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First Committee of the 55th General Assembly

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  • Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the Item "Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency"
    New York, November 6, 2000

  • Statement by Mr. Pavol Sepelak, Representative of the Czech Republic in the First Committee at the 55th Session of the United Nations General Assembly
    New York, 5 October 2000

Statement by H.E. Mr. Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations on the Item "Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency"

Thank you, Mr. President,

Since the Czech Republic has joined the position presented on behalf of the EU and the associated countries by the head of the French delegation, I would like to touch only upon some of the topics that are of particular importance to my country.

Mr. President,

The peaceful uses of nuclear energy are inseparably connected with the implementation of safeguards and the improvement of the safeguards system of the IAEA. To demostrate its full commitment to the principles of the NPT the Czech Republic signed the Additional Protocol to the Safeguard Agreement on 28 September 1999 and since then the proper amendments to the relevant domestic legal acts have been drafted. These will be presented to the Czech Government this year, with the understanding that the Czech Parliament will act on them not later than in early 2001. Thus, the Czech Republic will be ready to ratify and implement the Additional Protocol in the very near future.

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic considers consistent implementation of safeguards, together with physical protection of nuclear materials - not only during international transport but also with respect to all operations related to nuclear material handling in the country's territory - to be the pillars of the system to prevent illegal trade in nuclear materials and to struggle against nuclear terrorism. We welcomed, and supported from the very beginning, the activities aimed at a review of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, and positively viewed the Informal Open-ended Expert Meeting initiated by the IAEA Director General. The Czech Republic is convinced that in close co-operation of member states, positive results can be reached in terms of deepening and strengthening the Convention.

Mr. President,

Nuclear power generation constitutes the main part of the peaceful use of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic. At the beginning of this year the Czech Government approved the country's new Energy Policy Strategy, which envisages further use of nuclear energy for electricity generation, thus enabling a desirable diversification of energy sources and consequently a substantial reduction of carbon dioxide emissions on one hand and of the exploitation of the Czech Republic's limited fossil fuel deposits on the other. At the same time the Czech Government perceives the highest possible level of nuclear safety and radiation protection as the necessary precondition for the use of nuclear power generating facilities. To make this aim feasible, the Czech legislative and regulatory framework has been profoundly reformed over the past few years. The recodified legislation reflects the experience with more that 50 reactor-years of the operation of the Dukovany NPP's four units, the current international practice (including IAEA recommendations) and, not least, the latest findings of science and research. The Czech Republic therefore has a modern legislation, under which the State's Regulatory Authority - State Office for Nuclear Safety - is furnished with sufficient independence, resources and competencies to be able to secure the highest level of nuclear safety and radiation protection with respect to all relevant activities.

The Czech Republic fully recognizes the international dimension of the nuclear safety and radiation protection issues. By using the mechanism of expert missions organized by the IAEA we have received an independent review of the licensing process as applied by the State Office for Nuclear Safety in case of the Temelín NPP as well as of the assessment of the plant's readiness for the start-up phase. The experts stated in their final reports that the Czech Republic has a firmly defined regulatory and legislative framework in place and that the licensing process is run in line with the world's best practice.They also positively viewed the Temelín NPP's readiness for the start-up. It goes without saying that all the partial recommendations of the missions were immediately implemented. The conclusions of both missions, as well as those of more than ten other missions that have taken place at the NPP over the past ten years, are publicly available and give a clear overview of the licence holder's, and the responsible governmental authorities' efforts to ensure the highest achievable level of nuclear safety of the facility.

Mr. President,

Having said that, I would like to stress that the Czech authorities have always been ready and willing to maintain a broad dialogue on cross-border aspects of the safety of the Temelín NPP, including the environmental ones. We have never failed to provide honest answers to questions posed in bilateral dialogues and to do so over and beyond our international legal commitments, both multilateral and bilateral.

Mr. President,

The Czech Republic has been involved in the IAEA Programme of Technical Co-operation for many years. The basic strategy of the country's involvement stems from the effort to balance the volume of technical assistance received under the Programme with the assistance provided by our country to other member states. Specifically, the Czech Republic has been increasing both the voluntary financial conributions and an in-kind assistance to selected national or regional projects. Between 1998 and 2000, the Czech Government allocated USD 200,000 to the project in Ukraine, the purpose of which is to install a new system for non-destructive inspection of VVER-1000 reactor vessels and recently USD 100,000 to a two-year programme to assist the nuclear regulatory authority of Armenia in the assessment of the integrity of the Medzamor NPP's primary circuit.We do believe that similar attitude of other countries could, in situation of a zero growth of the Agency´s budget, help to expand the activities under the Programme.

Mr. President,

At the end of my intervention, I would like to express the Czech Republic´s high esteem for the IAEA´s Director General Mr. Mohamed ElBaradei´s personal involvement and management skills that he uses in leading the Agency and an appreciation of the results the IAEA has achieved under his leadership in promoting international co-operation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Statement by Mr. Pavol Sepelak, Representative of the Czech Republic in the First Committee at the 55th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Mr Chairman,

On behalf of the delegation of the Czech Republic, may I first congratulate you on your election as Chairman of the First Committee of the 55th UNGA session. I am convinced that the deliberations of this Committee will be constructive and successful and wish to assure you that the Czech delegation will support all your activities within this demanding and responsible post and do all its best for the success of the Committee's work.

