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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, South African Statement, May 12, 1999

Statement from the Republic of South Africa

12 May 1999

Mr Chairperson,

Thank you for giving me the floor.

Before addressing South Africa's positions on the issues in this debate, my delegation would like to lend its voice to the international community's congratulations to Brazil for its decision to accede to the NPT. Brazil I s decision is of significant importance, providing a clear

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demonstration that the international community's will to rid the world of nuclear weapons and to prevent their proliferation is continuing to maintain its momentum despite the actions of a limited number of individual countries.

Mr Chairperson,

While I will be focusing on the nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament issues in this intervention, all aspects of the NPT are important and they should all be attended to in substantive deliberations by this PrepCom. Owing, however, to the high priority placed on nuclear disarmament by the international community, as well as on the need for a new agenda to accomplish our common goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons, the issue should be a focus at this and at future meetings of the NPT State parties. We are therefore especially pleased and encouraged that after some debate, specific time has finally been allocated in our programme of work for a focused deliberation on nuclear disarmament. This represents a significant development in that it, inter alia, recognises that substantive consideration of nuclear disarmament is not only limited to the nuclear-weapon States, but is also a matter to be addressed by all of the State parties to the Treaty.

Mr Chairperson,

The achievement of our common goal of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons requires that we should all work actively towards achieving the universality, non-proliferation and disarmament objectives of the NPT. For South Africa, universality of the Treaty and non-proliferation are the flip-side of the nuclear disarmament coin.

While my delegation has prepared itself to participate in the specific time debate on the issue of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, the requirement for the NPT States parties to work for the universality of the NPT should not be limited to one particular region or country. South Africa believes that we should actively discuss and consider situations in all regions of the world.

The nuclear test explosions conducted in South Asia last year have been a major setback for the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and impact negatively on the NPT's accomplishments over the last three decades. These tests have been condemned by the international community and it is our duty to convince those States that are capable of producing nuclear-weapons, and that have not yet acceded to the NPT, to:

Reverse clearly and urgently the pursuit of all weapons development; and to

Refrain from any action which would undermine regional and international peace and security as well as the international community's efforts towards nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Moreover, South Africa is determined that those two States that conducted nuclear test explosions last year should not be accorded any recognition or special status on the basis of their nuclear ambitions. Any form of recognition or special status would undermine the fabric of the NPT, would devalue the undertakings of the non-nuclear-weapon State parties not to aspire to these weapons, and would be seen as an incentive to anyone who is tempted to act against the international norm. Mr Chairperson, it is expected that the NPT State parties -- at their first meeting following the nuclear test explosions of last year -- would want to express themselves on these events and their implications. Given the format of our work in the PrepCom, it may be difficult to find a suitable way to do this. We would, however, be willing to consider a statement which would be issued by yourself, in your capacity as the Chairperson of this PrepCom. The issue would of course also need to be addressed at the 2000 Review Conference itself.

Mr Chairperson,

As my delegation has stated previously, South Africa continues to see the non-proliferation obligations of the NPT as one of its most important international commitments, and it continues, either nationally or in cooperation with others, to take active measures to prevent the proliferation of dual-use technologies, material and equipment for all weapons of mass destruction. We, however, believe that the non-proliferation obligations of the NPT should not be given a limited and self-serving interpretation. From South Africa's perspective Articles I and II of the NPT are not limited to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons or their technologies, material or equipment, but also relate to obligations for preventing any recipient from obtaining, directly or indirectly, control over such weapons or explosive devices. The concerns we expressed and placed on record at the previous two PrepComs about the non-proliferation implications of an expanded NATO persist in the light of the outcome of the Washington Summit which has, for the time being, left the policy of nuclear sharing unchanged.

Mr Chairperson,

On the issue of nuclear disarmament, my delegation will be participating in a joint statement during the specific time debate on this issue later today. This statement, which will be made on the basis of the Joint Ministerial Declaration issued by the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden on 9 June 1998, as well as on the

UNGA Resolution entitled "Towards a nuclear-weapon free world: The need for a new Agenda", enjoys our full support. As a State party to the NPT, South Africa sees its obligations under Article VI of the Treaty with particular seriousness. The need for a new agenda to achieve our common objective for the elimination of nuclear weapons is becoming of increasing importance as we accomplish to limited goals set in the 1950's and which were included in the 1995 Principles and objectives.

