Statement by Foreign Minister Westerwelle at the High-level Meeting on Revitalizing the Work of the Conference on Disarmament and Taking Forward Multilateral Disarmament

Sep 24, 2010

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Mr. Secretary General,

Distinguished colleagues,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all I would like to thank you, Mr. Secretary General, for your excellent and timely initiative.

I fully agree with what my Belgian colleague said on behalf of the European Union.

2010 was a good year for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. With NEW START in April, a time of standstill came to an end. We now need to keep the momentum created by both the United States and Russia. I am confident that NEW START will be an inspiration for all of us to move towards more multilateral disarmament. Germany shares the long-term goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. We will support all appropriate steps towards that goal.

In May, we found a consensus that we needed urgently. The review conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) put nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation back on track. That was more than many had hoped for.

The year is not over yet. We must make sure that the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva will stay relevant for global disarmament. Last year, member states found a consensus on a comprehensive, balanced and non-discriminatory Programme of Work. This is the basis we need for our work in the years to come.

We have seen last year that the Conference on Disarmament can achieve consensus. We have seen that the rule to decide by consensus is not the issue. The issue is whether all parties have the political will to reach an agreement.

We now need this political will and not excuses. Some states slow down the process and claim security concerns. The conference on disarmament is not the forum to solve all of these difficulties. Solutions need to be found in broader regional frameworks.

States need not fear negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty as a first but very important step forward in Geneva. Their interests will be protected within the course of the process.

For many reasons, the past decade was a lost decade for the Conference on Disarmament. As the risks of nuclear weapons and the proliferation of nuclear materials grow, the international community cannot afford more delays.

We need to initiate a decade of progress in multilateral disarmament, and a decade of renewed progress in the Conference on Disarmament in particular. Germany stands ready to do what needs to be done.

Thank you for your attention.

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