Statement by Manouchehr Mottaki, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the UN Conference on Disarmament

March 30, 2006

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Mr. President

Beginning with our sincere hail to holy Prophets as true messengers of peace to the whole world, I would like to congratulate you on your assumption of the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament and wish you success in guiding the admittedly difficult task before this august body. I would also like to extend my appreciations to the six presidencies of the Conference who, with the support of all Member States, could manage to arrive at a common platform to help to steer the Conference on Disarmament, as the sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, back on track of relevance and importance which it once, not too long ego, enjoyed.

While assuring you of our support and cooperation, I would also like to stress on the importance of keeping sight and bearing in mind that the ultimate goal of the common efforts should be getting to a comprehensive and balanced program of work.

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates

A quick look back at the past achievements of this Conference is the best witness of what this body is capable of doing. In the 1990s the great hopes and expectations stimulated by the end of cold war and fall of the Soviet Union could lead to great results. The Chemical Weapons Convention, an important achievement for the international community, was negotiated- and finalised in this very framework.

The trend in other disarmament fora was as promising. The States Parties to the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention agreed in 1994 to strengthen the implementation of the Convention through negotiating a protocol to be attached to it. The negotiations on the protocol were carried out here in Geneva and the expertise accumulated in the Conference and the experience of negotiating a CWC enormously contributed to the negotiations there.

In the NPT framework too long steps were taken then. The unilateral statements of the Nuclear Weapon States, albeit very minimal in their scope, were registered in early April 1995 and the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 984 five days later* created a positive atmosphere before the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. Hie Conference then adopted a package of decisions and a resolution on Middle East which made the indefinite extension of the Treaty possible.

The 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons created new momentum on ifte issue of the nuclear disarmament and the 2000 "NPT Review Conference built the utmost upon the momentum. It devised 13 practical steps for the systematic and progressive efforts to implement Article VI of the Treaty.

But that seemed to be the end of a glorious decade on disarmament A decade of negotiations on the protocol strengthening the BTWC was doomed because one single State Party could neither go along with the latest rolling text, nor could it propose anything to make it acceptable. The ABM Treaty which for decades was recalled as the cornerstone of the strategic balance was abrogated.

Contrary to all legal, political and moral obligations, new nuclear weapons were built and new doctrines were devised to lower the threshold of resorting to such inhumane weapons.

This process went so far as in the 2005 we all faced an unwelcome but not surprising defeat in the NPT Review Conference and the UN Summit Report contained no reference to disarmament issues.

This Conference has not been immune from the prevalence of this plague either. It is now about a decade since last this Conference did engage in its real business which is negotiating disarmament instrument. The lack of progress in spite of numerous initiatives is just another proof to the fact that there is a deliberate tendency in certain capitals not to let this Conference work. Such an impasse cannot be surmounted by crafting new proposals. It is neither the question of procedure. It is but the question of political will and we all hope that it will not be too far away when this Conference could have consensus on its program of work.

I am sure that the fire you keep on under the ashes will glow again and this hall will once again witness live and energetic negotiations as a reflection of the return of real multilateralism back to the world order. I wish to assure you of the support of all peace-loving nations in your endeavour to keep this twinkle of light going.

Mr. President; Distinguished Delegates;

On the substance of the work of the Conference on Disarmament I would like to say that we also believe that the current agenda of the Conference is inclusive and flexible enough to allow the Conference to deal with a variety of issues before the international community.

Iran, together with other members of the G21 and many other members of this Conference, considers nuclear disarmament as the utmost priority to be addressed. We have followed the reports of some nuclear weapon States about the results of their bilateral agreements and reductions already carried out and those to be done in future. We find such information of high interest, not because of the high number of reductions, but because of the power of destruction which still exists and whose capacity goes far beyond eradicating all human civilizations around the world. On the other hand, so long as the principles of transparency, irreversibility and verifiability do not prevail, the bilateral initiatives are welcome but still far beyond the expectations of the international community.

We support the call of the G21 for the establishment of an ad hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament to start negotiations on a phased program for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified framework of time, including a nuclear weapons convention.

