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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2011

UNGA 1st Committee - General debate

Statement on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition , 3 October 2011


I have the honour to speak on behalf of the seven members of the New Agenda Coalition: Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden and my own country, New Zealand.

We welcome your appointment as Chair of this year’s First Committee. The New Agenda Coalition looks forward to supporting and co-operating with you as you lead us in our work over the coming weeks.

The origins of the New Agenda Coalition and its focus on nuclear disarmament are well known and are firmly based on the NPT which remains the cornerstone of our collective efforts. We recall the foundation agreement of the NPT whereby the nuclear-weapon States committed to nuclear disarmament, non-nuclear-weapon States undertook not to develop nuclear weapons and the inalienable right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy was reaffirmed. The Coalition has long held that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are intrinsically linked and are mutually reinforcing processes. Progress on both fronts is required.

It was dissatisfaction with the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament in the aftermath of the NPT 1995 Review and Extension Conference that led to the establishment of the New Agenda Coalition in 1998. We hardly need to remind you, Chair, that the 2000 Review Conference agreed on 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament. This was a significant milestone but not, dishearteningly, one that realised our expectations for substantive progress on nuclear disarmament.

We therefore welcome the renewed and growing interest in nuclear disarmament seen in the past few years and the growing support more broadly for a world free of nuclear weapons.

The adoption of the final document of the NPT Review Conference in May last year and its inclusion of an Action Plan to build on the practical steps on nuclear disarmament agreed in 2000 is a significant reflection of this impulsion and support. The extent to which the Action Plan ultimately proves to be positive for the future of the NPT will depend, however, on the collective efforts of all States Parties to implement it faithfully and concretely.

Let me describe here, Chair, what implementation of the nuclear disarmament chapter of the Action Plan means in the eyes of the New Agenda Coalition.

First, the actions under that chapter are predicated clearly – in the opening line of the conclusions of the Review Conference - on the “pursuit of the full, effective and urgent implementation of article VI of the NPT”. This then sets the scene for “concrete steps for the total elimination of nuclear weapons” and for various “principles and objectives” intrinsic to the Treaty’s vision of the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

Second, and just as clearly, the Action Plan sets out, amongst measures applicable to all States Parties, certain concrete steps expected of the nuclear-weapon States. These are steps on which they are to report to the Preparatory Committee in 2014 in order to allow for a stocktake by all NPT States Parties at the 2015 Review Conference and the consideration of next steps for the full implementation of article VI. With the NPT being almost 50 years old at that point, this will be no ordinary stocktake. It will be a watershed moment for the Treaty and for the goal of achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. For these reasons, the NAC will be examining closely the information provided, action by action, so as to determine how much progress has indeed been made in relation to the commitment made by the nuclear-weapon States to “accelerate progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament”.

Permit me, Chair, to make some observations on several of the actions in the Action Plan. 
Importantly, the Action Plan includes the specific reaffirmation of the continued validity of the 13 practical steps of 2000 and the unequivocal undertaking of the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

It is also noteworthy that the Review Conference has expressed its deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. This restatement of the very first preambular paragraph of the NPT is a stark reminder of the rationale for the complete and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons.

The Coalition reaffirms that the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and the commitment to never produce them again, is the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of these weapons. Pending their elimination, the Coalition emphasises the legitimate interest of non-nuclear-weapon States in receiving unequivocal and legally-binding security assurances from nuclear-weapon States which could strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime. As we have stated before, we do not subscribe to the view that nuclear weapons – or the quest to develop them – contribute to international peace and security. As long as some States continue to possess nuclear weapons, citing security reasons for doing so, other States may seek them. We repeat our call to the nuclear-weapon States to diminish further the role and significance of nuclear weapons in all military and security concepts, doctrines and policies.

We reiterate the need for all nuclear-weapon States to take concrete, transparent, verifiable and irreversible steps to eliminate all types of nuclear weapons, regardless of their location, including non-deployed and non-strategic nuclear weapons, in order to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. We also repeat our concern, recognised by the Review Conference, regarding the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and the need to end the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons.

