Written Answers. - Nuclear Disarmament.

Joe Higgins

Question:

163 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the contents of the letters and draft resolution on nuclear disarmament dated 30 October 2002 and 20 November 2002 from a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11010/03]

Joe Higgins

Question:

164 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government considered acting on the draft resolution on nuclear disarmament as attached to letters dated 30 October 2002 and 20 November 2002 from a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11011/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 164 together.

I am aware of this correspondence which requested that Ireland put a resolution on nuclear weapons to the Security Council prior to its departure from the Council at the end of 2002. A senior official from the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York had several telephone conversations with Ms Lavery in connection with the matter raised in the correspondence under reference.

The UN Charter, however, vests in the General Assembly the prime responsibility for consideration of the "general principles of co-operation in the maintenance of international peace and security, including the principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments".

Much of the practical work of devising general principles takes place in the UN Disarmament and International Security Committee, commonly known as the First Committee, of which Ireland is a member. The First Committee meets during the UN General Assembly session to deal with the disarmament issues on the agenda of that session, and its consultations shape the tone of the disarmament debate.

Ireland is an active participant in the First Committee and uses all useful opportunities to ensure that the pursuit of disarmament and non-proliferation stays at the fore of the Committee's deliberations and output.

With regard to nuclear weapons, Ireland is of course a founding member of the New Agenda Coalition which has been highly instrumental in achieving a detailed and agreed outcome to the 2000 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The outcome there provides a blueprint for a step by step approach to negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear arsenals.

In 2002 Ireland as co-ordinator of the New Agenda Coalition, NAC, introduced two resolutions on nuclear weapons at the First Committee which were both adopted by the General Assembly – 57/58 and 57/59. The resolutions,inter alia, called upon nuclear weapon states to implement the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons commitments, to apply the principle of irreversibility by destroying their nuclear warheads in the context of strategic nuclear reductions and avoid keeping them in a state that lends itself to possible redeployment. The resolutions also called for concrete agreed measures to reduce further the operational status of non-strategic nuclear weapons systems.