New nuclear postures and doctrines which are based on development of new types of nuclear weapons, which lower the threshold of resorting to such weapons to the level of conventional confrontation scenarios and which name Non-Nuclear Weapon States Parties to the NPT as the targets of such weapons are in contravention of the unilateral declarations issued just before the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference which decided on the indefinite extension of the NPT. Selective approaches towards the validity of outcome of the 1995 Review and Extension Conference would certainly damage the credibility of the Non-proliferation Treaty mechanism as whole.

We together with other NAM countries believe that it is the legitimate right of States that have given up the nuclear-weapon option to receive security assurances and call for the negotiation of a universal unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances. I would also like to reiterate Our conviction that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee that there will be no use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons non-nuclear-weapon States should be effectively assured by nuclear-weapon States that there will be no use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, and efforts to conclude a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States should be pursued as a matter of priority.

We at the same time do understand the importance other members of the Conference attach to other issues as a matter of priority. We also attach high importance to the question of Prevention of an Arms Race in the Outer Space. We reiterate that outer space is a common heritage of mankind and must be used, explored and utilized exclusively for peaceful purposes and for the benefit and interest of mankind in a spirit of cooperation. We are also concerned over the negative implications of development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defense systems and the pursuit of advanced military technology capable of being deployed in outer space which has contributed to the further erosion of an international climate conducive to the promotion of disarmament and strengthening of international security. We share the view that the prevention of an arms race in outer space has assumed greater urgency because of legitimate concerns that existing legal instruments are inadequate to deter an arms race in the outer space.

The question of a treaty on fissile material is of importance to us too, We, like many, consider such a treaty as a viable step towards nuclear disarmament However, we have serious doubts on how a treaty on fissile materials could serve the nuclear disarmament cause without covering the vast stocks which could easily be used for development of new and new types of nuclear weapons. The question of verifiability is also of crucial importance. A treaty on fissile materials should be verifiable in order to be capable of creating confidence. By the term "verifiable" we mean that the treaty needs to have sufficiently elaborated provisions on its verification mechanism. We believe that the best way to proceed is to remain faithful to the already agreed languages and specifically the Shannon report and the mandate contained therein.

Each and every one of these four core issues have proven to be of priority to a great number of member states. Any program of work will only enjoy the consensus of the Conference when it adequately addresses all these issues. We consider naming this approach as containing "linkages" as misleading, an approach which ignores the concerns of other members of the Conference. The four core issue approach as reflected in numerous initiatives by members of different regional groupings is the only realistic approach which can best help the Conference get out of its current impasse.

Mr. President;

Multilateralism stands the only viable option before us to tackle the most threatening dangers to our common security. And in fact continued relevance of this Conference is yet the manifestation of this lofty goal within the whole international community. I am sorry to say that the trend in some circles to resort to unilateral actions in resolving international security issues is more than ever, a trend which prescribes employment of soldiers, terror and violence as responses to insecurity, I strongly caution that if these policies are not contained, our world at the beginning of the new Millennium could be again faced with its biggest challenge which has the potential to deeply endanger global peace and security.

Unilateralists in the same context are particularly threatening the foundations of the Non-proliferation regime and the NPT itself. This regime has devised a very clear path in resolving the issues regarding the implementation of the safeguards agreements within the IAEA framework. The Agency has been established to, inter alia, monitor the nuclear activities of the Member States and has sufficient tools in its hand to handle the job. But the same unilateralist States while possessing and developing at the same time the most destructive and inhumane weapons, are so intolerant to let the Agency to function smoothly. They at the same time, well beyond the legal obligations of the NPT, argue for depriving the developing nations to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. They try of course to justify their illegal and discriminatory approach under the guise of non-proliferation concern - a concern that we all share.

Such unilateralist policy is creating an inappropriate precedent in discussing the nuclear issue of Iran within the IAEA, which with your indulgence I would like to elaborate some of its aspects. Unfortunately first of all, the bias, exaggerated and unjustified propaganda is being disseminated about the peaceful nuclear program of the Islamic Republic of Iran which has misled international Community. While the 27 year of illegal sanction over the implementation of Iran's right to peaceful use of nuclear energy is being neglected, Iran's right to research on and use of peaceful nuclear technology is being challenged and. undermined, Iran's rights under the NPT like that of any other State party to the NPT, emanate from the Treaty and likes or dislikes of any state may not affect this right.

