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Resolving the Problem of Nuclear Proliferation by Addressing Both Symptoms and the Root Causes----Statement by Ambassador SHA Zukang at the fourth IISS Global Strategic Review
2006/09/09

Mr. Quinlan, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the IISS for this invitation. Having worked in the field of arms control and disarmament for many years, it would not be an exaggeration for me to say that disarmament is in my blood. When I see so many disarmament colleagues present today, I cannot help recalling the time when I was working in disarmament affairs. These memories are still so fresh and vivid.

Non-proliferation is an old topic, and a tough issue that has long haunted the international community. In the current complex and volatile international situation, this issue becomes increasingly prominent and more closely linked with regional and international peace, security and stability. I am very glad to have this opportunity to share with you some of my personal views on this issue.

I. The international community has made great efforts and achieved remarkable progress in the area of non-proliferation over the past decades. Non-proliferation, a controversial concept before, has increasingly become broad international consensus. The international non-proliferation regime continues to develop and has become part and parcel of the international security system. This plays an important role in preventing or delaying the proliferation of WMDs. At the same time, however, we have to realize that the situation remains serious, and much remains to be done by the international community. In my view, we need to be prepared for the following challenges when dealing with non-proliferation.

---The practice of double or even multiple standards lingers on, which has undoubtedly eroded the confidence of the international community in non-proliferation, especially that of the majority of the developing countries. Double or multiple standards are the most effective weapons to destroy international non-proliferation regime.

---The obvious tendency of emphasizing non-proliferation over disarmament leads to the stagnation and retrogression of the process of international arms control and disarmament, a phenomenon that dampens many countries' enthusiasm to the process. Similarly, the approach to deal with the relations between non-proliferation and peaceful use is seriously unbalanced, which, to a certain extent, also affects international non-proliferation cooperation.

---The wanton practices of imposing pressure, sanction and even resorting to force further complicate the efforts to address non-proliferation.

---With the development of globalization and technologies including information technology, the threshold of proliferation has been substantially lowered. The smuggling and trafficking of WMD and related items by non-state actors take place time and again. The preventive measures targeting states alone can no longer meet the demands of this new development. The possibility of terrorists attempting to obtain WMDs is all the more worrisome.

---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.

II 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.

As far as the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is concerned, we must get to the bottom of the matter and stick to the primary goal of denuclearization. The crux of this issue lies in the establishment of mutual trust between the U.S. and the DPRK. Long-term confrontation between them has resulted in deep-rooted mutual distrust, and changing this requires the two sides to engage in face-to-face dialogues. We should also be crystal clear about our goal, and that is the realization of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The parties concerned must make this their top priority to work on without diverting their attention or effort on extraneous or less essential matters. The resolution of all other problems, including the financial problem, should serve the paramount goal of denuclearization. It is our hope that the U.S. would show the courage and vision befitting a superpower and demonstrate some flexibility on the financial problem. This will help bring the process back on the right track by facilitating the building of mutual trust between the two sides and help reopen the Six-party Talks at an early date. Of course, other relevant parties should also avoid taking any steps that aggravate the situation.

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.

Mr. Chair,

The proliferation of WMDs and its delivery means is neither conducive to world peace and stability nor in the interest of China's national security. China supports the comprehensive prohibition and thorough destruction of all WMDs and firmly opposes the proliferation of WMDs in any forms. Even though the present situation of non-proliferation is grave, we still believe that "when the devil climbs a post, the priest climbs ten", which means that there will always be more fixes than problems. China is ready to join hands with others to build a harmonious world free from the threat of WMDs.

Thank you.

 

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