Statement by Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda at the Seminar on Nuclear Disarmament after the Indefinite Extension of the NPT

December 2, 1996
Kyoto, Japan

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish I could be present at the opening of the Seminar on Nuclear Disarmament after the Indefinite Extension of the NPT, and be able to state related ideas held by the Government of Japan. Unfortunately, my schedule has prevented me from doing so, and therefore I have asked Ambassador Takekazu Kawamura to convey my thoughts to you. First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to all the distinguished participants, who have come to Kyoto from around the world.

(The current security environment surrounding disarmament efforts and the aims of this Seminar)

The realization of a world free of nuclear weapons is the fervent desire not only of Japan but of the entire international community. Surely there is no one in the world today who would dispute this objective. In consideration of the fact that, during the confrontation between East and West that followed World War II, the combined armaments of the nuclear-weapon states expanded to the point where they could have wiped out the human race dozens of times over, our recognition of this common objective can in itself be regarded as a major advance for the community of nations.

This suggests the existence of an inseparable connection between disarmament and the security environment of the entire international community. In this context, the advent of rising opportunities for disarmament pursuant to the end of the Cold War has encouraged our hopes for the future to flourish. Recall the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1), which entered into force in December 1994 with the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus as its parties, succeeding in bringing about reductions in strategic nuclear weapons. We know that such reductions have never been carried out during the Cold War period. Welcome steps have also been taken by other nuclear-weapon states to scale back their nuclear weaponry. And yet, even in this post-Cold War period, the danger of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and of missile technology, as well as problems stemming from the excessive stockpiling of conventional arms, still exist. It is therefore necessary for the entire international community to cooperate, through constructive dialogue, in order to consolidate the trend toward nuclear disarmament and to find out concrete steps we should take for that purpose.

Our idea of hosting this "Seminar on Nuclear Disarmament after the Indefinite Extension of the NPT" was based on a realization of how crucial it is, given the current situation, to provide a venue for thorough and pragmatic discussions among both government officials in positions of responsibility for negotiations concerning nuclear disarmament and leading researchers in the fields related to nuclear disarmament, with regard to the long-term prospects for realistic disarmament efforts leading toward a nuclear-weapon-free world as we move toward the 21st century.

(Japan's approach toward realizing a world free of nuclear weapons)

The foremost task for the international community as it turns its attention to nuclear disarmament is to agree on an approach to achieving the common goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. Yet it is over this very point of how to approach the issue that the international community is still profoundly divided. One line of thought goes that treaty negotiations should begin without delay to get the nuclear-weapon states to commit to destroying their nuclear arsenals immediately or within a prescribed period. This type of approach might be called 'direct approach," in that it seeks to achieve the goal in a most straight-forward manner. Given the actual international situation, however, it is not certain whether necessary conditions exist for this approach to be advanced. With a great many nuclear weapons still in existence, it must be remembered that we cannot simply turn our backs on issues related to international security and stability and devote all our attention to promoting disarmament measures. Instead, in Japan's view, what is important for the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons is to steadily accumulate realistic disarmament measures, one by one. In contrast to the 'direct approach' described above, this approach could be called 'realistic and incremental approach'. Simply pushing for an approach that lacks common international acceptance will not bring us even one step closer toward nuclear disarmament. I believe it is essential that taking into consideration the realities of the international security environment we carry out, one by one, measures to which the entire international community including the nuclear-weapon states, can agree. For three years in succession now, Japan has introduced to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly a draft resolution on "nuclear disarmament with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons," which has been adopted after being supported by an overwhelming majority. This, I believe, attests to the widespread acceptance that Japan 's basic approach enjoys within the international community.

Next, I would like to address the matters that Japan considers important for the actual achievement of tangible progress with regard to realistic disarmament measures.

(The indefinite extension of the NPT: moving into a new era of nuclear disarmament)

To begin with, Japan attaches great importance to the role of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Without it, there would have been many more nuclear-weapon states than there are today, radically destabilizing our world.

At the NPT Review and Extension Conference last year, Japan supported the indefinite extension of the NPT, with the belief that, for the peace and stability of the international community, it is essential to enhance the stability of the Treaty regime and in so doing to prevent the ranks of nuclear-weapon states from increasing. At the same time, Japan has emphasized that indefinite extension should in no way be construed as signifying the permanence of the status of the possession of nuclear weapons by the nuclear-weapon states and has strongly appealed to those states to faithfully discharge their obligation to carry out nuclear disarmament in accordance with Article Six of the NPT with a view to realizing a world free of nuclear weapons. In addition to our support for the indefinite extension of the NPT, Japan also attaches great importance to two decisions made at last year's Review and Extension Conference: the decision concerning the principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and that regarding the strengthening of the review process for the Treaty. Both decisions were adopted after approval by an overwhelming majority of the international community, including all the nuclear-weapons states, which has thus provided an important foundation for the progress of realistic disarmament measures as the new century approaches. In this sense, Japan views the indefinite extension of the NPT as having presented a new point of departure in our journey toward a world free of nuclear weapons. In this regard, it is crucial to ensure a smooth start of the strengthened review process of the Treaty as the first Preparatory Committee is convened next year with a view to ensuring the success of the next Review Conference that should be held in the year 2000, and I therefore once again call upon all the parties to the Treaty to make their best efforts to this end.

(The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: effective curbing of qualitative advances in nuclear weapons)

My second point is that for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation to advance, effective curbs must be placed on qualitative advances in nuclear weapons. In this context I would like to reemphasize the importance of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

While the CTBT failed to be adopted by consensus at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, it was successfully adopted with the support of an overwhelming majority 158 nations at the resumed 50th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. The support it received unmistakably demonstrates the awareness of the international community that, although the CTBT will not bring about the elimination of nuclear weapons at a single stroke, it is an effective means of bringing us closer to that goal. Japan is convinced that the nuclear-weapon states which have now declared a suspension of nuclear testing, will, in light of the conclusion of this Treaty, never resume testing in the future. Furthermore, we strongly hope that those nations which have expressed opposition to the Treaty will reconsider their positions from the broader standpoint of promoting nuclear disarmament, and through early accession to it will bring it into force at the earliest possible date.

Disarmament measures have actual, practical value only to the extent that such measures are accompanied by an appropriate system for implementation, of which effective means of verification must be a basic element. The CTBT is no exception. In order to help ensure the effectiveness of the Treaty's verification and implementation regime, Japan has been contributing to the improvement in nuclear testing detection techniques through the application of our seismological monitoring technology. At the same time, we have been providing training courses for the formation of experts in the field of seismology from the developing countries, and we fully intend to redouble our efforts to construct verification systems for the CTBT. Japan further intends to actively assist the Preparatory Commission for CTBT Organization, which was inaugurated in November of this year, offering both financial and personnel support to help get the Commission's activities off to a smooth start.

(The next step: prohibiting the production of weapons-grade fissionable material)

The third point I would like to address is this: now that the CTBT has come into existence, it is important to start negotiations as a next practical multilateral disarmament measure on a so-called cut-off treaty at an early date at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. As has been the case with many other multilateral treaty negotiations concerning nuclear disarmament conducted to date, negotiations on a cut-off treaty will have to resolve a host of difficult issues, including the question of just how effective verification measures can be put in place. Nevertheless, I wish to reconfirm that all the parties to the NPT that took part in the Review and Extension Conference have agreed as stated in the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament on the importance of the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a cut-off treaty as the next step after the CTBT. Ensuring this decision is the greatest task currently confronting us, and I wish to emphasize that were we to put this issue aside and try to press ahead in the absence of such an effort, we will only end up delaying our progress in the long run.

(Efforts for further reductions of nuclear arsenals)

As my fourth point, I wish to note that, while moving ahead in securing the realistic multilateral disarmament measures already discussed, we also eagerly expect further progress on nuclear disarmament in the form of measures taken by the nuclear-weapon states themselves. In order to contribute to the peace and stability of the world, the nuclear-weapon states are being called upon to respond to the good faith demonstrated by the non-nuclear-weapon states, the vast majority of which have of their own will renounced the nuclear option through their participation in the NPT. The nuclear-weapon states, therefore, must take positive steps to advance their nuclear disarmament efforts, in keeping with the undertaking in Article Six of the Treaty. In this context, Japan welcomes the ratification by the United States of the START II treaty in January of this year, and we earnestly hope for its entry into force at an early date. President Bill Clinton, in his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, spoke of his nation's readiness to enter into discussions with Russia on the possibility of further reductions of strategic nuclear arms, after ratification by Russia of the START II Treaty, and we also welcome such a step. Japan eagerly awaits progress on nuclear disarmament by other nuclear-weapon states , and we emphatically call for further reductions of their nuclear weapons.

(Dismantling nuclear weapons and the management and disposal of fissile materials derived from dismantled nuclear weapons)

My fifth and final point concerns the importance of firmly proceeding with the dismantlement of existing nuclear weapons, of improving the transparency relating to plutonium and highly enriched uranium derived from the dismantling of such weapons, and of ensuring that such materials are managed and disposed of in such a way that they cannot be reused for military purposes. These measures will certainly help a make nuclear disarmament an irreversible process. We believe that the primary responsibility for the dismantlement of nuclear weapons and management and disposal of such fissile materials rests with the states that possess nuclear weapons. From the standpoint of promoting nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, however, the international community must also make its own positive efforts in this regard.

In April 1993 Japan announced that it would provide the equivalent of 100 million US dollars to support the dismantling of the former Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal. Subsequently, agreements establishing the bilateral frameworks to provide assistance to Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus were concluded. For Russia, Japan has been promoting assistance concerning the construction of storage facilities for nuclear materials derived from dismantled nuclear warheads and the construction of facilities for the storage and disposal of fluid radioactive materials, as well as the provision of equipment for dealing with emergency situations that could arise during the transportation of nuclear materials and so on. For the other three states, we have been promoting assistance in establishing state accounting and control system for nuclear materials, measures to deal with contamination at nuclear test sites, and medical support for victims of nuclear tests.

Moreover, in accordance with a decision taken at the Summit on Nuclear Safety held in Moscow in April of this year, an international experts meeting was held in Paris in October to study the management and disposal of fissile materials that are no longer required for defense purposes. While further study on the subject is scheduled in advance of next year's Denver Summit, Japan has been pressing nuclear-weapon states to place, as early as possible, such materials under the safeguard of the IAEA, in order to ensure the transparency of these materials and to prevent them from being reused for any military purposes. Furthermore, Japan is fully prepared to render its support with regard to the handling of surplus weapons-grade plutonium, on the basis of the experiences and technologies we have acquired through our efforts of promoting peaceful uses of atomic energy.

(Closing remarks)

For the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons, I consider it essential to steadily and securely accumulate a series of specific and realistic disarmament measures such as those I have just mentioned, one by one. It must be admitted, however, that the nuclear disarmament measures that should be addressed following the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the proposed cut-off treaty are left for further discussions. As I noted earlier, this Seminar is intended to offer participants gathered here an opportunity to engage in an active and fruitful exchange of views on various nuclear disarmament issues that the international community should tackle in the future. Allow me to conclude my remarks by reiterating my heartfelt wish that your discussions here may help to bring us closer to the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Thank you.

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