Opening Statement by
Ambassador Yukiya Amano
Director-General for Arms Control and Scientific Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
On the occasion of Asian Senior-level Talks on Non-Proliferation (ASTOP)

November 13th, 2003

I would like to extend my hearty welcome to you for being present here in Tokyo and wish to announce the opening of the Asian Senior-level Talks on Proliferation (ASTOP) to discuss the issues of proliferation in Asia.

This is in fact the first senior-level talks among the ASEAN countries as well as cooperating nations, namely, Australia, Republic of Korea and the United States, dedicated to the discussion of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological weapons) and their delivery means as well as their related materials and technology. I am very pleased to assume the chairmanship in this very important meeting. I would like to encourage all the participants for a frank and candid exchange of views regarding non-proliferation to achieve enhanced mutual understanding among the participants.

I am convinced that all of the participants gathered here share the view that non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials and technology has vital importance to the maintenance of the international peace and security. In light of proliferation threat, concrete actions are more required than just words. As Chairman, I would be grateful if the discussion on non-proliferation could be deepened around this table today and such discussions could be translated into actions as swiftly as possible for Asia's security and stability of tomorrow.

There are a number of ways to tackle the issue from various angles. In my view, proliferation process consists of several phases- the export phase, traveling phase and import phase. It is also important to ensure appropriate control over them within a country. Our aim should be to stop the flow of materials in all of these phases comprehensively.

Firstly, export control as well as customs security must be duly reinforced in the respective countries in order to stop the flow of the sensitive items. Export and customs regulations and agencies concerned should be strengthened in this regard. I therefore welcome the recent strengthening of export control regulations in Singapore. In addition, any illegitimate export or imports of these items must also be stopped so as to complement the export and customs controls, as sensitive items could be smuggled in and out of countries unknowingly. Asian countries have either long borders or vast coastlines and territorial waters which necessitate more allocation of human and technical resources to law enforcement. We hereby stress the importance of developing the capabilities of law enforcement agencies of respective countries, and we would like to listen to the participants to see how we can cooperate in implementing necessary measures.

Furthermore, I would also like to note that sensitive materials travel across borders because there may be those who wish to acquire them in our countries. Bearing in mind the threatening and active terrorist activities in the region, we must also seriously consider ways to illegalize the acquisition of sensitive materials for criminal use and seek for ways to duly penalize the end-users of concern.

Finally, I would like to stress the importance of taking a more proactive approach to stop shipments of proliferation concern in their traveling phase. Proliferation Security Initiative, a framework joined by 11 countries which was launched in May this year, has been working tirelessly for the last 6 months to seek for ways to impede and stop trafficking of sensitive goods flowing to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern, consistent with national legal authorities and relevant international law and frameworks. This meeting will provide an opportunity for non-PSI members to understand what it aims at and what it envisages, while also promoting discussions among the participants on this new approach.

In the morning session, we will start by the Japanese presentation on the Proliferation Risk in Asia, followed by the Korean presentation on the Proliferation of WMD in East Asia. Then we will invite Australia for their presentation on the terrorist activities prevalent in Asia, followed by in-depth discussion on non-proliferation issues pointed out in the presentations.

The afternoon session is dedicated to the explanation on the PSI in detail and to the discussion on how the initiative could be utilized and developed with respect to stop the proliferation in Asia.

After hearing all the views from the participants, a draft of Chairman's summary will be circulated towards the end of the afternoon session. I would like to assure you that this will not be a binding document, but a sum-up of today's discussion from the Chair's viewpoint. I will try to reflect the general trend of discussion as faithfully as possible. For the sake of transparency, I will bring the sum-up to the attention of the public under my sole responsibility.

In concluding my opening remarks, let me reiterate my sincere thanks to all of you present here today and look very much forward to the fruitful discussions in the coming sessions.

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