|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
10th Meeting (PM)
Sobering Threat Analysis in First Committee as Agency Heads Present Mixed Reviews:
Window of Opportunity Has Opened for Disarmament, but Could ‘Easily Swing Shut’
Non-Aligned Movement, New Agenda Coalition Introduce Resolutions
Although the “special responsibility” of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) to tackle the myriad challenges of disarmament and non-proliferation was not easy or quick, those efforts should not be allowed to “wither on the vine”, Genxin Li, Director of Legal and External Relations of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), said today as the Committee began its thematic debate on nuclear weapons.
During a panel discussion with agency officials at the start of the meeting, Mr. Li said that a revitalization of the global will to legally codify a nuclear‑testing ban had recently emerged. There was “a window of opportunity to finally outlaw explosive nuclear testing once and for all”. However, he warned that just as that window had opened, it might also easily “swing shut”.
Also during the discussion, Deputy Director-General Grace Asirwatham said that the awarding of the Nobel Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had cast a spotlight on its 16-year record of achievement. Recent weeks had seen “truly momentous developments” for the Chemical Weapons Convention, but had also created unprecedented challenges. In Syria, the joint OPCW-United Nations mission had begun its work to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons within the first half of 2014.
The most immediate goal, she said, was to render all Syrian production facilities and mixing and filling equipment unusable by 1 November. So far the mission had reported steady progress, and Syrian officials were cooperating. With Syria’s accession to the Convention, only six States now remained outside, and she called on those to join without delay or precondition.
Speaking to other disarmament efforts, Geoffrey Shaw, Representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that his agency’s safeguards were a fundamental component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and were currently in force in 181 States, with additional protocols in place for 121 States. However, 12 non-nuclear-weapon States had yet to meet their obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to conclude an agreement.
The Agency helped to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists and protected nuclear facilities from malicious acts, he continued. Between July 2012 and June 2013, 155 incidents had been reported by States participating in the Agency’s “Incident and Trafficking Database”. Of those, 14 had involved the illegal possession of nuclear or radioactive sources or attempts to sell them. That was a reminder of the need for all countries to remain vigilant in ensuring that those materials did not fall into the wrong hands.
On efforts to mobilize the multilateral negotiating forum on disarmament, Jarmo Sareva, Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, said that body was singular and irreplaceable in that regard, as well as in ensuring that the rule of law was mainstreamed. Though many had decried the ongoing paralysis, he insisted that the 2013 session had ended on a note of optimism. Another year of stalemate would be simply unacceptable. Only through compromise and consensus could the international community make vital progress towards a more secure world.
During the general debate portion of the afternoon, the delegate from the United Kingdom said his country would support all initiatives to build a world in which no State felt the need to possess nuclear weapons, but it fell to all States to build such an environment. The United Kingdom had a strong disarmament record. It was clear that it would only consider nuclear weapons use in “extreme circumstances of self-defence”. The country had unilaterally disarmed, further than any other nuclear-weapon State, to a minimal credible deterrent.
Countering that, the representative from Iran reiterated deep concern over the doctrines of the nuclear-weapon States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that set out rationales for the use or threat of use of those weapons. Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, he said that the world had waited too long for nuclear disarmament, and the indefinite possession of those weapons could not be tolerated. He introduced a draft resolution entitled “Follow-up to the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament”.
Speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, Egypt’s representative said that nuclear disarmament had been high on the international agenda since the adoption of the very first General Assembly resolution in 1946, and the coalition firmly believed that the only guarantee against their use or threat of use was their total elimination. The representative introduced a draft resolution entitled “Towards a nuclear weapon-free world: Accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments”.
Stressing that the tragedy caused by the use of nuclear weapons must never be repeated, Japan’s representative said that, as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, it was its mission to pass down the story of the tremendous sufferings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as historical fact, “across boarders and generations”.
John Ashe, President of the General Assembly, also spoke prior to the panel discussion. Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, spoke during the panel discussion.
Also speaking were representatives of Bahrain, Cuba, and Mexico. Head of Disarmament of the European Union Delegation also participated.
The representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Japan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Friday, October 18 to continue its thematic discussion on nuclear weapons.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to begin its thematic debate segment starting with its Cluster 1 on nuclear weapons.
Statement by General Assembly President
JOHN ASHE, President of the General Assembly, said it was appropriate in any endeavour that from time to time one glances backwards to take note of signs of achievements and failures. On the positive side, the Nobel Peace Prize this year had been awarded to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was an outstanding recognition of that body’s work. Many disarmament ideas originated with the First Committee, he said, noting as an example, the Arms Trade Treaty. That marked an important step towards enhancing transparency in the legitimate arms trade and a worthy contribution to strengthening peace and security. Also commendable was the further convening, in Geneva, of the Open-ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament, and the first high-level meeting of the General Assembly on that topic, in New York.
He said that the successes were laudable and noteworthy, however, the international community continued to struggle in many ways. The disarmament machinery was making only limited progress, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) had still not entered into force. Many felt that the slow pace was detrimental. In many regions of the world, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was a clear and present danger, and facing that threat was an enduring preoccupation in many nations. Not only did those arms facilitate a vast array of human rights violations, but they placed strain on social and health services and were linked to illegal drug trafficking. Sustainable development underpinned most issues discussed by the General Assembly, including disarmament. Where nations put their resources was a sign of what they valued, and resources should go towards economic and social development and not towards weapons.
ANGELA KANE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, introduced the panellists, saying they represented organizations that, while separate from the United Nations, nevertheless sought to cultivate and strengthen the Organization’s goals. Theirs were multilateral in nature and universal in scope. This year, there had been a striking and rapid emergence of a collaborative team effort by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations to assist in the implementation of Syria’s responsibilities as a new party to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The many complexities of undertaking those functions amid the horrors of a brutal civil war could not be overstated.
Unfortunately, she said, the Conference on Disarmament had once again been unable to fulfil its role, although she was encouraged that diplomatic efforts were under way to revive it. Of the institutions represented on the panel, the United Nations had the longest relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 along with its Director General. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) had already made impressive achievements in establishing a robust international system to detect nuclear explosions of virtually any size, virtually anywhere. The most auspicious environment for the organizations represented on the panel would arise if, over the years ahead, the international community found new ways to expand coalitions of States sharing a common commitment to advance the disarmament goals.
GRACE ASIRWATHAM, Deputy Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said that the Nobel Prize had cast a spotlight on multilateral arms control efforts, as well as on her organisation’s 16-year record of achievement. Recent weeks had seen “truly momentous developments” for the Chemical Weapons Convention, but those also had created unprecedented challenges for the OPCW.
She said that the use of chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta had been confirmed by the Secretary-General on 21 August. Not long after, Syria had deposited its instrument of accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force for that country three days ago. The OPCW Executive Council had taken the “historic decision” to complete the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons in the first half of 2014, and a joint OPCW-United Nations mission had been established to oversee that accelerated destruction programme. Inspection and verification activities had begun, and the most immediate goal remained to render all production facilities and mixing and filling equipment unusable by 1 November. Steady progress had been reported by the mission, which was assisted by constructive cooperation from Syrian officials.
Given the ongoing conflict in Syria, she added, the safety and security of OPCW staff was of “paramount importance”. Two teams of inspectors had participated in the mission to date, and the investigation would continue. Syria’s accession to the Convention had brought the number of States parties to 190. Only six States remained outside, and she called on those to join without delay or precondition. In the Convention’s 16 years of operation, the OPCW had verified the destruction of 58,170 metric tons of chemical weapons stockpiles or 82 per cent of the 71,000 metric tons that had been declared by States parties.
Calling the Convention a multidimensional instrument, she said that its goals comprised, not only disarmament, but also, among other things, the promotion of international cooperation for the peaceful application of chemistry. In that regard, its verification regime extended to the global chemical industry, and there were approximately 5,000 facilities around the world that were subjected to OPCW inspection. So far, more than 2,000 such inspections had taken place in 86 States parties. The OPCW had also established a wide range of programmes to promote international cooperation. While it was not an anti-terrorism agency, the OPCW was likewise contributing to global efforts to counter that threat. With the extraordinary challenge of overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapon arsenal before it, she was more conscious than ever of the need for cooperation.
