Strive for a World Free from Nuclear, Biological Weapons

Cape Times (South Africa), April 9, 2018 | Go to article overview

Strive for a World Free from Nuclear, Biological Weapons


At the high-level segment of the Conference on Disarmament assembled in Geneva in late February, South Africa confirmed that it had committed itself to a policy of non-proliferation and arms control.

South Africa has endeavoured to become a committed proponent of disarmament, established in our belief that international peace and security cannot be detached from development.

The conference took place against the backdrop of a number of challenges that have affected the international disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control efforts during the past few years.

This conference gathered at a period when major global events are celebrated on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. These include the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review of the Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the UN Disarmament Commission.

South Africa's government was authorised to actively support nuclear non-proliferation regimes and nuclear suppliers and to influence African states and Non-Aligned Movement to (NAM) members to support non-proliferation.

As the only member of the NAM, South Africa has been able to serve as an important diplomatic link between nuclear weapon states (NWS) and the non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS).

Our role of being a diplomatic bridge-builder was clearly demonstrated at the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) Review and Extension Conference, where South Africa played a leading part in securing a compromise between the NAM and the NWS. In his statement to the conference, our then foreign minister Alfred Nzo emphasised that the NTP remained the only international instrument on nuclear disarmament to which all five nuclear weapon states are bound.

To honour the legacy of our founding father of democracy, former president Nelson Mandela, as the year 2018 has been marked as his centenary, South Africa will continue to play an important role in maintaining international support of disarmament. In his final speech to the UN General Assembly as South African president in September 1998, Mandela reaffirmed his commitment to nuclear disarmament.

"We must ask the question, which might sound naive to those who have provided sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction - why do they need them anyway? In reality, no rational answer can be advanced to explain in a satisfactory manner what, in the end, is the consequence of Cold War inertia and an attachment to the use of the threat of brute force, to assert the primacy of some states over others. …

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