Statement by H.E. Syed Tariq Fatemi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan at the Conference on Disarmament Plenary Meeting, Geneva, 17 May 2016
Madam President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to speak at the Conference on Disarmament during Pakistan’s presidency. We hope to fulfil this responsibility in a professional and committed manner. This year has brought renewed hope in the CD for the resumption of substantive work. Many interesting and innovative proposals are on the table. As CD President, we will actively continue to play the role of a facilitator to build consensus.
Pakistan attaches great importance to the CD’s role as the world’s single multilateral disarmament negotiating body. The CD, as an integral and vital part of the UN disarmament machinery, has many successes to its credit. We remain committed to its efficient functioning for further progress on nuclear disarmament – the raison d’être of the CD – in a manner that results in equal and undiminished security for all States.
Our march towards this goal, however, has been marred by an erosion of the international consensus established in 1978 by the first Special Session of the UN General Assembly devoted to disarmament, SSOD-I. Hegemonic designs at the regional and global levels, coupled with discriminatory revisionism of the global nuclear order through waivers and exceptions, are illustrative of this trend. We have to realise that it is highly unrealistic to aspire for absolute security and unrestrained freedom of action for oneself, while expecting others to compromise on their peaceful existence by circumscribing their legitimate security interests.
The situation in the CD today is but a reflection of the prevailing strategic realities. It has little to do with the CD’s Rules of Procedure. Genuine progress in the CD will only be possible on the basis of cooperative and non-discriminatory approaches that respect the right of all States to live in peace. The CD, with its cardinal consensus rule, is best placed to address the issues on its agenda. While other alternatives might seem as easy and attractive shortcuts, they cannot succeed unless all stakeholders that are indispensible for achieving a nuclear weapon free world are part of the process.
We sympathize with those States that are frustrated with the lack of progress on multilateral nuclear disarmament. But the solution to this impasse does not lie in abandoning the CD, nor in framing the debate on nuclear disarmament under an exclusively humanitarian paradigm that is completely isolated from security considerations. Addressing the security concerns of states is a paramount prerequisite for nuclear disarmament.
Pakistan believes that the scarce resources of our region should be devoted to the socio-economic development of our people. We are determined to tackle myriads of daunting challenges that beset our region including disease, poverty, illiteracy, climate change and environmental degradation. A peaceful neighbourhood is the sine qua non to build prosperous societies.
After Pakistan’s security was qualitatively challenged by the introduction of nuclear weapons in our neighbourhood, we were left with no option but to follow suit, to restore strategic stability in South Asia. Prior to 1998, Pakistan’s proposals and efforts to keep South Asia free of nuclear weapons are well documented. After 1974 when the first nuclear test was conducted in our neighborhood, Pakistan made several proposals for keeping South Asia free of nuclear weapons and missiles. These included simultaneous application of IAEA safeguards on all nuclear facilities and bilateral arrangement for their reciprocal inspections; simultaneous accession to the NPT; regional CTBT; Zero Missile Regime in South Asia; and signing of a Non-Aggression Pact. Unfortunately, none of these proposals met a favorable response.
Even after 1998, we have demonstrated our commitment to peace and stability in the region. Our conduct continues to be defined by restraint and responsibility. Our proposal for the establishment of a Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR) remains on the table. We believe that this proposal can lay the foundation of lasting peace and stability in the region. The SRR is premised on three interlocking and mutually reinforcing elements of conflict resolution, nuclear and missile restraint and conventional balance.
In its meeting held on 24 February 2016, the National Command Authority (NCA), our highest decision making body on strategic matters chaired by the Prime Minister, took note of the growing conventional and strategic weapons’ development in the region. While reiterating its determination to take all possible measures to effectively respond to threats to national security, NCA also reaffirmed our policy to avoid getting into arms race.
NCA also “re-emphasised Pakistan’s desire for establishing the Strategic Restraint Regime in South Asia and the inescapable need of a meaningful and sustained comprehensive dialogue process for resolution of all outstanding disputes, ushering in an era of peace and prosperity in the region.”