JARMO SAREVA, Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament, speaking for the Secretary-General of the Conference Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, said the First Committee was a key pillar of the multilateral diplomacy. The Conference was irreplaceable as the single multilateral negotiating forum, and in ensuring that the rule of law was mainstreamed. The Conference had successfully negotiated the Chemical Weapons Convention, and recent events had demonstrated the importance of establishing rule of law. The Nobel Peace Prize was a reminder that disarmament efforts were recognized. But, since 1996, no legally binding instrument had been negotiated by the Conference. It was time for new such commitments to be adopted.
He noted that many delegations had called on the Conference to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty as a first step, and he agreed with that assessment as logical. This year there was ground for cautious optimism that change could be nurtured. While all Conference members agreed that a balanced programme of work was the desired goal, some suggested that a simplified work programme with a discussion mandate should be adopted. Others drew attention to the need to review the working methods, or said that the membership should be expanded. Still others called for an entire overhaul of the disarmament machinery.
In August, he went on, the Conference had decided to establish an informal working group, which had now begun its work. That could help lay the foundation of understanding how the Conference could resume substantive work. It was a new approach for the Conference and should not become a diversion. The ongoing intercessional period could be used productively. The 2013 session ended on a note of optimism, and the 2014 session should build on that, as another year of stalemate would be “simply unacceptable”. Only through compromise and consensus could the international community make vital progress towards a more secure world, he said.
GEOFFREY SHAW, Representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that 8 December would mark 60 years since the establishment of the Agency to put nuclear material to use to “serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind”. The Agency was best known for its work to verify States’ full compliance with their non-proliferation obligations, and that materials from civilian nuclear programmes were not diverted to nuclear weapons. At the end of 2012, more than 183,000 significant quantities of nuclear material in some 1,300 facilities around the globe were under IAEA safeguards, with one “quantity” being sufficient for one nuclear explosive device. IAEA safeguards were a fundamental component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
He said that safeguards agreements were currently in force with 181 States, but added that 12 non-nuclear-weapon States had yet to meet their obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and conclude an agreement. For those States, the Agency could not draw any safeguards conclusions, and he, thus, urged them to conclude those agreements as soon as possible. The Additional Protocol greatly enhanced the IAEA’s verification capability by giving the Agency expanded access to information and relevant locations. It also contributed to international and regional confidence-building. The number of countries with additional protocols in place had risen steadily and now stood at 121.
The IAEA could also play a role in nuclear disarmament by verifying, independently and upon request, that nuclear materials from dismantled weapons would not be used again for military purposes, he said. While the responsibility for ensuring nuclear security lay with national Governments, international cooperation was vital. The Agency also helped to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists, and helped to protect nuclear facilities from malicious acts. The number of States participating in the Agency’s “Incident and Trafficking Database” now stood at 125, and between July 2012 and June 2013, 155 incidents had been reported. Of those, 14 had involved the illegal possession of nuclear material or radioactive sources or attempts to sell them. That was a reminder of the need for all countries to remain vigilant in ensuring that nuclear and other radioactive materials did not fall into the wrong hands.
GENXIN LI, Director of Legal and External Relations of the PreparatoryCommission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, said that the First Committee was tasked with a “special responsibility”. Advancing disarmament and strengthening international security involved “myriad challenges”, which were not easily or quickly attained. Such efforts should not, however, be allowed to “wither on the vine”.
He noted that this year marked the fiftieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Partial Test-Ban Treaty, which, he added, was the first time that cold war adversaries had been able to successfully negotiate an agreement prohibiting nuclear weapon activities. Though limited in scope, it was a “step away from war and toward peace and security”. Likewise, the adoption of the Test-Ban Treaty in 1996 represented a crucial step in efforts to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons. That Treaty, and its global verification regime, demonstrated that multilateral verifiable arms control was possible and effective. Noting its non-discriminatory, equal obligations on all States, he said that the Treaty was a strong instrument of fair and just multilateralism.
