Co-chairs' press conference, Vienna, 5 July 2010 

International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament

Transcript, E&OE


Thank you very much for coming here this afternoon. My name is Yoriko Kawaguchi. I am Co-chair from Japan. As you know this is a joint project between Australia and Japan. We produced a report — which I'm sure you have in front of you or some of you have it with you — in December last year.

On Saturday and Sunday of this weekend ICNND had its final meeting in Vienna. We have had four main meetings and four regional meetings and this, the last meeting in Vienna. The Vienna meeting marks the end of our Commission's work. So we have prepared what we call a Vienna Communique, and my Co-chair Gareth Evans will talk about this.

I would just like to remind you that this is a second-track Commission. So whatever we have in the report does not represent the views of governments but of the Commissioners. Also, we have been working so that we can contribute to the NPT RevCon process and we are very happy that we were able to contribute to the success of the NPT RevCon. What we think is that we would like to continue this momentum, although the Commission itself will cease to exist very soon.

And Gareth will also talk about what our thinking is on the possible future activities which could be conducted by maybe some of the Commissioners privately or by creating an institution if it is possible. But it is our wish that, since the momentum is here, we do need to continue this. So with that I will give the floor to Gareth.


Thank you, Yoriko.

When this Commission was established the object was essentially to energise and give content to a high-level international debate on all these complex inter-related issues: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses. And one of our biggest contributions, I think, was to come up with a set of quite realistic and hard-headed action agendas for the very short term: the period to 2012. The medium-term, as we articulated it, through to 2025 when the object would be to achieve by then a dramatic minimisation in the stockpile of nuclear weapons that are out there. And then the long-term objective, after 2025, was to get from there to zero.

Those agendas remain very much in place. We've only made rather modest progress so far but the Commission took this opportunity, of our last meeting here in Vienna, to review the progress that had been made against the objectives that we'd set ourselves and to come up with some ideas about how to sustain the momentum in the future.

Looking back as to the nature of our achievement, well, I guess it's more for you to judge that than for us to make claims about this. But I think that it can reasonably be said to have captured the mood that was out there in the international community, particularly after President Obama was elected, the mood of much greater optimism about the possibility of a nuclear-free future and to shape that mood into a series of strategies for action that most people have found quite useful.

In getting feedback, in terms of the impact that our report has made, in particular in the lead-up to the NPT Review Conference and the actual conference itself, people are saying to us that it was really quite a substantially influential document, not least in setting the shape of the final outcome document with its action point orientation and a number of the very specific things in it. If we look at the NPT Review Conference and in the Communique that's, I guess, the primary focus of our backward look, although we also look at the other major issues that have been occupying our attention in the last year: the US-Russia negotiations; the Security Summit; the issue of nuclear doctrine and so on.

If we look at the NPT Review Conference I think we conclude that it was a modest success by the benchmark of not going backward, in any significant respect, from agreements that had been reached in the past, but also making some modest steps forwards: quite a lot of useful language about disarmament, albeit not picking up, as we had hoped, the idea of a timeframe for moving that forward.

Certainly a very significant achievement with the agreement on the Middle East Conference in 2012 which was very much an outcome that we ourselves had recommended based particularly on a successful conference to explore this idea that we hosted in September last year in Cairo, which was attended by Iran and Israel as well as the key Arab states.

It was reasonably successful in articulating the continuing commitment to the role of the treaty in non-proliferation. A bit less successful in being precise about how to strengthen that treaty in terms of additional protocol becoming the key verification standard and not having anything to say on the withdrawal issue and not having anything very substantial to say about support for the IAEA, all of which we thought were important, but useful language, obviously, on key building block issues like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Fissile Material Treaty. And useful language on the peaceful uses issue, in particular keeping alive the debate that's been going on here in Vienna for some time now about multilateralisation of the fuel cycle.

One of the things to emerge from the NPT Review Conference was a heightened focus on a topic which is of great interest to global civil society. And that's the idea of a nuclear weapons convention as a vehicle for both negotiation and campaign action in the future. And one of the interesting things, I think, that we should all be doing in the future is giving some more content and thought to what such a convention might look like. So we'll leave it to you to ask questions about it; looking back.

