should play a role in facilitating a process to this end.

The value of our non-proliferation efforts will be limited unless they are accompanied by progress in reducing the political and strategic significance of nuclear weapons in international politics. That implies fall implementation of existing arms control and disarmament agreements, reductions of existing nuclear stocks as well as a political willingness to contemplate further steps. If the non-proliferation regime is to be strengthened, the commitments set out in the NPT and the Principle and Objective document of 1995 must be honoured. Only by making these two components mutually reinforcing, will we be able to succeed.

It is important that we use the run-up to NPT 2000 to agree on a cohesive approach to nuclear issues. The need to strengthen non-proliferation efforts has become even more important since 1995. It is a paradox that we have achieved an indefinite extension of the NPT and agreed on a document of principles on the one hand, while the problem of nonproliferation has grown considerably on the other. This demonstrates the seriousness of the tasks we together are facing and the importance of finding viable solutions.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.