Singapore backs permanent extension of treaty

Non-Proliferation Treaty ————————
SINGAPORE has declared its backing for a permanent extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) free of major new demands on the nuclear powers.

“It is too important a treaty for us to put under the threat of termination,” said Miss Viji Menon, Singapore’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

“We have always been committed to the cause of nuclear disarmament and regard the NPT … as one of the cornerstones ofglobal security,” she said in a speech on Thursday at the UN in New York on the fourth day of an historic conference to renew the pact.

She noted that despite its “shortcomings in some areas”, the NPT had been successful in containing the spread of nuclear weapons.

“The treaty could and should be strengthened. We are not convinced, however, that giving it a limited life span is the best way to do it.”

The NPT recognises five nuclear powers – the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China – and obliges its other 173 signatories to forswear atomic arms forever. In exchange, the five powers are supposed to work “in good faith” towards total nuclear disarmament.

The treaty, credited with preventing a nuclear free-for-all in the world, came into force in 1970 for only a 25-year guaranteed run.

At the end of the month-long conference, member nations must decide whether to extend it indefinitely, or for a fixed period or periods.

Some in the Third World want to renew the treaty for fixed periods, making each extension contingent on the nuclear powers’ achieving such goals as a nuclear test ban treaty, a ban on production of bomb material and deeper reductions in nuclear arsenals.

US diplomats will resist linking the treaty’s life to such benchmarks.

Washington has been working to get a majority of nations to support a permanent extension of the treaty.

Miss Menon said there was an urgent need for greater efforts, particularly by nuclear-armed countries, to meet the treaty’s aims.

By signing the NPT, non-nuclear-weapon states had agreed to forego the nuclear option: “It is now contingent on the nuclear-weapon states to demonstrate unequivocally their resolve to honour their part of the bargain.”

She said Singapore hoped to see a strong endorsement of Article VI of the treaty “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race”.

She called for a clear political commitment from nuclear states to pursue disarmament.

This would entail working towards an early conclusion of disarmament treaties such as a comprehensive test-ban treaty and security assurances for non-nuclear states.

She said Resolution 984 adopted by the UN Security Council last month on security assurances for non-nuclear states was a step in the right direction. Singapore would like to see the establishment of a strong review mechanism to ensure that all parties met their obligations under the NPT, she said.

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