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UN ambassador decries nuclear energy restrictions

Update: May, 07/2005 - 00:00

UN ambassador decries nuclear energy restrictions


NEW YORK — Viet Nam’s UN Ambassador Le Luong Minh has voiced concern over the increasing international tendency to unduly restrict the export of materials, equipment and technology to developing nations in order to build peaceful nuclear energy programmes.

Speaking in New York on May 5 at a conference of signatory states reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Minh called for the removal of restrictions and called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure more balance in its allocation of resources for nuclear safeguards and for technical assistance.

Minh pointed to the fact that non-nuclear weapons states have a legitimate right to seek guarantees of security from nuclear weapons states as such guarantees are essential to promoting the confidence of non-nuclear weapons states and to strengthening the NPT. However, he added, conditions are being attached to such guarantees.

Minh stressed that, as a non-nuclear weapons state, a party to the NPT, a member of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone, an original signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and a member of the Conference on Disarmament, Viet Nam will continue to pursue peace and be guided by noble objectives.

"Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the early conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurance to non-nuclear weapons states is an earnest demand, to which our Conference should pay adequate attention," Minh said.

The NPT has played a vital role in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, he added.

"With the developments of the past few years, we find ourselves at a critical juncture where we must decide whether to try to regain the relevance of the NPT or let the confidence of signatory states continue to erode. We need a responsible, balanced and fair approach to bring us out of the present situation. The NPT can only remain firm if all its three pillars are strengthened," Minh noted.

"Total elimination of nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapons-free world must be the objectives guiding our actions in and out of this conference."

Conclusion of the NPT, Minh said, was based on the balance of interests between states which have nuclear weapons and those which do not and which commit not to acquire them. The three pillars on which the NPT rests are non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

He noted that implementation of the NPT has been uneven. While the non-proliferation regime has been strictly observed by the overwhelming majority of more than 180 non-nuclear weapons states, disarmament has not enjoyed the unbalanced level of emphasis which nuclear weapons states have placed on non-proliferation. As a result, Minh said, the course of implementation of the NPT has witnessed as many negative as positive developments.

"With the limited progress we have seen in the reduction of the number of deployed nuclear weapons by nuclear weapons states, the disarmament picture is bleak. Thousands of nuclear weapons still exist, many on alert status, and this is in the context of the increasing danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists," Minh warned the conference.

"The Conference on Disarmament remains idle. And, while the International Court of Justice has ruled on the legality of threats to use nuclear weapons, we are alarmed by the emergence of new security doctrines that give a broader role to nuclear weapons.

"This situation jeopardises the authority and relevance of the NPT. It is urgent for our conference to arrive at measures to overcome the present deadlock. The Conference on Disarmament must also be allowed to do its work, and we join the call for an international conference on nuclear disarmament," Minh said. — VNS

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