|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
12th & 13th Meetings (AM & PM)
Manifold Misery of Mass Destruction Weapons Captures Attention of First Committee
as Speakers Wrestle with Consequences of Unmet Commitments, Weak Verification
Debate Begins on Disarmament Aspects of Outer Space
Weapons of mass destruction dominated debate in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, as delegations warned of their catastrophic potential, commending both the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions for their achievements, while also warning that “real challenges and sobering realities” remained.
Ireland’s representative said that while the Committee had discussed ways of ridding the world of nuclear weapons, it must be borne in mind that “human genius” had developed other ways of annihilating itself, which needed to be addressed.
Ratification to the two treaties outlawing whole categories of weapons of mass destruction — the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention — was not in itself enough to ensure that those weapons would not be used, he cautioned. Rather, it was the implementation of those Conventions that would make the difference. Only 47 per cent of States that had ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention had also put in place comprehensive legislation and regulations to implement its principles.
It was necessary, he said, to “close the gaps” in the global system that could allow the spread of either weapons or the elements required to make them, both to State and non-State actors. Regretting that it had not been possible to destroy all chemical weapons within the Convention’s timeframe, he urged all possessor States to meet their destruction obligations as quickly as possible.
The United States had safely destroyed approximately 90 per cent of its chemical weapons stockpile before the April 2012 deadline, reported its delegate. It would continue working in a transparent manner towards the complete destruction of its remaining “small amount” of chemical weapons. The United States also remained fully committed to the non-proliferation of chemical weapons and was working to ensure that there would be no re-emergence of chemical weapons.
Warning of what she called the “acknowledged possession” of chemical weapons by Syria and its stated willingness to use them in response to “external aggression”, she noted that United States President Barack Obama had made it clear that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would have enormous consequences. The United States continued to call on the Syrian Government to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal and to join that Convention.
Reflecting the view of several speakers today who expressed concern about the lack of a verification mechanism in the Biological Weapons Convention, she said the Seventh Review Conference on the Biological Weapons Convention had been a chance to do something new, but not all States parties had been ready to seize that opportunity. And, of those that were ready, she said, not all agreed on what that something new should be. However, she said the stage had been set for enhancing the forum’s important work.
Switzerland, said its representative, agreed, saying that an important opportunity had been missed. The review’s outcome, he said, had been “rather modest” compared to the far-reaching challenges it had sought to address. More should be done to ensure that the Biological Weapons Convention remained the premier forum for preventing the misuse of biology, for which he said it was vital that it not lose touch with the rapid developments in the biological sciences.
In that vein, Peru’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), cautioned that without a verification system, the Convention lacked the means to ensure compliance. He, therefore, supported the negotiation of a protocol that would establish an effective verification regime and underscored the importance of translating the treaty’s obligations into national measures and “practical and effective actions”.
Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the representative of Indonesia said that bacteriological agents and toxins as weapons should be completely banned, expressing conviction that such use would be “repugnant to the conscience of humankind”. It was important, then, to have multilateral negotiations for a legally binding protocol and urged the party rejecting the resumption of those talks to reconsider its policy.
At the same time, while State Parties struggled to rid themselves and the world of biological and chemical weapons, there was an immediate humanitarian need to provide special assistance to people suffering from the effects of exposure to chemical weapons.
Iran, said its speaker, had been “the main victim of chemical weapons use in contemporary history”. More than 400,000 Iranian citizens had been killed or injured as a result of attacks during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, during which he said chemical weapons had been used. Survivors of those attacks continued to suffer long-term complications from chemical weapons. Recalling the horrors of such attacks, he urged that “chemical weapons must never again be used.”
Many around the room lauded the Chemical Weapons Convention for having outlawed an entire class of weapons. Some noted that in light of the expected completion of the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles, its monitoring mechanism — the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) — must be prepared for a transition to an agency whose main task would be to prevent the re-emergence of chemical warfare and the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes as a threat.
Possessor States shared stockpile reduction successes. The representative of the Russian Federation said his country was making every effort possible to destroy its existing stockpiles as soon as possible. There were six sites for destruction of chemical weapons in the Russian Federation, and, in 2013, the country would launch a seventh site. As of today, it had destroyed more than 70 per cent of those weapons, or more than 27,000 tons of poisonous substances. It was increasing its budget appropriation for demilitarization and finding additional funding sources for that purpose.
Japan had also made progress on that front, that country’s representative said. It was committed to the destruction of abandoned chemical weapons — “ACWs” — in China and had achieved tangible progress through steady and sustained efforts. The results were evident: Japan had thus far destroyed more than 35,000 abandoned chemical weapons with a mobile destruction facility and had deployed another such facility to China in preparation for the next series of destruction operations. With China’s cooperation, Japan was resolved to fully complete the destruction of all abandoned chemical weapons and would do its utmost to that end.
The delegate from France expressed concern, however, that while the international community could take pleasure in the destruction of more than 76 per cent of the chemical-weapon stockpiles reported by State possessors, there was still much to do to achieve complete elimination.
Also speaking in the thematic debate on weapons of mass destruction were the representatives of Qatar, Morocco, Egypt (on behalf of the Arab Group), Norway, Kazakhstan, Poland, Ireland, Latvia, Cuba, Libya and Australia.
A representative of the European Union delegation also spoke on that topic.
The President of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention also gave a statement about other weapons of mass destruction.
The representative of Poland introduced the draft resolution on implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (document A/C.1/67/L.44); the representative of Hungary introduced the text on the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (document A/C.1/67/L.29); and the representative of Indonesia, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, tabled the text on measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol (A/C.1/67/L.15).
Statements in exercise of the right of reply were made by the delegates of Syria and Turkey.
In the debate on the disarmament aspects of outer space, begun today, the following representatives addressed the Committee: South Africa, Spain, Hungary, Pakistan, Turkey, Switzerland, Indonesia, Egypt, European Union, United States, France, Russian Federation and Pakistan.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also gave a statement about outer space (disarmament aspects).
The representative of Egypt said his Government would introduce the draft resolution on preventing an arms race in outer space.
The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 23 October, to continue its thematic debate segment.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its thematic debate segment on the nuclear weapons cluster, and to take up its cluster on other weapons of mass destruction and, time permitting, its cluster on outer space.
Nuclear Weapons Cluster I
ABDELAZIZ AL-AHMAD (Qatar) said this year’s session of the Committee came against a backdrop of consecutive setbacks, one of the most serious being the lack of qualitative progress in the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. There had been a growing concern during previous years as a result of the increased risk of the spread of nuclear weapons. Dealing selectively with the concept of nuclear non-proliferation had led to the accumulation of frightening amounts of those weapons in countries, contrary to their Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) obligations. Nuclear weapon-possessor States had not met their obligations seriously and ignored the promises that were given to non-nuclear-weapon States. The strongest evidence of that shortcoming was the continued cooperation of some nuclear-armed States with Israel. Worse, a number of NPT States parties granted exceptions to non-signatories without having the legal authority to do so.
He said that by virtue of its geographical location and its presence in a region that was witnessing an arms race towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons, his country was keen to implement all international instruments on the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and to prevent access of such weapons to terrorist groups. Qatar had enacted several laws aimed at preventing the spread and smuggling of nuclear weapons. The failure of some parties to implement international resolutions and the results of previous review sessions of the NPT, and their attempt to differentiate the scope of their obligations was a serious blow to the credibility of the NPT. The Middle East was a glaring example of the lack of effectiveness of that Treaty in bringing security to its countries, as it was the only region that had not seen a real international effort to free it of nuclear weapons. That encouraged Israel to acquire military nuclear capabilities outside international control. He warned of the dangers of continued international silence towards the Israeli positions, which downplayed the role of “policeman” in the Middle East through its efforts to maintain dominance in nuclear weapon possession.
