Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to warmly welcome you all to today’s seminar on nuclear disarmament and deproliferation.
I am pleased to co-host this seminar with Dr Hans BLIX, Chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission in Stockholm. I sincerely hope that the seminar will be one concrete example of the interest of Finland and of that of the Commission in continuing to support all efforts to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation regime and to prepare ourselves to meet future challenges.
I am happy to see many eminent personalities, scholars, and representatives of the media round this table. I am confident that our discussions will be both interesting and rewarding, in particular taking into account the next NPT Review Conference which will be held in New York in May.
Let me remind you that Chatham House rules apply to our discussions; material and discussion can be used as background; detailed quotations can be used only on request and with permission.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has been in effect for 35 years. It is a treaty which covers 188 states parties and which was extended indefinitely at the Review Conference in 1995. The treaty is a reflection of the clear desire of the international community to get rid of nuclear weapons and to safeguard the use of nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes.
Maintaining the integrity and credibility of the treaty and of the review process is a vital challenge today. In recent years we have met with other challenges. Among the most serious of them is the risk of weapons of mass destruction, without control, falling into the hands of non-state actors or terrorists.
As our seminar programme indicates, the NPT’s history has been through various stages of evolution. Major developments took place in the 1970s. Many of the nuclear weapon states joined the regime and many of those who had the technical capability to become a nuclear weapon state made a historic decision not to proceed on that path. We are looking forward with great interest to the interventions on those examples.
There are countries which joined the regime only in the early 1990s although they had announced their preparedness to follow the rules of the NPT in their policies. In my opinion it was crucial for the desired universalisation of the treaty that South Africa joined the regime in 1991, China and France in 1992, Argentina in 1995, Brazil in 1998 and Cuba in 2002.
In the course of the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union it was vital that Kazakstan and Ukraine got rid of their nuclear arsenal and joined the treaty in 1994 and that Uzbekistan joined it in 1992. Only three states, India, Israel, and Pakistan still remain outside.
The Review Conference of 1995 made historic decisions including the decision on the strengthened review prosess, on its principles and objectives, as well as on the nuclear weapon- free zone in the Middle East. Unfortunately, if we look back to the discussions at that time we have to admit that many of the problems discussed and negotiated still remain on the agenda.
North Korean policies and Iraq were the focus of discussions in the Review Conferences in 1995 and 2000. The strengthened review process, as it was named, and the preparatory meetings of the NPT have not been fully successful since 2000 in solving these problems or in allaying our common concerns.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The international community is this year celebrating the 60th anniversary of the United Nations. Big efforts have been invested in analysing and assessing the proper role and improved functioning of the UN system today. The UN community of 191 sovereign nations is certainly quite different from the original group 60 years ago.
The problems and challenges have become more complex and more numerous. They are both urgent and long-term. Everything seems to be interlinked as the world has become more and more like a single global unit.
Nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament are key issues of today’s world. Although the traditional and effective deterrence of nuclear weapons is currently a topic of discussion, recent examples show that the ambition to acquire nuclear capability has not totally expired.
We should continue in a consistent manner our efforts to achieve the common goal, namely the universalisation of the NPT regime and the strengthening of the mechanisms of nonproliferation. The NPT Review Conference next month should directly recognize that the NPT is and must remain a cornerstone of international security and stability.
For those reasons, too, I consider this seminar to be most timely. Very often it is difficult to focus our attention on a spesific treaty. The formulations are normally too complicated to be understood in a one-day debate.
I hope, and indeed I believe, that today’s presentations will make our task easier in this regard. The topic is as relevant today as it was 35 years ago.
I wish you all a very interesting and rewarding day in Helsinki !
Thank you !