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6 October 2008 - "General Statement " - H.E. Ambassador Eric Danon

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Eric Danon Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on behalf of the European Union

Mr Chairman,

1. I speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Serbia, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this declaration.

2. The European Union is deeply committed to the development of an effective multilateral system. We want international organisations, regimes and treaties to play to the full their role in confronting threats to international peace and security, and every effort to be made to ensure full compliance with the obligations under international disarmament and non-proliferation treaties. That is why the European Union considers that strengthening the authority of the United Nations should be a priority for all countries. In this context, the work done in the First Committee and its ability to interact with other relevant United Nations bodies are of the utmost importance.

3. It cannot be denied that international security continues to be compromised and threatened, both globally and regionally, by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and by the risk of non-State actors gaining access to such weapons. The discovery on a number of occasions of clandestine nuclear activities is a matter of particular concern to the international community, as is the proliferation of ballistic missiles of increasingly great range.

4. The European Union is fully committed to maintaining, implementing and strengthening disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements. Progress is needed in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation in accordance with existing relevant international instruments and by negotiating new treaties, such as a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

5. The EU’s actions are guided by the Strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction under which the EU is committed to act with resolve, using all instruments and policies at its disposal, to prevent, deter, halt and if possible eliminate proliferation programmes.

6. In line with that Strategy, the European Union is determined to pursue its action against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which is potentially the greatest threat to our security. We are determined to achieve universal adherence to the multilateral treaties in this field and to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. But strengthening the rules and achieving greater adherence to them is not enough; they must be complied with.

7. For this reason, the EU attaches particular importance to the need to enhance detectability of violations as a means of reinforcing compliance with obligations under the multilateral treaty regime. Here, it is essential to make the best use of existing verification mechanisms and, where necessary, to establish additional verification instruments. The EU supports strengthening the role of the Security Council, whose primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security, so that it can take appropriate action in the event of non﷓compliance, inter alia, with NPT obligations. The EU also emphasises the essential and unique role of the IAEA in monitoring States’ fulfilment of their nuclear non-proliferation undertakings and urges all States that have not yet done so to sign and bring into force their respective Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols, which constitute the current IAEA verification standard. The European Union likewise attaches particular importance to the verification regime established by the CWC and implemented by the OPCW, which makes it possible to ensure compliance with the destruction obligations of States which have declared themselves to be in possession of chemical weapons, as well as with obligations concerning the non-proliferation of such weapons. The European Union recalls that the challenge-inspection mechanism is an essential and readily available instrument under that regime. Similarly, the strengthening of instruments for verification of activities not prohibited by the CWC should remain a long-term objective. The EU reiterates its attachment to the continuation of efforts to identify in the long term an effective mechanism for strengthening and verifying compliance with the BTWC The EU also reaffirms its commitment to rigorous national and internationally coordinated export controls.

8. The EU attaches great importance to the fight against terrorism and supports all measures designed to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear, biological and chemical weapons or connected materials, their means of delivery and radiological material. UNSC resolution 1540 and the subsequent resolutions 1673 and 1810 play a crucial role in this respect and we call on all States to implement them fully. We congratulate the 1540 Committee on its activities in support of the resolution and call on it to continue and step up its efforts, paying particular attention to regions where the need to apply the resolution is most pressing. The EU is ready to continue to provide its assistance, particularly with a view to putting the necessary legal and administrative infrastructure in place. The EU fully supports the objectives of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the Proliferation Security Initiative, which bear testimony to the efforts of the international community to prevent and counter the growing threat of nuclear terrorism. We must pursue our efforts in this area.

9. The NPT, based on the three mutually reinforcing pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, represents a unique and irreplaceable framework for maintaining and strengthening international peace, security and stability. The Treaty remains the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, as well as the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament in accordance with its Article VI and an important element in the development of nuclear energy applications for peaceful purposes. Given the current challenges in the field of international security, in particular the risk of proliferation, we are convinced that the NPT is more important now than ever. It is our duty to maintain and strengthen its authority and integrity. To this end, the EU will continue to promote all the objectives contained in the Treaty.

