Remarks by Mr. Katsuhito ASANO,
Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan,
at the 4th Asian Senior-level Talks on Non-proliferation

January 25, 2007, Tokyo

Distinguished delegates,

I am pleased to welcome you to the 4th Asian Senior-level Talks on Non-proliferation, ASTOP. I am particularly delighted to welcome the new participants, Canada and New Zealand. This reflects the wider recognition of the importance of ASTOP.

Distinguished delegates,

The purpose of our gathering today is to strengthen the non-proliferation in Asia. This has further gained significant importance and urgency since our last meeting one year ago.
The year 2006 saw extremely regretful developments on the one hand, and united responses by the international community to the new challenges on the other.
This year, we must see rapid and promising progress towards achieving durable peace and security in this region and beyond.
To do so, it is essential for us to translate into concrete implementation the will of the international community expressed in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

On the non-proliferation challenges, one has to start with North Korea.
The missile launches and the nuclear test by North Korea last year represent a clear threat to the peace and security, not only in East Asia but for the whole international community. They are sources of grave concern to all of us.
In order to solve these problems, we need to act in concert, and take swift and firm measures to implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
At the same time, we attach great importance to the Six-Party Talks. There was some progress in the US-North Korea consultation in Berlin, and the Six-Party Talks is most likely to be resumed in the near future. We strongly urge North Korea to take concrete steps toward abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that at the Second East Asia Summit, the Leaders urged North Korea to actively address humanitarian concerns of the international community including the abduction issue. I would like to have your understanding and support toward early resolution of the abduction issue.

Iran also continues to be at the centre of our attention and concern. Here again, the international community demonstrated its firm and united resolve to tackle the non-proliferation risks by adopting UN Security Council resolution last month.
I strongly hope that Iran will take a right decision in addressing the concern of the international community and provide full transparency on its nuclear programme.

Failure to meet these challenges would severely undermine the credibility of the international non-proliferation regime, with the NPT at its heart. We cannot allow it to happen.
The Security Council conveyed the sense of urgency and the unity of the world through its resolutions.
Now, it is up to us to make sure they are truly effective.

In tackling these challenges, it is also essential to broaden the international support and commitment to strengthening the global framework on non-proliferation.
I cannot stress enough the importance of the IAEA Additional Protocol in this regard.
The value of other supporting and complementing measures to counter the new risks, such as PSI, also merits our special attention.

Distinguished delegates,

Before concluding, I would like to draw your attention to the foundation of our topics today: the NPT.
The process leading to the NPT Review Conference in 2010 will start this year with the First Preparatory Committee for the NPT Review Conference in Vienna. What we experienced last year will only add to the importance of this Conference, and of the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs.
In this context, I am especially grateful to Mr. Nobuaki Tanaka, Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, who kindly accepted to make a presentation today on UN Security Council resolution 1540.

Distinguished delegates,

You have a full and half day of intensive work ahead of you. I hope this ASTOP meeting will be a valuable opportunity for you to have in-depth discussions and share your experiences in tackling our huge common challenge.

Thank you very much.

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