Statement by Abassador Sha Zukang, Director General of Arms Control and Disarmament at the Fourth IISS Global Strategic Review (Excerpts)

September 9, 2006

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---After years of ups and downs, both the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Iranian nuclear issue are still in a deadlock and the situations face the risk of worsening.

Different people may have different views on how to meet the above-mentioned challenges. In my opinion, real results in non-proliferation require an integrated approach that seeks to address both the symptoms and the root causes of the problem.

First, efforts should be made to build a global security environment where stability, cooperation and mutual trust reign. This is an important buttress against proliferation. For proliferation is not a problem in a vacuum, it is closely linked with regional and global situations. A favorable international environment will enhance the sense of security for all countries and reduce some countries' motivation for seeking WMDs.

A highly relevant issue here is that disputes or contradictions in the field of non-proliferation should be resolved through cooperation and not confrontation, through dialogue and not sanction. This approach not only helps avoid the deterioration of the situation, but also contributes to the lasting peace and stability of the region. Any willful threat of economic sanction or military strike would only be counterproductive.

Second, double standards on the issue of non-proliferation must be eliminated so that cases can be judged on their own merits rather than a certain country's preference. This is an important precondition for the success of the efforts on the prevention of WMD proliferation.

Third, an even-handed and coordinated approach should be adopted to promote the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament process, which are mutually complementary. It would be difficult to advance international non-proliferation if we single out non-proliferation obligations while neglecting those related to nuclear disarmament. Even angels need both wings to fly. At present, effective measures are needed to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security, abandon the nuclear deterrence policy based on the first use of nuclear weapons, and promote the process of nuclear disarmament in an irreversible and verifiable way.

What is equally important is to fully respect and protect the right to the peaceful use for all countries while pushing forward the process of non-proliferation. We are against any attempt to obstruct or interfere with the normal activities of peaceful use on the grounds of preventing proliferation. At the same time, countries must accept strict international supervision to ensure that the right to peaceful use is not abused and no proliferation activities are carried out under the camouflage of peaceful use.

Fourth, the existing international regime non-proliferation should be preserved and strengthened. Needless to say, this regime is far from perfect. It must be improved in the light of new developments and the condition of our times. Currently, there is an urgent need to enhance the authority, universality and effectiveness of relevant international treaties such as the NPT,the BWC and the CWC. Particular efforts should be made through concrete measures to reinforce the IAEA safeguards mechanism and promote the implementation of the Protocol Additional to the IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Those export control regimes such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Zangger Committee should amend their nuclear export control lists and guidelines, so as to improve their effectiveness.

Fifth, the capacity to combat new threats such as nuclear terrorism should be beefed up substantially, and the prevention against illicit trafficking of WMDs by non-state actors should be intensified. The United Nations and the IAEA can play an important role in this regard. Resolution 1540 adopted by the UN Security Council by consensus provides an important legal basis for combating the proliferation activities of non-state actors. This resolution should be fully implemented and the export control of all states should be strengthened accordingly. Last year, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism was concluded and the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities adopted. States should speed up their ratification processes so that these instruments can enter into force at an early date and play their due roles. Moreover, proper approaches to counter nuclear terrorism should be explored within the framework of international law. The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism jointly proposed by the U.S. and Russian leaders marks a positive effort in this regard.

Sixth, efforts should be made to break the deadlock on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Iranian nuclear issue as soon as possible.

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The key to breaking the deadlock on the Iranian nuclear issue is the suspension of the uranium enrichment activities by Iran as early as possible. At present, the U.S and the EU demand that Iran suspend its enrichment activities before negotiations can be started, while Iran insists on resolving the problem of suspension during the negotiations. In my view, the two sides should break the "chicken or egg" dilemma by using their wisdom to find a middle ground between the suspension of uranium enrichment and the resumption of negotiations, so as to open the door for settling this issue through negotiations.

For both the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and the Iranian nuclear issue, my prescription would be one simple word-"negotiation". Negotiation is the only feasible solution that conforms to the interests of all relevant parties. Now, the negotiation process is facing obstacles on both fronts. But these obstacles are not insurmountable. As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "finishing 90 percent of the journey is a journey only half completed", which simply means the hardest part of the journey is the last stretch, or from a different perspective, the more difficult things become, the nearer the destination. I am confident that if all relevant parties have the will to resolve the problem and stick to negotiations, proper solutions can be found.

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