Israel, therefore, was the main obstacle to achieving the goal of ridding the Middle East of the nuclear weapons threat, he said, adding that there was no possibility to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone there as long as Israel did not accede to the NPT, and as long as its arsenal was not subjected to comprehensive safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Despite the Secretary-General’s efforts to hold a conference in Finland to lay the building blocks for the Middle East zone, the intransigence of some countries and their persistence in ignoring the international will, did not inspire optimism or bode well for the conference to achieve its desired goal.
BOUCHAIB EL OUMNI ( Morocco), associating with statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, reiterated that his delegation attached high priority to nuclear disarmament and insisted that obligations in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation must be fulfilled. He was also convinced that NPT adherence carried with it certain obligations for nuclear disarmament negotiations in good faith. In that regard, the Conference on Disarmament must start negotiating nuclear disarmament and a fissile material cut-off treaty in the context of a balanced work programme at the earliest. He called for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and called on the “Annex 2” States to ratify it without delay.
He said that nuclear weapons did not guarantee security. Rather, they were a threat that could have catastrophic consequences. In that regard, he associated with the statement to be made by Switzerland. There needed to be a process to ensure that the Middle East was a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction. However, he did not see the added value of repetitive statements, and urged the Committee delegates to “think together in an objective and flexible manner”, in order to make better use of the time. Moreover, the essence of those repetitive statements was the same. He invited delegations to consider instead the option to make the debate interactive, and one that focused on implementation of the resolutions, which the Committee had long been adopting. He also suggested that delegates have exchanges with non-governmental organizations, propose ideas and take part in an in-depth and interactive debate that would further the discussion on making the First Committee more effective. That had taken place a few years ago, but he did not see why it could not continue.
BENNO LAGGNER (Switzerland), spoke on behalf of the Member States Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Ecuador, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Samoa, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Thailand, Uruguay and Zambia, as well as the Observer Mission of the Holy See. He said that those countries were deeply concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the possible use of nuclear weapons. He welcomed the increased attention to the issue in recent years, and was encouraged by the consideration of the issue at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, which expressed States parties’ “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any issue of nuclear weapons” and reaffirmed “the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law”.
He said that the sheer horror of the use of nuclear weapons had informed the very first resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 and was later reflected in key multilateral documents. If those weapons were to be used, be it intentionally or accidentally, immense humanitarian consequences would result, and, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had concluded, international organizations providing emergency relief would be unable to fulfil their mandates. In addition to the immediate fatalities, survivors of the horrendous effects of a nuclear explosion would endure immeasurable suffering. Studies had shown that the radiation released by even a single nuclear weapon would affect populations, agriculture and national resources over a very wide area and also constitute a very real threat for future generations. Even a “limited nuclear exchange”, which he called “a contradiction in terms”, would cause global climate change and, with such a serious and long-lasting impact on the environment and food production, could cause a global famine for more than a billion people.
Nuclear weapons had the destructive power to threaten the very survival of humanity, and, as long as they continued to exist, that threat would remain. Nuclear weapons were useless in addressing current challenges such as poverty, health, climate change, terrorism or transnational crime. In times of decreasing funds available for social welfare, health care or education, using vast financial resources each year for the retention, modernization and expansion of nuclear arsenals seemed at odds with the collective responsibility detailed in the Charter of the United Nations. “The choice should be clear,” he added.
Weapons of Mass Destruction Cluster
PAUL VAN DEN IJSSEL ( Netherlands), the President of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, held in Geneva from 5 to 22 December 2011, said the Convention was a fundamental pillar of international security and was important for addressing the full range of biological risks, engaging actors and ensuring that biological science was safely developed. The seventh review had been an opportunity to maintain the treaty. Ten States had joined the treaty since the last such conference, and he was pleased to report that there had been progress, but he acknowledged that it had not been possible to meet all interests in the final consensus document.
He noted at the Review Conference the decisions that had been made to establish a new database assistance requests and a sponsorship programme for countries that needed it, as well as review modalities for information sharing. The final declaration highlighted shared views about how to best meet the treaty’s obligations. He had encouraged States to think in terms of “ambitious realism”, and the work programme had been ambitious, as States parties considered, for example, how to better respond to the alleged use of biological weapons and strengthen the treaty’s implementation. Through ambitious realism, he was convinced that there were opportunities to work together to keep pace with technological developments and to help ensure that life science was used solely for the benefit of humanity. Above all, States should take steps to reduce the risks of biological weapons. The success of the Seventh Review Conference was due to the effort of the States parties, and he looked forward to their meeting in December.
FIKRY CASSIDY (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that the Movement was mindful of the threat posed to humankind by the existing weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, and it underlined the need for their total elimination, as well as to prevent the emergence of new types of weapons of mass destruction. It, therefore, supported monitoring the situation and triggering international action, as required. Its States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention reaffirmed the treaty’s effective contribution in the field of chemical activities for purposes that it did not prohibit.
At the same time, he said, the Movement’s States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention were seriously concerned that certain possessor States parties could not comply with their obligations regarding the total destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles within the final extended deadline of 29 April 2012. The parties stressed that such cases of non-compliance endangered the credibility and integrity of the Convention, and thus he urged all possessor States parties to take every necessary measure to ensure their compliance with the Convention. Further, disappointed that the deadline had not been met by all, nor the obligation of total destruction of all chemical weapons, the Movement’s States parties reaffirmed that verification of the destruction of remaining chemical weapons stockpiles, as well as old weapons and abandoned ones, should remain top priorities of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Additionally, he said the Movement’s States parties were convinced that there was an immediate humanitarian need to provide special assistance to people suffering from the effects of exposure to chemical weapons. They also welcomed the decision on components of an agreed framework for implementing the Convention’s article XI. The Movement’s States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention reaffirmed that the possibility of any use of bacteriological agents and toxins as weapons should be completely excluded, and the conviction that such use would be “repugnant to the conscience of humankind”. They recognized the particular importance of multilateral negotiations for a legally binding protocol and urged the party rejecting the resumption of those talks to reconsider its policy. They welcomed the outcome of the Seventh Review Conference.
The Movement would present a draft resolution on “measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol”, he stated, calling upon all States that continued to maintain reservations to the Protocol to withdraw them.
AUGUSTO THORNBERRY (Peru), speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), strongly condemned the existence of chemical and biological weapons, stressing that the catastrophic consequences of their use must be prevented through their complete elimination. The Union was committed to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and it called on all States to join it. He welcomed the agreement reached in December 2011, which stipulated a framework for completing the destruction of remaining chemical weapons stocks, and he called on chemical-weapon countries to fulfil their treaty obligations in a way that did not hamper the economic or technological development of States’ chemical activities for purposes not prohibited under the Convention. Those activities concerned the international exchange of scientific and technical information, chemicals, and related equipment.
Continuing, he recalled the Declaration on Security of the Americas, signed in 2003, by which the Union countries had declared their objective to make the Americas a region free of biological and chemical weapons, and the related General Assembly Resolution 2107 (2005), in which they had unanimously agreed to “fulfil concretely” their commitment to that objective. In that regard, he reaffirmed the fundamental importance of the Biological Weapons Convention. However, the treaty lacked the means to ensure compliance by signatory States, and therefore, the Union supported the negotiation of a protocol that would establish an effective verification regime. He also underscored the importance for States to translate the treaty’s obligations into national measures and “practical and effective actions”, and in that regard, he reiterated the Union’s endorsement of the Support Unit for the Implementation of the Convention.
In conclusion, UNASUR reaffirmed that the Conventions on Chemical and Biological Weapons were vital international legal instruments to guide multilateral efforts in the struggle for the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction under strict and effective international control.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the Group had consistently maintained its principled position of attaching high priority to achieving a world free from weapons of mass destruction, be they nuclear, chemical or biological, with particular attention to establishing such a zone in the Middle East. It had always stressed that the utmost priority with respect to the elimination of weapons of mass destruction be given to nuclear weapons; however, it had taken an equally active role in efforts relating to other weapons of mass destruction. Despite the Group’s adherence to legally binding commitments, Israel continued to refuse to join the NPT.
