Address by Minister Cannon at the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

No. 2010/26 - New York City, New York - May 3, 2010

Check Against Delivery

Forty years after the Treaty [on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)] entered into force, and 15 years after it was extended indefinitely, this review conference offers a vital opportunity for States Parties to reaffirm the universal norms embodied in the NPT and to set its future direction. This conference must underline the NPT’s continued importance and uphold the 1995 bargain of “permanence with accountability.” We are now at a critical juncture, and it is imperative that we invest the collective political will necessary to achieve success.

Our collective mission is to ensure the NPT’s continued authority and effectiveness, while maintaining the balance reflected in the “grand bargain” of its three core components. 

On nuclear disarmament, we must strive for implementation of commitments already accepted. The 13 steps [agreed on by States Parties in 2000 toward implementing the NPT’s Article VI] remain a benchmark against which to assess progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. In this regard, we welcome the New START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] agreement between the United States and Russia as an important step toward a world without nuclear weapons. Canada also applauds the newly released U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, and welcomes U.S. efforts toward ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty [CTBT]. Canada calls upon all [CTBT] Annex II states required for the CTBT to enter into force to ratify this essential treaty as soon as possible.

We regret that further progress on nuclear disarmament, namely the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty, has been compromised by the protracted impasse in the Conference on Disarmament. The agreement to halt the production of weapons-usable fissile material will benefit all countries’ security interests.

Canada has, more than ever, demonstrated a strong commitment to strengthened national and international efforts to ensure that weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, do not spread to states or terrorists prepared to use them under any circumstances. Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper showed leadership at the April 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., by advancing non-proliferation as a theme for the upcoming G8 Summit. The 47 participating countries released a communiqué that highlighted the recognition of nuclear terrorism as a significant security threat, while demonstrating the commitment of all participants to enhancing nuclear security.

In March, in Gatineau [Quebec], G8 foreign ministers issued the Statement on Non-Proliferation, Disarmament and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy to highlight important elements to be addressed by the Review Conference. 

IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards are a fundamental part of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Although some progress has been made since the last review conference, it is still a concern that 21 States Parties have yet to sign and bring into force the comprehensive safeguards agreements required under Article III.1 of the Treaty.

Furthermore, the nature and scope of the IAEA’s annual verification exercise is limited for States Parties that have only a comprehensive safeguards agreement in force, particularly with respect to conclusions about the absence of undeclared nuclear material or activities in a state. This deficiency was addressed when the IAEA’s board of governors approved the Additional Protocol to the safeguards agreement. It would be an important step forward for the conference to recognize that a comprehensive safeguards agreement together with an additional protocol represents the new verification standard.

Canada remains a strong supporter of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. By increasing stability and predictability, the NPT enables further development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Article IV affirms the “inalienable right” of all States Parties to conduct research on, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. However, this right is explicitly linked to the requirement for compliance with the obligations in articles I, II and III.

This review conference is taking place after several serious challenges to its authority and integrity. The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] demonstrated its complete disregard for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament objectives by announcing its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003. We call upon the DPRK to return to the NPT, to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and to accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards on its nuclear programs.

This morning, [UN] Secretary-General Ban [Ki-moon] made it clear that the onus is on Iran to dissipate doubts and concerns about its nuclear ambitions. It is unfortunate that President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad decided to ignore that invitation and, instead, to deliver a predictable and aggressive statement.

In addition, Iran’s extensive past undeclared nuclear activities, together with its efforts to acquire the full nuclear fuel cycle without any justifiable reason, have led to deep concerns that it is seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability, contrary to its Treaty commitments. An immediate and complete end to Iran’s uranium enrichment and other delicate, proliferation-sensitive activities, in accordance with UN Security Council and IAEA obligations, would be the only objective indicator of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

Canada recognizes that regional security is a crucial consideration for those states that remain outside the Treaty. Canada supports efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. We also support efforts by states to make progress toward a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Canada calls upon the three states that have yet to adhere to the Treaty to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapons states. 

At the forefront of our efforts to support the Treaty this year is our proposal on institutional reform, contained in Working Paper 4. This paper, which has been co-sponsored by a cross-regional group of 17 States Parties, proposes specific actions to further strengthen the Treaty’s review process and to make that process more responsive to States Parties’ needs. We welcome further co-sponsorships of this initiative and hope that the actions proposed will be reflected in the outcome of this review conference.

Numerous challenges face us as we begin our work. But this is not a recipe for pessimism or for lack of ambition. On the contrary, it is a call for each of us to make a dedicated and determined effort, and to display the political will and flexibility necessary to arrive at a strong and balanced outcome that will reinforce the Treaty. This conference is taking place not just at a time of challenge but also at a time of renewed optimism and great opportunity. Let us seize that opportunity in support of our common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Thank you.