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Failure to progress nuclear disarmament condemned

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

24 September 2003

Failure to progress nuclear disarmament condemned

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today joined with counterparts at the United Nations in condemning the international community's failure to make progress in freeing the world from the threat of nuclear weapons.

Following a meeting of the New Agenda Coalition in New York, Mr Goff said the threatened proliferation of nuclear weapon states, and the failure of existing nuclear states to make disarmament progress, put the world at greater risk.

"The testing and possession of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan poses perhaps the most serious threat of a nuclear confrontation. The possibility that North Korea, Israel and perhaps Iran have, or may soon possess, nuclear weapons adds seriously to that threat," Mr Goff said.

"The more states that possess such weapons, and the failure to account for fissile material from the former Soviet Union, increases the risk that weapons or nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorist groups, with horrifying consequences.

"The New Agenda group also condemns the failure by existing nuclear weapons states to make greater progress towards disarmament and to honour their unequivocal commitment made at the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to take steps towards eliminating nuclear weapons.

"While the US and Russia are committed to downsizing their strategic nuclear weapons, proposed research into the development of new tactical nuclear weapons would move in the opposite direction.

"The only guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons is their total elimination and the assurance that they will never be used or produced again," Mr Goff said.

The New Agenda issued a communiqué after its meeting and will propose two resolutions on disarmament at the UN's First Committee, which starts next week.

The New Agenda consists of seven countries – Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden. It played a decisive role at the 2000 Review Conference of the NPT by helping achieve an "unequivocal commitment" by the nuclear weapons states to the total elimination of their arsenals, as well as an agreement on a practical 13-step programme of action towards disarmament.

*** ENDS ***

Declaration of the Ministers of the New Agenda Coalition.
New York, 23 September 2003

The Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and Brazil met at the 58th session of the UN General Assembly to review developments on nuclear disarmament and to renew their commitment to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons.

The Ministers paid tribute to the memory of Anna Lindh, Foreign Minister of Sweden, on the occasion of her sad passing away, and deplored the loss of a devoted colleague who had been a driving force to the common cause.

The Ministers expressed their deep concern at the lack of progress to date in the implementation of the thirteen steps on nuclear disarmament to which all States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

The Ministers stressed that each article of the NPT is binding on the respective States parties, at all times and in all circumstances, and that all States parties must be held fully accountable with respect to the strict compliance of their obligations under the Treaty, and reiterated that the implementation of undertakings therein on nuclear disarmament remains the imperative.

The Ministers recalled that a fundamental pre-requisite for promoting nuclear non-proliferation is the continuous irreversible progress in nuclear arms reduction. In this context, they called upon the Russian Federation and the United States of America to make the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (“the Moscow Treaty”) irreversible and verifiable and to address non-operational warheads, thus making it a nuclear disarmament measure.

The Ministers stressed that the recent international debate on weapons of mass destruction has only highlighted that the sole guarantee against the use of any weapon of mass destruction anywhere, including nuclear weapons, is their total elimination and the assurance that they will never be used or produced again.

The Ministers reiterated their deep concern at emerging approaches to the broader role of nuclear weapons as part of security strategies, including rationalizations for the use of, and the development of new types of nuclear weapons.

The Ministers urged the international community to intensify its efforts to achieve universal adherence to the NPT. They called on India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear-weapon States and to place their facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. They recalled the commitment of all NPT States parties to promote the universality of the NPT.

The Ministers expressed their deep concern with the announcement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of its intention to withdraw from the NPT and related developments. In this connection they called upon the DPRK to reconsider and supported all efforts for an early, peaceful resolution of the situation, leading to the DPRK’s return to full compliance with the provisions of the NPT.

The Ministers stressed that the International Atomic Energy Agency must be able to verify and ensure that nuclear facilities of the States Parties of the NPT are being used for peaceful purposes only, and called upon States to cooperate fully and immediately with the International Atomic Energy Agency in resolving issues arising from the implementation of their respective obligations towards the Agency.

The Ministers reaffirmed their conviction that the establishment of internationally recognised nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the regions concerned enhances global and regional peace and security, strengthens the nuclear non-proliferation regime and contributes towards realizing the objective of nuclear disarmament, and in this regard they expressed their hope that other regions will follow this path.

The Ministers underlined the significance of the current NPT review process to assess progress in implementation and to consider actions needed on nuclear disarmament. They stressed the importance that the Third Preparatory Committee of the 2005 NPT Review Conference submits substantive recommendations regarding nuclear disarmament, as well as on the matter of security assurances to the Review Conference.

The Ministers highlighted that multilateralism must remain at the forefront of all international security efforts and, with the purpose of contributing further to the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world, stressed that their initiative will continue to be pursued with determination and announced their intention to submit two draft resolutions – entitled “Towards a nuclear weapon free world: the need for a new agenda” and “Reductions of non-strategic nuclear weapons” – to the 58th session of the General Assembly.

ENDS

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