Highlighting successes of the Treaty’s verification regime, he said that the International Monitoring System had a “truly global” reach, with 337 monitoring facilities. It had been proven that the Treaty was verifiable, he said, adding, “We have built a deterrent that gives States peace of mind.” Despite that, eight so-called Annex II States had yet to ratify it; theirs was needed for the Treaty’s entry into force. “Our work is not yet done,” and challenges to the non-testing norm persisted, he declared.
In February, he went on, a third nuclear test had been carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and even with a “comparatively small” estimated yield, the event had been detected by 94 ‘IMS’ seismic stations and two infrasound stations. International condemnation of the event underlined the normative strength of the Treaty. Indeed, a revitalization of the global will to legally codify a nuclear testing ban had recently emerged. He cited the determination of the international community at the recent high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament as one example. There was “a window of opportunity to finally outlaw explosive nuclear testing once and for all”, he said, warning in conclusion that just as that window had opened, it might also easily swing shut.
Hamad Fareed Ahmed Hasan (Bahrain), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the goal of seeing peace and security “entrenched” in the world would not be achieved with the existence of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. It was necessary to rid humanity of their danger and instead realize its potential for development. The Group hoped that the high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament would be a launching pad towards complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Group renewed its support for the Non-Aligned Movement’s proposal to designate 26 September as an international day for disarmament. Likewise, the Group called for a high-level conference to review progress achieved in the area of nuclear disarmament, he said.
He said that the NPT, with its three pillars, placed particular importance on the inalienable right of States to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy, in line with legal obligations of States and in accordance with IAEA agreements. The framework of reference for United Nations disarmament mechanisms was the extraordinary session of the General Assembly on disarmament and that framework could only be amended by a new session. The Group, therefore, called for the convening of a fourth special session.
The Arab Group supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout world, including in the Middle East, he said, and it was thus disappointed over postponement of the agreed 2012 conference on that issue, owing to “flimsy and unrealistic reasons”. Arab States reaffirmed the need to convene such a conference, with the attendance of all countries of the region, as soon as possible; conditions in the Middle East must not be used as an excuse for delay. He welcomed all initiatives in that regard, including by Egypt, whose delegation, during the current session of the General Assembly, had called on countries of the Middle East, as well as the five permanent members of the Security Council, to deposit letters with the Secretary-General declaring their support for the creation of such a zone in his region.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated deep concern over the greatest threat to peace posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons and the doctrines of the nuclear-weapon States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that set out rationales for the use or threat of use of those weapons. The world had waited too long for nuclear disarmament, and the indefinite possession of those weapons could not be tolerated nor could their elimination be delayed. That abolition was further undercut by the modernization of such weapons.
Stressing that disarmament and non-proliferation were mutually reinforcing, he insisted on the start of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. However, non-proliferation policies should not undermine the inalienable right of States to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The Movement also stressed the importance of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and called on Israel to join the NPT and place its facilities under IAEA safeguards. He also called on all nuclear-armed States to ratify related protocols to all treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones and stressed the significance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT.
In order to sustain the positive momentum garnered by the recent high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament, he said the Movement was officially introducing a draft resolution entitled “Follow-up to the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament” and called for delegations’ support. That draft would propose key actions, namely, early commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament, the designation of 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and the convening of a high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament in five years to review progress.
MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL ( Egypt), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, formally introduced a draft resolution entitled “Towards a nuclear weapon-free world: Accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments” (document A/C.1/68/L.18). Nuclear disarmament had been high on the international agenda since the adoption of the very first General Assembly resolution in 1946, and the coalition firmly believed that the only guarantee against their use or threat of use was their total elimination. The resolution addressed a number of concerns, on which progress was essential. It reiterated deep concern over the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and called on nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their NPT article VI commitment, as well as those contained in the final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference and action 5 of the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan; they must take concrete, transparent, verifiable and irreversible steps to further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons.
