Statement by Minister of State Michael Roth in the NPT Review Conference General Debate on April 28, 2015

28.04.2015 - Speech

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Madam President,

Germany welcomes the Statements by the European Union and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI).

This Ninth Review Conference is taking place under harsher circumstances than the last one in 2010. In times of crisis, treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are important anchors of stability. The NPT remains a crucial cornerstone of the international security architecture and a source of peaceful cooperation between its members. Few treaties have contributed in such a substantial manner to making this world a safer place.

Today, Germany is proud to have joined the Treaty 40 years ago. When Germany joined in 1975, there was still a real risk that the number of nuclear-armed states would grow rapidly. Thanks to the NPT, this trend was stopped and a nuclear order, if sometimes fragile, was created. The fact that the NPT is not yet a truly universal treaty is highly regrettable. From Germany’s perspective, by the end of this Conference, the international consensus on which this treaty stands should have been strengthened, not weakened. This would also be a clear message to those states which have still not signed up!

The last NPT Review Conference ended with a detailed and ambitious Action Plan. We stand by the actions agreed in 2010. To what extent the Action Plan has been implemented will be intensely debated in the coming weeks. From Germany’s perspective, it is obvious that the Action Plan still offers benchmarks for the years to come by providing concrete guidelines for the next steps to take.

This said, Germany agrees with many delegations in this room: the pace of implementtation of the Action Plan is too slow. Let's force the pace, ladies and gentlemen!

With regard to non-proliferation, as a member of the E3+3 Germany is actively involved in finding a diplomatic solution to one of the most urgent proliferation crises. Germany welcomes the political understanding reached with Iran in Lausanne. We strongly hope that a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which addresses the concerns of the international community regarding the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, can be worked out by 30 June.

Unfortunately, regarding the other major non-proliferation crises, there is no progress to report. Germany condemns in the strongest possible terms North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

It is important that this Conference calls upon North Korea to return to full compliance with its non-proliferation obligations and to stop all illegal activities and programmes. Also, Syria must be urged to cooperate fully with the IAEA.

In the context of non-proliferation, Germany supports the valuable work of the IAEA and its safeguards system. As of today, Germany is the third-largest contributor to the IAEA’s budget and has been operating an IAEA support programme for more than 35 years. Last year alone, Germany contributed 4.8 million euros to the IAEA’s Technical Support Programme.

Germany also calls upon all states which are working with nuclear energy and have not yet done so to negotiate and ratify an Additional Protocol with the IAEA as soon as possible. Some progress has been made on nuclear security over the last couple of years. The series of Nuclear Security Summits has played an important role in that respect.

Maintaining nuclear security is a complex task under peaceful and stable conditions – and a very serious and demanding challenge in times of crisis such as we are facing today in many regions of the globe.

With regard to nuclear disarmament, Germany is convinced that further progress is needed to achieve the goal of a world without nuclear weapons in line with Article VI of the NPT. This Review Conference is taking place almost 70 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The memory of the horrific human suffering and destruction lives on.

This meeting is also taking place after discussions on the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons detonations at the three International Conferences held during this Review Cycle. We agree that we have to reduce global nuclear arsenals.

At the same time, events over the past year have reminded us that nuclear disarmament does not take place in a vacuum. Nuclear weapons can only be abolished as a result of negotiations leading to verifiable actions on the ground. Mutual trust between partners is the necessary condition for further progress.

The breaches of the Budapest Memorandum, which guarantees the territorial integrity of Ukraine, have damaged the credibility of the Negative Security Assurances that are so vital to the NPT regime. It is Germany’s view that this Conference must send the clear message that this setback can and will be overcome. The credibility of the treaty has to be fully restored.

Against this backdrop, Germany welcomes the ongoing successful implementation of the New START Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation. Given the disarmament obligations enshrined in the NPT, a new disarmament round between the United States of America and the Russian Federation should begin as soon as practicable. This new round should include substrategic nuclear weapons. Germany appreciates that the offer made by President Obama in Berlin is still on the table despite the changing security environment. The imperative of Article VI – to engage and negotiate constructively – is even more important in times of crisis. Germany therefore calls upon the Russian Federation to respond constructively to President Obama’s nuclear arms control initiative.

Transparency has a prominent role in the 2010 Action Plan, and for good reason. Non-nuclear-weapon States have a legitimate interest in detailed information regarding existing nuclear arsenals. Such information is the basis for judging whether progress has been achieved or not. The reports submitted by the nuclear-weapon States during this Review Cycle clearly mark a step forward, but there is still room for further improvement. The proposals submitted by the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) should be revisited in that regard.

Germany shares the concern of those who want to see the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty enter into force sooner rather than later. In the 21st century, there is neither the space nor any reason for nuclear tests. The existing moratoria on testing are welcome, but a legally binding treaty is urgently needed.

Germany agrees that negotiations on a treaty prohibiting the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons should begin without further delay. The work of the Group of Governmental Experts provides an excellent basis.

As the Conference on Disarmament (CD) moves into its 19th year of stalemate, Germany is concerned about the CD’s functionality as the only permanent multilateral disarmament treaty negotiating body. The CD’s ability to address the security needs of the international community is seriously endangered.

Finally, Germany deeply regrets that the Helsinki Conference on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East has not yet been convened. However, Germany believes that the work done during the review period has created a basis on which to build. We sincerely hope that the Helsinki Conference can be convened soon.

Let me stress once more that the NPT is much more than just another treaty. It is a truly indispensable treaty that increases global security and cooperation. Together with our partners we are working hard to strengthen the consensus underpinning that treaty with this Review Conference.

Germany stands ready to contribute to achieving that goal.

Thank you.

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