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Conference on Disarmament (CD)

CD BULLETIN, May 23, 2001

By Jenni Rissanen


Ambassador Hu Xiaodi of China chaired the 874th plenary of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) for the final time before Colombia takes over the CD presidency next week. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, Mr. L. Erdenechuluun, addressed the CD.

Plenary Proceedings

Mr. L. Erdenechuluun, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, spoke to the CD "on some key issues related to international security, arms limitation and disarmament": the NPT, CTBT, the START process, verification of BWC, the CD, the ABM Treaty and NMD, small arms and light weapons and nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ).

The Minister asked whether the world, as it entered the new century and millennium, found itself any closer to the collective and ultimate goal of complete and general disarmament, and whether the international community had "succeeded in making the global disarmament process a sustainable one"? Was the "world less of more safe?" Reviewing the progress in arms limitation, disarmament and non-proliferation, the results were mixed: while there had been "certain movement in some areas, there has been little or no progress in others."

Erdenechuluun recalled the 2000 NPT Review Conference and its Final Document, and particularly the conclusions and recommendations related to establishing a subsidiary body in the CD to deal with nuclear disarmament, the call for further efforts by the nuclear weapons states (NWS) to reduce their arsenals unilaterally and for further unilateral reduction initiatives with regard to non-strategic nuclear weapons, as well as the engagement of all five NWS in the process leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

He also underlined the importance of an early entry into force of START II and the CTBT treaties and said Mongolia looked forward to the upcoming conference in New York to facilitate the CTBT's entry into force. It was "compelling" that the CTBT enter into force as early as possible "in light of the activities that could seriously undermine the nuclear non-proliferation regime". Erdenechuluun spoke more broadly on the importance of verification for the credibility of international instruments prohibiting weapons of mass destruction, welcoming "efforts ensuring the reliable operation of the existing control and monitoring systems under the CTBT and the CWC and undertaking measures to improve the verification mechanism of [the] BWC".

Erdenechuluun was concerned about the growing emphasis on nuclear weapons in nuclear doctrines and spoke on the importance of safety measures such as de-alerting, removal of warheads from delivery vehicles and no-first-use pledges. What was also needed was legally binding negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS). Erdenechuluun welcomed the UN Secretary-General's initiative on holding an international conference on nuclear dangers.

Erdenechuluun argued for "earnest negotiations on an early conclusion of a universal and verifiable Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty". Pending this, he felt the NWS should declare moratoriums on production and exercise transparency through disclosing their stocks. He urged the UN to "establish a Register for all stocks of weapons grade fissile material" believing this "would help establish an important balance with the UN Register of Conventional Arms".

The Minister also commented on the ABM Treaty and the US plans for a missile defence system. The recent US proposals for a new defence policy, which included the establishment of missile defences, would "inevitably impact upon global security and strategic stability". Mongolia welcomed the US readiness to consult with other countries on the issue. Erdenechuluun said such consultations should "fully take into account" the plans' broader security implications as well as the concerns expressed over the weaponization of outer space and the necessity of preserving global strategic stability.

Erdenechuluun addressed also a topic which has been of great importance to Mongolia - NWFZ - saying that they served as "an important component of nuclear non-proliferation with a positive impact on regional security and stability". The UN Disarmament Commission guidelines would "play a significant role in that regard". Mongolia had declared its territory a nuclear-weapon-free zone in 1992, and in February 2000, it had adopted a law on its status, "institutionalising it at the national level". Furthermore, at the last UN General Assembly, the five NWS made a joint statement providing Mongolia with security assurances. This had been "an important step along the road to institutionalising that status at the international level". It was imperative now to start negotiations in the CD on legally binding negative assurances to NNWS.

Finally, Erdenechuluun supported the Amorim proposal1 as "a sound basis for further consultations" in order to break the ongoing deadlock on a programme of work.

Ambassador Hu Xiaodi made his concluding remarks as the outgoing CD president. Hu said he had "no breakthrough to report" to the CD. The only "bright spot" that Hu could see, was the fact that all delegations saw the Amorim proposal as the basis for further intensified consultations. Hu summarized the situation as he saw it: "one school of thought" held that the CD should begin negotiations on a FMCT, while considering or discussing also PAROS and nuclear disarmament. Another school of thought saw simultaneous negotiations on all three topics, "or at least" indication that this was the goal. Most delegations would have no difficulty with either approach. At the same time, some amendments had been suggested to the nuclear disarmament mandate in the Amorim proposal. Overall, the deadlock over the three issues remained difficult to break. As for complementary activities, these were "still being explored". Suggestions had been put forth, but none of them enjoyed consensus yet.

The next plenary will be held on May 31, 2001 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, and will be chaired by Ambassador Camilo Reyes Rodriguez of Colombia.


1. The Amorim proposal (CD/1624, August 24, 2000) recommends the establishment of four ad hoc committees: one each to "deal with" nuclear disarmament and PAROS, one to negotiate a ban on the production of fissile materials, based on a specific mandate agreed in 1995, and one, with a broader mandate, to negotiate on negative security assurances (NSA). For further details and analysis, see Jenni Rissanen, 'Geneva Update' Disarmament Diplomacy No. 50, September 2000.

To see the speeches, please visit the website of WILPF at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/cd/thisweek/thisweekindex.html

Jenni Rissanen is the Acronym Institute's Analyst attending the CD in Geneva. For her latest, in-depth assessment of developments see 'Geneva Update' in Disarmament Diplomacy No. 55.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.