2002 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

August 2-9, 2002, Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Speech by Dr. Rajmah Hussain

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of

Malaysia to the United Nations in Geneva

Mr. Chairman,

1.         Allow me to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Organising Committee of the 2002 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs for the kind invitation extended to me to address this Conference.  It is a privilege for me to participate in this important gathering held in the city with such tragic memory on the consequences of war and the use of weapons of mass destruction.  This   Conference is also an occasion for us to pay tribute to the victims who perished or suffered in that tragic event 57 years ago.

2.         We appreciate the role played by the civil society, including the NGOs, in the efforts to abolish nuclear weapons including the hosting of this Conference.  We cannot hide from the threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity and all life.  These are not ordinary weapons, but instruments of mass annihilation that could destroy civilisation.  More than ten years have now passed since the end of the Cold War, and yet nuclear weapons continue to threaten humanityfs future with the existence of large stocks of these weapons in the hands of the nuclear-weapon States. 

3.         Recent developments in the field of disarmament should inspire and motivate us to strive harder in enhancing our determination to promote genuine progress towards the realisation of the goals of general and complete disarmament.  The terrorist attacks on 11 September should stimulate the international community to strengthen multilateral disarmament agreements to respond to new security challenges.  Those events remind us that effective measures are needed, and needed to be swiftly implemented to eliminate the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists.

4.         Last year the United Nations General Assembly unanimously reaffirmed multilateralism as a core principle in negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation.  However, little was achieved in this area in the past year.  The outlook for nuclear disarmament for the foreseeable future remains bleak. The attitudes of the nuclear-weapon States have been rather disappointing, to say the least.  They remain averse to any serious multilateral engagement on current disarmament problems.  Although the international community welcomed the Moscow Treaty signed on 24 May 2002 between the US and the Russian Federation on strategic offensive reductions, however, such agreements can be no substitute for irreversible cuts in nuclear weapons to which all nuclear weapons States committed themselves at the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.  The US and the Russian Federation maintain large nuclear arsenals with some 4,500 nuclear weapons on high-alert, ready to be fired at a momentfs notice.

5.         We are disturbed with the US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), announced a few months ago, which has challenged the very basis of the global efforts towards the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons.  The NPR is seen as a rejection of most of  the  g13 stepsh agreed by consensus at the 2000 NPT Review Conference.  It continues to oppose ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).  The NPR indicates that the US will not change its position on nuclear testing.  More worrying is that the NPR indicates contingency plans for using nuclear weapons against seven states:  Iran, Iraq, Libya, DPR Korea, Syria, China and the Russian Federation.  This is contrary to international law and to long-standing US assurances not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapons States.  The NPR also indicates a higher level of readiness for nuclear testing.

6.         The provocative US approach will encourage the expansion of nuclear weapons programmes by China and the Russian Federation as well as the development of nuclear weapons by other countries.  This could also lead to new nuclear arms race.  The NPR makes nuclear weapons no longer weapons of last resort, but rather weapons that may be used in fighting wars, even against non-nuclear weapon States.   We are equally concerned with the US plans to deploy the National Missile Defence System (NMD) which will threaten not only current bilateral and multilateral arms control agreements but also ongoing and future disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. The deployment of such a system will also have a highly destabilising effect on international security.

7.         There are other setbacks in the field of disarmament which are worth mentioning here.  The commitments of the g13 stepsh as agreed in the 2000 NPT Review Conference have not been fulfilled, including the gunequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapons States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmamenth.  The NPT is yet to be universalised.  The four states remaining outside the Treaty; Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan have yet to join the NPT.  The CTBT is also faced with similar problem.  It has yet to be ratified by thirteen of the forty-four states required under the Treaty.  Equally disturbing is the stalemate confronting the Conference on Disarmament (CD) which has been going on for the last six years.  Negotiations on nuclear disarmament have been stalled due to the lack of consensus on the programme of work of the CD.

