Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons; ("Collective Action: Regional Responsibility and Global Accountability towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons" Was Delivered at the General Debate, 2005 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, New York, May 11, 2005.)

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr. ALBERTO G. ROMULO Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines

THE Cold War has long ended, but its tragic legacy of fear and mistrust abounds and lingers. A wave of democracy and hope has since swept the world. But weapons of mass destruction continue to pose grave threats to humanity. Advances in technology and communication have brought nations closer. Yet mistrust and suspicions have kept their peoples apart.

We have indeed changed the world, but the threat to our future remains undiminished. Nuclear weapons have slipped the cordons of the nuclear powers and into the arsenals of countries which bode ill for peace. Non-state actors have shown ruthlessness and blatant disregard for life which becomes even more frightening with the thought they might one day wield nuclear armaments.

Since 1968, the non-proliferation treaty has been the reason John F. Kennedys nightmare vision of 15 to 20 nuclear states has been avoided. Instead, there are less than 10 the original 5 plus probably four to five more. It is these additions that makes urgent the imperative to close the treaty loopholes that makes it possible for countries to legally acquire bomb-making skills and equipment under the guise of civilian nuclear program.

That is the challenge and opportunity before us in this historic conference. In our changed world, a danger to one is a danger to all. No nation can remain unaffected by the events in any other country or another region.

Our resolution on the Middle East

For the Philippines, over one-tenth of our population is spread across the globe. In the Middle East alone, we have over 1.5 million Filipinos.

Ten years ago, we adopted the resolution on the Middle East, specifically addressing the nuclear dangers in that region. It is my hope that there will be progress on this resolution.

Threats to humanity

The NPT now stands at its most critical crossroad since it entered into force over three decades ago. For the peace and security of our world, we have to address the following challenges to non-proliferation:

One, the horizontal proliferation by non-nuclear weapon States; Two, the pronouncements of vertical proliferation by nuclear weapon States through modernization and plans for a new generation of nuclear weapons; Three, the continued absence of de facto nuclear weapon states from the ambit of the NPT; Four, the restiveness resulting from developing states access to nuclear technology under Article IV; Five, the paralysis of the multilateral disarmament machinery, and; Six, the unprecedented case of withdrawal by DPRK.

All these developments and challenges contribute to the erosion of the effectiveness and credibility of the NPT that could change the destiny of mankind.

Plans to develop new nuclear weapons technology and failure to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force seriously erode the historic foundations of the NPT that non-nuclear states will not acquire nuclear weapons as long as the five nuclear powers work towards nuclear disarmament.

Signs of hope

But there are signs of hope. Several states have foresworn nuclear weapons. The latest of these is Libya and we applaud Libya. We also acknowledge the critical role regional organizations and the active involvement of members of the global community played in bringing this about.

This momentum must be encouraged and sustained. States that have not yet concluded safeguards agreement must do so without any delay. Increasing the network of safeguard agreements is an important element in building trust and in removing any suspicion of a nuclear element in potential conflicts.

The four nuclear weaponfree zones around the world are also holding the line. The linking of current and future zones came one more step towards realization when the 108 signatories and parties to the treaties met for the first time in Tlatalelco, Mexico, on the eve of this conference. …