In terms of looking forward we do, in the Communique, have a number of specific recommendations in general terms about education, about industry dialogue, about creating global leadership networks of the kind that already nascently exist in the UK, Europe and building on the model of the original Four Horsemen: Shultz, Kissinger, Nunn and Perry. We've said a few things about all of those things, but I guess the central idea and central recommendation for keeping the momentum going is our recommendation that there be now established a global centre for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, which could be here in Vienna, it could be in Geneva, it could be in some other country this being a virtual universe these days.

But the idea essentially would be for such a centre to have a core of working professionals drawn from all around the world and a governing or advisory board of senior statesmen, stateswomen-type figures who would give the weight of their authority and prestige to the work of the centre. And in particular it would have two roles. One would be to produce a report card, annually or thereabouts, on who was doing what and who was not doing what they should be in the whole disarmament, non-proliferation, peaceful uses agenda. Against the benchmarks, of course, of the NPT Review Conference outcomes itself, but also against some rather more ambitious benchmarks as well, including those that we identify in our own report. The idea would be for there to be a very strong and rigorous analysis done. Not just by the people working in the centre but in consultation with the worldwide group of research institutes and think tanks that work on aspects of these issues, so you'd get real synergy in the final product. And the idea is also that associated with that report there would be a big effort of advocacy to really draw attention to the weaknesses, the shortfalls, the backsliding and really keep the pressure up on governments to do what they should be doing. That's the first function.

The second function is to pick up this idea of a nuclear weapons convention which did achieve quite a lot of new momentum at the NPT Review Conference. Not with a view to drafting, any time soon, a workable draft treaty that could be a basis for negotiation. That, frankly, is many years away, given the nature of the ambition here. But there is a case — as we said in our original report — for developing conceptually the core ideas that would be involved in such a convention. In particular, creating the legal and conceptual framework for a regularity regime in a weapons-free world and addressing all the very complex and difficult issues of verification and enforcement that would go with that.

So the Commission thinks that if we could get support for the creation of a centre of this kind, with those two functions in particular, this would be adding real ongoing value to the international debate and helping to preserve the momentum, which has been sustained by the successful outcome of the NPT Review Conference, but really has an awfully long distance to go.

We all know just how big a task lies ahead on the disarmament front: getting major new movement now from the US and Russia, then buy-in from China and the other nuclear armed states to a genuine process of multi-lateral disarmament. We know the problems and difficulties that lie ahead on the proliferation side: strengthening the regime; strengthening the IAEA itself and, of course, resolving the current problems in North Korea and Iran and ensuring that there are no new proliferation problems.

On the peaceful uses side we know the challenge that lies ahead to ensure that we can minimise the risks associated with any dramatic new increase in civil nuclear energy take-up. In particular, by ensuring that there is no new bomb starter kits at the front and the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle with enrichment and reprocessing facilities developing without a multilateral framework.

We know what the issues are that have to be debated and accomplished in the period ahead. The agenda is huge but we believe we've made a significant start in articulating the issues in a realistic way for the international community and we've made some suggestions as to how that momentum could be sustained.

So that's what in the Communique; that's what we've tried to do during our existence; that's what we'll try to do as individuals in the future, though not members of the Commission. And we're open now to questions from you as to anything on your mind.


Just a question on this centre: have you had any funding promises or how do you envisage it getting off the ground? Thank you.


In short, we have had some expressions of interest, both from the Austrian Government and from the Swiss Government, both involving making available very good quality accommodation and giving some support, in particular, for conferences and workshops and so on. We've also been exploring with the Australian Government — my own government — a really quite major contribution to get this thing started. The difficulty is that, well, I thought I'd pretty well negotiated that with our former Prime Minister. We've had a slight hiccup in terms of the domestic politics in Australia in the last 10 days, so I'm going to have to start again.

But the idea is to explore fully, with these and other possible donors, what the support looks like and to try and have something up and running by the end of this year, with a genuinely international look and a focus about it.


And would it have NGO status ?


