International Atomic Energy Agency
Information Circular
(Unofficial electronic edition)
21 February 1994

Original: SPANISH

The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean

Statement made by Chile on the occasion of its becoming a Contracting Party to the Tlatelolco Treaty

The attached text of the statement, made by Ambassador Carlos Portales Cifuentes, Director General for Foreign Policy of the Ministry of External Relations of Chile, during the VIII. Special Session of the General Conference of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) on the occasion of Chile's becoming a Contracting Party to the Tlatelolco Treaty, is being circulated for the information of all Member States of the Agency at the request of the Alternate to the Resident Representative of Chile.

VIII. Special Session of the General Conference of Opanal

Statement by Ambassador Carlos Portales Cifuentes, Director General for Foreign Policy on the Occasion of Chile's Becoming a Contracting Party to the Tlatelolco Treaty

Mexico City, 18 January 1994

It is my privilege to head the first Chilean delegation participating in a meeting of this General Conference after the action taken by my country to become a full Contracting Party to the Tlatelolco Treaty and to become a member of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (OPANAL).

This is an occasion of special importance and significance for Chile. I therefore have the great honor of transmitting to the distinguished delegates participating in this meeting, to the Secretariat of OPANAL and, in particular, to the delegation of the Government of Mexico, depositary of this international instrument, cordial and fraternal greetings from his Excellency, the President of the Republic of Chile, Mr. Patricio Aylwin Azócar.

I should like to recall that Chile has been closely associated with the establishment of the Tlatelolco system from the outset, as evidenced by the joint statement by the Heads of State of Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Chile, whose Declaration on the Denuclearization of Latin America of 29 April 1963 was supported by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 1911 (XVIII). Having signed and ratified the original Treaty, we had an obligation to promote its aims and to refrain from engaging in any acts contrary to its objectives. Nevertheless, Chile still had to give a further demonstration of its political will in order to become a full member of the system. This step was taken when we solemnly deposited the declaration waiving the requirements set forth in paragraph 1 of Article 28 that have not yet been fulfilled and, in addition, ratified all the amendments approved to date by the meetings of signatories.

The reform of 1992 represents a concrete example of what can be achieved in the region when there is common political will, a more imaginative attitude and a clear desire for a fresh approach and further progress. This joint initiative is a response to the efforts made during the last 25 years by the States party to the Tlatelolco Treaty and by the successive Secretaries General of OPANAL aimed at completing the establishment of the first inhabited nuclear-weapon-free zone in the world. In this connection, I should like to highlight the role played by Mexico as depositary State.

The invitation extended by President Aylwin to the Heads of State of Argentina and Brazil to move jointly towards full implementation of the Tlatelolco Treaty and its "zone of application" undoubtedly marked the beginning of one of the most important diplomatic initiatives in which Chile has been involved during the last few years. It is a reflection of Chile's desire to participate actively in the design and improvement of the schemes and instruments that contribute to international security, through both regional and international actions.

With these specific steps, the Chilean Government has sought to emphasize its total renunciation and repudiation of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to demonstrate its commitment to making a major contribution to the advancement of this cause. In the light of the new challenges posed by international developments, we have begun to take steps towards seriously evaluating our commitments with regard to security and giving thorough consideration to promoting the cause of disarmament.

We are endeavouring to adopt a fresh approach in our efforts to make an effective and imaginative contribution to the establishment of a genuine system of security and we are ready to undertake new commitments in this area. These include other initiatives designed to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in particular the Mendoza Declaration, the signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the improvement of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the withdrawal of the reservation maintained by Chile since 1935 with respect to the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare.

We should therefore like to see the gradual, natural incorporation of Chile in the main forums related to this subject. That is why we have promoted the holding of a regional conference on confidence and security measures and have offered to host the next regular session of OPANAL's General Conference.

We hope that our region will become a place of peace and mutual confidence, where uncertainties will disappear and a spirit of understanding will prevail. The indisputable fact that Latin America is at present one of the most peaceful regions of the world gives us new hope that the contribution which we are making to the cause of peace and security is both necessary and relevant. It compels us to continue to move forward by undertaking new commitments and by improving the existing instruments.

The latest international developments present major challenges for world security. On the one hand, there have been significant advances brought about by the conclusion of the START I and II Treaties, the adoption of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the announcements of unilateral moratoriums on nuclear tests, the improvements in the systems for the control of military and dual-use technology, the development of the inspection capabilities of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the establishment of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. These all constitute achievements of historic significance in terms of their extensive cover. On the other hand, new systems of security are also being established, with varying degrees of effectiveness, offering ways of finding negotiated solutions to regional conflicts.

In other areas, much still remains to be done: there are still threats of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and, in a framework of growing interdependence, science and technology, while opening up promising avenues towards progress, paradoxically also facilitate access to new methods of annihilation. Chile is convinced that today, more than ever before, there is a need to adopt a comprehensive and integrated approach to the problem of weapons of mass destruction through balanced and non-discriminatory multilateral agreements. The comprehensive nature of such agreements should facilitate the integration of all the actors on the international scene in genuinely universal agreements which would serve as deterrents and would not impede access to the full development of advanced dual-use technologies for exclusively peaceful purposes. These principles should provide guidance for the improvement of other disarmament agreements in the area of weapons of mass destruction at regional and global level. It should be noted that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction establishes standards similar to those laid down in the Tlatelolco Treaty, with additional provisions suited to the specialized nature of the subject involved. Chile attaches particular importance to the concept of challenge inspections, which are now enshrined for the first time in an international treaty and whose progressive development we have also promoted in the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Mr. President,

The reforms to the Tlatelolco control regime have created a graded, integrated and balanced structure, which begins with reports by the Parties and proceeds with the requirement for special reports. If no satisfactory response is provided, these reports are followed by a request for a special inspection, for whose implementation the International Atomic Energy Agency is responsible and which has to be carried out in accordance with Article 12 of the Tlatelolco Treaty. By means of these inspections, the IAEA has to verify the whole scope of compliance with the commitments undertaken by the Contracting Parties. In our view this means that, in accordance with Article 19, OPANAL and the IAEA should conclude a new agreement, authorized by the General Conference, to "facilitate the efficient operation of the control system".

