Speech by Minister of State Werner Hoyer Minister in the general debate of the 2010 Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

04.05.2010 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Mr President,

Allow me to congratulate you on your election and to wish you every success in carrying out your tasks. You may count on the German Delegation’s full support.

Let me add that Germany fully aligns itself with the statement delivered yesterday by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the European Union.

During its 40 years of existence, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been instrumental in halting the spread of nuclear weapons, thus strengthening world security.

For this reason the balanced enhancement of all three pillars of the NPT is vitally important for Germany. This is why, in the German Government’s opinion, the Review Conference must revive the NPT’s “grand bargain” between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states through specific proposals by the nuclear-weapon states and, in return, a visible strengthening of the international non-proliferation regime; in addition, as a result of the Conference, a concrete plan of action for the second decade of this century must be implemented!

We need this Conference to send out a strong signal of unity. Its central message must be that all of us want more cooperation and arms control and less weaponry. Only in that way will we together make the world a safe place.

In recent weeks, with a view to this Conference, there have been major positive events, for example the New START Treaty signed, and hopefully soon ratified, by the USA and Russia, the new US Nuclear Posture Review and the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, all of which we want to build on!

Together with our EU partners Germany will be working in New York to make sure that this Conference lends treaty-based disarmament new momentum. Our common aim must be a world without nuclear weapons. I welcome the fact that Presidents Obama and Medvedev share that aim and, with the New START Treaty, have made an initial concrete step in that direction. Further steps must now follow!

One such concrete step forward is yesterday’s announcement by US Secretary of State Clinton revealing America’s existing nuclear potential. Transparency helps to build trust. Other nuclear-weapon states should follow this positive example!

The sub-strategic nuclear weapons, which up to now have not been subject to any kind of arms control mechanism, must be included in the ongoing disarmament process. The NPT states already agreed to this in principle in 2000 and now is the time to act accordingly. Confidence-building measures and efforts to create transparency can help reduce and finally eliminate these weapons, which are left-overs from the Cold War. They no longer serve a military purpose and do not create security.

The German Government’s intention to bring about, in agreement with our allies, the withdrawal of the tactical nuclear weapons still stationed in Germany can also be seen in this light. In addition, Germany calls for the role of nuclear weapons to be further scaled down in NATO’s Strategic Concept. I am pleased that the USA has already embraced this view in its nuclear posture. We already launched an intensive discussion on these issues within the Alliance at the Informal Meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in Tallinn ten days ago.

We see responsibility for implementing the NPT’s disarmament obligation lying not only with the five nuclear powers. It is unacceptable that the Geneva Conference on Disarmament has been inactive for years, that the ban on the production of further weapons-grade fissile material has made no progress, and that the continuing refusal by a number of countries to ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty is preventing it from entering into force. We therefore expressly welcome Indonesia’s intention to ratify the Treaty soon. This is an important signal to those states that are still hesitating.

I also like to emphasize that we must make progress on creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. The 1995 mandate must be implemented and given practical substance phase by phase. An initial pragmatic step could be a conference, organized by the EU, which aims to bring all sides to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

We also need progress on conventional arms control. This, too, plays a vital role in confidence-building. It can prevent concerns about conventional disparities being used as an excuse to reject the reduction of nuclear potentials and it could help us counter the concern that the removal of nuclear weapons might increase the probability of conventional wars.

We must also be aware that the readiness to take far-reaching disarmament steps means reliably halting the further spread of nuclear weapons. Making sure that non-proliferation works is therefore the vested interest of those countries which have renounced nuclear weapons, like Germany.

We feel it is essential to strengthen the IAEA’s control options via the Additional Protocol as an integral part of the verification standards. Moreover, in view of our experiences with North Korea, Germany thinks it is necessary for the NPT States Parties to agree on rules governing withdrawal from the Treaty and reaction to Treaty violations. Finally, we must reach a balanced result which, while fully guaranteeing the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, prevents misuse for military purposes. In this connection we regard multilateral solutions to the nuclear fuel cycle as an interesting option.

This Conference is facing major challenges which have to be tackled.

There is a real danger that proliferation cases like North Korea’s breakaway from the NPT and Iran’s nuclear programme could, in the medium term, erode the Treaty and lead to a new nuclear arms race. In such a scenario there would be no guarantee that the use of nuclear weapons could be ruled out forever.

This is why the German Government, along with the permanent members of the UN Security Council, will continue its engagement to achieving a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran unfortunately refuses to comply with the international community’s demands and rejects its very far-reaching offers of negotiation. Further sanctions must make it clear to Tehran that this refusal has a price.

We must be clear about one thing – the disastrous failure of the last Review Conference must not be repeated. The States Parties must send a strong signal that we all stand by the NPT’s rights and duties.

Germany sees disarmament and arms control as the keystone of a global security architecture. We have lost a lot of time. We need a new decade of disarmament now. To that end the NPT must be preserved and indeed strengthened here in New York. This Conference must therefore send the necessary impulses by making forward-looking, specific agreements and recommendations. Thus I call on all States Parties to act in accordance with their special shared responsibility at this important conference in order to make our world a safer and more peaceful place!

Thank you very much.

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