Speaking notes by Mr Jukka Valtasaari, Secretary of State: Seminar on the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in North-Eastern Asia, Helsinki 12th October 1998

Venue: Seminar on the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in North-Eastern Asia,
House of Estates, Helsinki, 12th October 1998

Mr Jukka Valtasaari
Secretary of State,
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

(Speaking notes)

1. Nuclear Weapon Free Zones (NWFZ)

- NWFZ's were at one point a central focus of Finnish disarmament-policy. The concept of a Nordic Nuclear Weapons Free Zone was advocated by Finland for many reasons; to enhance regional security, to seek legally binding non-use assurances from nuclear weapon states, especially the USSR, to display and exercise independent proactive multinational nuclear disarmament policy.

- The tremendous political changes in Europe, the termination of the Cold War and the military divide in Europe and as a very important detail the 1991 unilateral and reciprocial commitments on withdrawal from operative use of land and naval based tactical nuclear weapons made by the US and first by the USSR, confirmed by the Russian Federation deprived the initiative of a Nordic NWFZ of its original motivation or justification.

- Many of the aims of the Nordic NWFZ-initiative were realised.

- The Nordic NWFZ is but one of the joining points between Finland and your ambitious goal of a Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia.

- NWFZ's have increased their relevance in nuclear disarmament. The vast majority of the world's countries belong to NWFZ's. The UN continues to endorse the concept, as do the States Parties of the NPT - the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The establishment of the Pelindaba Treaty on an African NWFZ and the Bangkok Treaty on an South-East Asian NWF Zone have given new impetus to the concept. Many new initiatives are in the pipeline, such as the Cental Asian NWFZ that would cover among others Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tadzhikistan. Finland has, among other EU states, given support to this initiative.

- Many problems do remain. Not all NWFZ concepts are compatible with the security policy choices of their intended members. NATO expansion rules out any possibilities for a Central European NWFZ. The alliance option and the continued option of first use of nuclear weapons as a last resort continue to set boundries for discussions on new NWFZ's. Security assurances, assured by the Nuclear Weapon States to states parties to the NPT, are strictly defined and limited. Questions of deliniation of area and of the freedom of the seas are also of fundamental importance.

- Finland does support the concept of NWFZ's. We have, as an EU-member state, defined conditions for a NWFZ in the Disarmament Commission of the UN. The central conditions are, very broadly quoted the following; a definable territory, active consent of all states concerned, adequate verification and a realistic perception of nuclear security assurances by the nuclear powers . These are all among the questions you are considering in Helsinki this week.

2. Tactical Nuclear Weapons

- Finland greeted very positively the 1991 declarations on the removal of SNF/TNF as I just mentioned.

- However, the implementation of these commitments continues to be a concern to us.

- The destruction and removal process lacks adequate transparency. We have even been confronted with possibilities of a rollback.

- This rollback could take a course of new military doctrinal value for tactical nuclear weapons or of financial or technical obstacles to the destruction process.

- Elimination of tactical weapons is not codified as a treaty and does not carry a verification mechanism. The prevention of nuclear material smuggling and illicit trafficing can also, unfortunately, take the form of a slowing down of the dismantlement of tactical nuclear weapons.

- Finland has called for increaced transparency on the dismantlement process of tactical nuclear weapons in the NPT-framework and we would welcome a codification of unilateral commitments in the START III process.

3. Finland and KEDO

- Finland joined KEDO in April 1995, at the dawn of the NPT Review and Extension Conference, based by a request by the US, Republic of Korea and Japan.

- We considered the Agreed Framework a very valuable achievement. It froze the very tense situation on the Korean Peninsula and the dispute between the IAEA and the DPRK on two nuclear sites the DPRK refused to open for inspection. Had the AF failed, the NPT's indefinite extension could have failed. By joining KEDO we chose to support the Agreed Framework and a favorable environment for indefinite extension of the NPT.

- We were and are in the position to make rapid decisions. The EU, EURATOM, was prevented in deciding on KEDO-membership for two years. This was the time needed to agree on competence basis and on questions related to industrial returns. Now EURATOM has joined KEDO, but Finland will remain a national contributing member. This arrangement is not a problem to EURATOM nor to the EU Commission, and can also be supported during our upcoming EU-presidency.

- We made the national decision on supporting KEDO also on a basis of a certain kind of reciprocal concerns. The US, Japan and also the ROK have found the political interest and funding to support ventures of security-related concerns to us. I wish to mention the Moscow ISTC (International Science and Technology Center / derirecting Russion nuclear weapons experts to civilian projects) and several nuclear safety and waste management ventures in Russia and the CIS, including the maintenance of the Tshernobyl sarkofagus and the programme to shut down the Tshernobyl reactors. Our modest support to KEDO proves that we are not indifferent to the security concerns of North-East Asia.