Yes, it would be an NGO basically. There's no point in creating an inter-governmental body because if it is formally inter-governmental it's going to be constrained by all the inhibitions about saying anything sharp about anybody, which, of course, is necessary if you're going to have effective analysis advocacy in this area. So an unofficial body but one that would be supported by governments and hopefully foundations and maybe some private sector support as well.


I have a question regarding the recommendations to countries that are not party to the NPT: India, Pakistan and, of course, Israel. You already spoke about universality and globalisation of the NPT and, of course, that won't be possible, especially in the Middle East. Israel remains a huge concern and its nuclear capabilities. What are exactly the recommendations of the Commission regarding Israel and how could it be brought to sign the NPT?


If you look at paragraph 20 of the Communique that we distributed, there is a paragraph on the countries outside the NPT. We feel strongly that the NPT is the pillar of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. That's very important and it probably is the most important system that we have on earth. And yet we do have countries, as you described, which are not part of the NPT and which all assume to own nuclear weapons.

Now, we, of course, should make efforts so that they come into the NPT system. We should continue to try this. And yet we feel that we have to be practical about our solutions to getting to zero. So while we try, we also have to think of something else more practical if it will contribute to making it to zero. So paragraph 20 talks about the parallel track. We could put these countries under obligations similar to the obligations of the countries which are under the NPT. That's one way of thinking. But of course, the basis is the NPT and we should try to get them in. That is our thinking.

For instance, the CTBT — India, for instance, is saying it has the moratorium. But if we could put them under the CTBT then they are in the same obligation of NPT countries. So when I talk about parallel tracks I am talking something like this -fissile materials — FMCT — is similar. So the objective is getting to zero and if one way does not work in a practical sense, even though we try, then we should be thinking of a parallel track.


Do you already have a response from those countries on those first steps or those first building blocks, if I can call them; is there any response from the countries in question, all three of them?


It is very important, for instance, that India ratifies the CTBT because it is one of the countries that is necessary for entry into force. We have been talking to governments and we also had regional meetings both in South Asia and also in the Middle East. And, of course, we are not a government; we recommend. We are not to tell the governments to do this so that they would reply to us, but we continue to press them into doing what we would like them to do.


I'm just going to add that I think one of the most innovative features of our report was the way in which we tried to bring a more realistic frame of reference to this problem of the big three elephants, as we described it, outside the NPT. Because as much as we are passionate about bringing them into the NPT we know that's not going to happen any time soon, particularly not coming in as non-weapon states.

So thus, the strategy of trying to work on parallel tracks and get them signed-up, as Yoriko said, to the NPT equivalent or consistent disciplines — in particular on testing and in particular on fissile material moratorium — I think that approach has found fertile and receptive ground. People in these countries, political leaderships, are a bit sick of just being lectured about coming to the NPT without any sort of appreciation of their self-perception. And I think they found it an intellectually challenging proposition, to put the thing in this way, because they have real difficulty in resisting the argument that if they're serious about a long-term nuclear weapons-free world, as they all say they are, why not sign-up to these disciplines and be part of it and come in, in that way? So I think we are in an uneasy sort of twilight zone with all three of them at the moment and of course that's the context which makes the Middle East Conference so important in terms of encouraging Israel to come into this frame of reference.

The problem has been made a bit harder to advance, obviously by the terms of the India NSG deal which did not as we say in our report and we repeat in para 20 of our Communique, it unfortunately didn't set the bar really very high at all in terms of commitment to the test ban, commitment to Fissile Material Cut-off and so on. And of course we are now bearing the fruit of that precedent in the current China-Pakistan debate and so on.

So this is all going to be hard work, but everything in this area is hard work and I think if we just create the right sort of sense of what the agenda is and just keep working systematically at it. But the change is I think that a lot of people, and this was evident at the NPT, are talking about this issue much more realistically. Frankly in previous years there has been a very formal character to this debate. "You have got to come into the NPT"; "No, we are not going to come into the NPT"; and that's been the end of the argument.

We've at least created a new framework for that debate, although I'm not pretending, any more than Yoriko has claimed, that we have got terribly far down that track, but I think we are on our way.

QUESTION: Fabio(*) — Austrian Public Radio

I would like to know how do you comment on the nuclear ambitions of Iran and do you have any ideas how the international community should deal with that issue?


Well if I might comment on this. We fairly strongly believe as a Commission that this is for all its obvious difficulty, a situation that is capable of resolution by negotiation. The outcome is clearly one that is going to involve some measure of acceptance of Iran's capacity right if you like to produce enriched material. I think any hope of getting that wound back to zero is rather quixotic at this stage. But an arrangement which recognised that reality but also had Iran signing up to Additional Protocol-type verification and monitoring regimes which would give the international community confidence that it was not going to cross the red line that really matters, actual weaponisation. I think there's a possibility of a solution there.

I think the Commission as a whole is generally in favour of confidence-building measures of the kind that were I think very creatively articulated by the IAEA and the other countries, last September/October: the proposal for dealing with the then stock of low-enriched uranium. The Commission is somewhat sympathetic to the efforts of Brazil and Turkey to reopen that possible confidence-building measure.

We are not so sympathetic to Iran's reaction to that by insisting on its continued right to enrich to 20 per cent. That doesn't contribute and did not contribute much to confidence and is an explanation I think as to why that particular effort failed. But the important thing is efforts like this must continue and it's not I think unrealistic to think that a negotiated solution is possible. I don't think personally we should assume that Iran is hell bent on acquiring actual nuclear weapons, whatever its enthusiasm might be for getting somewhat close to that capability.

I think we should as an international community try to negotiate our way through this accordingly. That doesn't mean that the Commission or I personally are opposed to sanctions of the kind that are being imposed so far. I think when you have got a country that is in obvious breach of UN Security Council resolutions, when you have got a country that is not being responsive to IAEA Board of Governor recommendations and resolutions, then the international community cannot stand by and just take no action at all and I would hope that over the period ahead we can have a more accommodating approach on the Iranian side as well as a realistic approach to negotiations on the P5-plus side.


I think the international community should be clear that Iran cannot have nuclear weapons. We should go by the NPT rules and Iran should understand that the international community would not allow Iran to become a nuclear-armed country. Of course Iran has a right to the peaceful uses of energy and it should be promoted, and if Iran wants that, it has to do this under the set international rules. If Iran does not obey the rules, follow the rules, I think the international community should be clear that after steps are taken, there are consequences.

But it is very important that both sides have confidence in each other. Confidence building measures are necessary. It is very important that Iran understands that the international community wishes Iran to be transparent and follow the international rules.

QUESTION: ALBERT OTTI — DPA German Press Agency.

I want to come back to the sort of parallel track of getting outlying countries into the non-proliferation regime. I mean doesn't this create sort of a two tier system of countries that are allowed to proliferate and have nuclear weapons, and countries that are not allowed to proliferate and have nuclear weapons?


No of course it doesn’t. I mean it doesn't imply any approval whatsoever of what has happened in the past or any complacency about that weapon status in the present or the future. It does imply a sense of realism rather than romance about how we might improve the situation and a commitment to try to find a realistic way of breaking the deadlock.

The trouble with the nuclear debate over so many decades is that it has been conducted at a level of high romance by many elements of civil society and some within the formal international governing community and a sense of totally realpolitik cynicism at the other end. Which is equally unacceptable because the world cannot live with double standards and hypocrisy and nuclear apartheid.

So as we say over and over again in our report, so long as any country has nuclear weapons others will want them. That's why we must have a nuclear weapon free world. There's no element of complacency about that, but what we are trying to do is in everything we have written in our report and all the advocacy we have done, we have tried to find a way of actually moving the debate forward without getting caught up in tired old debates that are absolutely going nowhere, of the kind that you are often forced to listen to in this building.

We want to try and work our way through that and actually move things forward. So I mean I absolutely don't accept at all that there is any degree of acceptance of what is manifestly unacceptable. It's just a matter of trying to fix it.


In terms of the CTBT — obviously you would like all countries to sign up to it and ratify, but which countries are the most important to move forward in the next few years — which countries would have the most influence?


You know that there is a stipulation in the treaty that certain countries will have to ratify for the CTBT to enter into force and in my mind America needs to ratify and President Obama has said that he has some intention to ratify and I do hope that it will come soon and once the United States ratifies we are hoping that some other countries will ratify, that the chain will spread. So ratification by the United States is very important.


