Statement by H.E. Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of the Mission of Turkey to the United Nations, at the General Debate of the First Committee of the 64th Session of the General Assembly

Ertuğrul Apakan 07.10.2009
Mr. Chairman,

I would also like to begin by congratulating you and the other members of the bureau on your well-deserved election. We are confident that the First Committee will successfully complete its deliberations under your able leadership.

Mr. Chairman,

Turkey attaches great significance to global, overall disarmament and supports all efforts towards increased international security and stability through arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament. Turkey is a party to all major international non-proliferation instruments and export control regimes and we wish to see the universalization, effective and coordinated implementation and further strengthening of these measures. We therefore firmly support the revitalization of the international disarmament agenda through coordinated efforts. We would like the United Nations to play a more effective role in these efforts.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) continues to lie at the heart of these measures. We are dedicated to the full compliance with the NPT regime, including the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements and the Additional Protocols. The NPT remains as relevant and indispensable today as it was 40 years ago with its three mutually reinforcing pillars, namely non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament - general and complete disarmament - and peaceful use of nuclear energy. Although much has been achieved in this area, we believe that there is still a need to reinforce the integrity and credibility of the NPT regime, as well as to achieve its universality, through an equal and balanced treatment of these three dimensions.

We are encouraged by the positive and constructive atmosphere that prevailed in the NPT Preparatory Committee earlier this year and earnestly hope that the 2010 Review Conference will also lead to a successful outcome. The commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a follow-up to the START-I, all of which stand among the 13 Practical Steps of 2000, could play a catalyst role for the success of the NPT Review Conference in 2010.

Mr. Chairman,

We believe that the strengthening of the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and promoting the Agency's role in advancing safe and peaceful use of nuclear technology are also essential for the sustainability of the NPT regime in the long run. It is our firm belief that States in full compliance with their safeguards obligations should have unhindered access to civilian nuclear technology, as provided for in the NPT. In our view, this would only contribute to the further strengthening and universalization of the NPT regime. Having said that, we must also ensure that all requisite steps be taken so that there will be no diversion of nuclear programs from peaceful to military uses.

Our conviction is that nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction cannot provide additional security for any country in this era. On the contrary, the possession of and the pursuit for such weapons undermines regional security and stability. Turkey therefore attaches great significance to and endorses all meaningful steps for the establishment of effectively verifiable zones free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, particularly in the Middle East.

Mr. Chairman,

We consider the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as a regional and global priority. Turkey joined other responsible members of the international community in strongly condemning the nuclear test carried out by the DPRK in May 2009 and, as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, supported the Council to send a strong and unified response to this provocative act. As the current Chair of the DPRK Sanctions Committee in the Security Council, we attach utmost importance to full implementation of resolutions 1718 and 1874. By the same token, we are committed to a negotiated solution and recognize the importance of encouraging the DPRK to return to the Six Party Talks, which we consider as the best vehicle for a concrete and irreversible progress towards lasting peace, security and stability in the region. Turkey hopes that conditions can be created for the DPRK to return to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state at the earliest possible date and for the resumption by the IAEA of comprehensive safeguards.

We also consider it important that the outstanding issues relating to Iran's nuclear program be addressed in a constructive and transparent way and be brought to a positive conclusion without further delay. We are pleased that the meeting between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the EU3+3 on October 1 took place in a positive atmosphere and we hope that this will be followed by an intensive dialogue among the parties that will facilitate resolution of this matter. As a neighbour of Iran, Turkey stands ready to continue supporting and facilitating the diplomatic process on this issue.

We welcome the adoption of the Program of Work of the Conference on Disarmament earlier this year and expect the remaining obstacles standing on the way of its implementation will soon be removed. We now need flexibility by all parties to carry the process forward and to permit the Conference to resume its fundamental role in promoting global peace and security as an arms control negotiating forum.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention are also important components of the global system against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Turkey does not possess any such weapons and reiterates its call for a wider adherence to and an effective implementation of these Conventions. In particular, we support the efforts to promote the universality of these instruments in the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the adjacent regions. In this vein, Turkey hosted a sub-regional seminar, in cooperation with the Technical Secretariat of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, on "Chemical Industry-Related Issues in the Mediterranean Basin" in İstanbul from 24 to 25 September 2009.

