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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Hu Xiaodi on ABM Treaty at the First Committee of the 55th General Assembly

2000/10/18

Mr. Chairman:

The Chinese delegation wishes to thank the representative of the Russian Federation for his introduction of the Draft Resolution "Preservation of and Compliance with the ABM Treaty " (A/C.1/55/L2). I would now make a few comments on matters related to this issue.

First, at a time when the ABM Treaty is at risk of being weakened or even repealed, it is an urgent task of the international community to preserve and comply with the ABM Treaty. The ABM treaty which was concluded in 1972 constitutes the cornerstone of the global strategic balance and international security, and the basis of further reduction of offensive strategic weapons and prevention of mass destruction weapon proliferation. However, a country concerned, in seeking unilateral absolute security and military superiority, is pushing hard for its NMD program and has repeatedly called for a revision of the ABM Treaty. It even threatened to withdraw from it if no agreement is reached to its revision.

Weakening or overturning the ABM Treaty, coupled with the development and deployment of the NMD system, will inevitably lead to serious consequences, upsetting the global strategic balance and stability, compromising mutual trust among the states, impeding multilateral as well as bilateral arms control and disarmament processes and jeopardizing international non-proliferation efforts. It will also lead to the weaponization of outer space and trigger a new round of arms race.

Last year, this committee as well as the UN General Assembly adopted by an overwhelming majority the Resolution on "Preservation of and Compliance with the ABM Treaty" co-sponsored by the Russian Federation, Belarus and China. Its adoption is a clear testimony to the political will of the international community to oppose the deployment of NMD and revision of the ABM Treaty. It has shown that the overwhelming majority of the countries in the world want to maintain the global strategic balance and stability. They do not want to see an erosion of the positive results achieved since the end of the cold war by the international community in the areas of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, nor do they wish to see that NMD becomes a negative factor jeopardizing trust and impeding cooperation.

Second, Mr. Chairman, since the beginning of this year, there have been some important developments with regard to the missile defense issue. Various countries have become increasingly aware of the harmful effects of the NMD development. More and more countries have expressed their anxiety and concern at this. With the relaxation of tension in certain regions, the excuse that NMD is developed to counter the missile threat of the so-called "states of concern" is even more untenable.

In the meantime, we have also noted that there are still some different views on the ABM Treaty and NMD. Meanwhile the said country has spread all kinds of seemingly plausible but actually false views in an attempt to confuse the issue. The Chinese delegation believes that it is necessary to use this opportunity to take a close look at these views so as to clarify the issue.

1. Some argue that the ABM Treaty and the NMD is an issue that mainly concerns the big powers such as the United States and Russia and have little to do with other countries. It is also held that the implementation and revision of the ABM Treaty should be determined by the State parties to the Treaty and that there should be no involvement of this committee on this issue. It is the view of the Chinese delegation that security has always been a mutual concept. In today's world, all countries find increasing common security interests and challenges. As a cornerstone of the global strategic balance, the ABM's significance and implications far exceed the bilateral relations between the United States and Russia and concern the security interests of all the countries. Should the NMD be deployed, the results achieved over many years in bilateral and multilateral disarmament and arms control will go down the drain. Furthermore, once the global strategic balance is upset, the tendency towards unilateralism in international affairs can only increase rather than decrease. The global as well as regional security will also have to face new uncertainties. When this occurs, all countries, big or small, strong or weak, State parties or non-State parties to the ABM Treaty, will feel its impact. It is therefore in the common interest of the entire international community to safeguard the integrity and validity of the ABM Treaty and urge the relevant country to abandon its NMD Plan. Each and every country has an obligation and duty to do its part to further this goal. Likewise, as an important forum on international security and disarmament, this committee ought to attach great importance to and consider this important issue, so as to halt the above mentioned negative development as well as its grave consequences.

2. It is asserted that the ABM Treaty was concluded more than 20 years ago and went though amendments in the past. Its further revision in the light of the changing situation is therefore justified. I would like to point out that the arms control treaties concluded in the past should indeed adapt themselves to the changing international situation. The question is, is the ABM Treaty still suitable for the current international situation? My answer is yes. The ABM Treaty is still the cornerstone of the global strategic stability, which is a common understanding among almost all countries. Secondly, the past arms control and disarmament treaties are of course amendable. However, amendments should be aimed at promoting the Treaty's purposes and objectives and enhancing international peace and security, not the other way around. If amendments have the effect of compromising its purposes and objectives and jeopardizing international peace and security, such "amendments" naturally should be opposed and rejected. The present proposal for the revision of the Treaty obviously falls into the later category. The argument that past revisions of the ABM Treaty justify new ones is totally untenable. The key is the purpose and effect of amendments. Amending the ABM Treaty to pave the way for NMD deployment is in essence an attempt to repeal the Treaty on the pretext of proposing amendments.

3. Some hold the view that since the country in question decided not long ago that it would not be committed to deployment of the NMD for the time being, it is not necessary for the international community to concern itself with this issue any more. It goes without saying that the above decision is a wise one. It shows that the concerns and anxiety of the international community have prompted this country to reflect upon its NMD plan. However, it must be seen that this does not mean that the NMD has been abandoned. In fact, the R& D in this field has stepped up. The tests are continuing rather than coming to an end. We must be fully aware of this. In view of the above, the international community must as always follow these developments closely and continue to urge the State parties to the ABM Treaty to strictly comply with the Treaty.

4. Some argue that what the country is developing is just a limited NMD system, so there is nothing to worry about. It must be pointed out that the ABM Treaty prohibits all kinds of NMD systems. Any NMD, be it limited or large-scale, is therefore a violation of the Treaty. As a matter of fact, the NMD being developed by the country concerned can not be a limited one. If a limited NMD is put in place, it will inevitably be expanded, eventually evolving into a " limitless" NMD. Once the Pandora's box is opened, there will be endless consequences.

Mr. Chairman,

In recent years, the missile issue has become more and more outstanding. The Chinese delegation holds that the missile issue is a complicated one. Any unilateral approach or measures detrimental to global strategic stability will not effectively solve this problem. To resolve this problem fundamentally, all countries should be committed to promoting the establishment of a just and rational new international political order, rejecting the practice based on power politics and abuse of armed force, and further strengthening the regional and international security. Furthermore, the missile issue in all its aspects should be dealt with in a comprehensive and objective manner by establishing a universal and non-discriminatory global regime through broad international dialogue and cooperation.

Mr. Chairman

During this session of the GA, the Russian Federation, Belarus and China again co-sponsor a draft resolution on the preservation of and compliance with the ABM Treaty. This draft resolution is entirely constructive in nature and not directed against any country. Our starting point is not to seek confrontation but to maintain global strategic balance and stability and promote nuclear disarmament. We hope that it will get support from more countries this year. In the meantime, we also hope that the country concerned will listen more seriously to the voice of the international community and make a right decision in the fundamental interest of all countries and peoples of the world by abandoning its NMD plan which harms all while benefiting none.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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