The humanitarian consequences should a nuclear weapon ever be used, are widely recognized as so horrendous that few can imagine such a choice to be made. Indeed, the utility of nuclear weapons as military and political instruments are increasingly questioned. Also, even this last year, the Fukushima accident as well as the Oslo terrorist attack reminds us of our fundamental inability to foresee all eventualities. It is highly encouraging that the NPT Review Conference last year reaffirmed a world free from nuclear weapons as our common goal. To reach it would enhance the security of us all.
The NPT Review Conference last year gave us a forward looking Action Plan of 64 steps covering all the three pillars of the Treaty. It is of vital importance that this Action Plan is fully implemented.
Norway welcomes the ratification and implementation of the New START agreement and looks forward to the commencement of next round of negotiations, covering all categories of nuclear weapons. We are furthermore pleased with the recent P5 meeting on fulfilling the obligations of the Nuclear Weapon States under the NPT Action Plan and hope this process will lead to substantial results.
Despite these positive steps, it is a sad fact that we have not moved any closer in our multilateral efforts in nuclear disarmament, including negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. The lack of movement was re-confirmed by the 2010 Action Plan. We have clearly been unable to deliver on the expectations of the international community.
There have long been calls for negotiations on a legally-binding instrument to fulfil the provisions of Article VI of the NPT Treaty. Norway acknowledges the need – and obligation – to negotiate such an instrument, in good faith and in accordance with the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in 1996.
However, Norway has questioned the call by many states for the negotiation of such an instrument to be conducted in the Conference on Disarmament. Substance should guide our methods of work, and we should not let ourselves be blocked by our own institutional structures.
The resolution tabled by Austria, Mexico and Norway yesterday shows that alternative options are available if we really want to break out of the long-lasting impasse. We look forward to consult with other Member States on this matter.
An important item in the NPT Action Plan is the Middle East Conference on a Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2012. More than half of the world’s countries have freely joined such zones, which illustrates the simple fact that security is strengthened by not maintaining a category of devastating weapons. Norway is ready to contribute to a successful Middle East Conference on a WMD Free Zone next year and has allocated voluntary funding to the UNODA and research institutions working on this issue. Furthermore, Norway will chair the IAEA Forum on a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East which will be held in November in Vienna.
We must all do our part to implement and further strengthen our non-proliferation obligations. This includes the full implementation of the IAEA comprehensive safeguards and the IAEA Additional Protocol. Our common goal should be to make the Protocol universal. The IAEA must be fully equipped to carry out its crucial non-proliferation task. Likewise, Norway remains convinced that the IAEA has an important role to play in verifying nuclear disarmament.
Norway has on a number of occasions expressed deep concern over the outstanding proliferation challenges as mentioned in our general statement last week. Resolving these issues will greatly strengthen the non-proliferation regime and facilitate further nuclear disarmament.
Norway fully supports the Action Plan adopted at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and looks forward to reviewing our commitments in Seoul next year. We must secure all nuclear material from all sources. We must continue our efforts to develop cooperative arrangements for producing nuclear fuel for civilian reactors, and we must significantly reduce the use of highly enriched uranium in nuclear research reactors. Nuclear security is important in realizing our nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation goals, while nuclear disarmament also supports our efforts at enhancing nuclear security, both politically and in practical terms.
Norway has on a number of occasions underlined that bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force is important for both the non-proliferation regime and nuclear disarmament. Norway will continue to support the consolidation of the non-test norm and the process of making it legally binding.
We also need to ensure that our verification systems are robust enough to provide the necessary confidence in the integrity of both non-proliferation and disarmament processes, based on the principles of verifiability, irreversibility and transparency. The United Kingdom and Norway have cooperated at expert level for a number of years on exploring technical and procedural challenges associated with a possible future nuclear disarmament verification regime.
I am very pleased that the United Kingdom will, in partnership with Norway, host a workshop in London in early December to consider lessons learned from the UK-Norway Initiative so far. Sharing our experiences and findings will benefit the international community as a whole and underscore the common responsibility for Nuclear Weapon States and Non-Nuclear Weapon States alike in promoting and verifying nuclear disarmament.
We look forward to the further consultations in the First Committee under your able leadership, and to see substantial progress in the implementation of the NPT Action Plan as we move into the next Review Cycle.