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Statement on Nuclear Disarmament by H.E. Mr. Cheng Jingye Ambassador of China to the Conference on Disarmament at the Plenary Session

Mr. President,

At the outset, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your assumption of the important post of the presidency of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), and express appreciation for the efforts made by you and other five presidents in promoting the work of the Conference. The Chinese delegation looks forward to the smooth implementation of the timetable, so that it will bring fresh dynamism to the work of the CD. I am confident that, under your able guidance, our focused debate on nuclear disarmament will produce a positive outcome.

Mr. President,

Nuclear disarmament is closely linked to international peace and security. Unfortunately, in recent years, the nuclear disarmament process has reached a stalemate. On the one hand, the CD has not carried out any substantive work in this area, and one has yet to start negotiating a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), while no consensus has been reached to begin negotiations to conclude an international legal instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. On the other hand, the ABM treaty, once held as the cornerstone of the international strategic balance and stability, has been abolished; the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) has failed to enter into force; the 7th Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) ended without any meaningful result, and the outcome document of the UN 60's Anniversary Summit did not contain any agreed language on nuclear disarmament and related issues. Furthermore, we are witnessing a tendency to stress non-proliferation while playing down nuclear disarmament, which has diluted the awareness of the international community of nuclear disarmament as a priority issue. Demand for an legally-binding international instrument on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states has been rejected. Important principles on nuclear disarmament adopted at previous NPT Review Conferences have been called into question. All those developments have also had a negative impact on the nuclear disarmament process.

Mr. President,

China believes that to make progress in the international nuclear disarmament process sustained efforts need to be made in the following fields:

() A secured international environment and strategic stability should be preserved.

To advance nuclear disarmament, one must deal with both the symptoms and the root causes of the problem. Nuclear disarmament cannot operate in a vacuum. Creating a healthy and positive international security environment and maintaining international strategic balance constitute the very basis for progress in this area.

Efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space and those on nuclear disarmament complement each other. In this sense, it is of crucial importance for nuclear disarmament that a missile defence system undermining strategic stability should not be developed and that no weapons should be deployed in outer space.

() A balanced approach is required to nuclear disarmament and the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Efforts on nuclear disarmament and those to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons compliment and reinforce each other. Only nuclear-weapon states destroy all their nuclear weapons at an early date and that non-nuclear-weapon states stick to their pledge not to acquire such weapons, while both groups of countries make steady efforts in nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear proliferation, can we achieve the goal of ushering in a world free of nuclear weapons.

() The basic principles in nuclear disarmament should be upheld.

The principles and measures for nuclear disarmament as agreed in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference should be maintained, including the reduction of nuclear weapons to be carried out in an "effectively verifiable", "legally-binding" and "irreversible" manner. And all measures for nuclear disarmament, including various intermediate measures, should be guided by the principles of "promoting international strategic stability" and "undiminished security for all", and contribute to international peace and security.

() Appropriate intermediate measures of nuclear disarmament should be implemented.

These intermediate measures include:

--The nuclear-weapon states should reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security policies, abandon the nuclear deterrence doctrine based on the first use of such weapons, and give up the policy of lowering the threshold for their use;

--Every nuclear-weapon state should honour the commitment not to target its nuclear weapons against any country, or to list any country as the target of a nuclear strike;

--To withdraw and bring home all the nuclear weapons deployed outside their own territories;

--To abandon the policy and practice of "nuclear umbrella" and "nuclear sharing";

--Not to develop easy-to-use, low-yield nuclear weapons;

--Nuclear-weapon states should take all necessary steps to prevent any accidental or unauthorized launch of nuclear weapons.

It should be pointed out that, in the present-day world when nuclear weapons still exist, the most practical and reasonable intermediate measure in the field of nuclear disarmament is a commitment by all nuclear-weapon states not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, or to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time or under any circumstances, and to conclude a corresponding international legal instrument to that effect.

() The CD should establish as soon as possible an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament.

China favours an early agreement on a comprehensive and balanced programme of work on the basis of the "Five Ambassadors' Proposal", so as to allow substantive work to get under way on the nuclear disarmament, FMCT, PAROS and negative security assurances. As for the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee on Nuclear Disarmament, China supports the reasonable position of the G21.

Mr. President,

China, has all along worked actively to fulfil its obligations in nuclear disarmament and to promote international nuclear disarmament process. China pursues a national defence policy of a purely defensive nature. For many decades, we have exercised great restraint in building up our nuclear forces. We have never taken part in any nuclear arms race, or deployed any nuclear weapons abroad, and have kept our nuclear forces to the minimum level necessary for self-defence.

China stands for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, and adheres to a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons together with a commitment not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones under any circumstances.

China would like to see an early entry into force of the CTBT and has committed itself to its early ratification. It stands by its pledge to observe a moratorium on nuclear testing pending the entry into force of the treaty. China also agrees to negotiating a FMCT within the framework of a comprehensive programme of work of the CD.

China supports the efforts of the non nuclear-weapon states to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones and has signed to that end all the protocols to nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaties which are open for signature. China has already reached an agreement with the ASEAN on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and its protocol, and has no difficulty with the current text of Central Asian Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty and its Protocol. In sum, China has positively contributed to the process of international nuclear disarmament with the above-mentioned policies and practices. As always, we will make unremitting efforts together with the international community to realize the objective of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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