I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after "That" and substitute the following:
"Dáil Éireann, in recognising the important role played by the late Mr. Frank Aiken TD, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, in initiating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) over 25 years ago,
— endorses the approach of the Government in support of the indefinite extension of the Treaty at the NPT Review and Extension Conference in April;
— endorses also the objective of the Government to secure five-yearly reviews of the implementation of the Treaty;
— believes that international negotiations should be intensified with a view to:
(1) achieving agreement on the elimination of all nuclear weapons,
(2) agreement, in this context, on the steps needed to bring about an end to the production, modernisation and deployment of nuclear weapons,
(3) agreement on a treaty banning the production and use of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for weapons purposes,
(4) the establishment of effective arrangements to monitor and control all weapons-usable materials and to increase transparency with regard to nuclear weapons and materials,
(5) the early conclusion and implementation of a total test ban,
(6) the strengthening of the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with particular reference to the Agency's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities."
I commend Deputy Burke and his colleagues for affording the House an opportunity to discuss this important topic at a timely juncture prior to the NPT Conference which will take place in New York from 17 April to 12 May. This is the outstanding event of the disarmament calendar and one of the key disarmament meetings of recent years. The initial 25 year span of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty comes to an end this year. The New York Conference will decide the future duration of the Treaty, the most widely accepted arms control measure in history — a treaty which has 172 States parties, almost as many countries as subscribed to the United Nations Charter.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is a complex document, like the issue of nuclear non-proliferation itself. Before dealing with the questions that will arise at the NPT conference I would like to set out in clear and simple terms the main objectives of the Government which guide our approach to the forthcoming conference and to discussions and negotiations at the UN and in the European Union.
First, we want to see the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. This is based on the belief that the nature of the weapons and the scale of destruction and suffering that their use brings can have no place in an international society based on principles of morality and justice. Fifty years ago the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki witnessed the horrible beginnings of the nuclear age. In this anniversary year there can be no equivocation about the single most important aim of Ireland's disarmament policy — an end to nuclear weapons.
Second, we want to ensure that those who possess nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons technology — the so-called nuclear weapons States — do not pass on such weapons or such technology to non-nuclear weapons countries. For 25 years the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the monitoring and control arrangements associated with it, have helped to achieve that aim. When an international agreement enjoys the levels of endorsement and success now enjoyed by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is much wiser to seek to secure its future rather than call it into question. There is no reason to believe that if a question mark were to be placed over the future of the NPT, the international community would readily arrive at a superior agreement which commanded the same support.
Third, we want to see an end to testing nuclear weapons. We have welcomed the moratoria on nuclear testing announced by France, Russia, the UK and the US. We hope that these States will continue their ban, and we call on China to join them. However, these are unilateral measures subject to the vagaries of internal politics in the States concerned and to competitive pressures. That is why it is essential to secure the early conclusion of a treaty — a binding international agreement — which will comprehensively ban all nuclear tests for all time.
Fourth, we want an end to the production and stockpiling of materials, in particular plutonium, for use in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. In this connection the Government is supporting proposals at the UN for the negotiation of a treaty which would ban the production of plutonium for weapons purposes.
The text of the Government amendment is designed to meet these key objectives of Irish foreign policy.
Ireland is justly proud of its historic association with the NPT. It is appropriate that the House should recognise the important role played by a former Foreign Minister, the late Mr. Frank Aiken, in initiating the treaty, who was the first to raise the issue of nuclear non-proliferation at the United Nations in 1958. He drew attention to the dangers to world peace involved in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and proposed an international agreement to prevent the spread of such weapons. The proposal met strong resistance, not only from the major powers but from many smaller states. Mr. Aiken pursued the initiative, working to build broader support for it. Support for Ireland's approach grew steadily from 1959 until Resolution 1665, known as "the Irish Resolution" was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on 4 December 1961.
The "Irish Resolution" called for the conclusion of an international agreement containing provisions under which the nuclear states would undertake to maintain control of their nuclear weapons and refrain from transmitting the information necessary for their manufacture to states not possessing such weapons. The agreement would also contain provisions under which non-nuclear weapons states would undertake not to manufacture or otherwise acquire control of such weapons.
The "Irish Resolution" contained the essence of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The elaboration of the treaty took seven years of negotiations before it was concluded and opened for signature. This was because of the great difficulty of arriving at an acceptable balance of mutual responsibilities and obligations of both nuclear and non-nuclear powers. Essentially, the treaty which emerged from the negotiations is based on a quid pro quo between the nuclear powers and the non-nuclear weapon states. Under it — the nuclear weapon states agree not to transfer nuclear weapons to any recipient, or give assistance or encouragement to induce non-nuclear weapon states to acquire such weapons, and they recognises the latter's right to the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy. — the non-nuclear weapon states undertake not to seek or receive nuclear weapons, and to conclude safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to prevent diversion of nuclear material from peaceful uses.
