N Disarmament Conference Closes with Call for Nuclear-Free Middle East

August 31st, 2010 - by admin

Kohei Okada / Chugoku Shimbun & Hiroshima Peace Media – 2010-08-31 22:01:24


UN Disarmament Conference Closes
Kohei Okada / Chugoku Shimbun

JAPAN(August 28, 2010) — The 22nd United Nations on Conference on Disarmament Issues, organized by the UN Disarmament Affairs and other entities at a hotel in Saitama Prefecture under the theme of “A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Making Steady Progress from Vision to Action,” completed its three-day schedule on August 27 with a summary of its discussion.

The rapporteur of each of four sessions reported on that meeting’s discussion. With regard to the outcome of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, the Session I discussion, Nobumasa Akiyama, the rapporteur of the session and an associate professor at Hitotsubashi University, argued for implementing the action plan included in the final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. He said that a nuclear-free world cannot be realized until all parties to the NPT are willing to set aside political differences in favor of cooperation.

Roman Hunger, rapporteur of Session II regarding the role of civil society and special coordinator at the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, touched on the fact that efforts for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation education are sluggish worldwide. He called for strengthening coordinated efforts to advance this cause among governments, NGOs, and civil society.

In the general exchange of views at the end of the conference,

Akira Kawasaki, executive committee member of Peace Boat, a Tokyo-based NGO, and Zenpei Kunimoto, permanent director at the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, requested that a nuclear weapons convention be included as an agenda item at the next disarmament conference.

Commentary: Act Promptly for Nuclear Abolition
Kohei Okada / Hiroshima Peace Media

At the 22nd United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues, discussion to create a solid road map toward a nuclear-free world was made largely in response to the NPT Review Conference held this past May. That said, there is no magic wand for producing a dramatic advance in this effort, and deeply-rooted quarrels continue to exist among nations. The wall that must be climbed is high indeed.

In the sessions that took place on the first day (Sessions I and II), some claimed victory over the outcome of May’s NPT Review Conference. Since the final document was adopted after many twists and turns at the review conference, held every five years, an environment was prepared in which positive discussion toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation can now be made.

The central player behind that effort was Libran Cabactulan, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who served as the president of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

He spoke about the pains he undertook to realize the adoption of the final document, and repeatedly called for steady progress in advancing the 64-item action plan which appeared in the document.

Meanwhile, no immediate solutions to the challenges discussed over the course of many years, including the realization of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the start of negotiations for the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, can be seen. Dialogue involving the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapons convention, both of which were clearly stated in the final document of the NPT Review Conference, was not deepened at the disarmament conference.

Of gravest concern are the nuclear issues vexing Northeast Asia and the Middle East. In the closing session of the final day, government officials from the United States and Iran were at loggerheads over Israel. The former is a staunch supporter of Israel, while the latter is disapproving of its neighbor.

Jurg Lauber, head of the Swiss delegation to the conference, said that he cannot claim victory when there is unfinished business. Nobuyasu Abe, former UN undersecretary general and now director of the Centre for the Promotion of Disarmament and Non-proliferation, pointed out that prospects for the action plan will depend on the strength of the commitment that the NPT signatories make. The only way to advance the effort for nuclear abolition is for states and citizens to act promptly.

UN Disarmament Conference Discusses Denuclearization in North Korea and the Middle East
Kohei Okada / Hiroshima Peace Media

(August 30, 2010)) — The 22nd United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues to discuss actions toward a nuclear-weapon-free world continued on August 26 at a hotel in Saitama Prefecture. Discussion was held on regional nuclear issues in such areas as the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East.

Ji-ah Paik, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea, criticized North Korea’s nuclear test last year. She said that nuclear development is an anachronistic and ill-advised idea and that North Korea needs to make efforts for its denuclearization without reverting to the path of nuclear development. Li Hong, secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, proposed a comprehensive solution of economic involvement and the establishment of a new security system.

With regard to the denuclearization of Northeast Asia, Li Hong and Ji-ah Paik expressed differing views. Li Hong shared strong support for the idea, saying that the denuclearization of Northeast Asia could be discussed alongside the nuclear issue of North Korea. Meanwhile, Ji-ah Park argued that immediate challenges should be addressed first.

Seyed Abbas Araguchi, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Japan, leveled criticism against the de facto nuclear weapon state of Israel while repeatedly asserting that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons and that it continues to abide by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace responded to the assertion. He contended that Iran has not been fully cooperative with the inspections conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), citing comments made by the nuclear watchdog.

UN Disarmament Conference opens in Saitama
Kohei Okada, / Hiroshima Peace Media

(August 27, 2010)) — The 22nd United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues to discuss actions towards a nuclear-weapon-free world opened at a hotel in Saitama Prefecture on August 25.

The conference was organized by the UN Disarmament Affairs and UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific. During the three-day conference, until August 27, nearly 80 government officials, scholars, NGO representatives, and journalists from 18 countries will exchange views with regard to nuclear abolition.

Libran Cabactulan, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who served as the president of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference held this past May, spoke at a session to assess the review conference and future challenges. After outlining the background behind the inclusion of the item “consideration of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention” in the final document of the review conference, he stressed that it is time for discussion of the convention’s working plan to commence.

With regard to a conference for creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, Mr. Cabactulan proposed that the host nation and arbiters be decided as soon as possible in order to open the conference in 2012. He appealed for steady progress in advancing the 64-item Action Plan, which appeared in the final document.

Meanwhile, Scott Davis, deputy director of the US Department of State, conveyed that ratification of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) signed between the United States and Russia will be debated by Congress next month. Danil Shcherban, second secretary of the Russian embassy in Japan, called on other nuclear weapon states to make efforts in the wake of the new treaty.

James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace pointed to the role Japan and other non-nuclear weapon states should play, saying that the voices of such states will have a significant impact on the disarmament efforts of the nuclear powers.

At the opening ceremony prior to the session, Asako Toyoda, the deputy mayor of Hiroshima, appealed for the importance of political will in advancing toward nuclear abolition by 2020, stressing the significance of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s presence at the Peace Memorial Ceremony held August 6 in Hiroshima.

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