Though the Czech Republic has joined the position delivered on behalf of the EU and the associated countries by the French Presidency, I would like to briefly refer to my country's approach to some issues discussed at this forum.

The Czech Republic supports all practical steps aimed at the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means and the achievement of nuclear disarmament, both within multilateral and bilateral talks as well as within unilateral initiatives. In this connection I would like to mention this year's 6th Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Czech Republic regards the results it has achieved as positive. We have been supporting all efforts aimed at the achievement of NPT's universality and its implementation. We do agree with those countries asking for a speedy fulfillment of commitments arising out of the provisions of the Final Document of the Conference whose practical implementation will now demonstrate above all the political will of the contracting States Parties.

The Czech Republic is also an advocate of a speedy entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and calls on the states which have not yet signed or ratified the CTBT to do so without delay. However, an effective verification of the fulfillment of commitments arising out of the Treaty requires the finalization and practical testing of the International Monitoring System, at least the greater part of it. To this end, the Czech Republic has been actively participating in the building of a network of monitoring stations and a functioning network of information communication.

The Czech Republic is at the same time a resolute supporter of nuclear-free zones and zones free of other kinds of weapons of mass destruction. However, their establishment must proceed from the principle of free will of the participating countries, included in the principles approved by the April 1999 session of the UN Disarmament Commission. In our view, pressing for the establishment of nuclear-free zones in regions lacking political conditions and thus also the necessary consensus of all countries concerned would not be a very promising step.

Mr Chairman,

For a longer period of time the international community is facing threats posed by chemical and biological weapons. Effective implementation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention /BWC/ requires a speedy finalization of its Verification Protocol.

The Czech Republic in this connection welcomes and supports the initiative of the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Group of Experts, Hungarian Ambassador Tóth and believes that common approach of all States parties, based on pragmatism and compromise, will allow us to achieve proclaimed aim.

As to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Czech Republic is among those countries pressing for its universality. We appreciate the results achieved by the Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in Hague in building an effective verification system of compliance with the relevant commitments of the States parties as well as in the training of personnel and inspectors of the Organization in which my country also actively participates.

Mr Chairman,

As I have already mentioned, the Czech Republic sees the road towards a safer world above all in the continuation of the disarmament process and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In this context it continues to regard the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as one of the important factors of strategic stability in the world. Although we perceive the strengthening of defense capacities against a potential attack as an absolutely legitimate step any government can take, we are of the opinion that today the problem of security is a complex issue interlinking security interests of many countries. We are worried that the unilateral approach may renew the risk of the arms race with all its negative consequences well known from cold war era.

The Czech Republic supports all international efforts for greater transparency and a higher level of exchange of information on the manufacture and trade in conventional weapons, including the possibility to introduce a new register for certain kinds of small arms and light weapons used for military purposes to extend the existing UN Register for the so-called heavy conventional weapons in the form of an annex. The Czech Republic also supports efforts aimed at a greater control of transfers of small arms and light weapons and for the prevention of their destabilizing accumulations. In this context it attaches great importance to the UN Conference on illicit transfers of small arms and light weapons to be held in mid-2001. As to transparency in armament in general, the Czech Republic, as a regular contributor to the UN Registers of conventional weapons and military expenditures, supports the need for universality of contributions by member countries to these Registers and for a regular supply of the data required.

Also in the field of anti-personnel mines, the Czech Republic, as a country having ratified the Ottawa Convention in 1999, regards the universality of the Convention and its consistent implementation as of utmost importance. It is why the Czech Republic supports conclusions of the Second meeting of the Ottawa Convention held in September this year and express its preparedness for their realization.

Mr Chairman,

Let me use this opportunity to briefly mention the situation at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament. As a non-member of the Disarmament Conference, the Czech Republic shares the overall disappointment about the course of deliberations of this Conference or rather the continued stagnation of talks at this world disarmament forum, in particular because they in fact hinder the implementation of the conclusion of the 6th NPT Review Conference. The Czech Republic is of the opinion that the revitalization of this forum requires multiple political will of all participating countries especially nuclear states and states which are in a possession of nuclear weapons.

In this connection I would like to express the hope that the Disarmament Conference member states will make every effort for the opening of substantial negotiations not only on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty but also on other topical problems these states pledged to solve by adopting the Final Declaration of the 6th NPT Review Conference.

As for the membership of the Disarmament Conference my country holds the view that it should not be artificially frozen and all countries wishing to participate fully in its work should be allowed to do so without any delay. The Czech Republic is equally convinced that the enlargement of the Disarmament Conference membership would in no way be to the detriment of the effectiveness of negotiations taking place at this forum.

Let me recall, Mr. Chairman, that former Czechoslovakia was among the founding members of the Disarmament Conference and that the Czech Republic as one of its successor states is fully prepared to become a full-fledged member of this Conference.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion I would like to assure you of my country's continued full support for all efforts aimed at reviving the dynamism of the disarmament process. I also want to express the hope that the deliberations of the First Committee will contribute to a speedy implementation of practical steps adopted at various international forums on disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that would bring us closer to a gradual elimination of these weapons and strengthen world peace.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.