The question of the duration of the NPT was an issue in the original negotiations. A number of developed industrial countries with the potential to make their own nuclear weapons argued, and argued successfully, against a treaty of indefinite duration, inter alia, because they were unwilling to foreclose the nuclear weapons option for themselves. Thus the treaty was concluded for an initial period of 25 years. However, the option of its indefinite extension at the end of that period was clearly written into the text. We must be aware of the possibility that some of those states who now oppose the indefinite extension of the NPT do so because they too are unwilling to foreclose forever the option of developing nuclear weapons themselves. Ireland could not endorse such a position. It would be inconsistent with our proud record on nuclear non-proliferation if we were to accommodate, even unwittingly, such designs.
Today, the political and ideological basis of the Cold War period in which the NPT was negotiated have all but vanished. The threat of nuclear conflict between the major powers no longer overshadows our daily lives. The nuclear arms race between the United States and the Russian Federation has halted, we hope permanently. As the recent entry into force of the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START I, clearly signals, a reversal of the Cold War build-up of nuclear weapons is at last under way. Yet a glance at developments in Russia and in the former Yugoslavia is enough to dispel any complacent view that, even in Europe, a new and secure world order has already taken the place of the "hard and bitter peace" of the Cold War period.
Some of the new challenges that have arisen since the end of the Cold War are specific to the nuclear field. The dissolution of central control in the former Soviet Union has created a pressing need to put in place adequate systems of accountancy and control of nuclear materials in many newly independent states. It has also created a risk that expertise in nuclear weapons technology might be purchased by determined proliferators. Outside Europe, an end to the proxy wars of the Cold War period has brought major positive developments in Southern Africa, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and the Middle East. Yet even as these welcome developments occurred, the illegal nuclear activities of two parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty posed a most serious challenge to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Confidence in the compliance of states with their obligations under the NPT and in the adequacy of the system of IAEA safeguards was shaken by reports of noncompliance by Iraq and North Korea.
While these challenges were vigorously addressed, and are being contained, it remains imperative that the safeguards system of the IAEA be further strengthened, with particular reference to the agency's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. This is the background to the final element of the Government's amendment.
The last NPT Review Conference in Geneva in August 1990 took place against a backdrop of dramatic improvement in international relations, an improvement which, for the first time, ushered in a realistic prospect of serious reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons held by the nuclear weapons states. Nevertheless, as the then Minister for Foreign Affairs Deputy Gerard Collins, noted, the arguments which had made the negotiation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty a priority 20 years earlier had lost none of their relevance. He spoke of the fearsome prospect of possible increases in the numbers of nuclear weapon states and he looked forward to the 1995 conference as an opportunity for Ireland to renew our commitment to the NPT for an indefinite period. An indefinite extension by consensus would, he said, provide the best basis for carrying this important treaty into the 21st century. I agree fully. Even if the conference cannot reach consensus on this outcome, as seems plain in the light of the preparatory process, the Government maintains a strong belief that the optimum outcome would be for the NPT to be indefinitely extended. This view is shared by all 52 states of Europe represented in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, OSCE; by the members of the European Union including our neutral partners Austria, Finland and Sweden; by countries such as New Zealand and Australia which have traditionally shared Ireland's approach to nuclear disarmament; and by many in the developing world.
Since the 1990 Review Conference, the NPT has received a major new lease of life thanks to some highly significant accessions. These include the two remaining nuclear powers. France and China. All the states of the former Soviet Union except Russia have acceded as non-nuclear weapon states, among them Ukraine, previously the third largest nuclear power in the world. Some former so-called threshold states, such as Argentina and South Africa have changed course and joined the treaty as non-nuclear weapons states. In doing so, South Africa became the first country in the world unilaterally and voluntarily to give up an existing nuclear weapons programme.
France's accession means that for the first time all EU member states will be full participants at an NPT Conference. It has also meant that the EU is in a position to pursue a stronger policy on nuclear non-proliferation than heretofore.
The Maastricht Treaty, Title V of which establishes a Common Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, entered into force in November 1993 at a point when the preparatory process for the crucial NPT Review and Extension Conference was already under way. In the circumstances, it was natural that the European Council in Corfu in June 1994 should define the EU position on the outstanding issue of the 1995 conference and decide to make achievement of that position the subject of a Joint Action. Ireland was pleased that the subject of the first EU Joint Action in the disarmament field was the NPT, and it was gratifying that the substance of the Joint Action — promotion of the indefinite and unconditional extension of the treaty — corresponded with the position it had articulated four years earlier. Since Corfu, the European Union has been very active in pursuing the universality of the treaty, in trying to secure the widest possible participation in the preparatory committee for the conference and in promoting support for the indefinite extension of the treaty at the conference.
The considerable success of the NPT in containing the spread of nuclear weapons in the past 25 years should, in the view of the Government, be reinforced and copperfastened by permanently securing the treaty in place at the centre of the international non-proliferation regime. Opponents of the indefinite extension of the treaty seem to assume that what the treaty has achieved on the non-proliferation front has been secured once and for all. This is much too sanguine a view. The Government sees any uncertainty about the future life of the treaty as dangerous. States could be tempted to pursue policies, in anticipation of the ending of the Treaty, that could reverse the gains and lead again to nuclear weapons' proliferation.