8.         Clearly, all these developments do not augur well for the future of disarmament.  Despite assurances by nuclear-weapon States of their commitment towards disarmament, their actions have not matched their words.  If concerted action is not taken now, this sliding trend could seriously undermine our efforts towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

9.         The NPT is regarded as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  In the present international climate, where security and stability continue to be challenged by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,   preserving and strengthening the NPT is vital to peace and security.  Malaysia welcomes the positive outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, in particular the fact that for the first time in 15 years, States parties to the NPT were able to reach a consensus on several issues crucial to international security.    They agreed on the g13 stepsh that were contained in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference that dealt with Article  Vl.  However, unless these commitments are followed up by serious and concrete action, the pledges will remain platitudes.  It is important that these pledges be kept and translated into actual deeds.

16.        Six years ago, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in an historic advisory opinion on the legality of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, had unanimously concluded that, gthere exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international controlh.  Although we would have preferred a categorical ruling by the ICJ outlawing the threat and use of nuclear weapons, Malaysia nevertheless considers the Courtfs advisory opinion as an important development in the overall disarmament process.  It was a significant contribution by the World Court towards realising the goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The Court also calls on States   to immediately fulfil the said obligation by commencing multilateral negotiations leading to an early conclusion of a Nuclear Weapons Convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons.

17.        Regrettably, this opinion continues to be ignored by the nuclear-weapon States.  They have regarded it as being only an gopinionh that is not legally binding on them.

18.        Malaysia attaches great importance to the ICJfs opinion and has since 1996 been actively involved in initiating a draft resolution on this subject in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly.  It is heartening to note that this resolution has enjoyed overwhelming support from the majority of States of the United Nations.  Inspired by the wide support, Malaysia along with other like-minded countries will continue to introduce the resolution at the 57th Session of the General Assembly.

19.        Commencing good faith negotiations with the aim of achieving a Nuclear Weapons Convention would be the best way for nuclear-weapon States to demonstrate their commitment to the obligations to unequivocally undertake the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  In this regard, we are pleased  to note that a model Nuclear  Weapons Convention has been developed by well known international disarmament experts since 1997.

20.        At the regional level, Malaysia continues to work closely with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen the South-East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) and accelerate negotiations with a view to resolving the outstanding issues on the protocol.  Malaysia believes that SEANWFZ would create conditions conducive to peace and stability and promotes regional confidence building in the region.  Malaysia ratified the Bangkok Treaty on 11 October 1996 and is working together with the other ASEAN Member States to encourage all the NWS to accede to the Protocol to the Bangkok Treaty as soon as possible.

21.        Malaysia also supports the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in other parts of  the world, in particular in volatile regions such as the Middle East and South Asia.  Efforts should be intensified to promote the establishment of new nuclear-weapon-free zones, based on arrangements freely arrived at by the States in the regions concerned.  Malaysia welcomes the initiatives taken by the five Central Asian States to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in their region.

22.        The multilateral search for genuine measures for disarmament and non-proliferation, particularly in the nuclear area should remain the highest priority on the international disarmament agenda.  Only when the nuclear-weapon States are prepared to move out of their Cold-War mentality and take serious measures towards the reduction and elimination of their nuclear arsenals would there be real prospects of a world without nuclear weapons.  At the same time, every effort should be made to discourage or prevent states with aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction from doing so.

23.        The international community must not allow itself to be complacent for as long as these weapons continue to exist on this planet.  We view the role and contribution of the NGOs in the field of arms control and disarmament as of paramount importance.  Malaysia considers them as indispensable partners in a common cause.  The NGOs and members of civil society have an important role to play in promoting disarmament, particularly in drawing attention to the continuing threat posed by nuclear weapons.  We wish to commend the supportive and valuable role of civil society, as represented by many NGOs, in the disarmament process.  We are also pleased and encouraged to see the active participation of Japanese NGOs in their noble crusade to eliminate these horrendous weapons from this planet.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Delegates,

24.        My presence for the first time in this city of Hiroshima which had suffered from the devastating effects of a nuclear bomb explosion has further strengthened my personal resolve to fight for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The pain and suffering of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as manifested by the heart-rending testimonies at this World Conference and previous ones, have only driven home the point that nuclear weapons are NOT, as claimed by countries who maintain them, weapons of deterrence, but rather are weapons of human annihilation. Let us, therefore, as representatives of Governments and of the civil society, join hands to eliminate this source of grave danger to mankind.

I thank you for your attention.


23 July 2002