Over seventeen hundred man/days of the most robust and intrusive inspections by the IAEA have not proven anything contrary to our initial statement that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and has never diverted towards prohibited activities. The fact that during all these years of research there has been no diversion pf nuclear material towards prohibited activities is by itself a proof of Iran's peaceful intentions,

In the course of the past three years, the Islamic Republic of Iran, through voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and its suspension of all enrichment related activities took step$ far beyond its contractual obligations in order to help build confidence. Any additional legal obligation therefore has to be negotiated by the member states and adopted a$ new additional safeguards measures,

Iran observed a voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment and related activities for three years while reiterating that "permanent cessation" of a peaceful nuclear program, which is totally legitimate and permissible under the NPT and carried out under the comprehensive safeguards of the IAEA, abrogates its inalienable right under the Treaty and therefore does not constitute a realistic prescription. As a member of the NPT Iran is still bound to its safeguard agreement with the IAEA and continues to carry out its peaceful nuclear program under close scrutiny of the Agency,

It should be recalled that the application of over three years of Agency's robust inspections system and extraordinary cooperation made by my country with the Agency is of utmost importance, which the IAEA has not experienced during its entire history. At the same time we negotiated with European, countries for removing ambiguity around Iran's peaceful nuclear program. But three years of negotiations have just added to our mistrust. We witnessed a policy based on the prolongation of the negotiations with no prospect for final agreement. In the same vein we felt that certain countries do not feel committed to attaining the objectives of the NPT and the IAEA safeguards agreements but they tend to use these legal and institutional instruments as tools for advancing their own foreign policies.

Several formulations have therefore been presented in this context and above all President of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 60th Session of the General Assembly initiated a suggestion entailing the involvement of foreign companies in the Iranian fuel cycle program.

Fuel cycle programs have been subject of deliberations and discussions at governmental and non-governmental levels. The issue particularly is of paramount importance for countries that have developed nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and this energy continues to have an important share in their energy mix: basket. It is evident that these countries cannot be expected to renounce their legitimate option to develop fuel cycle policies just because of the existence of non-proliferation concerns. In this context, reaching a common understanding on the arrangement to develop fuel cycle policies would be considered an important step to strengthen the non-proliferation regime.

In our view one possibility to resolve the issue could be establishment of regional consortiums on fuel cycle development with the participation of regional countries which have already developed fuel cycle programs at the national level and intend to develop further their program for civilian purposes. Such consortiums would be jointly operated by the regional states and the costs and benefits would be shared by the participants. Of course countries outside the region may also participate in such regional arrangements based on the modalities agreed between the parties. The facility would also be jointly owned by the sharing countries and the work could be divided based on the expertise of the participants. The regional consortiums would be placed under IAEA safeguards which would be yet another contribution to strengthening the IAEA safeguards and increasing the scope of international cooperation in the nuclear field.

A hasty decision to involve the Security Council with Iran's case while the technical activities of the Agency are still required is yet another indication of political manoeuvring by some Western countries. It is thus clear that this approach would not serve anybody's purpose in resolving the issue and would only undermine the authority of the IAEA and the international organs which are to maintain peace and security,

I shall announce in no uncertain terms that reporting Iran's file to the Security Council is, in our view, an abuse of the international mechanism, misguided, legally unwarranted and clearly unacceptable to the Islamic Republic of Iran. This can, only be a disservice to law-based conduct of international relations and a concerted attempt to escalate the situation for short-sighted political agenda of certain powerful states.

We are grateful for the deliberations of the last week aimed at retaining this file in the IAEA, where it logically belongs to resolve any remaining question. We believe the outcome of this deliberation which requests the Director-General to report to the Board of Governors and in parallel to the Security Council, is nothing short of injustice, double-standard and power politics.

This outcome would make it that much harder for us to actively pursue further initiatives and cooperation.

On behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran I announce that access to peaceful nuclear technology is the indisputable right of Iran and other NPT states parties. At this point I must stress that the adoption of political means to deny nations their inalienable rights will undoubtedly be futile, will undermine international instruments and will create crisis.

I thank you Mr. President.