Proliferation of the means of delivery of weapons of mass destruction is another pressing issue that needs to be effectively addressed by the international community. Indeed, Turkey is concerned with the progressive increase in the range and accuracy of ballistic missiles. Within this framework, we consider the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation as a practical step towards an internationally accepted legal framework in this field. We therefore wish to see the universalization of the Hague Code of Conduct endeavour.

Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery become all the more worrying in the context of terrorism. Hence, we fully support international efforts to prevent the acquisition and use by terrorists of such weapons and to enhance the safety and security of radioactive materials and sources. Utmost attention should be paid to prevent terrorists from gaining access to nuclear material and other components of these weapons. We should devise new measures to combat illicit trade in sensitive nuclear equipment and technology. In this context, we call for adherence to and effective implementation of two important conventions, namely the Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

Turkey continues to support the work of the Committee established pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which complements the international efforts against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Likewise, we regard the Proliferation Security Initiative as an important scheme complementing the existing international mechanisms.

Mr. Chairman,

The threat of proliferation is not confined to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Proliferation of conventional weapons is also a cause of concern for Turkey. Indeed, the excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread of small arms and light weapons pose a significant threat to peace and security, as well as to the social and economic development of many countries. There is also a very well-documented relationship between the illicit trade in arms and terrorism. As a country suffering from terrorist attacks, Turkey will continue to actively contribute to all efforts within the UN and other fora to foster international cooperation in the fight against terrorism, including through the establishment of effective norms and rules aimed at eradicating illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.

In this regard, Turkey remains committed to the effective implementation and further strengthening of the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and continues to support the conclusion of an Arms Trade Treaty, which should halt unregulated and uncontrolled trade of conventional arms worldwide and establish common standards for their global trade.

Another worrying issue in the field of conventional weapons is the scourge of Anti-Personnel Land Mines. As a party to the Ottawa Convention since 2004, Turkey fully supports the efforts for the universalization and effective implementation of the Ottawa Convention and the vision of a world, free from anti-personnel mines. We continue to pursue the destruction process of the stockpiled anti-personnel land mines in the Turkish Munitions Disposal Facility with utmost care and diligence. Let me take this opportunity to once again appeal to the States which have not yet done so to accede to the Convention.

In this connection, we would also like to emphasize that, since the rights and obligations enshrined in the Ottawa Convention apply only to the State Parties, the consent of the relevant State Parties is necessary if and when engagement with armed non-State actors is contemplated within the context of the Convention. Such activities should in no way serve the purposes of terrorist organizations.

Turkey has also been involved in the Oslo process on Cluster Munitions and actively participates in the ongoing work in the Governmental Experts Group on Cluster Munitions meetings within the context of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. We share the humanitarian concern behind the international efforts to limit the use of cluster munitions. We expect the Governmental Experts Group to intensify its efforts for preparing a document that will complement the Convention.

Turkey also highly values and supports the role of the UN regional disarmament centers. We believe that these centers are instrumental in promoting the implementation of existing international disarmament and arms control norms at regional and sub-regional levels. We commend and support the activities carried out by these centers which encourage regional dialogue for furthering openness, transparency and confidence building.

Last but not least, I would like to reiterate our support for the UN Register of Conventional Arms and the Standardized Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures that is an important transparency and confidence building measure. Turkey regularly provides data to this useful mechanism which complement our work in this field and calls on those UN member States that have not made use of this instrument to do so without further delay.

Mr. Chairman,

This year has witnessed various positive developments that lead us to be more optimistic about the success of the disarmament efforts at the United Nations and beyond. The Joint Statement by Presidents Medvedev and Obama in April 2009 that indicated a joint commitment for further reductions of strategic offensive arms and a new legally binding treaty in this field, the positive signals received from several Annex II states on the prospect of ratification of the CTBT, the adoption of the CD's program of work for 2009 and the unanimous adoption of resolution 1887 at the Security Council Summit on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation on 24 September 2009 are some of the most notable developments in this field. In order to build upon this positive momentum, we have to reinvigorate the culture of compliance - compliance with the existing disarmament and non-proliferation instruments to begin with, but also codification of and compliance with new instruments that will turn our planet into a safer and more secure place. It is my sincere hope that our Committee deliberations this year will contribute to promoting such a culture. I would like to conclude by assuring you of our delegation's full support and cooperation for your efforts to bring this session to a successful conclusion.

Thank you.