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The Non Proliferation Treaty must be preserved

Louis Michel
(on behalf of Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner)

European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid


«The Non Proliferation Treaty must be preserved by all means»

European Parliament Plenary Session
Strasbourg, 8 March 2005

The Commission agrees with the Council that the NPT must be preserved by all means, and strengthened if possible. This is recalled in the EU Strategy against the proliferation of WMDs adopted by the Council in December 2003. The Commission is contributing, in close cooperation with the Council, to the implementation of the Strategy.

In particular, the Strategy recognises the need to ensure adequate financial means, within the Budget and competencies of the Community, to support its implementation. The Commission has made its proposals for the next Financial Instruments to the Parliament and the Council in October 2004. Within the scope of the External Relations Stability Instrument, specific reference has been made to non proliferation and disarmament of WMDs. The Commission’s proposal is now under discussion by the Budgetary Authority. The Commission hopes that it will result in reinforced means over the period 2007-2013 to foster EU actions in WMD non proliferation and disarmament.

When it comes specifically to the NPT, these financial means should support activities strengthening the three pillars of the Treaty: non proliferation, disarmament and cooperation in the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

For the Commission it is particularly important to honour its commitment in the Global Partnership against the proliferation of WMD, made in July 2002 at the G8 Summit in Kananaskis. Implementing real projects supporting third countries to collect, secure and/or eliminate nuclear or radioactive materials, to effectively control exports or to fight illicit trafficking of materials or equipment which might be used for making a nuclear device, to ensure the reconversion of experts and scientists formerly employed in weapons activities, and finally to contribute to the safe development of nuclear applications, would all contribute to the ultimate goal of the Non Proliferation Treaty.

During this year 2005, the Commission is running a Pilot Project that the Parliament was keen to decide at the end of 2003. The Pilot Project is presently used to finance a scoping study led by UNIDIR/SIPRI (UN Disarmament Research Institute and the Swedish International Peace Research Institute). The study will help us at the Commission, in close cooperation with the Parliament and the Council, to further perform the programming of the new Financing Instruments. The Commission plans to present the results of the study during a Conference at the European Parliament in November, calling together MEP’s and Member States delegations made up of national parliaments and government officials.

• On Iran: as you know, the EU is currently re-engaging Iran on the basis of and as a follow-up to the “Paris agreement” reached between Iran and France, Germany and the United Kingdom, with the support of the High Representative of the EU. This agreement and the subsequent verification of the implementation of Iran’s voluntary decision to suspend all enrichment related and reprocessing activities have led the EU to restart its multi-track, gradual, engagement policy with Iran: we have thus resumed negotiations on an agreement encompassing crucial political issues such as the promotion of Human Rights, the fight against terrorism, Middle East Peace Process, Weapons of Mass Destruction, on the one hand, Trade and Cooperation on the other hand.

• Taking fully into account the overall context of the nuclear talks, and building on their progress, the European Commission is negotiating the Trade and Cooperation in good faith. Through it, we believe that we can make an important contribution to our collective effort, that is, to open the way for a durable and cooperative long-term relationship between the European Union and Iran.

Indeed, we are convinced that such an agreement, as well as the perspective of WTO accession, could facilitate the necessary economic and social reforms inside Iran, thus facilitating the country’s full re-integration within the international community.

On North Korea, its announcement on 10 February that it will pull out of the six-party talks process “indefinitely” and that it had manufactured nuclear weapons, was not helpful, despite Kim Jong Il’s conciliatory language days later offering to resume talks if “there are mature conditions”. It makes an already difficult process even more complicated.

The recent trip by a Chinese envoy to Pyongyang seems to leave some hope that talks will resume. China’s diplomatic efforts merit all our support.

Developments inside North Korea, in particular the tentative steps taken towards reform, and the resulting social tensions, have recently caused a tightening of control by the authorities. This in turn is impacting North Korea’s external policy. We have seen similar cycles in former European Socialist countries.

The position of the EU is that we should not overreact to harsh statements from Pyongyang. We will continue to make clear to the DPRK that the nuclear issue must be solved and that the six-party talks is the best vehicle to deal with this issue.

We will continue to urge the DPRK to comply fully with all it international non-proliferation commitments, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA safeguards Agreement, and to completely dismantle any nuclear weapons programme.

At the same time, the EU thinks that it is important to encourage more contacts between North Korea and the outside world and to support economic reform and change in this country.

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