Grundsatzrede von Außenminister Michael Spindelegger anlässlich der UNO-Abrüstungskonferenz (nur englisch)
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Statement of H.E. Mr Michael Spindelegger
Foreign Minister of Austria
Conference on Disarmament
2 September 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for this opportunity to address the Conference on Disarmament today.
Austria assumed its Presidency at an important point in time. This year, the Conference finally adopted a Programme of Work after more than a decade of stalemate. This is a positive development, long overdue.
So I do not need to speak about deadlocks and missed opportunities of the past. Let me focus on recent positive developments in arms control and disarmament and their implications for our future.
The year 2009 has seen one paramount development: The goal of nuclear disarmament and the eventual total elimination of nuclear weapons was put back on the global agenda. I welcome the 5-Points-Plan for Disarmament proposed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon which I had the opportunity to discuss with him a few days ago in Austria.
I also welcome the recent positive statements that have been made by US-President Obama in Prague and Cairo and by Russian President Medvedev. And only a few weeks ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang underlined China’s goal of a nuclear weapons free world here in this very room.
Austria had promoted the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War, when only a few countries possessed nuclear capabilities. Since proliferation has introduced new threats from States and non-State actors, striving for this goal is now all the more necessary.
Our vision is now shared by the most important nuclear powers. But how far has this vision translated into concrete action? We can identify two developments:
1. First, direct bilateral negotiations: We see a renewed readiness to engage in bilateral negotiations. The commitment by Presidents Obama and Medvedev to negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty by the end of this year is a good example.
2. Second, the global atmosphere in multilateral arms control negotiations has changed: Preparations for the 2010 NPT-Review Conference show a markedly better atmosphere. Initiatives by states and civil society all around the world such as the Security Council Summit on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament on 24 September ensure global ownership and demonstrate a new readiness to engage in dialogue.
But let me be clear: positive declarations, good atmosphere and universal interest also need real implementation and compliance. The NPT can only fulfil its promise of peace if all states adhere to their obligations. Similarly, the Programme of Work of the Conference on Disarmament needs to be implemented to become a real achievement.
This brings me to my next point – our expectations for the future.
First, let me start with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty CTBT, a Treaty which originated in this Council Chamber. The deplorable nuclear test conducted by North Korea in May has made clear that the entry into force of the CTBT is overdue. As co-chair together with Costa Rica, Austria has been deeply involved in efforts to secure this goal over the past two years.
Let me thus use this opportunity to once again appeal to those States who have not yet done so to accede to the CTBT as soon as possible. I am encouraged by the recent commitment of President Obama to pursue U.S. ratification and China’s comments in this regard. Let me also appeal to all states to show their support to the Treaty at the Article XIV Ministerial Conference in New York later this month. Please help ensure that your country participates.
Secondly, Austria believes that a comprehensive Fissile Material Cut‑off Treaty (FMCT) – a treaty that still has to emerge from this Chamber – would significantly contribute to nuclear disarmament. Reliable techniques for monitoring and verification have been developed over the past years. The potential positive impact of such a Treaty has been confirmed many times. The IAEA is ready to make an important contribution. It now requires the political will of governments and the efforts of skilled negotiators to make it a reality.
It is my sincere hope that the new spirit in the Conference on Disarmament will soon enable it to proceed with actual work and start negotiations on an FMCT.
Finally, when we talk about expectations for the upcoming year, we must mention the NPT Review Conference which will take place next May in New York. The Preparatory Committee has shown a willingness to achieve a meaningful outcome this time (after the failure of the 2005-Conference). Today, we see a broad understanding that the dangers of nuclear technology need to be contained in a manner that creates trust and confidence among all states. The NPT-Conference will demonstrate whether we are capable of transforming this positive atmosphere into real progress.
Austria will present and support initiatives aimed at substantial progress in nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and a global system to effectively control the nuclear fuel cycle. This should help to avoid tensions such as the ones we currently witness in regard to Iran’s nuclear program.
Austria attaches great importance to arms control also in the area of conventional weapons such as landmines, cluster munitions and small arms and light weapons. Let me make three brief comments in this respect:
First, landmines: Austria’s objective for the Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty to be held later this year in Cartagena, Columbia, is to work for a strong Cartagena Action Plan, which will serve as a clear guide to States and bring us closer to a world free of mines. One priority for us is to improve assistance to landmine survivors.
In this respect Austria sponsored – together with Norway and civil society partners – a project to examine the global impact of the Ottawa Treaty and what remains to be done to improve the situation of survivors. The report will be presented here today right after this meeting. Let me just use this opportunity to encourage all States who have not yet done so to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty. Time is ripe for the international community not only to review its stance on nuclear weapons but also to finally eradicate this terrible weapon.
Second, cluster munitions: I encourage States to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions. So far 17 States have ratified. It is our strong hope that the Convention will receive the necessary 30 ratifications to enter into force before the end of this year. To support this, Austria has engaged in a worldwide campaign and will support a Cluster Munitions Conference in Indonesia in November.
Third, small arms and light weapons are a major security threat in parts of the world. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has once called them the “real weapons of mass destruction”: Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are killed. The UN Programme of Action is a significant step forward. Austria supports its implementation on the ground, especially in Africa.
To stop illicit arms trade, Austria supports the conclusion of a legally binding international Arms Trade Treaty. As a producing and exporting country of small arms, Austria feels a special responsibility to engage in this process and will also host the concluding conference of the global EU-UNIDIR Project in February 2010. We hope that this conference in Vienna will provide positive momentum and enable the conclusion of a treaty in the near future.
One thing is clear: There is no lack of work in arms control and disarmament today and the international community is responding positively.
In order to succeed, I count on the new flexibility of the nuclear weapons states and the constructive contributions of all other states, but also on the commitment and expertise of civil society. Throughout the years, NGOs and private citizens have remained important motors of the disarmament and arms control process.
Austria has always underlined that disarmament and arms control must be an open, participatory process to succeed. Protecting the world from the harm caused by weapons is a global project and needs the active support from all of us.
In this respect, I would like to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your tireless efforts, and this year’s other Presidencies – Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Argentina and Australia – for their excellent cooperation in the Conference on Disarmament. I wish you all the necessary energy for a good conclusion of this year’s session and an early and effective resumption next year.
Thank you for your attention.
 UN Institute for Disarmament Research