Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Tuesday, June 11, 2019, 2:34 p.m. Stockholm, Kingdom of Sweden
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs:Today, I attended the Stockholm Ministerial Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). All the 15 countries that assembled today were non-nuclear weapons States, where states with diverse positions, including ones that are under a severe security environment including Japan, and ones that call for the immediate prohibition of nuclear weapons, gathered.
Although situations vary among countries, all countries agreed that it is necessary to have a high-level commitment toward the 2020 NPT Review Conference, and on the importance of maintaining and strengthening the NPT which is the cornerstone of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
Based on this position, taking into account the international security environment including the issue of proliferation in some regions and the situation surrounding nuclear weapons States, a wide-ranging discussion on the importance of increasing transparency, nuclear disarmament verification measures, as well as risk reduction, was held for the purpose of clarifying concrete nuclear disarmament measures which can serve as a shared foundation.
I emphasized that, in order to advance nuclear disarmament and to maintain and strengthen the NPT regime, it is necessary to advance realistic nuclear disarmament in a way that involves nuclear weapons States. At the same time, I introduced efforts on which Japan puts importance including promotion of dialogue and enhancement of transparency through initiatives such as ‘Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament’ and ‘Non-proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI). Also, I confirmed with all of the participating countries the objective of achieving the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement by North Korea in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
Based on the discussion held, a joint declaration was issued. This underpins the possibility of having high-level commitment even between countries with different security environments, with regards to the importance of concrete denuclearization measures which can serve as a shared foundation. I would like it to highly value it.
We would like to contribute to the promotion of dialogues between countries and development of concrete denuclearization measures, by enhancing opportunities for the international community toward a meaningful outcome at the NPT Review Conference next year, and by cooperating with the countries which participated in the meeting today.
Tonight, I will leave Stockholm for Tehran, and a meeting with Foreign Minister Zarif of Iran is planned to be held in the daytime tomorrow.
Reporter: You covered this a little in your opening remarks, but can you please tell us your specific remarks at today’s meeting?
Minister Kono: I stated that, for the purpose of advancing denuclearization, it is important to involve nuclear weapon States into discussions. Also, while it is included in the recommendations from the Group of Eminent Persons, it is important to enhance transparency and promote dialogue. I also called for the importance of education on denuclearization and non-proliferation.
Reporter: In addition to the different positions between nuclear-weapons States and non-nuclear weapons States concerning global nuclear disarmament, I also think there is a gap among non-nuclear weapons States. To what degree do you think today’s meeting were able to minimize such a gap?
Minister Kono: Although all of the attendees at today’s meeting were non-nuclear weapon States with varying positions, we were able to reach a consensus that it is important to show commitment for the NPT Review Conference next year, and I think we were able to issue quite a substantial statement. Although there are various positions, I believe it was an extremely meaningful meeting which highlighted the necessity to firmly unite, in light of the importance of the issue.
Reporter: Changing the subject, I believe you conducted a meeting with Foreign Minister Maas of Germany today. What kind of discussions did you have?
Minister Kono: As Foreign Minister Maas had visited Tehran and held a meeting with Foreign Minister Zarif before having a meeting with me, he provided me with a detailed explanation about the content of the discussion with Foreign Minister Zarif.
Reporter: What matters did you convey?
Minister Kono: I provided explanations regarding various issues including Japan-Iran relations, but basically I received detailed explanations from Foreign Minister Maas on the actual content of the meeting and other details.
Reporter: I believe that the Japan-Iran Foreign Ministers’ Meeting will be held tomorrow taking into account such explanations, so what role do you think Japan would like to play?
Minister Kono: The current Middle Eastern situation is absolutely not favorable and tensions are rising, so I would like to strongly encourage the easing of tensions.
Reporter: Can you please tell us if there was discussion on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at today’s NPT meeting or if you made any references to it?
Minister Kono: There were some remarks in the discussion that Iran and North Korea are now two problems against non-proliferation that the international community face today.
Reporter: Regarding the Japan-Sweden Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I believe Sweden has its own channel with North Korea, so will you touch upon anything in that area?
Minister Kono: I would like to touch on various bilateral issues and regional situations.