Strategic stability in South Asia has been negatively impacted by discriminatory approaches and deviation from established non-proliferation norms. In order to ensure South Asia’s long term peace, stability and prosperity, it is essential for the international community to adopt an approach to this region that is even-handed and criteria-based rather than driven by strategic and commercial considerations or political expediency.
As a responsible nuclear State, Pakistan desires to contribute to global efforts towards non-proliferation and disarmament on an equal footing as a mainstream partner of the international community. Pakistan has the requisite credentials that entitle it to benefit from civil nuclear cooperation and trade, and to become part of all the multilateral export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), on a non-discriminatory basis.
Allow me to briefly outline Pakistan’s principled position on the issues under consideration in the CD.
Pakistan has consistently supported the goal of a nuclear weapon free world through the conclusion of a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable, comprehensive nuclear weapons convention in the CD. We reaffirm our commitment to this goal today. Pakistan is ready to join negotiations towards this end in the CD. As recognized by SSOD-I, the objective of this process should be undiminished security at the lowest possible level of armaments and military forces.
Pakistan has a long history of support and activism on the issue of Negative Security Assurances. 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. Since 1990, Pakistan has annually introduced a resolution on NSAs at the UN General Assembly. The most recent version, UNGA resolution 70/25 was adopted last year without a single negative vote. 127 states voted in favour while 55 countries abstained. Pakistan is ready to join negotiations in the CD to conclude an international treaty to assure the non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Pakistan also supports the commencement of negotiations in the CD on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS). There is an urgent need to address this issue in the CD in order to prevent outer space from emerging as the new realm of conflict. The draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects, commonly known as PPWT, tabled jointly by the Russian Federation and China in 2008, and updated in 2014, provides a useful basis for the commencement of negotiations in the CD.
Besides the three issues of nuclear disarmament, NSAs and PAROS, which are ripe for negotiations in the CD, Pakistan also stands ready to negotiate legally binding instruments in the CD on other contemporary issues that are of a direct concern to international peace and security. These include Cyber Security, new types of destabilizing weapon systems, Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, chemical terrorism and biological terrorism, etc.
Let me briefly turn to the issue of fissile materials. A treaty that does not address the global and regional asymmetries in fissile material stocks would adversely affect Pakistan’s vital security interests. A cut-off only treaty, without the inclusion of stocks, would merely be a partial non-proliferation instrument and make no contribution to nuclear disarmament.
As things stand, the major powers wishing to retain their respective strategic advantages are not willing to explicitly include existing stocks of fissile materials in the scope of the treaty’s negotiating mandate. Such a treaty is not acceptable to Pakistan as it would freeze the status quo to our permanent strategic disadvantage. The asymmetries prevailing in South Asia have been compounded by the discriminatory policies of the major suppliers of nuclear material, equipment and technologies. It leaves us with no room for flexibility or compromise on this issue.
Pakistan’s Working Paper on Elements of a Fissile Material Treaty, outlining concrete proposals for dealing with existing stocks, contained in document CD/2036 of 21 August 2015, remains on the table.
In the absence of consensus on the commencement of negotiations on any issue on the CD’s agenda, the CD could undertake structured informal discussions. As witnessed during the last two sessions of the CD in 2014 and 2015, informal in-depth discussions held under the CD’s Schedule of Activities were of great value. They allowed an interactive and substantive exchange of views to better understand the various perspectives. Such debates are extremely valuable in building convergences and adding substance to the work of the CD.
The nations that have turned the tide in improving the quality of lives of their people could do so in a peaceful neighborhood and under internal stability. Our quest for achieving enduring peace, security and socio-economic development for our people also starts with initiatives to develop these necessary fundamentals. Pakistan, therefore, has aimed for a conscious and well-considered strategic shift, pivoting the policy on three conspicuous strands: (i) internal peace, security and cohesion; (ii) building a peaceful neighborhood; and (iii) rebalancing between geo-strategic and geo-economic priorities with a sharper focus on economic diplomacy.
Before I conclude, I reiterate that Pakistan deeply values the CD’s potential in addressing the global security challenges on the basis of cooperative multilateralism and consensus-based approaches. You will, therefore, always find our delegation as an active and constructive participant in the work of the CD.
I thank you all.