Speech by International Luxembourg Forum President Viatcheslav Kantor at Working Group Meeting Prospects for 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

Speech by International Luxembourg Forum President at Working Group Meeting Prospects for 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

(Vienna, April 8-9, 2010)

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues,

We have met in Vienna not just because it is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but also because very few cities are so closely associated with concepts such as international security, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

It is very important that, in addition to members of the Advisory Council of the Luxembourg Forum, experts from Vienna-based international organizations participate in our meeting.

It is also significant that precisely on this day the presidents of Russia and the USA are signing the new strategic arms reduction treaty in Prague. The importance of this document goes beyond putting lower ceilings on the strategic forces of the two leading nuclear powers: the treaty has resumed the central process in nuclear disarmament that was actually stalled over the past decade.

Credit is due to the political leaders, diplomats and military specialists of the two countries, who have reached agreement on the new full-scale START Treaty in a short period of time, since May last year.

Compared to START-1, the new Treaty cuts the number of nuclear warheads by almost three-fourths and that of carrier vehicles by half. This is a great stride forward by the two leading powers towards nuclear disarmament and compliance with their obligations under Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

It is our common understanding that the main mission of our meeting is primarily to bring our proposals and recommendations for a tighter nuclear non-proliferation regime to the notice of the organizers and participants of the Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which will take place in May.

Although important, the newly signed START Treaty is not enough for the success of both the May Conference and for global and regional stability in general, and other important steps need to be taken.

The principal such steps are as follows:

One. The legislatures of the USA and Russia should promptly initiate procedures to ratify the new Treaty, which has many opponents. The main difficulties can be expected primarily in the USA.

The moment of truth in the near term is about what is going to be prioritized in debates on the new Treaty: concern about the fate of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and prevention of nuclear catastrophe or partisan differences.

Two. The leaders of the USA and Russia need to carry on consultations and negotiations to seek further accords on nuclear disarmament, primarily on the limitation and reduction of strategic and sub-strategic nuclear weapons.

Three. At this point Britain, France and China should assume obligations to freeze their nuclear force levels and apply confidence-building and transparency measures with regard to the status, location, exercises and other nuclear force characteristics like those that Russia and the USA have been using and will continue to use under the new START Treaty.

Four. The process of ratification and enactment of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty should become a milestone event. Every nuclear power which has ratified the Treaty should provide all-round assistance to and full-scale support for the ratification of that Treaty by the USA, China and other key states.

Five. The settlement of the Iranian and North Korean nuclear crises, which are badly stalled, would play a decisive role for the sustained progress of the NPT. The Iranian leaders blatantly ignore UN Security Council resolutions and questions asked by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Any hopes for the resolution of the problem that arose last autumn were dashed by Tehran’s arrogant and irresponsible actions and official statements.

Characteristically enough, over the past months talks with Iran focused primarily on the program for enriching uranium from 3.5 to 19.5 percent in Russia and France – everyone seems to have forgotten of the need to press Iran to comply with the five UN Security Council resolutions demanding that uranium enrichment processes be totally suspended. Ultimately all this can amount to recognition of the full bankruptcy of the Security Council authority.

Now it is practically clear that the further incremental escalation of sanctions in UN Security Council Resolutions will produce no effect. So far the policy of the leading powers has looked like the appeasement of the Nazi leaders before World War Two.

The common stand of the five permanent UN Security Council members and new effective sanctions to the full extent of Article 41 of the UN Charter alone leave some hope for a change in Tehran’s policy and a peaceful solution to the problem.

If this step leads to a constructive shift in Iranian policy on the issue, the world community should provide Iran with conditions for the maximum efficient cooperation in developing its economy and meeting its lawful political requirements and security needs.

The alternatives are not many: an armed conflict with hard-to-predict consequences or a nuclear-armed Iran and the quite predictable collapse of the non-proliferation regime and a regional nuclear war.

Six. To put an end to North Korea’s endless maneuvering at the six-party talks, Russia, the USA, China, Japan and South Korea should take a common stand and bring strong pressure to bear on Pyongyang so as to make it scrap its nuclear and missile development programs. This tough stand should be supported by economic, political and humanitarian incentives to North Korea, including the promotion of peaceful nuclear energy projects.

The passive wait for the collapse of the totalitarian regime in that country could last fairly long, while the situation in north-eastern Asia keeps escalating. Therefore, the Six should act quite energetically.

Seven. As usual, the May Review Conference will have a wide and rather standard range of issues on the agenda, including nuclear disarmament, negative security guarantees to non-nuclear NPT member countries, stronger IAEA safeguards, formalization of the rules governing the possible withdrawal from the Treaty, internationalization of the nuclear fuel cycle, tougher export controls, non-nuclear zones, etc.

At the same time I would think it necessary to draw the attention of the Conference organizers and participants to precisely those problems which I have mentioned. So, we have come together for the next meeting of the Working Group of the International Luxembourg Forum at an extremely important, interesting and responsible moment.

Our experience tells us that the Forum’s statements and proposals attract the attention of the world leaders whom we address. I cannot help mentioning the reaction of the NATO Secretary General, for example, to the statement of the Supervisory Council of last December, following which he made his well-known statement urging NATO to pursue a more vigorous policy on nuclear disarmament and to contribute to this process.

In view of the unique nature of the present moment I hope very much that this meeting of the Luxembourg Forum will produce concrete and constructive initiatives aimed to make the policies of the key powers and international organizations towards strengthening international security and preventing the nuclear threat more effective.