Statement by H.E. Professor Akiko Yamanaka,
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan at the Conference of Disarmament
20 June 2006
I am greatly honored to address this esteemed body on behalf of the Government of Japan, especially since I have devoted myself to promoting world peace as my lifelong mission.
The Conference on Disarmament, including in its former incarnation as the Disarmament Committee, was the venue that negotiated and agreed to such important arms control and disarmament treaties as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It has left for later generations an imperishable monument of the endeavors to heighten the security of countries, not by the accumulation, but through the reduction of weapons.
However, the CD has been in stalemate over the past decade. This was an unexpected and disappointing result in view of the fact that the cold war, which drew a long shadow over the world for so many years, has long since past into history. Moreover, as new challenges to the NPT regime amass, such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the risk of those weapons and materials falling into the hands of terrorists, the CD cannot even respond since it is unable to agree on the so called program of work. Diplomats to this forum have made continuous attempts in vain to break the deadlock. This year, however, we have seen a silver lining spread across this dark cloud that has shrouded the CD, thanks to the introduction of Structured Debates on each issue of the agenda. This seems to be the first sign of momentum. Especially, the substantial discussions on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapon (FMCT) have generated new possibilities which we should transform into concrete action.
Structured Debates have brought the substantial exchange of views back to the CD. The productive session last month on an FMCT was especially encouraging. Many experts attended the debates and several countries submitted working papers. Japan contributed in both aspects. In particular, we believe that the proposed US draft treaty on an FMCT and mandate have provided us with a good starting point. I call upon all the experts gathered here, with their sagacity and extensive experience, to join together and utilize this proposal as a good basis to commence actual negotiations on an FMCT and conclude a treaty as early as possible.
While I believe many countries share my view, I am aware that some do not. However, I want to emphasize that the CD must not hesitate in revitalizing its work.
Firstly, we should begin by doing what can be done. As you are all well aware, the impasse at the CD is not the result of diverse priorities among members but of the linkage approach, which conditionally links one item to another. To my knowledge, in the history of multilateral fora, such an approach has produced scant few positive outcomes. We should reconsider this approach. Nonetheless, abandoning linkages does not mean other items will be disregarded. Each item is meritorious in its own right, and we should begin work in accordance with those merits. An FMCT is considered ripe since not a single country has voiced objection to embarking on negotiations. Of course, we should also continue to deliberate on nuclear disarmament, Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) and Negative Security Assurance (NSA).
Secondly, we must avoid clinging to the past approaches of the Conference. For instance, the Five Ambassadors' proposal for a program of work has produced few results, and we must break from its spell. We must review the present situation with fresh eyes while distancing ourselves from the past approaches. In this spirit, I believe that agreement to initiating negotiations on an FMCT without preconditions will suit the interests of all.
Now is the time for CD members to be flexible in their quest for a creative and pragmatic modus operandi. During the remaining three months of this year's session, the Conference should redouble its efforts to break the long-standing stalemate.
Let me conclude by expressing my strong faith in the deep knowledge and insight of the distinguished members of the CD, as experts of disarmament and non-proliferation. The "window of opportunity" is open and there is a real chance before us. It is our responsibility to grasp it, because let me remind you, in the context of this forum, inertia is also a weapon of mass destruction.
I thank you.
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