10. We continue to work towards the universality of the NPT and call on those States not yet party to the NPT to join the Treaty as Non Nuclear Weapon States. The EU welcomes the satisfactory conclusion of the second session of the Preparatory Committee of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, held in Geneva from 28 April to 9 May 2008. The EU will continue to work for the successful outcome of the current review cycle, with a view in particular to strengthening the non-proliferation regime. The EU will endeavour to ensure that, in a balanced, effective, concrete and pragmatic manner, the 2010 Conference examines the means of stepping up international efforts against proliferation, pursuing disarmament and ensuring the responsible development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy by countries wishing to develop their capacities in this field.

11. The EU remains fully committed, on the basis of its 2005 Common Position which it stands by, to work to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. The EU continues to support the Decisions and the Resolution adopted by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, while bearing in mind the current situation.

12. The EU notes that serious proliferation challenges have emerged in recent years and calls on the international community to face them with conviction and to tackle with resolve any new challenge of this kind in the years to come.

13. In adopting sanctions resolution 1835 on the Iranian nuclear programme on the basis of Article 41 of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council again sent a firm message to Iran expressing the international community’s determination. We deplore Iran’s persistent failure to comply with the requirements of the Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors by refusing to suspend enrichment, to shed full light on its past and present activities and to grant the IAEA the access and cooperation demanded by the latter on resolving the outstanding questions mentioned in its reports, in order to restore confidence. The EU is particularly concerned by the latest report from the IAEA Director General on 15 September; it shares the Director General’s "serious concern" when Iran fails to reply to questions about possible activities in relation to the design and manufacture of nuclear weapons. We urge Iran to comply with the demands of the Security Council and the IAEA, including the suspension of enrichment-related activities, reprocessing activities and all heavy water projects. The EU remains committed to finding rapidly a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear dossier and we reaffirm our firm commitment to a dual approach. We call on Iran to open the way to negotiations by complying with UNSC resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803 and 1835. We reiterate our support for the proposals put to Iran in June 2006 by the Secretary﷓General and High Representative of the European Union and developed further in a revised offer delivered to Iran on 14 June.

14. The European Union continues to support the Six-Party Talks process and the aim of denuclearisation of North Korea, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1718. We are particularly concerned by the recent announcement by North Korea that it is restarting its reactor at Yongbyon. The EU stresses the importance of rapid and complete fulfilment of the commitments set out in the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005 with a view to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of the DPRK’s military nuclear programme. The EU calls on the DPRK to comply fully with Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718 and with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including implementation of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. The EU would recall the DPRK’s obligation not to engage in sensitive exports leading to proliferation.

15. The EU has noted with concern the statement by the Director-General of the IAEA of 25 April 2008 about allegations concerning an undeclared nuclear reactor in Syria. It welcomes the fact that the IAEA decided to carry out, at the end of June, investigations into this and calls on Syria to cooperate fully with the Agency so that it can fulfil its mandate in satisfactory conditions. The European Union is looking forward to the IAEA’s report of its investigations.

16. The EU stresses the need to work for general disarmament. Non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control, like confidence, transparency and reciprocity, are key elements of collective security. We welcome the nuclear disarmament measures taken by the two EU nuclear weapons States and their initiatives in this area. The EU invites the international community to support specific and realistic disarmament initiatives by promoting in particular:

-  the universal ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the completion of its verification regime, and the dismantling as soon as possible of all nuclear testing facilities in a manner that is transparent and open to the international community;
-  the opening without delay and without preconditions of negotiations for a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, and the introduction of an immediate moratorium on the production of such material;
-  the establishment of confidence and transparency measures by the nuclear powers;
-  further progress in the current discussions between the United States and Russia on the development of a legally﷓binding post﷓START arrangement, and an overall reduction in the global stockpile of nuclear weapons in accordance with Article VI of the NPT, in particular by the States which possess the largest arsenals;
-  the inclusion of tactical nuclear weapons, by those States which have them, in their general arms control and disarmament processes, with a view to their reduction and elimination;
-  the start of consultations on a treaty banning short and medium﷓range surface﷓to﷓surface missiles;
-  the adherence to and implementation by all of the Hague Code of Conduct;
-  mobilisation in all other areas of disarmament.