I should add that in all our advocacy we have tried to say whatever the United States does, that's no reason why China and India and Pakistan and those outstanding Middle East countries shouldn't be doing it right now.

So should the Obama administration continue to have domestic difficulty in generating those 67 Senate votes that's still no reason whatsoever why the others shouldn't move and I think we all ought to be pushing that hard and in that context I think we all ought to applaud again Indonesia's announcement at the beginning of the NPT Conference that it would go down this path quite quickly — it's one of the relevant countries. That's exactly the kind of initiative we need from some of the outstanding countries.


I have one more question on the centre you proposed. What is the sort of rationale in establishing a new centre? I mean there are scores and scores of centres that probably with the right amount of special funding could do this job. Why a new centre?


I think basically because there is no single centre that exists anywhere in the world at the moment, no research institute or think tank that is genuinely international in character. SIPRI probably comes pretty close in Sweden, but its funding is still overwhelmingly from one government and it's physically located in one place. It also doesn't really engage in advocacy. It does a lot of excellent analysis and could unquestionably with a bit of funding support do the kind of report card thing that we have in mind and that's one way of advancing this if we can't find the resources to create a separate centre to work with existing bodies in one way or the other. But when you look at just about everyone else, they have a national badge on them of one kind or another. Even if they have got boards that are partly national and partly international, they have still got a national element about it.

So what we think would be extremely helpful in both the context of the report card and also the longer term objective of developing a convention is to have a really, really, really visibly international body of the kind that I've described with the functions that I've described. So that's the sort of value added. There is no point in creating another think tank just researching that whole spectrum of niche issues and policy issues that are going to arise. That work can be done and is being done quite well.

But to have a new body co-ordinating and shaping that research, including inputs from a lot of existing bodies in the areas that I mentioned, I think, would add real value. I mean tell us if you think otherwise. It's an ongoing debate about this, but generally we flagged the idea in our original report. We have been testing it over the last few months and there is quite a lot of support. The difficulty is to translate general support into cash, but we will see how we go.


I was wondering what the reactions from Austria look like to the future plans of the Commission? What is Austria's opinion to this?


Well we are very thankful to the Austrian Government for its offer of space, and it shows the far reaching thinking of the Austrian Government that what is important is to keep momentum, to keep this energy going on so that we will move further more to the elimination of nuclear weapons. We are really thankful.

We met the Austrian Foreign Minister today and he was commenting on the Report and he expressed appreciation for our work.


There's one other very important Austrian contribution in recent times. I think that was by Ambassador Alexander Marschik in his role as Chairman of the Subsidiary Committee on Disarmament in New York. By all accounts he played a very, very important and constructive role in getting such agreement as was possible on disarmament and also shaping the text in a way that is much more helpful than the usual rag bag of bits and pieces that come out of international conferences. I think he played a very important role and he also was very congratulatory for what it's worth of our Report. So we are returning the compliment to Ambassador Marschik. But the Austrians have been very significant players on this and hopefully will continue to be in the context of the centre.


I would also like to add that Austria has been one of the front runners on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues. When I was Foreign Minister I came here and we worked together on the promotion of the entry into force of the CTBT. Austria has a history of a front runner in this issue.


Would you prefer any city to be the headquarter of the centre over the other cities, personally?


If the Australian Government were to come with sufficient funding to sustain this, I would certainly like to see the core at least of the centre, and it would be not unreasonable to expect it, not so much in Sydney but maybe in Canberra at the Australian National University which is in the process right now of establishing a Kennedy School — type policy institute under which umbrella this could easily sit. But there is something perhaps a little bit strange about having as international a body as the kind that we are talking about right down the other end of the world. I don't think it's that far away but I know that's the way you think about it.

So I think what we have always had in mind in terms of an Australian supported institution that it would have potential outreach arms with possibly offices as part of the centre based here in Vienna and maybe in Geneva as well. So I think right from the beginning our concept was to think of it, if there were to be significant Australian support, to be visibly international in that way. But clearly everything depends on the personnel and having a visible cross-section of the world's regions, both in the centre and in the broad and in the way in which it does its business. You can do an awful lot these days in cyberspace, in a virtual universe, physical locations don't matter as much, but there is some very obvious synergy here in Vienna with the nuclear agencies. There is a little bit of synergy as well obviously in Geneva with the Conference on Disarmament in the UN headquarters there. So you know that's the way we are thinking at the moment, but it will just have to evolve over the next few months. We will see what happens.


Regarding on the setting up of the centre, is there any proposal coming from Japan? Because the Vienna-Australia, you know, proposal have already been made and since Australia and Japan, you know, is a co-chairmanship in setting up these committees and is there no further recommendations or requests coming out from Tokyo?


Well Japan has been one of the leading countries for nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. However, I am not in a position to speak for the government today, but I think the Japanese Government, regardless of the party in has always supported any initiative for that purpose. On this centre, I have not spoken to the Foreign Minister about this. I do not know yet at this point what their reaction will be on this.


Well there are quite a lot of institutions and centres and organisations of this kind already in the world and I would like to hear from both of you — what's the, well to put it very bluntly, what is the significance of creating yet another new institution or a centre of this kind?


It is a natural question, but we feel that that organisation, that centre with the functions, objectives that we described, and they are: first, making a report card vis-a-vis our recommendations and vis-a-vis the NPT Revcon recommendations agreement; two, talking about, discussing the nuclear convention and; three, be the centre of the information exchange on the study of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.

A centre that has functions like that has to be really international, in a true sense of the word. Will have to be neutral, will have to be international in character, cannot be an institution of some country. Be it Japan or America or whatever, it has to be truly international. And we do not see — and we talked about this — among existing organisations a centre that is very international in nature. And it's not only the research institution it also has to do advocacy work. And we do not see any international or any research institution that at the same time does the good advocacy work in addition to real good research. So this international nature and also combination of analysis and advocacy role is what is lacking in existing organisations. So that's the reason of why we feel that a new centre is needed for the purposes that I talked about.


Thank you, but first of all I would like to ask is it permitted for a Diplomat to talk, to ask?


Well I don't know what the rules are for the press group here, but other people are…


Okay, really while I was listening to Her Excellency, the Minister of Japan, commenting on the paragraph 20 of the Communique, with regard to India, Pakistan and Israel joining the NPT, provoked me in fact — sorry to be out of the framework here — but I have first of all I would like to thank you very much for your efforts which I believe is sincere. The second, commenting on this, you said there's — well in a question on Iran — it has to do such and such and such. But what about you know in the light of your paragraph 20 in the Communique and in the Review Conference, could we say that Israel has to do that? And the practical question, if one of the Arab countries or the Arab group presented a draft resolution, just calling simply on Israel in the light of your paragraph here and the Review Conference, could we say calling Israel to join the NPT, such as all the Arab countries they have done that already. Is it possible if you are representing your countries in the conference and the general conference to support such a quote? Thank you.


I don't know if you were here when I was answering a question from someone here. I said over and over again that the NPT is the system that the international community has for non-proliferation and disarmament. That is the pillar that the international community has and we have to do everything possible to follow this. That's the most important point that I made when I talked about India, Pakistan and Israel. And my answer to the question on Iran is based on the same thinking. It is something that we really have to preserve and foster. As I said and also Gareth said that our goal is to make it zero, the nuclear weapons zero.

And if we cannot get them to enter the NPT as non-nuclear weapon countries, should we keep demanding that they should? Of course we should. But what if the result produced is not a good result? So this paragraph 20 is written thinking of a situation like this. We need to put them under the obligations that the other other countries under the NPT has. And you have to come up — in realistic terms — with something so that we could move to zero. It's not desirable to keep demanding what we should be demanding really. But if it's blocking the way to get to zero, that's the way our Commission thought about this.

GARETH EVANS: There's lots more we could all say on this subject. But I don't think this is the time or place for a diplomatic discussion. It's time for the press to ask any remaining questions that you might have.

No one wanting to do that, so thank you all very much ladies and gentleman, appreciate your attendance. I look forward to seeing some more of you.


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