South Africa wishes to thank you and the Chair of Subsidiary Body 1 for your joint efforts reflected in the draft report, which is now receiving further consideration. In this regard, we all need to work together to ensure that we look both backwards and forwards and reflect on all the pertinent issues raised by delegations.
South Africa associates with the statements of the NAM, the NAC, the Joint Statement by Austria, together with the points made by a large number of delegations, especially about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Since it is South Africa’s only statement in this session, I therefore hope that you will bear with us as we will take a little more time.
In our statement, we will deal with certain concepts and ideas and not necessarily relate to specific wording with regard to the document before us.
We must not forget that there are great expectations for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. We must have an outcome that is 2010 Plus and not simply a rollover of the 2010 Action Plan. It must signify movement forward on nuclear disarmament and the Middle East zone.
We have a document before us that in a way is both complicated and contradictory. Part of the difficulty is that when an attempt is made to try to reach consensus on irreconcilable positions, we end up in this situation with a number of paragraphs or sentences that do not really support each other in a consistent manner. We therefore have come to a stage where we need to negotiate seriously in order to correctly assess what has been achieved by the 2010 Action Plan and what is still left to be achieved going forward. Indeed, we need to negotiate seriously to secure a meaningful outcome.
Whilst we have outlawed other weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological, nuclear weapons are the only ones that we have retained and modernised and which continue to present a threat to humanity as whole. How do we continue to justify the retention of these weapons?
We adopted important decisions in 1995 and 2000 and after that there have been a number of other decisions that all constitute the NPT regime. The South African proposal in 1995 to extend the Treaty indefinitely was based on the historic Grand Bargain that Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) will disarm, whilst others will not proliferate, which was and continues to be the central purpose of our work. The 2000 Review Conference, together with many other agreements and commitments made not so long after that, including the Global Zero declarations and the Prague statement, inspired so many of us. There was so much hope, at various times, that we were moving in the right direction to try to find a solution to rescue humanity from this peril. However, all these decisions and declarations have yet to be implemented.
Throughout the years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there has been urgency for nuclear disarmament and the total elimination of all nuclear weapons. We therefore should not allow statements welcoming the fact that nuclear weapons have not been used for seventy years to distort the global reality, because we have often come very close to the brink of disaster.
The indefinite extension gave no one the right to permanently retain nuclear weapons in their arsenals forever. However, the statements and positions of the NWS that have been taken since then seem to confirm the fact that some interpret this as a permanent right, which they have inherited. It is extremely dangerous to argue that as long as you have nuclear weapons, you should be able to use them. It is this flawed argument that underpins the NWS rejection of the phrase ‘that nuclear weapons should never again be used under any circumstances’. We who do not have nuclear weapons have a right to ask those that have them – under what circumstances would you be prepared to use these nuclear weapons and just as important, against whom? It is because of these fears and concerns that, pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, non-nuclear-weapons States (NNWS) demand legally-binding Negative Security Assurances (NSAs), which the NWS have failed to provide.
Clearly, if the NWS – together with those of their allies under the nuclear umbrella – believe that there are circumstances in which they will use their nuclear weapons, they then have a responsibility to persuade all of us, who will all be victims, ‘under what circumstances’ they will indeed use them. If we say this, what does it mean for the commitments made by many leaders to eliminate nuclear weapons, if their intention is to use them under certain circumstances? We should instead be saying that despite these calls, we have failed in our supreme responsibility to all of humanity.
If we seek to remove ‘under any circumstances’, then the question arises as to why do those that have them still want to assert their right to use them under some circumstances. We therefore ask, under what circumstances do they still want to use them? What kind of threats do they want to counter? If they perceive a certain type of threat, how do they want to use their nuclear weapons to overcome that particular threat and against whom? We are all part of the same world and so we have a right to ask these questions.
The wider question then remains: who has given the nuclear weapons States (NWS) the right to use these weapons to annihilate all of us? Their perceptions may be wrong, or they may be reacting to perceived threats, which do not exist to the magnitude that they assess? How do we correct this perception if we have no engagement with them at all? At which venue or forum are we prepared to discuss those security threats that affect all of us? We simply leave this to the countries that have nuclear weapons to determine on behalf of all of us as to when they should use nuclear weapons and to justify this use in advance, although they do not make clear under what circumstances they are prepared to use such weapons and against whom.
The other element that is consistent, certainly over the four decades that we have been discussing this issue since 1995, is that those who want to keep their nuclear weapons claim that they need it for their security. This is an evolving and subjective perception, as this notion of security is not defined and the NWS simply hide behind the statement that they need these weapons for their security.
We need to interact with the NWS, discuss and negotiate or at least engage with them, since they need to be honest with us as to whether there are other ways to provide them with the security that they seek, rather than their over-dependence on nuclear weapons. How can we all put our own fate at risk, because of potentially incorrect or subjective perceptions of some ‘security concerns’? What are the criteria for working out this security standard? Indeed, what is the framework in which they have this security concern? We all have the responsibility to save NWS from this situation, and we are all ready to assist them to feel safer without their nuclear weapons, as we do ourselves.
This is why some of us suggested in the Plenary at the 2010 Review Conference – which was later reflected in the conclusions – that we would not just like to see the two major NWS discuss reductions, but we would like all five NWS to engage each other, so as to create a greater balance in the global community. If there is concern about security or insecurity arising from the policies of powerful countries and the strengths of adversaries who are NWS, then it should be possible in the context of the five to engage each other to reduce the risks and for all five to commit not to use nuclear weapons, under any circumstances and then to commence the dismantling process. The five have a supreme responsibility to address this matter on behalf of humanity as whole. It is here that they can discuss their deterrence and security needs so that they do not frighten and threaten each other.
The other argument linked to security, is the concept of deterrence. Who is to be deterred? We were consistently told by the five that deterrence was directed amongst themselves, particularly with the great rivalry during the Cold War and more recently the tensions, which have emerged in the present global situation. So in this context, how is this deterrent role to be worked out? Do the NWS watch each other and find out what they think others are developing and what weapons they are modernising? Do they look at the number of bases or alliances that are being formed with others – both nuclear possessing States outside of the NPT and non-nuclear weapons States (NNWS) – which place nuclear weapons at the centre of their defence doctrines? Is it on this basis that the NWS then work out their deterrence policies, honestly and truthfully? What is the deterrence role in relation to countries in the five? Whilst we recognise that there are some countries outside of the NPT that possess nuclear weapons, this does not reduce the responsibility of the five to work with all of us that are members of the NPT and deal with the issue of deterrence within the five.
So far the five have made progress on the glossary, which may be an important first step, since they were not working together in the past. Having produced the glossary in this five year period, how long will it take them to discuss other important issues, which threaten our survival? Even if they do not disclose their intentions with respect to deterrence, they should be working very hard on this matter together, instead of making general statements about their apparent security needs. Ultimately, the security considerations of the five are unilateral and imposed on all of us, without us knowing the details from each of the NWS.
If for security reasons the five feel that they must be armed with nuclear weapons, what about other countries, in similar situations and at different times? Do we think that the global situation is such that no other country would ever aspire to nuclear weapons to provide security for themselves, when the five tell us constantly that it is absolutely correct to possess nuclear weapons for their security? Is this not a way to increase proliferation? How do we decide the needs of others, who want nuclear weapons to preserve their security? Is it the case that we all recognise that they will never need nuclear weapons for their security or is it only the five that will need them indefinitely? If the five are saying that for the rest of us, you will never need nuclear weapons for your security, what is so unique about their security situation that makes it imperative for them to be the only countries that have the right to have nuclear weapons for their security? Who in the end will decide who should have nuclear weapons and who should not? If it is to be only the NWS, then we know from human experience that it is very rare in history that those with total power have voluntarily given up that power, without pressure or protest. In this case if the five had mistakenly believed that their security rests on the possession of nuclear weapons and the possibility to use them under certain circumstances, then it is an extremely dangerous world that they are creating for all of us. We as NNWS have a special responsibility to ensure that they do not go along this path
Why is it that only the security of the five requires nuclear weapons, whilst no one else needs nuclear weapons for their security? If the truth is that no one’s security needs nuclear weapons, then all of our security is enhanced by getting rid of nuclear weapons. If this is indeed the case, what makes it so different for the five that they feel that they have to be exempted from this universal truth?
Reductions and nuclear disarmament are two different concepts, although they have been put forward by NWS interchangeably. The concept of reduction means that we do not need so many weapons and therefore we will reduce some. The concept of nuclear disarmament means that we must carve out a path for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Similarly, when we refer to step-by-step, since 1995 many of the steps that have been taken have actually been backwards, more especially with modernisation, together with the development of new nuclear weapons and their associated delivery systems.
If nuclear disarmament is the direction and in this so-called roadmap – which the NWS now use in relation to the 2010 Action Plan – this is the path that NWS are taking, they need to tell us what roadmap they are working on? How fast are they going on this road? At what rate they are travelling and how long will it take to reach the final destination of nuclear disarmament? Do they need some fuel to make them go faster, so that they stop endangering the rest of us? Are they taking rest-stops along the way, or are they simply lost? The misuse of the 2010 outcome as a roadmap seems to give licence to an approach, which suggests that they have an indefinite right to possess nuclear weapons. It further suggests that if they get tired of talking to each other, then they take a rest-stop, whilst they are armed with the most dangerous weapons. They simply seem to be engaged in perfecting Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) with new and even more dangerous and destructive methods.
The five should, as I said earlier, work together with all of us to determine the timelines, the framework or the context within which all nuclear weapons will be eliminated. We are not naïve to say that you can put an automatic date to the conclusion of this process or that there are no obstacles on the road. Anything worth achieving has to overcome such obstacles together with the NNWS, because we all have a shared interest in peace and security in our own world.
From the point of view of South Africa’s experience, at the dawn of our freedom, the Apartheid Regime decided to get rid of their nuclear weapons. If South Africa had adopted the path of reductions, would that have been welcomed by the world as a very great step? Yet if South Africa had done so, we would have simply been following the example of the NWS. This is clearly an extremely dangerous argument and it is totally unacceptable.
If we are to look at the roadmap and claim that reductions are the way to nuclear disarmament, then when will we reach that destination? Is it so elusive that none of the NWS know when we will reach it? Or is that a secret that cannot be shared with us, despite its centrality to increasing our own security? Are the drivers of those very goals in perpetual motion on this roadmap to nowhere or are they standing still? It does not help to simply talk of a roadmap where NWS do not know where they are going?
There is a reference in the document to the NWS and the annual reports they need to submit. This reference, however, is incomplete unless it also refers to the reporting requirements of the NNWS under the nuclear umbrella as well. We certainly do not want to be in a world where new dangers are constantly seen by certain countries as a motivation to join a nuclear weapon umbrella, as this extends the danger even further. It is important to really look at the reality on the ground. We have to look at the NWS and the umbrella States, and if all of them have security concerns, and more States join the umbrella or the tent, then what kind of future do we hold for ourselves?
We need to talk about a legally binding framework. This is not to say that such a framework could be agreed at this Conference, nor implemented immediately. However, we need to discuss how to create that framework, because we are all in the same world and we suffer the same destiny as a result of the actions of some.
We currently face the prospect of this Conference coming to a close without consensus on this important matter. While we work towards consensus, some continue to divide us by using the notion of consensus to make us surrender to their wishes or risk putting the whole outcome in jeopardy. However, there are two things that are required to secure consensus. Whilst you need agreement, you need to get to an agreement through exercising some level of flexibility. If the NWS show no flexibility, then there can be no outcome that reflects the wishes of all members of the NPT. It is extremely important to recognise that all of us have a share in what comes out.
Looking back over the last twenty years of five-year reviews, we seem to view these as five-year roll-overs with nothing much happening regarding nuclear disarmament. This approach raises questions about the prospects for this Treaty. Increasingly the public will begin to look at the Treaty in effect as a NWS Treaty. This statement is made with caution and with a real sense of dread, because should this happen, we will have to answer to millions of those outside of this room.
When South Africa put forward the proposal for the indefinite extension of the NPT, we did not think that twenty years on, we would remain in the very same place as far as nuclear disarmament was concerned. We envisaged a Strengthened Review Process, which has not been implemented with any form of seriousness. If we look back on this period, we simply see agreements being reached and then soon after, some of the five even walk away from these agreements, when the ink is hardly dry and later they reinterpret them. So what are we to do with these kinds of agreements? What has happened to the 1995 agreement? What has happened to the 2000 outcome and other outcomes that we have had? Why do some still talk as if we do not have such agreements? Why do some only refer to certain aspects of the Treaty and not to the NPT regime as a whole.
The question is when will we ever get nuclear disarmament? This is a question that humanity wants an answer to. It is certainly the most neglected pillar of the Treaty where we urgently need forward movement. The NPT is not like a menu at a restaurant where NWS can decide what it is that they are going to eat. They seem to be very allergic to their commitment or addicted to nuclear weapons, since they seemingly cannot do without them. If you approach the NPT like a menu, where you simply select what you want, then what does this mean for the legal obligations that we all entered into together and are bound by? Is it that some pillars are not to be touched, whilst others are to be strengthened and imposed on the rest of us? Does this therefore mean that the NPT provisions are not binding on all of us?
In this context we have taken major decisions with respect to the peaceful uses pillar. However, if you look at the whole evolution of those decisions, we see how formulations have been arrived at as a result of significant pressure, which has been brought to bear by the NWS, which in effect erode the capacity of developing countries to use nuclear technology for their own developmental requirements. In this regard, the NWS have all kinds of fears that we as developing countries will use uranium or enrichment for nefarious purposes, which in their view make us seemingly more dangerous than the NWS themselves. This logic serves to undermine developing countries inalienable right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, whilst the real danger posed by the continued existence of the arsenals of the NWS remains.
We hope very much that the NWS will engage amongst themselves and will come out of this enclosure within which they are seemingly trapped with their nuclear weapons. We certainly have to try to help them to overcome this, if they will allow us. We have to reach a common destination and we need to decide whether we are still on the same road or whether the NWS are on another path? We need to encourage them to drive further on the same journey as us, so that collectively we can reach our common destination.
There is a very big gap between the NNWS and NWS. Yet the NNWS represent the vast majority of humanity – our lives, our future and our destiny is wrapped up with the arsenal of the NWS. Can we narrow the gap at this Conference? Is there the political will on the part of the NWS to move towards the NNWS so as to meet our demands for a peaceful world and the elimination of all nuclear weapons. We hope that they will demonstrate that they will move in accordance with the NPT provisions, so that we can look at the NPT as a Treaty that protects us all.
The NPT is essentially a discriminatory treaty. In fact it is the only discriminatory treaty that we have in this world, with the haves retaining their nuclear weapons and the rest not being able to develop them. During the dark days of apartheid, I recall very clearly in my experience in exile from South Africa, how the African frontline States refused to sign the NPT on this basis. They further refused to do so as the very powers that wished to secure the commitment of the frontline African States to the NPT were doing virtually nothing, even going as far as assisting the Apartheid Regime, in developing its own nuclear weapons programme.
When the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was set up in the 1960s, the very first decision it took was to create an African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. It did so because certain countries in Africa had faced nuclear tests undertaken by certain NWS. These tests had extremely destructive consequences on these countries populations, which today perhaps have still not adequately been compensated for. It was in this context that the struggle for African independence and unity was inextricably linked to peace in a world without nuclear weapons.
This was in the early 1960s. It took us many decades to finally establish the zone, together with the African Commission for Nuclear Energy to give effect to the Pelindaba Treaty. This could not become a reality until the Apartheid bomb was eliminated. People often forget that the Middle East zone is contiguous to our zone. Therefore anything that happens there affects us very directly. Therefore we have to secure progress on the 1995 resolution and secure the establishment of a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.
In closing, we must recall the original Grand Bargain stated that those who have nuclear weapons will give them up in return for the rest of us providing a guarantee that we will never ever acquire nuclear weapons. The question remains when will we achieve the objective of this Grand Bargain in relation to nuclear disarmament? When will we achieve the total elimination of all nuclear weapons? Why is it an unknown date? Is it because of the subjective security considerations of some? Does this mean the continued permanent retention of nuclear weapons by some, which continue to endanger all of us?
I thank you