The Fianna Fáil motion advocates a series of short extensions of the NPT, each conditional on fulfilment of a set of stated goals in the field of nuclear disarmament. The idea underlying this approach seems to be that the best way to secure nuclear disarmament is to make the continuation of the NPT from one short extension to the next conditional upon the performance of the nuclear weapon states measured against a set of specific nuclear disarmament goals.
I agree absolutely on the need to make progress on nuclear disarmament — it is the first priority of our disarmament policy. However, the approach advocated in the Fianna Fáil Motion is highly risky. It turns nuclear non-proliferation into a bargaining chip. It makes the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and its associated safeguards regime, dependent on the successful completion of other disarmament negotiations. It is gambling with one of the most successful arms control measures in history. The Government is firmly convinced that far from being the best way to advance nuclear disarmament a series of short, conditional extensions would, on the contrary, threaten progress in this vital area. It would undermine the creditbility of the NPT, weaken its effectiveness, tempt non-nuclear states to anticipate the ending of the treaty and, by virtue of its effect on the attitude of the nuclear weapon states, freeze ongoing efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament. However genuine and sincerely held the beliefs of those who are advocating a series of short conditional extensions of the treaty, I ask the House to reflect soberly on the all too likely repercussions of this course.
I would like to turn to the question of nuclear disarmament as provided for in Article VI of the treaty. The accession of the two remaining nuclear powers, France and China, means that for the first time we approach an NPT Conference with all five declared nuclear weapon states legally bound under this Article: "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under effective international control". I have already noted that the nuclear arms race between the US and the former Soviet Union has halted. Their enormous nuclear arsenals stand to be significantly reduced under the START I Treaty which entered into force last December and under START II, ratification of which is in hand. Thus, in the case of the two states which have the largest nuclear arsenals, the fulfilment of commitments assumed under Article VI of the NPT has at last begun to yield measurable results. Dramatic improvements in international relations at the close of the 1980s and in the first years of the 1990s provided the impetus for these developments.
Today, the difficulty as well as the imperative of sustaining confidence in relations between the US and the Russian Federation has become more obvious. Ratification of START II and, beyond it, agreement to reduce US and Russian nuclear arsenals still further, depend on confidence in the peaceful intentions of others no less than on confidence directly between Russia and the United States. The knowledge that the further spread of nuclear weapons had been permanently arrested would give the US and Russian Federation the confidence to reduce their nuclear arsenals further. This more than anything would create an effective inducement for the other declared nuclear weapons states — France, the UK and China — to begin to scale back their nuclear arsenals. Any outcome of the NPT Conference which creates uncertainty about the peaceful intentions of others would be bound to damage confidence and thereby place in jeopardy the ongoing but still fragile movement towards nuclear disarmament. This is the Government's essential objection to proposals for short extensions of the treaty.
I want to state categorically that the Government's support for the indefinite extension of the NPT must not be construed as acquiescence in the permanent retention of nuclear weapons by the nuclear weapon states and any suggestion to that effect is unworthy and untrue. On the contrary, the profound attachment of the people of Ireland and of successive Governments to the NPT owes a great deal to the fact that the treaty enshrines a good faith commitment to nuclear disarmament as well as obligations in respect of nuclear non-proliferation. It has, in Article VI, an unequivocal nuclear disarmament focus in addition to the more specific non-proliferation obligations set out in other articles.
The Government's motion considers five-yearly reviews of the implementation of the NPT as providing the opportunity to hold all states parties to full compliance with the obligations to which they have subscribed in the treaty. In the Government's view these reviews must be informed by a keen awareness that it is in the NPT — and in the NPT alone — that all five declared nuclear weapon states have undertaken a legal obligation to pursue nuclear disarmament in good faith; that this undertaking is of the greatest importance to all non-nuclear weapon states; that it is, therefore, not only legitimate but also right and proper that non-nuclear weapon states should press the nuclear weapon states to expedite action on disarmament pursuant to Article VI; and that reviews can and should serve to inject momentum into negotiations in other fora on measures conducive to nuclear disarmament, measures such as the six listed in the Government motion before us.
Ireland remains totally committed to nuclear non-proliferation, but we want to go further. That is why we so strongly advocate progress in the other areas currently under negotiation — principally the negotiations on a separate treaty to ban all nuclear testing for all time; and the proposals for the negotiation of a treaty banning plutonium production for weapons purposes. The achievement of these aims would, be made harder rather than easier by any gambling with the future of the NPT.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is one of the great achivements of the post-war world and one of the high points of Irish foreign policy. Its negotiation combined a vision of a denuclearised world with a knowledge of the difficult measures that must be taken to achieve that end.
International politics has changed immeasurably since the treaty was concluded, but the aims of the NPT remain valid — to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to eliminate them entirely from the face of the earth. We live in a safer world because of the NPT. We cannot put it in jeopardy. The Fianna Fáil motion would do just that and I commend the Government amendment to the House.