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Minister for Foreign Affairs welcomes outcome of nuclear weapons' conference

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, T.D. has welcomed the outcome of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) which ended its month-long session at UN Headquarters in New York yesterday. More than 170 States participated in the conference, which takes place every five years. Its purpose is to review progress on the implementation of the NPT which is the main international mechanism for controlling the spread of nuclear weapons. Ireland has a close association with the Treaty as it was a series of UN resolutions introduced by the then Minister for External Affairs, Frank Aiken T.D. in the late 1950s and early 1960s which led to the negotiation of the NPT. Ireland's pioneering role was recognised when we were invited to be the first country to sign the Treaty.

Commenting on the Review Conference outcome Minister Martin said:

"I am very pleased that the RevCon has managed to adopt a Final Document after marathon negotiations in which Ireland played a central role.

Nuclear disarmament has been a policy priority for successive Irish Governments of all political persuasions and, while the language adopted by the Conference on this pillar of the Treaty is less strong than Ireland and a majority at the conference would have liked, it nonetheless represents a significant step forward. The Treaty has faced serious challenges in recent years, including proliferation threats posed by Iran and North Korea. The RevCon has responded by strengthening the implementation of the non-proliferation provisions of the Treaty. It has also agreed on important new actions to be taken under the third pillar of the Treaty dealing with the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

During the Conference, Ireland worked in tandem with its partners in the New Agenda Coalition to hold the nuclear weapon States to their Treaty obligations. There have been some indications of a greater willingness on their part to acknowledge their nuclear disarmament obligations and be more open about their nuclear strategies. The UK, for example, gave detailed figures to the Conference about its nuclear weapon stockpile. The US did so earlier this month. Ireland will continue to monitor the undertakings given at the RevCon to make sure that promises made are kept.

I am particularly pleased that a significant breakthrough has been made on implementing the resolution calling for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Although this resolution dates from 1995, little progress has been made in its implementation. Understandably, this has been a cause of immense frustration, especially - though not only - in the Arab world. Ireland was asked by the Conference President, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines, to use its good offices to negotiate a way forward on this, one of the most politically sensitive issues of the Conference. Against expectations, we managed to secure the agreement of all parties involved for a framework leading to full implementation of the 1995 Resolution. This positive outcome after years of stalemate is, in part, testament to the high regard in which Ireland is held internationally, as well as to the negotiating skills of our team in New York. I would like to pay particular tribute to Ms Alison Kelly of my Department who chaired the working group which dealt with this particular aspect of the negotiations.”