17. The EU places the utmost importance on the earliest possible entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the completion of its verification regime. Renewed momentum towards the entry into force of the Treaty is perceptible and we must reinforce it, especially with a view to the 2010 NPT Review Conference. We therefore repeat our call to all States which have not yet done so, and particularly those States in Annex II to the Treaty whose ratification is necessary for the Treaty to enter into force, to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay and unconditionally. Pending the entry into force of the Treaty, we call on all States to uphold a moratorium and to desist from any action contrary to the obligations and provisions of the CTBT. Furthermore, the EU urges the States concerned to dismantle as soon as possible all their nuclear testing facilities in a manner which is transparent and open to the international community.

18. The EU is convinced that a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (FMCT) will contribute significantly to nuclear disarmament efforts under Article VI of the NPT. Logically, an FMCT treaty constitutes the next multilateral instrument to be negotiated in the nuclear disarmament field. The EU therefore attaches a clear priority to the negotiation, without preconditions, in the Conference on Disarmament, of an FMCT treaty.

19. The European Union would emphasise here the importance of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral forum available to the international community for disarmament negotiations. The EU has constantly sought to secure the adoption of a programme of work for the CD and will spare no effort to revitalise this single forum so that it can resume negotiations and substantive work. In this respect, the EU has indicated that it could accept proposal 1840 as it stands, and has thus demonstrated its good will and its determination to find a way out of the current stalemate. We are in no doubt that the content of the CD/1840 proposal concerning a programme of work for the CD provides the Conference with a real opportunity to resume its negotiating role.

20. The EU feels moreover that it is time to finalise concrete measures regarding multilateral approaches to the fuel cycles. Balanced multilateral mechanisms would contribute significantly to allaying recipient countries’ concerns regarding the security of supply by facilitating access to nuclear fuel and associated services, lessening the need to invest in complex and costly fuel cycle technologies and reducing concerns about proliferation and nuclear safety. The European Union is therefore currently examining attentively the possibility of making a financial contribution to the ambitious project for a fuel bank, under the aegis of the IAEA.

Mr Chairman,

21. Space activities are also an important security question, raising sensitive issues in respect of which we understand the concerns expressed by a number of States. The EU stresses that the prevention of an arms race in outer space is a prerequisite for the strengthening of strategic stability and for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. As actors in the field of space, we are particularly sensitive to the issue of the security of space activities for peaceful purposes and we urge all Member States to refrain from undertaking actions likely to undermine it, especially by creating additional debris.

22. The growing number of actors and the rapid development of activities in space, which pose a risk to the security of objects placed there, call for pragmatic solutions. We wish to promote the security of space activities through voluntary confidence-building and transparency measures acceptable to the maximum number of States. With that aim in mind, the 27 Member States of the European Union are working on a draft code of conduct for activities in space. The draft code aims to reduce the risk of collisions and creation of debris, as well as strengthening mutual understanding between spacefaring nations and actors. The European Union hopes soon to be able to propose its draft to the international community, as a contribution from the EU to the preparation of a non-binding international code of conduct for space activities. It also hopes to be able to hold consultations with spacefaring nations and to present the draft in the relevant fora concerned with space activities.

