Iran can use next week’s global gathering on disarmament at United Nations Headquarters to reassure other States of its peaceful nuclear intentions, the forum’s chair said today as he urged countries to exchange ideas on how to cut the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan of the Philippines, who is the President-elect of the latest five-yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), told reporters that the meeting offers an opportunity to “really explore the limits of what is possible” on disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The forum, which starts on Monday, is taking place amid international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme. The country’s authorities hold that its activities are for peaceful purposes, while some nations contend they are driven by military ambitions. In 2003 it was discovered that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the NPT.
Asked by reporters today whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would attend the NPT forum, Mr. Cabactulan said he did not yet have confirmation but that arrangements are being made for his possible participation.
“All the States parties are equally important to bring their views to the table” and “find ways and means that can provide” a safer world for all, he stressed.
Mr. Cabactulan said it may be incumbent upon Iran to “really come up with concrete, definitive ideas” to convince nations of its peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that if Mr. Ahmadinejad “brings some good constructive proposal in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, that would be helpful.”
More than 100 senior officials from States parties to the NPT are expected to attend the event, slated to run until 28 May. Mr. Ban stated in an opinion column in yesterday’s International Herald Tribune that he hopes the forum will build on recent international momentum on disarmament, including the Russian-United States agreement earlier this month on slashing nuclear arsenals.
“If ever there were a time for the world’s people to demand change, to demand action beyond the cautious half measures of the past, it is now,” he stated.
The President-elect said that consultations he has held with States parties indicate that the treaty’s universality and the lack of institutional support for the NPT compared to other pacts will be among the key priorities for discussion at the forum.
The forum should serve as “a marketplace of ideas,” he said. “The best ideas or the right ideas must prevail.”
On the issue of universal adherence to the NPT, he said that it is not enough to have non-parties to the pact – including India, Pakistan and Israel – sign on. Countries such as the US and Russia, must take further measures beyond their recent agreement on stockpiles, he stressed.
“If we are true to the real objective” of eliminating nuclear weapons, “something concrete must be done in this regard,” he underscored.
The last review conference, held in 2005, has been characterized by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as “disappointing.”
At the end of that meeting, Sergio Duarte, the President of that gathering and now the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the gathering ended having accomplished “very little” amid widely diverging views on nuclear arms and their spread. It wrapped up without any substantive agreement having been reached.
Mr. Cabactulan said that he cannot promise a successful outcome to this year’s meeting, but expressed hope that States parties “will really see eye-to-eye” and “see the light at the end of the tunnel.”