The way in which the Tlatelolco Treaty and its Additional Protocols have evolved indicates the course we should adopt in order to generate and strengthen a climate of greater confidence and security between our countries. Although the Treaty was conceived at a very different time to the present one, we can see today that it has lost nothing of its validity and relevance. Its progressive nature has made it possible to extend its scope without weakening the commitments already undertaken. Its flexibility has made it easier for major powers to join the regime for the prohibition of nuclear weapons enshrined in it. The spirit and letter of the Treaty present to the rest of the world a vital wealth of principles and standards, prominent among which are the extensive and comprehensive nature of the Treaty's provisions and the concept of a mechanism for the effective international control of nuclear disarmament, which was both original and ahead of its time.

The notion of "nuclear-weapon-free zone" promoted by the Tlatelolco Treaty is based on the premise that the commitments undertaken have identical significance with regard to all the parties involved and, in this respect, goes far beyond the concept of non-proliferation. The objective of a definitive and complete prohibition of all types of nuclear weapon is one that should be shared by the whole of humanity. To achieve this objective, we must first strengthen the Tlatelolco Treaty's zone of application to cover the whole area; contribute to the establishment with adjacent regions covered by the Antarctic Treaty and the Rarotonga Treaty of an extensive system of peace; and watch sympathetically the process of the creation of similar zones in regions where, as in the case of Africa, negotiations for the establishment of denuclearized zones have already begun.

In resolution ll(I), OPANAL's General Conference invited the Director General of the IAEA to prepare a safeguards project which could serve as the basis for the negotiation of the agreements provided for in Article 13 of the Treaty. In accordance with the spirit and practice of the Tlatelolco Treaty, such agreements should be full-scope, prohibit any military purpose and help to ensure that the parties comply with their obligations. The Chilean Government has already initiated the exchange of information which should lead to the negotiation of a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA so as to ensure compliance with Article 13 of the Tlatelolco Treaty within the stipulated time-limits.

It is common knowledge that the denuclearization established by the Tlatelolco Treaty is limited to military purposes. Therefore, any peaceful use of nuclear energy, in other words, any use for non-military purposes, is permitted and constitutes an inalienable right of each State. In the case of the Tlatelolco Treaty, this is specifically recognized in Article 17.

Within this reference framework, we regard with great interest the future role which could be given to OPANAL as an appropriate organization to assume responsibility for the regional co-ordination of the exercise of its members' rights "in conformity with this Treaty, to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in particular for their economic development and social progress". As the former Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Stempel Paris, had occasion to point out, OPANAL could extend its range of activities to this sphere and adopt a substantially different course to that pursued hitherto.

We should recall that already in 1977 the members of OPANAL indicated their desire for it to be involved in the planning, systematization, organization and co-ordination at regional level of Latin American efforts to ensure the full and effective peaceful use of nuclear energy. The member countries now have the political will to achieve this objective. In order to do so, OPANAL should be given the necessary resources and clear, specific functions establishing it as a regional organ responsible for the co-ordination of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

At its session in May 1993, OPANAL's General Conference approved a resolution which included a set of measures directed towards this end. We are looking forward to the evaluation report which the OPANAL Council has been requested to provide for the XIV session period in 1995, and to the Secretary General's proposals for promoting co-operation in the training of scientists in the region, including co-operation with institutions and universities of developed countries.

Mr President,

Chile began to take the first initiatives in the area of nuclear research in the 1950s It participated in the first international meeting on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which took place in Geneva, and participated in the adoption of the Statute of the IAEA, of which Chile became a member in 1960.

Later, in 1964, the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission was set up as an autonomous administrative organization responsible for all matters related to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear-related materials in order to ensure integrated development in this field.

The Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission has two basic functions: to promote the development of the peaceful uses and applications of nuclear energy, and to control those applications in order to protect human life and health, goods and the environment. In carrying out these functions, the Commission has co-operated closely and continuously with the IAEA. Of particular importance in this context are the projects implemented under the Regional Co-operative Arrangements for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America (ARCAL).

It is important to stress Chile's interest in the development of nuclear technologies in areas such as medicine, the study of structures and parts, the measurement and analysis of natural and industrial processes, food preservation, treatment of waste and others too numerous to list.

We are sure that our role as a full member of OPANAL will not only open up possibilities for horizontal co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, but will also put us in a better position for fulfilling our commitments in the area of peace, non-proliferation, security and, hence, disarmament.

With the lifting of the threat of nuclear proliferation in our region, the time has come to strengthen and promote the system which has made this notable achievement possible. Chile is taking up this challenge enthusiastically. We will tackle the remaining tasks with the same decisiveness and determination that characterized the action which has led to our presence here today.

Thank you very much.