2005.10.04: Keynote Speech at The General Debate of The Disarmament and International Security Committee

H.E. Ambassador Shin Kak-soo, Deputy Permanent Representative, at the First Committee of the General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

We wish to join other delegations in congratulating you on your assumption of the chairmanship of the First Committee, and we heartily congratulate the other members of the Bureau on their election. You are assured of my delegation’s full support and cooperation in the course of our deliberations.

Mr. Chairman,

The First Committee is today more important than ever, if only because the rest of the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation machinery is in such disarray. The longstanding stalemate of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and the inaction of the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) these last two years made the lack of agreement at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference last May all the more disheartening. It is a pity, under these circumstances, that the historic World Summit three weeks ago was unable to provide the political impetus for resuscitating the disarmament and non-proliferation machinery or moving the pressing agendas forward. Against this dark backdrop, the importance of the First Committee cannot be overemphasized: it is, at the moment, our best hope for rekindling the light of disarmament and non-proliferation.

Mr. Chairman,

As Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted at the opening of the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on 21 September, there is nothing insurmountable if we have the resolve to overcome it. The recent progress at the Six-Party Talks is a testimony to such resolve. Despite enormous difficulties and complexities, the six parties came together for the common aim of realizing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Supported by the international community, they were able to reach an agreement that leads the way to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue once and for all. We earnestly hope that the hard-won agreement, through its full and smooth implementation, will contribute to strengthening the NPT regime as well as to consolidating peace and security in Northeast Asia and beyond.

Mr. Chairman,

As usual, the agenda before the Committee this year is extensive and varied. We are eager to participate fully in each phase of the debate, particularly on matters of particular interest to my delegation. Today, at the outset of this important session, I would like to highlight several issues.

First, we reiterate our unswerving support to the central role of the NPT in deterring nuclear proliferation, reducing nuclear arsenals and promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. In turbulent times, the NPT has been and will remain a lighthouse to guide our struggle against nuclear proliferation. As such, securing the universality of the NPT should be a priority. The non-proliferation norms of the NPT should be fully observed, and measures for fortifying and complementing the regime should be seriously debated and expeditiously taken.

We attach great importance to strengthening the verification capabilities of the IAEA through universal adoption of the Additional Protocol as a new standard of verification. With regard to the issue of fuel-cycle control, we welcome the report of the IAEA Director General’s Expert Group on Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle. We look forward to participating actively in discussions on turning the sensible ideas in the report into concrete actions. In doing so, we support the measures to provide assurances of both nuclear fuel supplies and non-proliferation.

Second, my delegation strongly supports the early entry into force of the CTBT and immediate beginning of negotiation on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), which will surely lead us one step forward to the august goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, as an interim measure prior to the entry into force of the CTBT, we attach great importance to maintaining a moratorium on nuclear testing. We note with regret that delays in starting the negotiation on FMCT are largely attributable to the impasse of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), which has lasted now for almost nine years. We hope that in the discussions of this Committee session, innovative ideas will emerge on how to break the deadlock and revitalize the CD.

Third, the nightmare scenario of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD), particularly nuclear terrorism, remains all too possible of becoming our waking reality. In tackling this issue, we recognize the key roles played by the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, UN Security Council resolution 1540 and other creative initiatives. However, in order to enhance the effectiveness of controls on materials, equipment and technology related to WMD, it is imperative to strengthen the role of the established export control systems such as Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Australia Group. We also support the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC) to deter proliferation of ballistic missiles.

Fourth, in contrast to the dismal progress in the field of WMD, we welcome the considerable progress that has been made in checking the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW). Particularly encouraging was the successful conclusion last June of negotiations on an international instrument on the marking and tracing of small arms and light weapons. Although the instrument is not legally binding, excludes ammunition and was watered down in certain other respects, the instrument, together with the UN Program of Action, will greatly facilitate efforts to control illicit trade in such weapons. My delegation hopes that 2006 review conference for the Program of Action will further develop the basis for preventing the misuse of SALW, not least by confronting the issue of illicit brokering.

Mr. Chairman,

The Republic of Korea, as a strong advocate of the just causes of disarmament and non-proliferation, has done its utmost to participate in non-proliferation and disarmament efforts on a bilateral, sub-regional, regional and global level. Our constructive engagement has enabled us to host an annual international conference on disarmament and non-proliferation, in cooperation with the United Nations Department of Disarmament Affairs (UNDDA). This year the conference will be held in early December in Busan, the second-largest city in the Republic of Korea. The Republic of Korea also hosted the NSG Plenary in 2003 and the MTCR Meeting in 2004.

By hosting such events, we have demonstrated our ongoing commitment to achieving the objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation, and I assure you, Mr. Chairman, that our participation in the deliberations of this Committee will be carried out in the same spirit.

Thank you.