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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Press Conference by President-Elect of 2010 Review Conference of Parties to Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

29 April 2010

Briefing correspondents today on the upcoming 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the President-elect of the Conference said that, while he was aware of the “landmines” that would make his task during the Conference much more challenging, he and his Government had invested much time, effort, energy and resources in order to contribute to the “global undertaking for a peaceful world”.

Speaking at United Nations Headquarters, Libran N. Cabactulan (Philippines) said that “all roads were paved and ready to go” for the Conference, which was scheduled to be held at Headquarters from 3 to 28 May. “Everybody, I would say, is really looking forward that this Review Conference will produce a positive, good outcome,” he added.

Mr. Cabactulan recalled that, following his confirmation as President-elect in May of last year, he had said that, while he could not promise States parties to the Conference success, he could promise “to hit the road early, roll up my sleeves and work very hard”. He had noted that his presidency would be characterized by neutrality and transparency.

He said that the Philippines had designed an engagement plan for the Conference, which encompassed four phases. The first phase included introducing him to the States parties, while the second and third stages related to clarifying the issues on the table and seeking information from the States parties on whether they had new proposals or ideas, as well as any priorities in setting up those proposals. The fourth phase -– which he was currently in -– entailed intensifying interaction with the States parties and informing them of the things he had gathered during the strategy’s second and third phases.

He added that the Philippine strategy had taken him to far places, including Japan and Moscow, among others, and almost to Tehran, although his plans had been derailed due to volcanic ash from the Icelandic eruption. He had wanted to go to Iran to “open up and to listen, and to see what could be done, all with the idea of contributing to a successful outcome”, he said.

To a question about the list of priorities given to him by delegations, Mr. Cabactulan said he had gathered from the States parties that their perceptions or definitions of success for the Conference’s outcome could be defined in terms of the range of decisions or agreements that could be reached regarding three challenges. Those challenges included the crafting of a disarmament plan that was both “doable and aggressive”, and which did not merely address the status quo; the laying of firm foundations for actions, negotiations or activities that must occur thereafter or in the future, including the prosecution to its logical conclusions of the resolution in 1995 on the Middle East; and a robust strengthening of the NPT regime so that it could respond to questions relating to implementation, withdrawal and other things that could push the NPT itself into secure ground.

He had also gathered from the States parties that focus would be given to, among other things, the question of universality, the so-called international nuclear convention and the issue of institutional support.

Asked about Iran’s participation in the Conference, and whether he anticipated that United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would meet the Iranian President during the Conference to discuss nuclear disarmament issues, he said that Iran was just one of the States parties, and all were equally important in terms of bringing their views to other States parties to find ways to provide a safer international world for all. He had encouraged an “early engagement” by States parties, including Iran.

Had he confirmed the attendance of the Iranian President, and what were his expectations if Mr. Ahmadinejad did attend? another correspondent asked. Mr. Cabactulan said he did not have a definitive confirmation that President Ahmadinejad would be there. He had been told that he would be, and arrangements were being made. It was desirable, in the context of the wish to examine the many viewpoints of those involved. It was a “marketplace” or democracy of ideas, and the right ideas must prevail.

Regarding universality, he said the issue was a real challenge to the international community and to the States parties. He challenged the States parties to think creatively about new directions and perceptions. Also, he said that, when discussing universality, it was necessary to mention Israel, Pakistan and India, and for the United States and the Russian Federation to do more. Another factor was the Middle East, which might solve the issue of universality if pushed to its logical conclusion –- the resolution of 1995.

Asked if he believed the world would be any safer at the conclusion of the Conference, he said it was really the States parties who would “deliver the beef”. His responsibility was huge, but he shared it with the States parties, and had made it clear to them that he counted and depended on them. The international community needed the real manifestation of political will and utmost flexibility to achieve global peace and security.

Responding to a question on whether he thought he could be useful to everyone, he said that the limits of possibilities were unknown. Just like with any engagement in diplomacy, there were limits and possibilities. Whether he would be really useful would be for others to judge.

Asked about the possibility of an agreement between the international community and Iran, he said it would be “extremely difficult” to answer such a question. It was always good to listen to other ideas and to be guided by the perceptions of others. He added that he welcomed everyone’s participation.

As for what obstacles could arise during the Conference that would result in its failure, Mr. Cabactulan said that a key issue related to the Middle East. He hoped the Conference would provide an opportunity for States parties to “really make things clear”, which would pave the way for many positive things to occur.

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For information media • not an official record

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