Statement by H.E. Mr. Yerzhan Kazykhanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the plenary session of the Conference on Disarmament
February 28. MFA. Geneva
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, let me thank you for this opportunity to address such a representative and professional audience.
I want to congratulate the Permanent Representative of Egypt on the assumption of the Presidency of the plenary meeting and express confidence that his extensive experience and skillful stewardship of its proceedings will help break the stalemate in our work here.
The year 2011 was marked by a tangible contribution to the global processes of disarmament and non-proliferation. Yet, against the backdrop of some encouraging trends, the lack of substantive work of the Conference on Disarmament over the past sixteen years continues to cause concern. We believe that this distinguished body should be at the forefront of the disarmament process.
I want to reaffirm that we view the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral body in charge of discussion of key mechanisms for strengthening international security. I have no doubts whatsoever that this forum has great potential and that it makes a significant contribution to the disarmament process.
We do not agree with the proposal to suspend the work of the Conference until there is a propitious political climate. I would like to emphasize that the Conference on Disarmament was established and successfully operated in a much more unfavorable global political setting.
It is our deep-seated belief that all that is required to prelaunch substantive work of the Conference is political will. Kazakhstan sincerely hopes that the Member States of the Conference will be able to bridge their differences and get down working on the agenda. We support the proposals made by the distinguished Secretary-General of the Conference to convene a special high-level meeting to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament, as well as to establish a Group of Eminent Persons to explore ways to break the stalemate.
The proposal to merge, down the road, the two entities – the Conference on Disarmament and the United Nations Disarmament Commission – into a single body is worth exploring. In our view, we have to carefully consider all possible ramifications of such a decision. We should also carefully examine the proposal to appoint three Special Coordinators – on the agenda, rules of procedure and membership.
At the same time, we believe that procedural changes and systemic reforms in the Conference on Disarmament cannot be a panacea. We agree with those delegations that argue that the crux of the matter lies elsewhere.
The lack of progress in the work of the Conference is a reflection of the state of the global disarmament process in general. States have different approaches to issues of national and international security, and there is no use of blaming the rules of procedure of the Conference on Disarmament for the existence of their differences. The principle of consensus, adopted at the Conference on Disarmament, is fair and allows us to draft balanced documents that take into account the interests of all stakeholders.
Yet we consider as unacceptable to use the principle of consensus to block the work of the Conference. It is our understanding that national interests should be protected while we are engaged in constructive discussions and search for mutually acceptable solutions. Speedy practical steps towards disarmament are in our common interest.
Similarly, we see no value in trying to tackle some of the issues outside the Conference. The establishment of alternative negotiation forums, without the involvement of a number of key players in disarmament, will only result in the adoption of documents that will not be universal and fail to work effectively.
As for Kazakhstan, the following four key issues are equally critical, in terms of their priority, for the work of the Conference on Disarmament: nuclear disarmament, FMCT, the provision of negative security assurances and the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Each of them is important and requires a collective action. In our view, we should start, as soon as possible, our work on all of them, concurrently.
Our country, which has voluntarily relinquished the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world and shut down one of the largest nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, remains a staunch supporter of the global process of non-proliferation and nuclear threat reduction.
Today, it is highly important to overcome the stagnation in the global disarmament process, with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) being its cornerstone.
We believe that time has come to develop clear mechanisms for enforcement action against States that act outside the NPT or intend to withdraw from the Treaty. It is necessary to ensure an unconditional implementation by its State Parties of their obligations, as embodied in the unity of the three basic elements — disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
In 2011, at the sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Nursultan Nazarbayev introduced a number of proposals in the area of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament for the nuclear-weapon States that reflected today’s realities.
The Head of our State called for the start of deliberations on the adoption, under the auspices of the United Nations, of a universal declaration of a nuclear-weapon-free world, which would enshrine the commitment of all States to gradually move towards the ideals of a nuclear-weapon-free world. This would represent an important step towards the adoption of a convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.
It is regrettable that some rather influential countries still refuse to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). In theory, such a situation does not prevent nuclear powers from continuing nuclear-weapon testing and the «threshold» countries from pursuing their own nuclear and missile programmes with impunity.
Kazakhstan has welcomed the news of the CTBT ratification by Indonesia, one of the countries whose ratification is required for the Treaty to enter into force. I take this opportunity to congratulate Ghana, Guatemala and Guinea on the completion of domestic procedures for CTBT’s entry into force. We also welcome the firm commitment by the U.S. Administration to seek ratification of the Treaty by the U.S. Senate, and we do hope that this process will not take too long. Our country urges all other States that have not yet ratified this important international instrument to speed up the process.
Fully complying with the objectives of the CTBT is the resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2009, on the initiative of Kazakhstan, declaring 29 August – the date of the official closing of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site – as the International Day of Action against Nuclear Tests.
In 2011, a number of major international antinuclear events were organized in Kazakhstan and outside the country with its involvement. I would like to mention here the Forum for a Nuclear Weapon Free World, convened last October in Astana and Semey to commemorate the International Day of Action against Nuclear Tests and the 20th Anniversary of the closing of the Semipalatinsk test site. The participants of that Forum adopted the Astana Declaration calling on all countries with nuclear arsenals to eliminate them as soon as possible.
As a country that has established, in cooperation with its regional neighbors, a nuclear- weapon-free zone in Central Asia, Kazakhstan calls for the development of an international legally binding instrument to provide security assurances by the nuclear powers to non-nuclear countries. I would also emphasize the strong commitment by the regional States to complete the institutionalization of the Semipalatinsk Treaty and their readiness for a constructive dialogue with the Big Five nuclear powers for an early signing of a protocol on negative assurances to the States of the Zone.
In the Astana Declaration, adopted by the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation expressed their conviction that progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all their aspects is the basis for the strengthening of international peace and security. A separate resolution of the Astana CFM was also devoted to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Promoting the convening of the 2012 Conference is among the priorities of Kazakhstan’s 2011-2012 Chairmanship in the OIC CFM.
Given the “nuclear renaissance” and the growing interest of various countries in nuclear energy, Kazakhstan is ready to make a significant contribution to the common cause as one of the world’s largest suppliers of uranium products.
Adhering to the principle of equal access to the peaceful atom, Kazakhstan submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) an application to host an international bank for low-enriched uranium.
We strongly believe that the establishment of additional reserves of low-enriched uranium, under the auspices of the IAEA, will promote a guaranteed access for all States to nuclear fuel and in no way affect the legitimate and inalienable right of each State Party to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, provided they fully meet the NPT conditions.
The year 2012 promises to be packed with events in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation. The second Global Summit on Nuclear Security will be held on 26 and 27 of March in Seoul. The Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the State Parties to the NPT will start its proceedings at the end of April in Vienna. All these developments confirm the willingness of States and their leaders to address the issues of disarmament and non-proliferation through joint efforts. We sincerely hope that the Conference on Disarmament will overcome the stalemate for the sake of our common goal – security and peace on the Earth.
I wish us all success.