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A World Free Of Nuclear Weapons Remains The Ultimate Goal

By Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez

Photo: Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative (centre front) to the UN in Geneva addressing the Second PrepCom for the NPT Review Conference 2020. Credit: The Sunday Leader.

Following are extensive excerpts from the Statement by Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, at the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 NPT Review Conference from April 23 to 4 May 4, 2018. He called on all nuclear-weapon states to commit to the principle of disarmament to ensure a world free of nuclear weapons and "enhance their support for, and investment in, disarmament training and education provided by the UN and other organisations." – The Editor

GENEVA (IDN) – It is imperative that all our efforts be geared to ensuring that the 2020 Review Conference will lead to a consensus outcome, which galvanizes the commitments made in the 1995 Review Conference. Securing a world free of nuclear weapons should remain our first and foremost priority.

clip_image001.pngThe NPT provides an international framework for advancing nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful use of nuclear energy and nuclear disarmament. These are the ‘core’ components of the Treaty on which States Parties have committed themselves to implement their obligations.

These in our view are inter linked and are mutually reinforcing. General and comprehensive elimination of all nuclear weapons remains the ultimate goal that should be reached through progressive steps. The reality today, however, is a pronounced lack of political will to progressively move forward in this area. Instead, an increasing tendency has been observed of seeking refuge behind terminologies, such as ‘incremental approach’, ‘step-by-step approach’, ‘progressive realization’.

Today, we have come to a stage in the peace and security discourse where such terminologies are no longer seen to have any practical value or meaning. Any serious, concerted efforts towards adopting a comprehensive package at the 2020 NPT Review must be bolstered by reaffirmation of a clear commitment by all parties to all the obligations and Principles of the NPT.

Sri Lanka reiterates the importance of the NPT as the global regime for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament which ensures a balanced and non-discriminatory approach to building international peace and security, while safeguarding the economic development prospects for all, through equal access to technology advancing peaceful uses.

We support all efforts towards achieving the universalization of the NPT as the legal regime that enjoys the participation of the largest number of Member States of the United Nations including the P5. We also support the call for application of the full scope of the IAEA safeguards to ensure meaningful implementation of the provisions in the Treaty.

Lack of progress in the effective implementation of Article VI is a worrying trend. Moving away from this realistic path to disarmament may lend itself, in the medium to long term, to a possible re-emergence of an arms race, with far reaching consequences for humanity if it happened. It is important to recall at this point, that the commitments contained in the 1995 NPT Review package, particularly with regard to disarmament had been secured as a result of State parties agreeing to extend the NPT regime in the first place, without prejudice to the already ingrained obligation towards disarmament in the treaty.

As we address the dichotomy between the lack of progress in disarmament and increasing emphasis and efforts on non-proliferation, we take this opportunity to call upon all states parties with the ability to do so, to manifest their clear commitment to the principle of disarmament by enhancing their support for, and investment in, disarmament training and education provided by the UN and other organisations.

Such programmes will particularly help developing countries to harness the peaceful uses of nuclear technology and energy, while contributing to international peace and security measures. That will also enable networking and coordination among states, strengthening understanding and cooperation in other important areas such as nuclear security.

We do not need to overemphasize right of all Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) which are Parties to the NPT to receive effective, universal, unconditional, non-discriminatory, irrevocable and legally binding security assurances against the use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons under all circumstances.

We recall in this regard the July 1996 ICJ Advisory Opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. Given the scale of death and destruction that could arise from the use of nuclear weapons and the humanitarian consequences that may ensue, it is the collective call of humanity, as captured in the letter and spirit of the ICJ Advisory Opinion, to support the deliberations and initiatives on developing mechanisms to seek to prevent such catastrophes in future.

IAEA’s role in the advancement of nuclear technology for sustainable development and activities related to peaceful uses in countries that are states parties to NPT – as the main channel for such cooperation, is much appreciated. Application of the IAEA selection criteria and guidelines for transferring technology and knowhow through bilateral cooperation projects must continue to apply in a transparent and objective manner.

A nuclear security infrastructure linking nuclear safety regime and peaceful uses framework at the national level, is pivotal to an environment which leaves no room for vulnerabilities to be exploited by persons or groups with malicious intent. The civil society and the media too have a vital role to play in preventing threats to nuclear security and preventing any malicious use.

In conclusion: We propose that this Meeting comes up with elements and guidelines that helps a time bound and pragmatic action plan and outcome to emerge at the 2020 NPT Review. Building a better and secure future for all is a shared call that we can shirk only at our own peril. [IDN-InDepthNews – 26 April 2018]

Photo: Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative (centre front) to the UN in Geneva addressing the Second PrepCom for the NPT Review Conference 2020. Credit: The Sunday Leader.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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