23. The question of the proliferation of missiles which could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction is also a matter of major concern in the context of international security. The European Union continues to consider that the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC) represents, together with the Missiles Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the best existing tool to deal with the problem of missile proliferation, and is fully committed to the adherence to and implementation of the HCOC by all States. The EU considers it necessary to reaffirm the Code’s clear multilateral and universal purpose. In this context, the EU will be submitting a draft resolution on the HCOC for examination by the First Committee. However, the EU would also like ways of reinforcing the campaign against the missile proliferation threat to be examined. In this connection it notes the suggestion, made in a joint Russian-American statement disseminated at the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly, that the overall elimination of all short and medium-range surface-to-surface missiles be discussed, and notes with interest in this context the proposal presented by the President of the French Republic in March 2008 that negotiations be opened on a treaty prohibiting short and medium-range surface-to-surface missiles.

24. Furthermore, the EU welcomes the development of new innovative international tools against proliferation such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). International legal provisions are not enough by themselves - they must be effectively applied. Regular anti-proliferation actions are therefore required to ensure that each State complies with its obligations under the non-proliferation treaties.

Mr Chairman,

25. The European Union will continue to engage fully in the work of the intersessional process of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons with a view to reinforcing implementation of that Convention by the States Parties.

26. The European Union considers that the information exchange which takes place on a voluntary basis within the framework of the BTWC has been a contributing factor to the improvement in transparency between States Parties. The European Union here welcomes the growing number of States that regularly submit confidence-building measures, but notes that further progress is still possible in this area. It therefore encourages all States to make use of those measures.

27. The Chemicals Weapons Convention (CWC) has an essential role in countering the treat of chemical weapons. The CWC, which bans an entire class of weapons of mass destruction in a verifiable way is unique amongst the disarmament and non-proliferation treaties.

28. In this connection, the European Union welcomes the positive outcome of the second CWC Review Conference. The adoption of a substantive final report underlines the support among State Parties to the CWC for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and should enable the OPCW to work towards meeting future challenges whilst preserving a spirit of consensus.

Mr Chairman,

29. The risk of terrorist organisations acquiring biological and chemical weapons and their means of delivery is a major challenge for the international community. Cooperation with, and within the framework of, the United Nations is therefore of crucial importance. The European Union calls more strongly than ever for achievement of universalisation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, all of which play a key role in reducing this threat.

Mr Chairman,

30. The European Union remains firmly committed to conserving the CCW, which constitutes an essential part of international humanitarian law, and has decided to give active support to its universalisation through a Joint Action involving more than EUR 800 000 which it launched in this very forum last year in the margins of the First Committee.

31. The European Union is deeply concerned by the humanitarian consequences of cluster munitions. It considers that strong commitments in this area are essential, commitments capable of producing concrete results on the ground and vis-à-vis victims of such weapons and of having a genuine humanitarian impact.

32. All the EU Member States, as active participants or observers, attended the diplomatic conference held in Dublin last May, at which the text of an ambitious convention to be opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008 was adopted.

33. The EU considers that this initiative and the discussions pursued in parallel to the CCW, on the same topic, were mutually enriching and reinforcing and that the outcome of the Dublin Conference constitutes a strong signal which should encourage the States Parties to the CCW to pursue their efforts, firm in their resolve to successfully conclude a credible legally binding instrument in Geneva. In any case, the European Union stresses that the future instrument will have to be compatible with the text of the Convention adopted in Dublin by two-thirds of the States Parties to the CCW, even if the two instruments could vary as regards States Parties, field of application and implementing procedures.

34. The EU would like to see States Parties to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) reach an agreement on this matter between now and the end of 2008, and the negotiation mandate approved in November 2007 fully met. A successful outcome of these negotiations within the framework of the CCW, which comprises most of the world’s cluster-munitions producing and using States, would clearly indicate the willingness of those States Parties, particularly the major stockpiling countries, to establish the CCW as the forum of choice for dealing with questions at the crossroads of disarmament and international humanitarian law.

