I am very happy for the opportunity to address the Opening Plenary meeting of this World Conference that is to moot issues and subjects of vital concern and relevance for all mankind, namely nuclear disarmament and international cooperation and solidarity. The invention and continued existence of nuclear weaponry has essentially to do with State security or international security. Security is inseparable from peace and is also, in the broadest sense of the word, intimately linked to development. We cannot have peace without security. Neither can we have security without development, without addressing meaningfully the root cause of conflict, discontent and human wants.
Obviously the fact that nuclear weapons have existed for half a century and more would indicate that the possession of such weaponry is deemed to enhance security, at least in the military sense, and is also a deterrent to war. There are others also who do not subscribe to this doctrine and are equally emphatic in the belief that the existence of nuclear weaponry is a threat to humankind and that their elimination would benefit all. Even proponents of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence are not averse to nuclear disarmament, in principle. Clearly then the problem that has stymied the finest minds for over five decades is how to achieve nuclear disarmament in a way that is acceptable to all. Are nuclear weapons a currency of power and privilege and even prestige, something that is needed at this time to ensure stability and security? Or are such weapons a potent threat to human survival. The problem is to bridge this gap in perception.
We may not expect instant solutions or miracles but can only work patiently and diligently toward the objective of nuclear disarmament. We may not lose hope either, because as I said none is averse, in principle, to the eventual abolition of nuclear weaponry. This is an area where we can only make haste slowly.
Nuclear weapon powers will disarm only when assured that it is in their interests to do so and not before. They have to be persuaded to this point of view by all manner of activities to create greater confidence and mutual trust and through advances in science and technology that will make the problem of verification easier. Nations of the world must be convinced of humankindfs ability to shed the habits of the jungle. Good men and women the world over must surely dream the same dreams of lasting peace, prosperity and happiness. And yet peace is among the oldest and most elusive of humankindfs quests. The magnitude of the task should thus not be underestimated. General George C. Marshall, a victor in war and also a Nobel Peace Laureate, in his biennial report to the U.S. Congress as Chief of Army Staff in 1954, had wryly commented, gIf man does find the solution for world peace, it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known.h
Nuclear disarmament is a most worthy and ambitious objective to strive for, but even this is not an end in itself. It can only be part of an even bigger framework, that includes peace, security, development and prosperity for all nations and peoples. These are aspects of the human condition that are related and linked. A meaningful peace would have to be an inclusive process from which none may be marginalized.
Nuclear disarmament, to be sure, is a most important element or factor in this framework and in the ultimate analysis it is bound to be achieved. The issue, however, has to be addressed more with a sense of reality than idealism. Ideals, of course, are what motivate people and may not lost sight of. They will be there as a guide for those engaged in this endeavor. This, I should stress, is not something that only governments should be concerned with. NGOs, NPOs, Civil Society all have vital and constructive roles to play. The pace of progress that is made toward this goal will in fact depend in large measure on how successfully and diligently the different players play their roles. Nuclear disarmament will not take place tomorrow. Efforts and momentum in that direction must, however, be maintained, peacefully, in good faith and with determination.