The UN Security Council Meeting on Nonproliferation of WMDs, April 22, 2004On March 24 Russia, with the United States, submitted to the UN Security Council a draft resolution on the nonproliferation of WMD, their delivery vehicles, and related materials. The draft had been prepared in the course of the intensive consultations held among the five permanent Council members.
Russia was among the initiators of the development of the resolution, which proceeds from its principled line on combating a serious challenge of our time: the threat of the proliferation of WMD and their delivery vehicles. "And the most dangerous thing," as President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin stressed at the 58th session of the UN General Assembly, "is if they get into terrorist hands."
On April 22 the United Nations Security Council held an open debate on the threat to international security posed by Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), especially if they should pass through black markets and fall into private hands.
The aim of the resolution is to strengthen international cooperation among the UN member states in combating illegal WMD traffic. One task of the document is to orient states towards the prevention of WMD and proliferation-sensitive materials from getting into the hands of non-state entities, primarily for terrorist purposes.
In this regard, Russia considers it important that effective legislative measures should be taken at the national level to erect a reliable barrier against leaks of WMD and related materials to "black markets," and that multilateral cooperation be developed in the fight against this phenomenon. Of course, the entirety of the work must be predicated on international law and national legislation, without hindering legitimate peaceful cooperation.
The tragedy of September 11, 2001 and the acts of terrorism in Moscow, Madrid, Tokyo, and a number of other cities of the world have demonstrated with distressing obviousness what is perhaps the chief present-day threat: terrorism. The Security Council took an active stance on countering this threat by passing the well-known Resolution 1373—which highlighted the close relationship between international terrorism, organized crime, and illegal trafficking in nuclear, chemical, biological, and other materials carrying a threat to human life—and called for coordinating national, sub-regional and international efforts to strengthen a global response to the challenges and threats to international security.
The problem of the existence of WMD black markets merits particular attention. This is the most dangerous market. Terrorists are resourceful and will stop at nothing to get components for the production of WMD to strike a blow at innocent people. The draft resolution would have states act to prevent WMD and proliferation-sensitive materials from falling into non-state actors' hands to be used primarily for terrorist purposes.
In the debate that attracted about 50 speakers, Ambassador James Cunningham of the United States said a draft resolution to be adopted in the coming days would respond to the growing threat that the proliferation of WMD and the means to deliver them posed to global security.
If non-state actors were able to get such weapons, they could blackmail and threaten entire regions, Mr. Cunningham said. Organizations such as al-Qaeda (which carried out the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001) had not hidden their desire to acquire WMD. If such groups got them, they could bring destruction and suffering of an unimaginable scale.
Mr. Gatilov, Russian Ambassador to the UN, supported the establishment of a Security Council committee to monitor implementation of the eventual resolution.
Ambassador Wang Guangya of China, noting that his proposals were already reflected in the latest draft, said the Council meeting would help improve the text for a security environment in which it was vital to strengthen international cooperation and improve the nonproliferation regime to respond effectively to threats of terrorism.
To ensure the success of nonproliferation efforts, the text would have to recognize the legitimate right of countries to use such technologies for peaceful purposes, he said.
The world was now in an "era of wholesale terrorism," when the most dangerous technology was becoming available, said Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France. The international community could not remain passive.
France supported inserting references to disarmament obligations into the preamble of the text and enhancing the monitoring mechanism, he said.
Bringing in such issues as disarmament would risk deadlock and treading on the toes of other international disarmament bodies, said Ambassador Adam Thomson of the United Kingdom.
The text promoted the strengthening of multilateral treaties and did not rule out future arrangements to deal with any gaps in the international framework. It was about a cooperative approach to tackling non-state actors, he added.
The resolution, if approved by the UN Security Council, will supplement the existing nonproliferation mechanisms and can become an effective instrument in combating new-generation challenges in this field.
Sources of information: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, news bulletin