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The CD discusses three remaining agenda items

Beatrice Fihn | Reaching Critical Will of WILPF
14 August 2012

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) met on Tuesday 14 August to discuss the remaining three items of the CD Agenda, new types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments.

A summary of the historical developments of these three topics in the CD had been prepared by UNIDIR and read out by the CD President. In addition to this, the delegations of Belarus, India, Iran, Algeria, United Kingdom, Russia, United States and France delivered national statements.

New types of WMDs

While noting that other issues might be prioritized in the CD at this moment, the delegations of Belarus, Iran, India and Russia believed there eventually would be a need for progress on preventing the development of new types of WMDs, including radiological weapons. Belarus drew attention to the resolution in the General Assembly on this topic and together with Iran it believed that a legally binding treaty would help prevent such new types of weapons. The Russian delegation highlighted the risks of not only new types of WMDs, but also the threat that weapons threatening crucial information and communications technology can undermine security and stability. The Indian ambassador believed that the threat of terrorists using radiological weapons was real and argued that under this agenda item, the CD could work to produce one or more instruments to prevent terrorism.

Comprehensive programme of disarmament

Speaking in his national capacity, French ambassador Simon-Michel argued that according to Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nuclear disarmament cannot be viewed in isolation form an overall strategic context. Therefore, progress on nuclear disarmament “cannot be achieved without addressing the issue of general disarmament”. Mr. Khelif of Algeria disagreed and believed that nuclear disarmament is a priority for the international community, and it should not be conditional on negotiations in other areas.

Transparency in armaments

While some delegations noted the usefulness of the UN Register of Conventional Arms, many speakers took the opportunity to comment on the issue of small arms and its trade. The Iranian representative argued that priority should be given to the implementation of the existing document on the Arms Trade rather than developing a new document. He argued that the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects had made good progress and should not be abandoned. Ambassador Adamson of the UK agreed that the Programme of Action is an important instrument, but believed that an evaluation of its objectives and goals were needed in order to improve it. The UK ambassador also drew attention to the disappointment her delegation and many others felt in New York when the negotiation conference ended without an adopted treaty. She expressed the UK’s determination to achieve an arms trade treaty as soon as possible. Despite being one of the countries not able to join consensus on the final draft at the ATT negotiating conference, Ambassador Laura Kennedy from the United States shared her governments disappointment “that there wasn’t time to agree to a final text.” She underlines that the US will continue to support an ATT, as it would “improve international arms transfer” and help ensure that such arms did not fall into the hands of those who would abuse them.

Next plenary meeting

The next plenary meeting will be held at 15:00 on Tuesday 21 August when Germany will assume the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament.