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Background Paper -- "Reinforcing Efforts to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation: China's Perspective--Speech by Ambassador SHA Zukang at the Wilton Park Conference

2002/12/17
Respected Director,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to participate once again in the Wilton Park Conference.  At present, the international situation is undergoing profound and complex changes.  Similar to the arms control and disarmament field, the nonproliferation front is also permeated with both challenges and opportunities.  Therefore, it is at once timely and necessary for officials and scholars from various countries to meet here to draw on the past, look into the future and to explore the best way to reinforce the efforts at nuclear nonproliferation.  My sincere tribute goes to the conference organizers for their vision.

Over the past twelve months, the trend toward a multi-polar world and economic globalization keeps growing and the main themes of our times continue to be peace and development.  In the meantime, uncertainties bearing on peace and development are on the rise.  Traditional and non-traditional threats to security are intertwined and the scourge of terrorism is more acutely felt.  As an important component of the collective security architecture, the international regime of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction has played a critical role in maintaining world peace and stability.  New circumstances further highlight the significance of strengthening it.  Proceeding from the relevant policies and practices of China, I would now like to share with you my views on how to reinforce the efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation.

I.  China's Policy and Practices in Nuclear Nonproliferation Field

China has always stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction and is firmly opposed to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.  China has steadfastly pursued a policy of not advocating, encouraging or assisting any other country in developing weapons of mass destruction.  China's policy and practice in nuclear nonproliferation give eloquent proof of its unswerving position. Concrete examples include:

First, China has actively participated in the international efforts at nuclear nonproliferation.  China is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the "Zangger Committee", which is a control mechanism for nuclear exports.  China was among the first to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996 and has been both supportive of and actively involved in the work of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).  To demonstrate its strong support for the efforts by states to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones, China has acceded to and ratified the relevant protocols to the treaties on the nuclear-weapon-free zones in Latin America and the Caribbean, South Pacific and Africa. In addition, China has made an unequivocal commitment to sign the related protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones.  China welcomes the conclusion, by five Central Asia states, of the Treaty on the Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones and is ready to sign its related protocol.  Among the five nuclear-weapon states, China was the first to complete the domestic legal procedure for the ratification of the Additional Protocol to the Strengthened Safeguard Agreement with IAEA.

Secondly, China exercises stringent control and management of nuclear exports.  Since the reform and opening-up, especially since China joined the World Trade Organization, China and the rest of the world have grown ever closer in their economic ties with interactions more and more frequent.  Therefore, it is imperative for China's export control mechanism to dovetail with common international practice and to put in place and improve a legal system of export control that is open, transparent and in line with the principle of the socialist market economy. Now, China has established a rather comprehensive system of export control covering nuclear, biological, chemical, missile and other fields.  General practices such as end-use and end-user guarantee system, licensing system, control list and the "catch-all" principle have all been incorporated into China's export controls in nuclear, biological, chemical, missile and other fields.

In the nuclear field, companies designated by China's State Council monopolize its nuclear exports while adhering to the following three principles: they must be used only for peaceful purpose, placed under IAEA safeguards and not transferred to a third country without prior consent of the Chinese government.  The Regulations of the PRC on Nuclear Export Controls promulgated by China also give expression to the policy of not rendering any assistance to nuclear facilities that are not placed under IAEA safeguards.  China's Nuclear Export Control List and Export Control List of Nuclear Dual-use Items and Related Technologies cover all the items and technologies included in the "Zangger Committee" list and the control list of Nuclear Suppliers Group.

In the missile field, China has all along taken a prudent and responsible attitude towards the export of missiles and related technologies.  In 2000, China declared that it had no intention to assist any country in any way in the development of ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons.  Of late, the Chinese government has promulgated the Regulations on Export Control of Missiles and Missile-related Items and Technologies and the Export Control List.  The Regulations and List, in the light of China's actual conditions and the prevailing international practice, are basically identical to the Annex to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in terms of scope and relevant parameters.

Since today's topic is nuclear nonproliferation, I have confined myself to elaborating on China's nuclear and missile policies and practices.  It should also be pointed that in the biological and chemical field, China, as a state party to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, has always fulfilled its obligations to the letter and exercised tight control over relevant sensitive items.  Recently, China promulgated the Regulations on the Export Control of Dual-use Biological Products and Related Equipment and Technologies and Export Control List, the Administrative Rules on the Export Control of Relevant Chemical and Related Equipment and Technologies and Export Control List so as to further refine the export management by law over relevant items.

Furthermore, in its relevant legal provisions governing export control, China has clearly defined the rights and obligations of the competent authorities in the production, operation and export of sensitive items in nuclear, biological, chemical, missile and other fields. They also provide for punitive measures against breaches of relevant laws and regulations.

Thirdly, China actively promotes nuclear disarmament.  China has always advocated the comprehensive prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.  Since the first day when it came into possession of nuclear weapons, China has undertaken no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones.  China has always exercised restraint in the development of nuclear weapons, the sole purpose of which is self-defense.  China has no intention of threatening any country's security, nor will it be party to any arms race.  The Chinese government is working towards the early ratification of CTBT.  China has always supported the negotiation and conclusion of FMCT and hopes that the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva will reach agreement at an early date on a comprehensive and balanced programme of work in order to start substantive work on outer space, nuclear disarmament, FMCT, negative security assurances and other items.  China has made unique contribution to international nuclear disarmament and the nuclear nonproliferation process.

China will be relentless in strengthening its nuclear nonproliferation mechanisms.  In future, we will, on the one hand, continue to beef up the law enforcement efforts and promote greater awareness of policies and laws so as to ensure the full implementation of the existing laws and regulations.  On the other hand, we will not cease from consolidating and improving the current legal and management mechanisms in the spirit of keeping pace with the times.

II. How Can the International Community Prevent Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery has complex root causes and context. Various factors are at play, such as history, ethnicity, religion and regional conflicts.  As a Chinese proverb goes, it takes more than one cold day for the river to freeze three feet deep.  Likewise, the problem cannot be completely solved overnight.  In seeking appropriate solutions, we should be guided by the principle of tackling both the symptom and the root cause through political and diplomatic means.  Any wanton resort to sanctions and force, using violence to counter violence, cannot but aggravate the confrontation and will serve no useful purpose.

There is one Chinese saying: "to stop the water from boiling, it is better to take away the firewood from under the pan than scooping up the water and pouring it back."  In the context of nuclear nonproliferation, it means the creation of a favorable international security environment and the enhancement of universal security for all so as to eradicate the root causes of the risk of nuclear proliferation.  Therefore, China believes that we should have confidence in each other on security and work together to safeguard it.  We also need to foster a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation so as to bring about a win-win situation.

Practices over past years have proved that the international legal regime of nuclear nonproliferation is conducive to maintaining and preserving international peace and promoting broad participation by states in the nuclear nonproliferation process.  Imperfect as the system might be, it renders all the more saliently the importance of preserving and strengthening its integrity and authority.  Any infringement on the system will have adverse effects on international and regional security.

The final destination of nuclear nonproliferation is the complete and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.  Efforts at nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are naturally mutually reinforcing and interactive.  The present situation calls for the strengthening of nuclear nonproliferation efforts rather than their slackening.  First, CTBT should enter into force and be implemented.  We are deeply concerned about the report on the possible resumption of nuclear tests.  Secondly, FMCT should be negotiated and concluded so as to effectively deal with both the "qualitative" and the "quantitative" aspects of nuclear weapons.  The process of drastically reducing nuclear arsenals by the US and the Russia Federation should continue and be carried out in an irreversible and verifiable manner.  Special attention must be paid to the extremely dangerous tendency of weaponizing the outer space (including the extension of missile defense into outer space). Should it go unchecked, such tendency would undermine the nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament efforts.

People often talk about the need to abandon the Cold War mindset.  In the nuclear field, the first step should be to renounce the deterrence policy characterized by the first use of nuclear weapons and reduce their role in national security strategies.  All five nuclear-weapon states should undertake no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances and conclude a legally binding international instrument to assure unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones, thus creating a favorable environment for deepening the nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Greatly contributing to this objective will be the promotion of international cooperation of peaceful use of nuclear energy, which is the one of three objectives of NPT.

Nowadays, we cannot talk about nuclear nonproliferation without referring to the issue of nuclear terrorism.  China opposes terrorism of any form.  Objectively speaking, the tremendous powers of nuclear weapons are very tempting to terrorists. The less-than-ideal protection of nuclear materials by states has rendered nuclear terrorism a real threat.  Hence the need for us to maintain sharp vigilance and adopt practical measures on one hand, correctly guide the public opinion and reduce unwarranted panic on the other.  China supports the study and conclusion of amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material under the auspices of IAEA so as to further strengthen the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities.  Meanwhile, it is necessary to strengthen international cooperation in guarding against and keeping in check nuclear terrorism through improved information exchange.

III. How to Deal with the Suspicions about Developing Nuclear Weapons Programs?

Over a period of time, North Korea's nuclear weapon program and the Iraq issue have attracted attention of various parties.  The key to the fundamental solution of the problem lies in improving international and regional security environment and removing the incentives for acquiring and developing nuclear weapons.  Nuclear proliferation concerns should be resolved in strict accordance with the obligations and procedures of relevant international law.  All are equal before the law.  The consultation, clarification and verification procedures laid down in international treaties are not merely window-dressing.  The solution for non-compliance concerns demands conclusive evidence.

The key to resolving North Korea's nuclear issue is to assure a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula and to assure a peaceful solution through dialogue and other peaceful means.  As a state party of NPT, China hopes that the members concerned will honor their obligations under the treaty to the letter and respect the South-North Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsular and the 1994 Agreed Framework.  Maintaining peace and stability in Korean peninsula is in the interests of all countries.  China will, as in the past, continue to work towards this end.

With regard to Iraq issue, the international community has generally supported and welcomed the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1441 by the UN Security Council.  Iraq has accepted the resolution and submitted the report to the UN on time. And the UN weapons inspection team has returned to Iraq without a glitch.  We sincerely hope that all parties will, in the spirit of cooperation, work towards a final political solution of Iraq issue under the auspices of the UN.

What bears pointing out is the unresolved nuclear issue in South Asia.  The situation is fertile ground for danger. The implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1172 is still the only way out.  

Finally, I call on the international community to join hands in working towards strengthening the international nuclear nonproliferation mechanism and enhancing the international cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Thank you very much.
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