He said that the draft also reiterated the need for negative security assurances and called for the removal of fissile material by each nuclear-weapon State as “no longer required for military purposes”. It reaffirmed the conviction that, pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the establishment and maintenance of nuclear-weapon-free zones would enhance global and regional peace and security, including in the Middle East, as had been established at the 1995 NPT Review Conference. The draft also highlighted the vital importance of the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty. He encouraged all States to support the draft and join him in signalling a strong wish to see the full implementation of the disarmament elements of the NPT Action Plan and make progress towards the achievement and maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons.
ANDRAS KOS, Head of Disarmament of the European Union delegation, was convinced that, as an essential foundation, the NPT was more important today than ever. He stressed the need to universalize it and said that the Union’s objective for the current review cycle was to strengthen the international non-proliferation regime and achieve tangible and realistic progress. It would promote comprehensive implementation of the 2010 Action Plan; it had sponsored two seminars on a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East and stood ready to further support the process. All States in that region should engage with the Facilitator, with the aim of convening a conference this year. Likewise, the Union fully supported IAEA’s safeguards, as indispensable for the NPT’s implementation. The CTBT was also of crucial importance, and recent events in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had underscored the urgent need for its entry into force. The international community faced major proliferation challenges in that country, as well as in Iran and Syria, and those must be resolutely addressed.
He expressed the Union’s commitment to the reduction of the global stockpile of nuclear weapons, and, in that regard, the increased transparency shown by some nuclear-weapon States was welcome. He urged continued efforts along those lines, and added that ongoing meetings of the five nuclear-weapon States on implementation of commitments made at the 2010 NPT Review Conference were encouraging. The stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament was deeply troubling, and he hoped that the establishment of an informal working group would lead to tangible results. The negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons was an “urgent necessity” for the Conference. Reiterating the priority the Union attached to the Non-Proliferation Treaty process, he stressed that all initiatives should contribute to full implementation of the 2010 Action Plan, as well as to a successful Review Conference in 2015.
CLAUDIA GARCIA (Mexico), associating herself with the New Agenda Coalition, said that more than 60 years had gone by and the United Nations had been unable to respond to its first General Assembly resolution on nuclear disarmament. The fact that there were still 17,000 nuclear weapons was unacceptable, and their use would be a war crime. The NPT was the keystone of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and the only treaty in force to address the nuclear disarmament issue. It was necessary to continue strengthening implementation of its three pillars; nuclear-weapon States must abide by article VI, and the international community must undertake multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. She echoed the call to India, Pakistan and Israel to accede to the Treaty in an expedited and unconditional matter, and called on all countries whose accession was essential for the CTBT’s operation to adhere to it without delay. The test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea defied the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
She said that, in seeking to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world, the establishment of such zones demonstrated the strength of sovereignty of countries that had decided not to use nuclear weapons. The creation of new zones in any region of the world should draw on the agreement and free decision of the parties involved, and she reiterated her call that the conference for a zone in the Middle East should be convened without further delay. In her region, the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) had achieved clear goals, and the Treaty of Tlatelolco had been nominated for the Future Policy Gold Award by the World Future Council. Nuclear weapons must never be used again under any circumstances or by any actor, as the global consequences would be immense and long-lasting. She reiterated the invitation for States, non-governmental organizations and all other stakeholders to attend the second annual Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, to be held in Nayarit, Mexico next year.
MATTHEW ROLAND ( United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said that there had been tangible progress towards the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom would support all initiatives to build a world in which no State felt the need to possess those weapons, but it fell to all States to build such an environment. The 2010 NPT Action Plan was a major achievement, and he recognized his country’s particular responsibilities, along with those of the other nuclear-weapon States. The United Kingdom had a strong record on disarmament, he said, highlighting several measures it had taken in that regard. It had been clear that it would only consider nuclear weapons use in “extreme circumstances of self-defence”. Likewise, it had demonstrated a high level of transparency about its nuclear capabilities and the limited role they played in its defence doctrine. The United Kingdom had unilaterally disarmed, further than any other nuclear-weapon State to a minimal credible deterrent.