35. The EU considers that the outcome of the four working sessions of the Group of Governmental Experts in Geneva in 2008 is encouraging. The field and scope of the prohibitions and restrictions of a future instrument that were presented may serve as a starting point for the November negotiations. It is also encouraging that a number of countries which hitherto had serious reservations on the very principle of bans have initially assessed the text in a positive manner.

36. The European Union reaffirms its commitment to the fight against anti-personnel mines and its full support for the implementation and universalisation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Ottawa Convention). In June 2008, it adopted a Joint Action for 1 070 000 Euros which should contribute to the achievement of these objectives. Support for the convention is important given the heavy mine clearance and stock destruction commitments and in view of the fact that the level of adhesion to Convention remains insufficient in several of the world’s regions, despite notable progress which the EU welcomes. The EU’s goal remains that of a mine-free world with no further anti-personnel mine victims and in which victims of such weapons receive better care and attention. The EU calls on the States Parties to fully engage in the preparation of the 2009 Review Conference, which marks an important milestone in the life of the Convention. It hopes that the Conference will reveal significant progress in all areas.

37. The EU welcomes and supports the decision taken last year to set up a group of governmental experts to examine the implementation and development of a standard instrument for reporting military expenditure. The EU attaches particular importance to the preparation of the work of the group, which will meet in 2010.

38. The illicit manufacture, transfer and flow of small arms and light weapons (SALW), together with their accumulation and their uncontrolled dissemination, remain today the prime risk to the security of the greatest number of inhabitants of our planet. SALW and their ammunition lead to the death of more than 500 000 persons each year, the majority of them civilians. The EU is pleased that the third biennial meeting to review the United Nations Programme of Action, which was held in New York from 14 to 18 July 2008, led to the adoption of a substantive report, the content of which will genuinely provide for improving and strengthening its implementation. We regret that, on account of the attitude of just one delegation, this report had to be adopted by means of a vote. We reaffirm that, as we see it, the review cycles must continue to include review conferences and biennial meetings examining the implementation of the Programme of Action and functioning on the basis of a consensus.

39. The EU welcomes the very firm appeal launched by the States and civil society in favour of establishing a treaty so as to better regulate trade in conventional weapons. With the adoption two years ago of resolution 61/89 by an overwhelming majority, this movement has led to the setting up of a Group of Governmental Experts which has held meetings throughout this year. At the end of its discussions, it succeeded, by common accord of all its members, in providing the Secretary-General and all the UN Member States with an opinion on this question which was enlightened, studied and representative of all sensitivities present. This report will be examined during this session of the General Assembly, which will decide on the appropriate follow-up to be given to it by means of a resolution that we shall adopt within this Committee.

40. The fight against the illicit trade in ammunition continues to be another urgent task inseparable from the campaign concerning weapons themselves. Uncontrolled stocks of ammunition contribute to the risk of trafficking and proliferation and to the lengthening and intensification of armed conflicts. In addition they are a threat to security, health and the environment. The work of the Group of Governmental Experts (GEG) on surplus stocks of conventional ammunition, the setting-up of which was initiated by two EU Member States, Germany and France, led this year to the drafting and adoption of a substantive report, for which we wish to express gratitude at this point and on which we shall build to involve the activity of the international community in this field.

41. Transparency in the field of conventional weapons is a key component for combating the uncontrolled dissemination of such weapons and for promoting an atmosphere of trust and security. As we already emphasised last year, we draw attention to the very useful contribution made in this respect by the recommendations of the Group of Governmental Experts on the establishment of the UN Register of Conventional Arms and its strengthening. Likewise, transparency in the field of military expenditure is a key element for trust between States and conflict prevention.

Mr Chairman,

42. The European Union, as a strong supporter of effective multilateralism, considers that the General Assembly and its First Committee, the Conference on Disarmament (CD), the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) and the various international treaties, together with their bodies and review processes, are mutually reinforcing. In view of the new threats to security, the disarmament machinery has an increasingly important role to play and the First Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations is its mainstay of continuity.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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