He said that the 2010 NPT Action Plan offered an unprecedented opportunity to attain a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons. The delicate balance crafted in that document reflected the direct link between the need for Israel to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State and accession by Arab States to the conventions governing other weapons of mass destruction. By ensuring the universality of the NPT through Israel’s accession as a non-nuclear State, the world would hence be a safer place and the credibility of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime would be safeguarded.
Within the framework of the 2010 Action Plan, the Secretary-General had been entrusted to convene a regional conference in 2012 to establish the Middle East zone, he said. The Arab States had agreed for the first time to extend the zone’s scope to other weapons of mass destruction, with a view to overcoming unsubstantiated claims that the existence of the Israeli ambiguous nuclear capabilities was justified by a potential regional threat from other types of weapons of mass destruction. Arab States, meanwhile, had made sure that paragraph 8 of the Action Plan addressed the importance of achieving parallel progress on the two tracks – nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The Group was committed to engaging in serious negotiations on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons in the Middle East, and it looked forward to the positive involvement of Israel and other States in the region in those negotiations.
ANDRAS KOS (European Union) said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery remained a major threat to international peace and security, which called for a global approach. The risk of terrorist acquisition of biological or chemical weapons added a further critical dimension. It was vitally important to enhance international cooperation to address these challenges. The main multilateral instruments relevant to this cluster debate were the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the 1925 Geneva Protocol. The European Union called for the universalization and effective implementation of those instruments and also called on all States to withdraw any reservation made upon acceding to the 1925 Protocol.
He said that the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention was the cornerstone of multilateral efforts to prevent the proliferation of those weapons, and the full implementation of its articles III and IV by all its States parties would help combat the threat posed by terrorists. The European Union welcomed the outcomes of the Seventh Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference, namely the adoption of the new sustained agenda for the inter-sessional process until 2016. The Implementation Support Unit for that treaty played a particularly important role in maintaining the link between the States parties. Strengthening that Convention was one of the priorities of the EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. In 2006 and 2008, the Union had adopted Joint Actions in support of that Convention, with the aim of increasing its membership and assisting States parties in transposing obligations into national legislation and measures.
The European Union, he said, had funded projects in support of the Biological Weapons Convention with more than 2 million euros. After the Seventh Review Conference, it had renewed its commitment, ensuring a financial contribution of 1.7 million euros for the implementation of new projects. Its main objectives were to help promote universality and national implementation of that Convention, along with increased capacity for the United Nations Secretary-General’s mechanism for investigating the alleged use of biological and toxin weapons, for example. The Union attached great importance to confidence-building measures and believed that the question of a mechanism to evaluate those should be considered during the inter-sessional process. The Union also supported the strengthening of biosafety and biosecurity in developing States.
The Union urged those eight States not party to the Chemical Weapons Convention to join it in the common endeavour to rid the world of those weapons, he said. Their time-bound destruction was a principle of the Convention, and the Union was heartened by the fact that three declared possessor States had completed destruction of their stockpiles. At the same time, it was concerned that the two major possessor States had not been able to meet the final extended deadline.
The Union was seriously concerned about the presence of chemical weapons in Syria, which showed that the threat of those weapons was still very real, he said, urging Syria to act responsibly in that regard, not to use chemical weapons under any circumstance and to keep them secure. The Union was also concerned by the information provided last year by Libya about newly discovered stocks of undeclared chemical weapons. It recognized the need to secure and destroy those stockpiles, and it welcomed the resumption of verification activities in Libya by the OPCW. In all, it commended the transparency shown by the new Libyan Government.
He said that destruction of past chemical weapons must be accompanied by preventing the production of new such weapons in the future, and the Union strongly supported efforts to strengthen the Convention’s article X on assistance and protection. The Union also fully supported the actions taken under Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004), which was fundamental to developing effective mechanisms to prevent proliferation to non-State actors of weapons of mass destruction. He urged States to comply with those legally binding obligations, and of those contained in resolutions 1673 (2006), 1810 (2008) and 1977 (2011). Since 27 August 2009, the revised Council regulation setting up a community regime that covered the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual use items had been applied in all 27 European Union member States. The Union would continue to provide significant support to countries needing it to ensure implementation of those and other related commitments.
He expressed the Union’s serious concern about the risks posed by the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, including ballistic missiles of increasingly great range and sophisticated technologies. Several tests of medium- and intermediate-range missiles conducted over the last years outside all existing transparency and pre-notification schemes and in violation of Security Council resolutions, especially by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran, deepened the Union’s concern. It considered The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missiles Proliferation and the Missile Technology Control Regime to be the best existing tools to address missile proliferation, and it called on all States that had not yet done so to adhere to the Code as soon as possible.
The Missile Technology Control Regime also played a key role, as export controls were essential to prevent missile proliferation, he said, voicing the Union’s support for examining additional multilateral steps to prevent missile proliferation and to promote disarmament efforts in the missile field. The Union’s proposal to start consultations on a treaty banning short- and intermediate-range ground-to-ground ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction remained valid. International legal provisions were essential, but not enough by themselves: they required effective implementation. Operational cooperation was required to prevent illicit transfers, to control exports more effectively, to counter illegal networks of diversion and trafficking and to combat proliferation financing.
JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France), associating with the European Union’s statement, added in his national capacity that the Chemical Weapons Convention was a unique disarmament instrument as it provided for the complete eradication of a whole class of weapons of mass destruction and a binding verification system that allowed for action to fight proliferation. Though the international community could take pleasure in the destruction of more than 76 per cent of the chemical-weapon stockpiles reported by State possessors, there was still much to do to achieve complete elimination. Now that the process of destroying chemical weapons was well under way, it was time to emphasize the non-proliferation objective, which called for strengthening the industrial verification system.
Regarding the Biological Weapons Convention, he welcomed the adoption of a new inter-sessional process to deal with three vital subjects on an ongoing basis: scientific and technological developments; cooperation and assistance; and national implementation. Further, as the depository State of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, France reaffirmed its commitment to that instrument and urged all Member States that had not yet acceded to that Protocol to do so without further delay. “No one must think that use of those weapons of mass destruction would go unexplained or unpublished,” he emphasized, adding that his country would continue to fully support the Secretary-General’s mechanism for investigating alleged use of those weapons. France would also be organizing training for experts likely to be called upon for such investigations.
Finally, he stated, on the issue of weapons of mass destruction delivery systems, the Security Council had repeatedly stressed that the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering those weapons was a threat to international peace and security. “We are all aware that the Iranian and North Korean programmes are moving forward,” he said, and the Syrian Government’s continued activities related to missile development were also very worrisome. In view of that, he concluded, the international community must step up efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of multilateral arrangements such as The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation and the Missile Technology Control Regime.
LAURA KENNEDY ( United States) said that her country was encouraged by the progress made by the OPCW in working towards a world free of chemical weapons. That organization was an indispensible multilateral body with a global responsibility. It had near-universal membership, with 188 Member States, and 75 per cent of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles had been verifiably destroyed. Additionally, more than 4,700 inspections had been conducted at military and industry sites.
For its part, the United States, she said, had safely destroyed approximately 90 per cent of its chemical weapons stockpile before the April 2012 deadline. The United States would continue working in a transparent manner towards the complete destruction of its remaining “small amount” of chemical weapons. The United States also remained fully committed to the non-proliferation of chemical weapons and was working to ensure that there would be no re-emergence of chemical weapons. Such a goal required the commitment of all States parties and a continued push for the treaty’s universality. Preventing the re-emergence of chemical weapons required a strong inspectorate, a credible industrial verification regime and enactment by all States parties of the necessary domestic legal regimes to fully enforce the Convention. The Third Review Conference of the Convention in April 2013 provided a good opportunity to reinforce those issues.
Despite progress, the United States recognized that real challenges and sobering realities remained, such as the acknowledged possession of chemical weapons by Syria and its stated willingness to use them in response to “external aggression”, she said. United States President Barack Obama had made it clear that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would have enormous consequences. The United States continued to call on the Syrian Government to eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal and to join that Convention. Her country would continue to work with the international community towards that goal.
Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, she said that the Seventh Review Conference had been challenging, as not everyone had been ready to seize the opportunity to do something new and, among those who had been ready, not everyone had agreed on what that something new should be. While the Review Conference had not achieved everything that her Government had hoped it would, the United States was satisfied with the outcome and believed the stage was set for enhancing the forum’s important work. For the first time ever, a United States Secretary of State had led the country’s delegation to the Review Conference. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, addressing that gathering, had spoken about how the biological weapons threat was evolving and the importance for the world community to adapt its outlook in the face of new challenges. She also highlighted the value of transparency and efforts to build mutual trust among States parties; they might not always agree on how to do it, but they all agreed that it was important to have confidence that their treaty partners were living up to their obligations.
She reiterated that the Review Conference had set the stage, but that it was now up to the States parties to take meaningful action. The United States’ delegation had been impressed with the seriousness with which delegations had engaged the issues in the expert-level consultations in July. Proposals had been put together by several delegations, including the United States, for consideration at the Biological Weapons Convention’s annual meeting in December, and the United States hoped that all Member States would join together in making the most of this opportunity to strengthen international security. All States parties should work together to support the treaty’s universalization.
MARI AMANO ( Japan) said that the Chemical Weapons Convention had significantly contributed to the goals of the United Nations in terms of promoting international peace and security through disarmament by banning the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons in an effectively verifiable manner. He commended efforts made by the chemical weapon-possessor States for the destruction of their stockpiles in good faith. With the destruction of 75 per cent of all declared stockpiles of chemical weapons, the completion of the destruction process was now coming into sight. In order to continuously adapt to the rapidly changing international security environment, it was high time to consider the future of that Convention, and the Third Review Conference next year would be a perfect opportunity to do so.
He said his country had steadily implemented the Chemical Weapons Convention and had played a constructive part in promoting the effective achievement of its objectives. As the second largest contributor and a continuous member of the Executive Council, Japan had been heavily involved in the operation and development of the Convention. Japan was committed to the destruction of abandoned chemical weapons — “ACWs” — in China and had achieved tangible progress through steady and sustained efforts. The results were evident: Japan had thus far destroyed more than 35,000 abandoned chemical weapons with a mobile destruction facility and had deployed another such facility to China in preparation for the next series of destruction operations. With China’s cooperation, Japan was resolved to fully complete the destruction of all abandoned chemical weapons and would do its utmost to that end.
While the rapid advancement of biotechnology had benefited mankind, biothreats also posed by the misuse or illicit use of advanced science and technology, particularly by non-State actors, had been growing, he said. Thus, the universalization of the Biological Weapons Convention was more important than ever for international security. In order to strengthen its implementation, Japan as a leading country in the field of life science as well as a member of the “JACKSNNZ” (Japan, Australia, Canada, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand), had been an active participant in the various topics under discussion concerning the Biological Weapons Convention.
INGA M.W. NYHAMAR ( Norway) said the Chemical Weapons Convention was a key instrument to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction, and that while she celebrated its impressive achievements, more efforts were needed to ensure that it met its full potential. Destruction was far from completed, and even though a very strong norm against chemical weapons existed, only universal adherence to the Convention would ensure their elimination. The admission by Syria that it possessed a stockpile of chemical weapons demonstrated that the threat of such weapons was still very real. Norway urged Syria to “act responsibly, not use the weapons under any circumstances, and to keep them secure”.
Continuing, she said that the Third Review Conference next year would provide an excellent opportunity to further strengthen the Chemical Weapons Convention. Verification played a crucial role in providing confidence that all parties were living up to their obligations, and it was essential to ensure that OPCW maintained the necessary capacity for current and future tasks and that it remained the world’s knowledge repository in the chemical weapons field. Norway would continue to financially support the organization’s activities in the area of building capacity to deal with the severe humanitarian consequences of the use of chemical weapons. She added that the Convention could also benefit from increased inclusion of relevant stakeholders and civil society organizations in its work.
Turning to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, Norway welcomed the forward-looking outcome of the Seventh Review Conference, she said, adding that “increased universality, transparency and functionality of the confidence-building measures” remained a Norwegian priority. More efforts were needed to both improve the functionality of the reporting forms on confidence-building measures and to encourage more States to submit them. Strengthening national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention remained a challenge. Norway was concerned by the relatively high number of States parties that had not yet put in place or enforced the necessary legislative and administrative measures. It recognized that some States needed international assistance to do so, which was why hers had contributed to assistance programmes, particularly in Africa and South-East Asia.
On preventing an arms race in outer space, she said there was a “window of opportunity” to deal with that concern, and Norway was ready to move forward on those deliberations.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said her country had consistently translated international standards into action for accession to major international export control regimes and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In the past, Kazakhstan had been a centre of production and testing of nuclear and biological weapons. However, after gaining independence, the Government had worked on the most difficult task of dismantling and eliminating infrastructure at the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons test site and production facility in Stepnogorsk – the world’s largest biological weapons production and weaponization plant.
She said that Kazakhstan had signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993 and ratified it in 1999, and so possessed no chemical weapons whatsoever. Considering the large number of successful measures adopted by her country to improve export controls and the transit potential and growth of petrochemical and chemical industries, Kazakhstan was now ready to become a member of the Australia Group. Kazakhstan had new areas of cooperation with many countries with key target goals, such as developing expertise to prevent proliferation of biological weapons and strains by strengthening biosafety and biosecurity at facilities, consolidating dangerous pathogens at secure central repositories, and eliminating biological weapons-related equipment and infrastructure.
The people of Kazakhstan had experienced first-hand the horrifying consequences of weapons of mass destruction, and were determined to be at the forefront of the global fight against their proliferation.
JAN BORKOWSKI ( Poland) introduced the draft resolution on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, saying continued work on the text had been the result of Poland’s effort throughout many years to promote the effective prohibition of chemical weapons. The resolution was a unique document that emphasized the importance of the Convention’s universality and expressed the General Assembly’s support for its four pillars. By adopting the text by consensus each year, the Assembly had expressed unequivocal support for the prohibition of chemical weapons. The text this year was well-balanced, with two changes: one reflected the need to eliminate the remaining chemical weapons stockpiles in the shortest time possible, and the second recognized the preparatory work towards the Convention’s third review.
He said that during consultations on the text, both in The Hague and in New York, several proposals for inclusion had been discussed, but no consensus on them had emerged. The basic goal of the resolution, as in previous years, was to draw consensus approval, as it was crucial for the General Assembly to provide it unequivocal support for the Convention’s implementation. Extensive consultations had confirmed broad political support in all regions for implementation of all of its provisions. The draft presented today was an expression of that support. Poland remained the sole sponsor and sought the text’s approval without a vote.
He also informed the Committee about the international meeting on chemical safety and security, which had been organized by Poland and OPCW and would take place in Tarnów, Poland on 8 and 9 November. The major international gathering would be an opportunity for States, international organizations, chemical industries and academia to explore national approaches and innovative strategies to address concerns. Participants would identify steps to be taken to enhance safety and security worldwide, while ensuring economic growth and development. The meeting would promote the Convention’s goals and support OPCW’s engagement to enhance national capacity-building for research, development, storage, production and safe use of chemicals for purposes not banned by the Convention. It would identify assistance needs in the areas of chemical safety and security. Poland extended the invitation to attend to all United Nations Members.
DERMOT MCGAURAN ( Ireland) said that while the Committee last week had discussed ways of ridding the world of nuclear weapons, it must be borne in mind that “human genius” had developed other ways of annihilating itself, and those needed to be addressed. The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention were two instruments which clearly outlawed two categories of weapons, although their use had already been banned by the 1925 Geneva Protocols. He urged States to join the overwhelming global majority, since universal acceptance of a total ban on those weapons would be a major achievement and contribution towards global peace and security.
However, he said, ratification of those treaties alone was not enough to ensure that those weapons would not be used. Implementation was the key that would make the difference. Only 47 per cent of those States which had ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention had comprehensive implementing legislation and regulations, and further work was required to close gaps in the global system, thus preventing the spread of either weapons or the elements required to make them, both to State and non-State actors.
He said Ireland regretted that it had not been possible to destroy all chemical weapons within the Convention’s timeframe, and he urged all possessor States to meet their destruction obligations as quickly as possible. On other mass destruction weapons, he said that the proliferation of ballistic missiles was a threat to international peace and security both in its own right and as potential means of delivering mass destruction weapons. Ireland adhered to The Hague Code of Conduct, along with 133 other States, and encouraged all to adhere to do so.
EVIJA RIMSANE (Latvia), aligning her statement with that made on behalf of the European Union, said that the maritime domain was intensely used by States for peaceful commerce and trade. Unfortunately, it was also used for illicit trafficking of weapons of mass destruction-related materials. Yet, the detection and prevention of possible weapons of mass destruction-related proliferation at sea was complicated by significant shortcomings in crucial areas. Maritime surveillance was a prerequisite in achieving full awareness of what was happening in the maritime environment. Current surveillance mechanisms were not aimed at indentifying “WMD”-related trafficking, including in the area of maritime cargo and maritime interdiction.
She said that modernizing maritime surveillance systems to enable effective detection of “WMD”-related trafficking at sea and an enhancement of regional, subregional and international cooperation, including the signing of bilateral and multilateral standing agreements on interdiction and boarding a vessel at sea, would strongly contribute to the shared commitment in countering that proliferation. As per the Proliferation Security Initiative, some 100 States had endorsed its principles, and she hoped that number would continue to rise.
BALAGUER LABRADA ( Cuba), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that weapons of mass destruction represented a serious threat against international security, and he reiterated the need to eliminate them. Cuba did not possess or intend to possess any weapons of mass destruction. Cuba reiterated its commitment to effective implementation of instruments such as the Chemical Weapons Convention, as the total and verifiable destruction of those weapons was vital. The country was committed to working with all States parties to achieve a successful outcome of that Convention’s Third Review Conference, which could provide tangible solutions to unresolved issues. Balance in fulfilling the Convention’s interrelated norms could only be maintained if all provisions were respected. Cuba sought renewed agreement under the treaty’s article 11, leading to its full implementation.
He said his country was also committed to the Biological Weapons Convention, and rejected the possible any use of biological and toxin agents and believed that threat should be eliminated. The only way to enhance that Convention was through negotiating and adopting a legally binding protocol regarding its verification. That should include monitoring all the treaty’s provisions in a balanced way. Cuba considered that the full implementation of article 10 was vital to achieving the Biological Weapons Convention, and it was happy that enhanced cooperation under article 10 would remain under review. He hoped specific measures would result from the review process to guarantee its implementation.
Cuba shared the concern that groups of terrorists could obtain weapons of mass destruction, he said, noting that that risk could not be eliminated by a selective approach. If the international community wanted to deal with weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists, then there had to be progressive steps, leading to the total elimination of those weapons. Cuba also insisted that no Security Council measure should replace the role of the General Assembly.
ALI A.O. BERBASH ( Libya), expressing “full support” for the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, also acknowledged the comment by the European Union delegate, who had referred to Libya’s work regarding the recently discovered chemical weapons stocks. That reference was an expression of the European Union’s support for Libya’s efforts to eliminate those stockpiles. He underscored that the Chemical Weapons Convention was one of the international community’s most important disarmament achievements. It had been ratified by 188 States, and everyone hoped for its universalization. He emphasized the significant role played by OPCW.
Regarding the new era in Libya, he said the country was resolved to fulfil all its international disarmament commitments and was ready to cooperate with full transparency with the international community. In implementing the salient provisions of those accords, Libya had rapidly alerted OPCW on 25 November 2011 regarding the existence of the excess chemical weapons stockpiles that had been discovered following the fall of the dictatorship and which had not been disclosed by the previous regime. Libya had cooperated with the organization to verify the stocks and take extra measures to ensure their protection, which OPCW had acknowledged. Libya had also submitted a detailed plan for the elimination of those stocks by 2016. His country would implement that plan in due course and hoped that friendly countries would help it do so. He thanked all countries that had so far helped it to fulfil its obligations.
PETER WOOLCOTT ( Australia) said that the Chemical Weapons Convention played an integral role in the international security regime and contributed to global non-proliferation efforts. Australia was committed to working with others to uphold the treaty’s strength and integrity and to achieving the goal of universal adherence. The country also valued the Biological Weapons Convention, which underpinned the international consensus against biological weapons and supported global efforts to promote the peaceful use of life sciences. It was also important to ensure that the Convention kept pace with developments in life sciences, for which industry and academe were increasingly the primary drivers.
Describing national efforts to combat weapons proliferation, he said that the cooperative and voluntary Australia Group strengthened global security by making it harder and more expensive for would-be proliferators to obtain dual-use materials, equipment and technology sought to develop chemical or biological weapons. The “good news” was that an increasing number of countries were drawing on the Australia Group’s work to strengthen their national control systems. Consequently, global standards were improving. Still, challenges remained, and increasingly sophisticated production techniques offered proliferators new options. That required the international community to be constantly vigilant and proactive to address new challenges in a cooperative manner.
ANDREY MALOV ( Russian Federation) said the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions demonstrated the importance of multilateral mechanisms in enhancing international peace. In general, the Russian Federation supported the outcome of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, which had allowed States parties to demonstrate their views and discuss what needed to be done to enhance that instrument. The exchange of information had enhanced confidence, and States parties had agreed to establish appropriate databases in order to enhance the use of biology for civilian purposes.
However, he pointed out, the Conference showed that disagreements remained on many key issues. There was concern, for example, about the oversight of dual-use biological research of products, and there was no unity in implementing article 10 involving the provision of assistance towards peaceful biological use. The Russian Federation believed that an element in enhancing the Convention would be developing an oversight mechanism. The country was ready to undertake constructive work to ensure that during the inter-sessional period, a clear way forward emerged towards consensus.
Regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Russian Federation believed that that was one of most successful multilateral mechanisms, he said. The country viewed the destruction of chemical weapons as a priority and affirmed its commitment to the Convention’s basic aim. With regard to the full destruction of chemical weapons, the Russian Federation was ready to make every effort possible to destroy all its existing stockpiles as soon as possible. There were six sites for destruction of chemical weapons in the Russian Federation, and, in 2013, the country would launch a seventh site. As of today, it had destroyed more than 70 per cent of those weapons, or more than 27,000 tons of poisonous substances. It was increasing its budget appropriation for demilitarization and finding additional funding sources for that purpose.
As stockpiles were destroyed, non-proliferation became more significant, he said. The Russian Federation called upon all countries still outside the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions to immediately sign up and fully implement those instruments by setting up national bodies and bringing national legislation in line with them.
S. MANCOTYWA-KUMSHA (South Africa), associating with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Chemical Weapons Convention was the only instrument that prohibited an entire category of weapons. Commemoration of the treaty’s fifteenth anniversary was an occasion for delegations to celebrate its successes as an effective multilateral instrument. At the same time, however, the international community should not shy away from reflecting on the challenges. The final deadline to destroy all such weapons had not been fully accomplished by all States parties. However, it was encouraging that, at the Conference of State Parties, measures had been put in place to verify the destruction efforts of the remaining parties that would be extending their efforts beyond that deadline. She stressed the need for OPCW’s continued readiness to provide protection against a chemical weapons attack.
She said her delegation was committed to ensuring that the elimination of the threat posed by biological weapons was achieved. She was also concerned about naturally-occurring biological material that could be used as weapons of mass destruction. Greater international coordination and assistance was required to eliminate that threat. She welcomed the outcome of the Seventh Review Conference, which showed positive though modest gains. While South Africa would have preferred a stronger outcome, she was sure States parties would work to further advance the Convention’s aims. States parties should participate in the fullest exchange of equipment and scientific information, and countries should be able to exercise their right to use certain biological elements to further the health and development of their populations. She called on countries not yet party to the Convention to sign and ratify it.
VICTORIA GONZÁLEZ-ROMÁN (Spain), associating with the statement of the European Union, spoke in a national capacity and underlined the importance of international mechanisms for cooperation, such as the Biological Weapons and Chemical Weapons Conventions and the 1925 Geneva Protocol. With regard to the Biological Weapons Convention, Spain valued the results of the Seventh Review Conference and remained convinced that the international community had to enhance assistance to other States parties, strengthen confidence-building measures and review relevant technological and scientific developments. Spain reiterated the need for a verification mechanism and regretted that the Convention has not been equipped with such an instrument.
She said that the Chemical Weapons Treaty, which established a verification mechanism, was an outstanding achievement, and she applauded both the destruction of arsenals and the undeniable commitment of parties to that process. However, the international community should not be complacent about the challenges. The deadline for destroying all chemical weapons had proven to be too optimistic. Undeclared chemical weapons had also been found in Libya, and Spain supported their destruction. It was also essential to prevent the future production of those weapons. Strengthening the treaty’s article 10 on cooperation and assistance was relevant. Above all, the universalization of the Convention must be a priority. Spain, additionally, urged Syria not to use the chemical weapons, which that country admitted it possessed. Care must be taken to guard against access to those weapons by non-State actors. The upcoming Third Review Conference was an opportunity to intensify efforts in those areas.
REZA NAJAFI ( Iran) said that his country was the main victim of chemical weapons use in contemporary history, as a result of more than 400 attacks during the eight-year war imposed on it by Saddam Hussein. More than 400,000 Iranian citizens were martyred or injured, as a result of nearly 30 attacks on Iranian cities and villages. On 28 June 1987, Saddam’s war planes had released gas bombs on Sardasht, a town in Northern Iran. As a result, more than 130 unprotected civilians had been martyred and more than 5,000 injured; they continued to suffer long-term complications. The anniversary of that attack was commemorated in Iran as a campaign against chemical weapons. The Director-General of OPCW had said that his heart went out to the victims who continued to suffer as a result of that chemical attack.
Iran’s representative said that chemical weapons must never again be used. He noted that Saddam’s army could not produce those inhumane weapons without assistance, particularly from those who had a permanent seat on the Security Council. Companies from the United States and France, among other countries, had supplied materials required for Saddam’s chemical weapons programme, but those companies could not pass on the materials without their Governments’ blessing. The use of those weapons, particularly against civilians, women and children, was a war crime and genocide. While Saddam had been properly punished, his collaborators had not. Despite those attacks, Iran did not resort to using chemical weapons in retaliation, and it had promulgated a very public stance against chemical weapons and actively participated in that Convention.
Continuing, he said that the Chemical Weapons Convention was of particular importance to Iran, residing in a region such as the Middle East. Total destruction of all chemical weapons stockpiles remained the key objective of the Convention. The major possessor States parties in non-compliance with the final extended destruction deadline of 29 April 2012 should embark on sustained and accelerated efforts to meet their obligations. Iran considered the non-compliance of major possessor States parties to be a setback in the operation of the Convention, which seriously challenged its relevance and reliability.
He stressed the importance of full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of that Convention, and called on the OPCW Technical Secretariat to expedite efforts for the operationalization of International Support Network for Victims of Chemical Weapons and its voluntary trust fund. While he welcomed the conclusion of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, he emphasized the need for the full implementation of the convention and its full universalization, which, regretfully, had not been realized 40 years after its entry into force. He called for the adoption of concrete measures to prohibit the transfer to non-parties of any material and technology that could be used in the development of biological weapons.
JUDIT KÖRÖMI ( Hungary) said her Government had submitted the draft on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (document A/C.1/67/L.29) for the Committee’s consideration. Effective implementation and universal adherence to the Convention were core objectives of Hungary. It welcomed the news it had heard this morning by Ambassador Laura Kennedy of the United States that the Marshall Islands would soon become a State party to the Convention. The draft had been modified in many places because Hungary had deemed it appropriate to have a special focus on the Seventh Review Conference held in December 2011, which had concluded its work successfully. Consequently, the text contained some new language, based on the Final Document of that review.
She said her delegation had been heartened by the considerable interest Member States expressed with regard to the resolution during consultations, both in Geneva and in New York. The delegation believed it had duly reflected all views in the text and that it was a balanced document. In the final operative paragraph, the General Assembly would decide that the item would be included on the agenda of the sixty-eighth session. By adopting the resolution by consensus every year, the international community reaffirmed its conviction that the Convention was essential for international peace and security and expressed unequivocal support for the prohibition of biological weapons. Hungary wished to remain the sole sponsor of the draft and hoped for its consensus support.
KHALIL HASHMI (Pakistan), associating himself with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions were important pillars of the global security architecture, as those instruments had made an important contribution to the goal of general and complete disarmament. Pakistan had ratified the Biological Weapons Convention in 1974 as a non-possessor State, and it remained fully committed to its obligations. It shared the concerns regarding the possible negative use of biological weapons, including by non-State actors. Pakistan had taken a range of comprehensive legal and administrative steps to enhance its bio-safety and bio-security regulations. Through an inter-agency consultative process, it had drafted relevant legislation, which was under parliamentary review. In addition to establishing a national focal point in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it had established an inter-agency working group comprising policy experts and life scientists from both public and private sectors.
He said his country welcomed the successful outcome of the Seventh Review Conference and accorded special importance to full and effective implementation of article X of the Convention. Pakistan believed that only a multilaterally agreed verification mechanism could provide the assurance of compliance. Confidence-building measures enhanced transparency and trust among States parties, but they could not be a substitute for compliance measures.
The Chemical Weapons Convention was a unique success story of disarmament through verified means, he said, stressing the importance for possessor States to continue with their destruction process so as to complete it within the shortest possible time. The provisions of the Convention relating to international cooperation and assistance were also essential to keep a large number of States without chemical industry engaged with the work of OPCW. Pakistan attached utmost importance to the Convention’s full implementation and had hosted several regional and international capacity-building courses, and it was in the process of establishing a subregional assistance and protection centre. Pakistan believed that sensitive technologies and materials should be adequately controlled to ensure their use for peaceful purposes alone, but that objective could not justify practices and cartels that hindered legitimate trade in chemicals, equipment and technology among States parties for peaceful purposes.
RAMAZAN ERCAN (Turkey) stated that the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention were among humanity’s best efforts to learn from past mistakes. Those agreements were the fruits of arduous negotiations and Turkey was party to all three multilateral instruments. Thus, it did not hold, develop or conduct any research on those weapons. Turkey was concerned about the existence of chemical weapons in the Middle East. The international community must remain alert and take swift action in the case of any unexpected eventualities concerning stockpiles or the use of chemical agents.
The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, said the speaker, was a key instrument to combat the proliferation of such weapons. However, the Convention lacked a verification regime, which would strengthen the treaty’s effectiveness. Calling on all countries to ratify and implement both the Biological and Chemical Weapons Convention, the delegate added that regional approaches that paved the way for eventual universality should be utilized. Turkey had been actively promoting the establishment of a zone free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
URS SCHMID ( Switzerland) told the Committee it was a “crucial moment” in the history of OPCW. In light of the expected completion of the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles, that organization must be prepared for a transition to an agency whose main task would be to prevent the re-emergence of chemical warfare and the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes as a threat. Switzerland was prepared to discuss the relevant recommendations that had been made thus far, and was convinced that a consensual way forward could be agreed in view of the 2013 Review Conference.
He said that rapid advances in science and technology, which might create opportunities for beneficial applications, might also pose challenges to the Convention, such as in the convergence between biology and chemistry. In that context, he reiterated his country’s view that it was important to have a comprehensive and focused debate on incapacitating chemical agents and their status under the Convention.
An important opportunity had been missed, he said, at the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention. Its outcome was “rather modest” compared to the far-reaching challenges it sought to address. More should be done to ensure that the Convention continued to be the premier forum for preventing the misuse of biology, and he outlined three areas that remained of great concern. First, it was vital that the Convention did not lose touch with the rapid developments in the biological sciences, which should be more regularly and systematically reviewed. Second, the confidence-building measures mechanism needed adjustment. Third, there was a need for greater international cooperation and assistance in implementing the Convention, which required, as a prerequisite, that receiving countries be transparent about their needs, challenges and achievements.
FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that a notable multilateral success had been found in the efforts to curb the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction. That had been a tangible demonstration of what the international community could do when it was cohesive and moved by constructive dialogue with the common objective of promoting international peace and security. The Holy See had decided to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention in order to lend its moral support to the international disarmament agenda, which, bringing together the rights and duties of reciprocity between States, intended to ban weapons which were particularly cruel and inhumane and which produced traumatic long-term effects afflicting entire, defenceless civilian populations.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s representative reiterated that allegations about his country were totally baseless; however, the threat and danger of such allegations of some countries that were leading a campaign in international media and other forums could not be minimized. Those were the same countries that had fabricated the Iraqi lie about weapons of mass destruction in the Iraq war and were conducting the largest joint military manoeuvres with Israel, and beating the drums of war once more. Syria was a party to the Geneva Convention of 1925 and was committed to that protocol and ready to adhere thoroughly to the Convention on Chemical Weapons when Israel ratified it and when it adhered to the NPT. Syria had been among the first countries to have called for the establishment of a zone free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Syria had called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, but members used the veto to protect Israel, which had all forms of weapons of mass destruction, he said. In disarmament, Syria acted according to what it said, contrary to some western countries. Some European countries were behind two devastating World Wars, which had victimized millions, many of whom were citizens of the Third World and subjected to colonialism. Those countries were still condescending to those Third World nations and refusing to apologize to their citizens for their crime. Some European countries with colonial mentalities were guilty of using chemical weapons in the First World War and in the invasion of Abyssinia in 1935.
He sought support for all resolutions that called for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. Depleted uranium had been used by some members of the Organization in the first war in Iraq, in the Balkan wars, in the Kosovo war, in the war on Afghanistan in 2002, and in the war on Iraq in 2003, and there were many reports and evidence from the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the United Kingdom. In its report, it said: “After the Shock-and-Awe campaign in Iraq in 2003, very fine particles of depleted uranium were captured with larger sand and dust particles in filters in Britain. Those particles travelled in seven to nine days from Iraqi battlefields as far as 2,400 miles away. The radiation measured in the atmosphere quadrupled within a few weeks after the beginning of the 2003 campaign, and at one of the five monitoring locations, the levels twice required an official alert to the British Environment Agency.”
He said that Dr. Katsuma Yagasaki, a Japanese physicist at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, had estimated that the atomicity equivalent of at least 400,000 Nagasaki bombs has been released into the global atmosphere since 1991, from the use of depleted uranium munitions. The international community was aware of the risk and the catastrophic effects of depleted uranium on humans and the environment, and he hoped some of the countries that mentioned Syria would look at themselves in the mirror and apologize for the dangers that they caused, whose effects were still ongoing.
He called on Western countries to work with sincerity to guarantee the success of the Helsinki conference in Finland on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and to pressure Israel to announce its participation in the conference and its commitment to join the NPT and put its nuclear facilities under the comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system.
Regarding the statement made by the representative of Turkey, he said the reality was that those concerns and preoccupations were not “upright”. Syria was a party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol and supported the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, which included Turkey itself. But the reality of the situation reflected unparalleled political hypocrisy. Turkey hosted nuclear weapons on its territory as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) armaments, thus threatening the security and peace of Syria and the countries surrounding Turkey. Turkey and its allies were manoeuvring the definition of the Middle East to define it in a way that excluded Turkey, thus preserving its “nuclear exceptions” and violating its NPT obligations. He was deeply concerned at the presence of nuclear weapons on Turkish territory and the Turkish Government’s non-compliance with the NPT. Additionally, Turkey was hosting armed groups that were carrying out terrorist acts and sabotage in Syria from Turkish territory. He hoped that his colleague from the Turkish delegation would restrain the escalation, as Syria had.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative from Turkey said his delegation was surprised by the baseless allegations by his Syrian colleague regarding Turkey’s position. Concerning the NPT, he said Turkey was committed to it, as well as to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Allegations that Turkey hosted armed groups in its territory were baseless. There were, however, Syrian guests that had arrived in an influx that had numbered 100,000. Among those Syrians were some army elements, but not armed groups. They were defectors that came as private citizens. He asked the Syrian delegate to revisit the facts on the issue and focus on discussing the current cluster that was ending now, and on discussing the next one.
Outer Space Cluster
Mr. CASSIDY ( Indonesia), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, recognized the common interest of all mankind and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The Movement remained concerned over the negative implications of the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defence systems and the threat of the weaponization and militarization of outer space. It emphasized the paramount importance of strict compliance with existing arms limitation and disarmament agreements relevant to outer space, including bilateral agreements, and with the existing legal regime concerning the use of outer space. The Movement also stressed the urgent need to begin substantive work in the Conference on Disarmament on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, taking note of the joint Russian-Chinese initiative.
He said the negative implications of the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile defence systems and the threat of weaponization of outer space had contributed to the further erosion of an international climate conducive to the promotion of disarmament and the strengthening of international security. The abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty had brought new challenges to strategic stability and to preventing an outer space arms race. The Movement was seriously concerned at the negative security consequences of the deployment of strategic missile defence systems, which could trigger an arms race and lead to the further development of advanced missile systems and an increase in nuclear weapons.
Any proposal on outer space should be pursued within the competent United Nations bodies and any possible decision thereon should be made by consensus, he stressed. At the same time, that space science and technology and their applications, such as satellite communication, Earth observation systems and satellite navigation technologies, were indispensible tools for viable long-term solutions for sustainable development and could contribute more effectively to the development of all countries and to improving people’s lives. Space science and technology should be utilized in accordance with the international law and principles of the United Nations Charter.
Mr. BDELKHALEK (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that the placement of any weapons in outer space would have serious consequences as the pattern of life today depended on space activities, including the intricate web of information and communication services provided by the 3,000 operational satellites. Legal instruments, such as the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, had played a positive role in prohibiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and certain military activities in outer space. However, the current legal system was not sufficient to prevent an arms race in outer space and, therefore, the Group believed that it was in the best interests of the international community to start negotiations on an internationally legally binding instrument to prevent the placement of any kind of weapon in outer space. He endorsed the establishment of an ad hoc committee in the Conference on Disarmament for that purpose.
Speaking in his national capacity, he introduced the draft resolution on preventing an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/67/L.3), which was similar in substance to General Assembly resolution 66/27. The draft emphasized the need for strict compliance with existing agreements, including bilateral agreements, related to outer space and with the legal regime concerning the use of outer space. The draft would invite the Conference on Disarmament to establish a working group on the issue as early as possible during its 2013 session, and it would permit the close examination, through negotiations, of a number of important initiatives, including the Russian-Chinese draft treaty. He called on the two States that had abstained in the voting on the resolution last year to reconsider their positions and join the majority of Member States that supported it.
