Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

Persbericht 12-10-1999


Bericht van Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken


Minister Van Aartsen van Buitenlandse Zaken opent vandaag, dinsdag 12 oktober, de jaarlijkse plenaire vergadering van het Missile Technology Controle Regime (MTCR). De conferentie duurt tot en met vrijdag 15 oktober en vindt plaats in Hotel Oranje te Noordwijk. Nederland vervult vanaf vandaag voor de duur van één jaar het voorzitterschap van het MTCR.

Het MTCR is opgericht in 1987 met het doel de export van raketten en rakettechnologie voor massavernietigingswapens te controleren. 32 landen nemen deel in het MTCR, waaronder alle EU-lidstaten, de VS, Rusland en Canada maar ook landen als Brazilië, Argentinië en Zuid-Afrika.

Hieronder volgt de tekst van de openingstoespraak van de minister.

Welkomstwoord Minister Van Aartsen bij de opening van de plenaire vergadering van het Missile Technology Controle Regime 1999

Noordwijk, 12 oktober 1999

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the 1999 Plenary Meeting of the Missile Technology Control Regime in Noordwijk! The Netherlands is honoured to take on the Chairmanship for the coming twelve months.

Not without reason have we chosen this charming seaside resort as the backdrop for this gathering. The stormy seas that are common at this time of year have always served as a great source of inspiration to the Dutch, to painters, thinkers and politicians alike. I trust that the sea, whether calm or stormy, will also help to inspire us in our efforts to take on the challenges we are faced with by the increasingly complex international proliferation environment. This is the task the MTCR must fulfil and I expect this Plenary Meeting will succeed to take important steps on the way to accomplishing this task.

First of all, however, allow me to commend you all on the results the MTCR has been ableto achieve to date. For in the 12 years of its existence the regime has been able to fulfil its principal objective, that is to stem the flow of missiles and sensitive missile technology to areas of concern. Our self-constraint as major producers of goods and services in this field has been greatly instrumental in containing the global missile proliferation threat.

This is all the more an achievement, since the MTCR has to do its work in uncharted waters: for unlike the weapons of mass destruction, for which missiles are used as means of delivery, there are no international legal instruments which regulate the development, production and deployment of the missiles themselves! The MTCR has therefore had to try to achieve its goals without the support of a parent treaty such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, and the support structures that accompany them, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Netherlands traditionally attaches utmost importance to these treaties and their organizations and is proud to be the host of the OPCW and as you all undoubtedly know we are confident that in the near future we may also welcome the new Organization for the Prohibition of Biological Weapons in The Hague.

The lack of such a global instrument regulating missile technology is the principal reason why, despite the success MTCR has had, the proliferation is unfortunately still not under control. Indeed it can be said that we are today facing a new challenge, which is building up outside the direct scope and control of the MTCR. Indigenous rocket programs which are no longer dependent on the acquisition of high technology from MTCR Partners are under way in non-MTCR countries. And many of these countries are all too eager to supply their products to third countries. This is, in short, the main challenge we are facing today.

Developments around the world are discomforting: India and Pakistan do not limit themselves to testing nuclear devices, they are also developing means to deliver such weapons of mass destruction. Iran too is developing long-range missiles, that will be able to strike at the heart of Europe if they continue unchecked. And although North Korea has agreed to a moratorium on the testing of its new long-range missile, this by no means implies that it has discontinued their missile programs altogether. Unfortunately these are only some of the countries that give rise to concern.

An additional threat to international peace and stability is the effect that missile programs have on neighboring countries in the region: it is obvious that the countries around the Arabian Gulf feel very uncomfortable with missile developments in Iran. South Korea and Japan, but also countries further away, feel nervous about North Korea's missile program. If we are not vigilant, more and more countries will seriouslyconsider acquiring missiles and missile technology to safeguard their national security. Missile proliferation is therefore increasingly becoming a major threat to regional and global security. Something should be done to address these developments urgently. We need a concerted effort to close the loopholes in what is already an impressive framework dealing with the full range of non-proliferation issues.

Since there are no alternatives at hand, the MTCR, being the only forum dealing with missile proliferation, is the forum most suited to initiate action in this respect. This creates a certain responsibility. The MTCR unites countries that have a common concern for proliferation and more specifically for the uncontrolled proliferation of missiles and their technology. We strive to optimize measures to prevent the unwanted flow of goods and services in that field. We are also very well placed to discuss what else should and could be done to counter the proliferation that occurs in spite of existing controls. This does not mean that the MTCR should itself take on a larger, more encompassing role of an "anti-missile technology organization", but at the very least I believe it can and should serve as a breeding ground for ideas that can be carried forward, possibly in other settings and as a catalyst.

In view of the urgency of the threats we are facing, the chair aims at utilizing this Plenary to initiate an in-depth discussion on these issues. In the course of such discussions we should not be afraid to ask ourselves some fundamental questions. Do we need a normative instrument that is lacking in the missile proliferation field to date? If so, what shape should this instrument take? Can or should the MTCR initiate such an instrument, or perhaps even take on that role? Or is the United Nations the proper place where such measures could be further developed? How would we make sure that all relevant countries would indeed join such an instrument? Important questions which you will certainly address in the coming days.

Ladies and gentlemen, in light of the important work that lies ahead I would not like to take up more of your time. I hope that you will have a successful discussion that will result in a way forward for the MTCR, but also in a wider sense, for the international community as a whole in combating the uncontrolled spread of missiles and missile technology.

I wish you all a fruitful and pleasant stay in Noordwijk! Thank you.

© 1998

Deel: ' Toespraak Van Aartsen Missile Technology Controle Regime '

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