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

2002/12/17
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the Wilton Park Conference once again.  At present, the international situation is undergoing profound and complex changes.  Similar to the arms control and disarmament field, the nonproliferation efforts are also permeated with both challenges and opportunities.  Under such circumstances, it is timely and necessary for officials and scholars from various countries to meet here to draw upon the past, look into the future and to explore the best way to reinforce the nuclear non-proliferation efforts. My sincere tribute goes to the conference sponsors for their vision.

Now I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on how to reinforce efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation from China's perspective.

China has consistently stood for complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.  China is firmly opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery means.  China has steadfastly pursued a policy of not advocating, encouraging or assisting any other countries in developing nuclear weapons.  Our commitment to the strict implementation of this policy is beyond doubt.  Accusations by some western media against China's nuclear nonproliferation policy and practice are groundless.  Certain countries, out of ulterior motives, point fingers at China to flaunt their moral "loftiness" and policy "correctness".

China's unswerving position on nuclear non-proliferation is based on our firm belief that the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery means is detrimental to global and regional peace and security, and run counter to the common aspiration of the people and global trend to preserve peace and promote development.  It certainly is not in China's national interest either.  That is why China actively participates in international nonproliferation efforts.  China was among the first to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  China supported the indefinite extension of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  China has completed its domestic legal procedure for the entry into force of the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), thus becoming the first among the five nuclear-weapon states that has done so.  That is why China exercises stringent management and control over its nuclear exports.  China has put in place a complete and effective export control system.  Such practices as end-use and end-user guarantee system, licensing system, control list and the "catch-all" principle have all been adopted by China.  China's Nuclear Export Control List and Export Control List of Nuclear Dual-use Items and Related Technologies cover all the items and technologies contained in the "Zangger Committee" list and the control list of Nuclear Suppliers Group.  That is why China has pursued the no-first-use policy and undertaken unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against nuclear-weapon-free states and nuclear-weapon-free zones.  It is also for this reason that China is not in favor of the development and deployment of missile defense systems that may disrupt global strategic balance and stability.

The driving force behind nuclear proliferation is multifold, involving security, prestige, and political and economic factors.  In this connection, different people may have different views.  However, judging from the history of nuclear weapon research and development, I am of the view that the security considerations represent the critical impetus for a country to embark on the path of nuclear weapon development.  In other words, the main driving force behind nuclear weapon development and proliferation is to safeguard one's own security.  Therefore, only by eliminating the driving force behind nuclear weapon development, could the proliferation of such weapons be checked.

The existence of nuclear "haves" and "have-nots" is left over from history.  It is all the more natural for nuclear "have-nots" to feel threatened when facing nuclear "haves".  To rid of their security concerns, there are two options.  First, all go nuclear.  Second, complete prohibition and thorough destruction of all nuclear weapons.  Obviously, the former brews too great risk to realize, whereas the latter remains the sole feasible option.

Complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons is the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament.  It cannot be realized overnight.  Unremitting efforts have to be made for generations to come.  

To this end, first and foremost should be the improvement of international and regional security environment, enhancement of common security for all by fostering a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation.

Secondly, nuclear disarmament should be carried out in parallel with nuclear nonproliferation, walking with two legs, so to speak.  Only by ensuring no more proliferation of nuclear weapons can nuclear-weapon states firmly reduce their nuclear arsenals.  Only when nuclear-weapon states are faithfully committed to the nuclear disarmament process can the driving force behind nuclear nonproliferation be eliminated.  Such tendencies as putting undue emphasis on nuclear nonproliferation while neglecting nuclear disarmament obligations; requesting nuclear nonproliferation from other parties while shelving their own nuclear nonproliferation commitments; possessing huge nuclear arsenals while advocating preemptive strikes against others, etc., can only aggravate nuclear proliferation situation.

Thirdly, nuclear weapons per se can not be categorized as good or bad.  All of them should be completely prohibited and thoroughly destroyed no matter the ownership.  Nuclear nonproliferation permits no double or even multiple standards.

Again, the fundamental solution of suspicious nuclear weapon development programs lies in the improvement of international and regional security environment.  Whether to accede to a treaty is the sovereign choice of one state.  Once acceding to a treaty, the state should faithfully fulfill its obligations and commitments.  Should unfortunate things happen, the international legal procedure of dialogue, consultation and clarification represents the only feasible solution.  Non-compliance is a serious issue.  Suspicion is allowed, but more importantly, hard evidence should be presented.  Wanton resort to economic sanctions or use of force can only prove to be counterproductive.

In a nutshell, nonproliferation of nuclear weapons lies in the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.  Prior to this end, all countries should strictly comply with existing nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation treaty obligations, and negotiate and conclude new treaties, including a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT).  Since nuclear nonproliferation does not exist alone, we should try to improve international and regional security environment, abrogate the practice of double standard so as to create necessary conditions for achieving this objective.

Finally, I call upon the international community to join hands to strengthen the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and to enhance the international cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Thank you very much.
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