Mr. KOS, delegate from the European Union, reiterated the Union’s long-standing position in favour of enhancing the multilateral framework concerning the preservation of a peaceful, safe and secure environment in outer space and its use on an equitable and mutually acceptable basis. The prevention of an arms race in outer space was essential for the strengthening of strategic stability. The Union was particularly sensitive to the issue of the safety of space systems and urged all States to take necessary measures and actions aiming at mitigating the creation of space debris. He noted the Russian-Chinese draft treaty, as well as ideas for a legally binding prohibition on testing and use of anti-satellite weapons. All European Union member States had co-sponsored in 2010 the resolution 65/68 “Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities”, presented by the Russian Federation, while four of them had participated in the work of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space, established by that text.
The Union sought the promotion of an international and voluntary set of guidelines to strengthen the safety of space activities should be promoted, he said. To that end, it had launched initial consultations to promote the development of an international code of conduct for outer space activities. It formally presented the latest draft International Code of Conduct to the international community in Vienna on 5 June, which was guided by the following principle: freedom for all to use outer space for peaceful purposes; preservation of the security and integrity of space objects in orbit; and due consideration for the legitimate security and defence needs of States. The proposed draft code foresaw its applicability to all outer space activities conducted by States or non-governmental entities. It would be voluntary and would lay down the basic rules to be observed by space-faring nations in both civil and military space activities. The draft code did not include provisions on the placement of weapons in outer space, but insisted on the importance of preventing space from becoming an area of conflict.
He said the Union felt that pursuing discussions on disarmament and non-proliferation, or the civilian uses of outer space outside United Nations forums would not be suitable. By holding such talks outside those forums, in a process open to all Member States, the Union hoped to broaden international participation in its initiative, as well as to bring discussion of the draft code to a swifter conclusion. The non-legally binding initiative would enhance international space security together with other ongoing international space initiatives. The Union would hold the first multilateral experts meeting to discuss the draft code in the near future, possibly in January 2013. Its aim remained to find agreement on a text that was acceptable to all interested States and thus brought security benefits. The Union would present a final version of the code at an ad hoc diplomatic conference.
WALTER S. REID III ( United States) said that space today was the domain of a growing number of satellite operators, including about 60 nations and Government consortia, as well as commercial and academic operators. Consequently, the possibility of collisions had also increased. Irresponsible acts in space could have damaging consequences for all. The United States was focused on near-term, voluntary and pragmatic transparency and confidence-building measures. At the same time, it was prepared to engage in substantive discussions on space security as part of a consensus programme of work in the Conference on Disarmament. It was willing to consider space arms control proposals that were equitable, effectively verifiable and enhanced the national security of the United States and its allies — but the United States had not yet to see a proposal that met these criteria.
He said that the international community had made progress this year in the pursuit of transparency and confidence-building measures, and he noted how the United States and other countries were actively cooperating in the development of an international code of conduct for outer space activities. A non-legally binding code of conduct focused on the use of voluntary and pragmatic transparency and confidence-building measures would provide guidelines for responsible behaviour in space that would help to reduce the hazards of accidental and purposeful debris-generating events, minimize the dangers of collisions by increasing the transparency of operations in space and expand cooperation in areas recognized as crucial for ensuring stability. Noting the first meeting of the United Nations-established Group of Governmental Experts on Space transparency and confidence-building measures, he said its work programme had provided a solid framework for review of the role of unilateral, bilateral and multilateral mechanisms to strengthen stability in space.
The United States was pleased that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space had established a Working Group on the “Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities,” he said. Many of the best-practice guidelines that were being considered by that working group, including those for space situational awareness, space operations and space weather, were complementary to efforts to pursue transparency and confidence-building measures to enhance stability. The United States was pleased at the progress of the expert groups, which had begun to develop best practice guidelines. Nations had the right to use and explore space, but with that right came the responsibility to preserve the environment, he concluded.
Mr. SIMON-MICHEL (France), associating with the statement made by the European Union, said that his country supported the creation through resolution 65/68 of a group of governmental experts on outer space transparency and confidence-building measures. Further, France believed that a new legally binding instrument would only provide a real security gain if it was “comprehensive, specific, universal and credible”.
The international community must ensure, he added, that the space environment allowed for the development of space activities for peaceful purposes. But, the increase in stakeholders and rapid development and diversification of civil and military activities in space generated risks to the security of objects placed there. One of the main threats to space activities was the growing amount of space debris. In that respect, France was taking an active part in the work on the long-term sustainability of outer space activities conducted in the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
Further, he said, France would lend its full support to the draft international code of conduct for outer space activities launched in 2008, the most recent version of which had been presented in Vienna in June. That text, which currently had the support of a very large number of countries, would apply to all space activities, whether conducted by States or non-Government bodies. It would be voluntary and open to the participation of all States. While the project did not contain provisions concerning the placement of weapons in outer space as such, it stressed the importance of implementing measures to prevent outer space from becoming an area of conflict. Since the initiative addressed both military and civil aspects, it could not be discussed in established forums such as the Conference on Disarmament or the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Discussions needed to be pursued outside such forums within a process that was open to all United Nations Member States, he concluded.
VICTOR VASILIEV ( Russian Federation) said the issue of preventing an arms race in outer space was the absolute priority on the multilateral disarmament agenda. The Russian Federation believed it was high time that the international community embarked on serious practical work in that field by adopting pre-emptive tactics; otherwise, it could lose the opportunity. It was easier to prevent a threat than to remove it. Based on those considerations, his country had joined the resolution “Prevention of an arms race in outer space”, submitted this year by Egypt as co-sponsor.
Discussing the initiatives on the international arena put forward by the Russian Federation, he said that, together with China, his Government had submitted the draft of the treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space to the Conference on Disarmament in 2008. The draft contained a set of preventative measures aimed at detecting up-to-date high-tech destabilizing types of weapons and new areas of confrontation. Placement of weapons in outer space could instigate unpredictable consequences for the international community.
The Russian Federation had unilaterally and unconditionally stated that it would not be the first to place any kind of weapons in outer space, he said, calling upon States possessing relevant capabilities to follow suit. Given that the Conference on Disarmament had been unable to start negotiations on the draft treaty, the Russian Federation believed it was reasonable to promote consideration of transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space. It assumed that application of those measures, while no substitute for efforts to prevent an outer space arms race, would contribute to greater transparency in outer space activities in all spheres, including military.
Mr. HASHMI ( Pakistan), associating with the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that an arms race in outer space would be a grave danger. The existing international regime pertaining to outer space had gaps, which could only be addressed by a new legal instrument. Rapid change offered both opportunities and challenges. Space security was no longer considered to be the domain of a few States. Monopolies in space would not last forever, as other countries would play “catch up”. If the international community did not cap the possibility of the weaponization of outer space now, it would become harder in the future. The development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems had added a varying dimension to outer space. Outer space weaponization would aggravate conflicts on Earth, with consequences for international peace, so the world community needed to limit the use of outer space to peaceful purposes.
He said there was a considerable body of knowledge on preventing an outer space arms race, and the draft text tabled by the Russian Federation and China also provided a useful basis to commence negotiations. Despite the dangers of weaponization in outer space, some powerful States were opposed to working on that issue in the Conference on Disarmament. There was no other explanation except that they wanted to maintain monopolization. The international community had to ask for the reasons for such filibustering and how working on preventing an outer space arms race would create a negative effect. Those powerful States should acknowledge responsibility for the deadlock. Pakistan was in favour of confidence-building measures in outer space, yet that should not obviate the need for a legally binding treaty. At the same time, Pakistan called for an agreement to address concerns emanating from the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems.
* *** *For information media • not an official record