The Coalition welcomes the transparency efforts undertaken by some of the nuclear-weapon States, and the emphasis placed on this subject in the final document of the Review Conference. In this regard, we recall that the nuclear-weapon States at a P5 NPT follow-up meeting in Paris on 30 June 2011 expressed their determination to work together in pursuit of their shared goal of nuclear disarmament under article VI of the NPT, including engagement on the steps outlined in Action 5 of the Action Plan, notably “reporting and other efforts called for in [that] Plan”. We hope that the nuclear-weapon States will soon agree on a standard reporting form, as encouraged by the Review Conference. We also look forward to hearing about the steps taken by the Secretary-General, who was invited to establish a publicly available repository for the information provided by the nuclear-weapon States.

We welcome the positive bilateral and regional developments that have occurred recently, such as the entry into force of the new START by the Russian Federation and the United States, while recalling the encouragement of the 2010 Review Conference to both States to continue discussions on follow-on measures in order to achieve deeper reductions in their nuclear arsenals. We encourage the broadening of this process to involve other nuclear-weapon States as well.

Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones enhances global and regional peace and security, strengthens nuclear non-proliferation and contributes towards the goal of nuclear disarmament. The 2010 Review Conference, in its final document, encouraged the establishment of further nuclear-weapon-free zones, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among States of the regions concerned. It is our expectation that this encouragement should be followed by concerted international efforts to create nuclear-weapon-free zones in areas where they do not currently exist, especially in the Middle East.

The New Agenda Coalition welcomes the agreement reached at the NPT Review Conference on a process leading to full implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, and on practical steps to be taken in that regard. We call upon the United Nations Secretary-General and the co-sponsors of the 1995 Resolution, in close consultation and cooperation with the States of the region, to urgently advance and finalise all necessary preparations for the convening of a Conference in 2012, to be attended by all States of the Middle East, on the establishment of a Middle East Zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction as agreed to in the 2010 Review Conference Final Document, including the appointment of a facilitator and designation of a host government, as a priority.

The Coalition underlines the continued importance of achieving universal adherence to the NPT, and urges the international community to strengthen its efforts in this regard. We continue to call upon India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States and to place their facilities under comprehensive safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency. We urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fulfil the commitments under the Six-Party Talks, including those in the September 2005 joint statement, to abandon completely and verifiably all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes, and to return, at an early date, to the Treaty and to adherence with its IAEA safeguards agreement.

The NAC reaffirms its opposition to any nuclear weapons test. We welcome Ghana and Guinea’s recent ratifications of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and view positively the expressions of a number of States, including some Annex 2 States, of their intention to pursue and complete the ratification process.

Chair, the Coalition encourages all States to work together to overcome obstacles within the international disarmament machinery, including in the Conference on Disarmament, that are inhibiting efforts to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament in a multilateral context.

This year, the Coalition will again present a draft resolution to this Committee. The resolution will look ahead to the next NPT review cycle and underscore the work that lies ahead to implement the 2010 NPT Action Plan. We will be happy to discuss the text of the resolution with any Member State wishing to do so. We hope that, in line with the broader international trends in the area of nuclear disarmament, the growth which has been seen in recent years in support for our resolution will be continued this year.

In conclusion, Chair, the New Agenda Coalition believes that the outcome of the NPT Review Conference in its Action Plan provides the basis for real momentum towards the realisation of the Treaty’s promise of the elimination of nuclear weapons. The NAC is committed to playing its part to ensure that this momentum is converted into real progress as we begin to prepare in earnest for the assessment exercises of 2014 and 2015 as outlined in the Review Conference Action Plan. We remain convinced that determined and rapid preparation for a nuclear-weapon-free world must start now. It is imperative that all stakeholders take urgent steps to implement commitments made by them for the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons.

I thank you, Chair.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT