Let me start by thanking you for this important meeting and the opportunity it provides for all UN members to discuss essential disarmament and non-proliferation issues. The spread of weapons of mass destruction and illegal proliferation of conventional weapons constitute a serious threat to international peace and security.
The protection of peace and security is the core of the mandate of the Security Council, and the Council has an important role to play in supporting international arms control through determined action. Norway fully supports the resolutions adopted by the Council regarding the specific proliferations concerns. Norway welcomed the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1540 and has provided funds to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs for the promotion of this resolution at regional levels.
But we must also recognise that global norms will have to be negotiated in relevant and broader multilateral bodies. It has been a firm Norwegian policy that multilateral arms control negotiations should be open to all UN member states.
My delegation fully concurs that regional institutions can play an important supporting role for global arms control efforts and thus contribute to international peace and security.
For this reason Norway attaches great importance to mechanisms such as the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). We also applaud the close working relationships between the UN and regional organisations like the OSCE and the African Union. Norway values the strong support by the EU to global disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is under growing strain. Equally important are the unfulfilled expectations in the field of nuclear disarmament.
While we applaud the significant reductions in nuclear arsenals which have taken place, we call for significantly deeper reductions on the basis of irreversibility, verification and transparency. We are also increasingly impatient with the lack of progress in multilateral efforts to cap a possible new arms race. We regret that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has not entered into force, and it is deplorable that it so far has been impossible to negotiate a treaty on banning the production of fissile materials for weapons purposes. It is imperative that we make progress in this field in the coming year.
An erosion of the NPT would be a serious set-back for multilateral non-proliferation efforts. An erosion would make a world free of nuclear weapons much more difficult to achieve. It is vital that all states parties to the NPT do their utmost in contributing to a successful outcome. In doing so we must work in innovative ways and forge new partnerships. Norway is seeking to contribute to this end in different ways, including the cross-regional Seven Nation Initiative.
It is encouraging to note the renewed interest in achieving full elimination of nuclear weapons. There is growing consensus that the existence of tens of thousands of nuclear arms does not enhance our security. Nuclear disarmament is an integral part of our common non-proliferation efforts.
In February this year, Norway hosted an international conference on nuclear issues, attended by some of the leading experts from across the globe. A key message from the conference was the importance of the CTBT.
A legally binding Test-Ban Treaty is crucial. But other steps too are required to secure a comprehensive nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.
We need new and deeper cuts beyond those provided for in existing arms control treaties.
We need to explore ways to reduce the importance of nuclear arms in security policies i. a. through regional nuclear weapons free zones. Indeed here we see a clear example in the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) on how regional approaches can further strengthen the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime. OPANAL should clearly be seen as a source of inspiration to other regional zones free of nuclear weapons.
We need to lower the operational status of nuclear weapons that are deployed.
It is a matter of taking disarmament seriously. All political leaders and relevant stakeholders must be engaged. We must forge new alliances and work across traditional political and geographical dividing lines.
My Government is pleased to note that important results have been achieved in the field of eliminating categories of conventional weapons that cause unacceptable humanitarian harm. We applaud the landmark decision that was reached in Dublin on 30 May this year, when 107 states adopted the text of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The new convention prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions. It also deals with assistance to victims, clearance of contaminated areas and destruction of stockpiles.
The convention is the outcome of the Oslo process, an open process that was launched in 2006 and included states, civil society, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN. We have achieved a result that represents a significant strengthening of International Humanitarian Law. The Convention on Cluster Munitions will be opened for signature in Oslo on 3 December. All UN Member States have been invited to the Cluster Munitions Convention Signing Conference.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions as well as the Mine Ban Convention demonstrates that multilateralism can work, provided that there is sufficient political will.
Norway is convinced that the lessons from a humanitarian disarmament approach can be applied in other areas, such as regulating international trade in conventional weapons.
My Government reiterates its support for negotiations on a forward-looking and legally binding Arms Trade Treaty, the General Assembly will adopt a resolution to this effect later this year. We look forward to participating in the up-coming process, with the view to achieving a legally binding treaty regulating the trade in these weapons as well as their munitions.