As all of the delegations represented here are aware, the debate as to the international community's involvement in nuclear disarmament has largely been focused in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. This debate continues to be fruitless, despite the submission of a number of proposals, including that which has been submitted by five NATO countries. South Africa has again this year reiterated its proposal in the CD which focuses the Conference's attention on the nuclear disarmament commitment undertaken in the 1995 Principles and Objectives. As a gesture of flexibility, and in view of the importance to have a mechanism to address the issue, South Africa has indicated that its is willing to lend its support to the NATO Five proposal.

Parallel to these initiatives we have seen a number of ideas being formulated, both by States and by non-governmental organisations, on how the nuclear disarmament obligations of all of the NPT States parties in terms of Article VI can be translated into effective reality. The proposals which have been put forward by States and from within the NGO community can be divided into two broad categories. Firstly, proposals on the substance of nuclear disarmament which investigate what measures can be taken individually, jointly or multilaterally towards diminishing the threat posed by nuclear weapons as well as on their reduction and eventual elimination. Secondly, there are proposals which have focused on the mechanisms which we can establish to provide a framework for achieving nuclear disarmament or for structuring the international community's involvement in the nuclear disarmament debate and process.

Mr Chairperson,

Given the fact that the disarmament obligations contained in Article VI of the NPT are the obligations of "Each Party to the Treaty", it is South Africa's view that we should establish the practice within the Strengthened Review Process for the States parties to deliberate on the practical steps for systematic and progressive efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons which were envisaged in the "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non Proliferation and Disarmament" decision adopted at the 1995 NPT Conference. The purpose of these deliberations were outlined in South Africa's working paper submitted last year in document NPT/CONF.2000/PC.II/12.

It is South Africa's view that if an initiative such as this were to be implemented within the Strengthened Review Process then it would enhance confidence in the indefinitely extended NPT, complement initiatives already undertaken, lay the groundwork for future steps towards our common goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons, and it would allow us to begin identifying the measures to achieve what is termed complete and general disarmament under strict and effective international control. It would also be in line with the thinking which has underpinned proposals made in other international fora by some NPT States parties like Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Japan, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa and others as well as by members of the NGO community.

Mr Chairperson,

It is South Africa's intention to promote, seek support for and have language included in the recommendations agreed to at this session of the Preparatory Committee on the proposal outlined in our working paper of last year. We will be seeking to have:

A recommendation to the year 2000 Review Conference included in the product of our work which would call for the establishment of a subsidiary body to Main Committee I -- to be established at the forthcoming and future Review Conferences -- for deliberations on the nuclear disarmament issue to be held along the lines of the mandate which we submitted last year.

A recommendation to the year 2000 Review Conference included in the product of our work which would call for future Preparatory Committee meetings to ensure that specific time is continued to be made available for deliberations on the nuclear disarmament issue.

Mr Chairperson,

Some may attempt to argue that deliberations such as those which I have outlined should be conducted within the Main Committee I cluster. This issue and the obligation of "Each of the Parties to the Treaty" under Article VI of the NPT is of such importance, and has been the cause of extended debates, that South Africa believes that it cannot be submerged in the Cluster I process. The Cluster I process will be dealing with the review, the preparation of recommendations, a general debate, etc on all of the issues .(nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament, nuclear-weapon-free zones, universality, security assurances, etc) covered by the cluster and does not lend itself to the focused deliberations which South Africa believes need to take place on nuclear disarmament.

It should be emphasised here that, from South Africa's perspective, and I believe that we are correct in saying this, that these initiatives are not, and I underline not, intended to in any way undermine or threaten the nuclear weapons reduction negotiations between Russia and the United States. These would continue to be of paramount importance to the reduction of nuclear weapons and for their eventual elimination, and so also will be future negotiations involving the other nuclear-weapon States.

Mr Chairperson, I thank you.