I congratulate you on your appointment as the Coordinator of Subsidiary Body 4 on Negative Security Assurances, NSAs. You can rest assured of my delegation’s full support and cooperation. I thank you for the letter and background paper circulated by you on 12 April.
I shall outline the general position of my delegation on NSAs. We shall revert to the more specific issues in the subsequent sessions of the Subsidiary Body.
The issue of NSAs has been on the international agenda for more than half a century. In 1966, UN General Assembly Resolution 21/53A called upon the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament “to consider urgently the proposal that nuclear weapons powers should give an assurance that they will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states without nuclear weapons on their territories.”
In 1978, the SSOD-I Final Document adopted by consensus called upon the nuclear-weapon states to “pursue efforts to conclude appropriate, effective arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.” The CD began considering the issue of negative security assurances as an integral part of its agenda right from its first session in 1979. Besides the broad support enjoyed by this issue, it is ripe for the commencement of negotiations in the CD just by virtue of the mere length of time that it has been under consideration.
Pakistan has a long history of support for NSAs. From the late 1960s onwards, as a non-nuclear weapon state, Pakistan sought legally binding assurances to safeguard its security from the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. These efforts assumed greater urgency after nuclear weapons were introduced in our region in 1974.
In 1979, Pakistan tabled a draft “International Convention to Assure Non-Nuclear-Weapon States against the Use or Threat of Use of Nuclear Weapons” at the CD, contained in Document CD/10.
Unfortunately, the ineffective and insufficient response from the international community was part of the reasons that compelled Pakistan to develop its own nuclear deterrent. Pakistan still did not abandon the cause of NSAs and has continued to support it. We feel that the option of using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states is not only strategically untenable but morally unacceptable. As a responsible nuclear-weapon state, Pakistan has given the unilateral unconditional pledge not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any state not possessing nuclear weapons, and we are ready to transform this pledge into a multilateral, legally binding international instrument.
Since 1990, Pakistan has annually introduced a resolution on NSAs at the UN General Assembly. The most recent version was adopted last year without a single negative vote, with 62 abstentions. The resolution recommends that the CD should “actively continue intensive negotiations with a view to reaching early agreement and concluding effective international agreements to assure the non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, taking into account the widespread support for the conclusion of an international convention”.
Pakistan agrees with its fellow NAM members that the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is their complete elimination. Pakistan is committed to the goal of a nuclear weapon free world through the conclusion of a universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory comprehensive nuclear weapons convention. Pending such a convention, the long-standing and genuine aspiration of non-nuclear weapon states to receive negative security guarantees should be fulfilled. Failure to make progress on this count will further erode the so-called grand bargain of the non-proliferation regime.
The responses of some of the nuclear weapon states to this long-standing demand, as contained in UNSC resolution 255 of 1968 and UNSC resolution 984 of 1995, are insufficient and partial. Apart from China, which has given unconditional negative security assurances, the other unilateral declarations contain qualifiers, the interpretation of which lies with the states making those declarations. They thus cannot substitute the need for a credible legally binding instrument on NSAs.
These qualified declarations raise certain logical questions. For example, these declarations provide that the “Security Council, and above all its nuclear-weapon State permanent members, will act immediately in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, in the event that [a non-nuclear weapon state is] the victim of an act of, or object of a threat of, aggression in which nuclear weapons are used”. What my delegation cannot understand is: how can the Security Council “act immediately” if the perpetrator of such an act is a veto-wielding member that can block any joint action by the Council? Besides, what good would be the Security Council’s post hoc action when the country aggressed upon by the use of nuclear weapons has already been devastated?
The permanent members of the Security Council cannot act as the judge, jury and executioner at the same time. If these states do not have any intention of using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states, then why not formalize this in an international legally binding instrument?
In our view, the principle of non-use of force or threat to use force, as enshrined in the UN Charter, extends to the use of nuclear weapons, without prejudice to Article-51, the right to self defence. Concluding a legally binding agreement on NSAs is therefore, in our view, an obligation, and not an option. Moreover, since NSAs do not involve any elimination, reduction or freeze on nuclear weapons, these would not undermine the security of any nuclear-weapon state.
As long as the goal of nuclear disarmament eludes us, NSAs can bridge the security gap between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Concluding and implementing NSAs would cause no financial burden and is, therefore, a cost-free exercise with immense benefits for global peace and security. Once concluded, NSAs could also obviate the concerns amongst non-nuclear weapon states on account of new doctrines and technologies regarding use of nuclear weapons.
NSAs can also make a significant contribution to strengthening the international non-proliferation regime. Conversely, their absence would have an opposite effect. NSAs would constitute a major Confidence Building Measure between the nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states thus leading to a genuinely conducive international environment facilitating negotiations on other matters related to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Indeed, commencing negotiations on this agenda item would meet the demands of all member states advocating for the CD to undertake substantive negotiations, and would also end the CD’s deadlock.
The G-21 has repeatedly called for the establishment of a subsidiary body to negotiate NSAs. Substantive work could commence on the basis of the draft text submitted by Pakistan in 1979, contained in document CD/10. We are also ready to join the start negotiations on any other basis to facilitate the conclusion of a treaty.
One concrete manner of moving forward would be to aggregate in a matrix all existing negative security assurances provided through unilateral declarations or through the UNSC resolutions as well as through the Protocols to the various Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) treaties. Then we could identify and list the common elements among these as the starting point, or the least common denominator, for incorporation in a multilateral treaty. The other details of the treaty can be fleshed out during negotiations.
My delegation would urge the states that oppose the commencement of negotiations on NSAs to enlighten us with the reasons for their opposition, including any security interests of theirs that might be at stake. We would also like to understand why their concerns, if any, cannot be addressed during the negotiations on an NSA treaty in the CD. In any event, they should at least acknowledge their responsibility for perpetuating the CD’s ongoing stalemate by refusing to negotiate a legally binding treaty on NSAs.
My delegation looks forward to a substantive and interactive discussion on NSAs in this Subsidiary Body, which would hopefully contribute to developing a better mutual understanding among the CD members.
I thank you, Mr. Coordinator.