However, unilateral action would only reach so far, he said, adding that in leading by example, the United Kingdom had sought to build trust and mutual confidence between all States to achieve disarmament. Indeed, several conferences of the “P5” States had been convened since an initial dialogue was instigated in London in 2009. Trust was also needed between nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States, and the “P5” should be more open about the outcome of their discussions.
Those who called for new disarmament initiatives must show “equal or greater” energy in preventing Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, he declared. Greater understanding was needed of the danger of nuclear conflict in South Asia, as well as progress towards a zone free of mass destruction weapons in the Middle East. The United Kingdom was a strong supporter of the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, and was fully committed to the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. That said, he was likewise committed to the promotion of safe nuclear energy by those who wished to use it, in line with the rights established under the NPT’s article IV, albeit, in a way that did not compromise safety, security or non-proliferation.
Sharing frustration about the lack of progress in the Conference on Disarmament, he said his country remained open to suggestions to break the deadlock. He called on all NPT States parties to work together to realize the “whole vision” of that Treaty. Only through balanced and reciprocal progress across all three pillars could a world truly free of nuclear weapons be achieved.
TOSHIO SANO ( Japan) stated that, every August at memorial ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, his country reaffirmed its conviction that the tragedy caused by the use of nuclear weapons must never be repeated. This year, Japan would again submit a draft resolution entitled “United Action Towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons”. As in previous years, the text would emphasize concrete and practical actions to be taken by the international community. Likewise, Japan was an active member of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which worked towards “practical and action-oriented” proposals. Its Foreign Minister had advocated reduction of the number, role and incentive for nuclear weapons. The country placed great emphasis, not only on reduction of nuclear weapons, but also on “qualitative disarmament measures”. Transparency was essential in nuclear disarmament, as was “mutual trust”.
He said that “collective movements”, among them “multiple resolutions” of the General Assembly, had demonstrated the international community’s intolerance for the protracted impasse in the Conference on Disarmament. Japan was convinced that a fissile material cut-off treaty was an indispensable disarmament milestone, and, as such, was deeply disappointed that the Conference had failed to start negotiations on the issue, despite widespread support from the international community. As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, it was Japan’s mission to pass down the story of the tremendous sufferings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as historical fact, “across boarders and generations”.
YADIRA LEDESMA HERNANDEZ (Cuba) stated that, of numerous proposals to come out of the recent historic high-level meeting on disarmament, those provided by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) deserved attention. Those included a draft resolution proposing the establishment of an international disarmament day on 26 September, and another concerning the opportunity to put an end to the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament. Sixty-seven years had passed since the General Assembly had issued a call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, and while there was agreement that that was a priority, some 17,200 nuclear weapons remained in existence. Worse, millions of dollars were allocated for the maintenance of those stockpiles. States had shown a “selective focus” when it came to the issue of nuclear disarmament, and Cuba opposed that approach. Nuclear-weapon States had not fulfilled their obligations in that regard, owing to a lack of political resolve.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stated that the delegation of Japan had once again made an attempt to attack the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in its statement. He rejected the allegation as misleading, both public opinion, as well as the participants of this meeting. He would like to make some points to clarify the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s position regarding the Korean peninsula. It was not necessary to repeat what he had already said regarding the nuclear test.
Regarding the Security Council resolution referred to by Japan, he said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected it, and indeed, his country had never recognized the resolution’s effectiveness. It had been adopted through manipulation by the United States, in collaboration with the Japanese delegation. It was a flagrant violation of the dignity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its people, he said.
Regarding the launch of a satellite, he said that had been exercised as a legitimate right of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The United States itself had recognized it as a satellite, and yet Japan had not been taken to the Security Council for the launch of a similar satellite. The Security Council said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a threat to peace and security, and yet, on the subject of the launch by Japan, the Security Council had remained silent. That was clear evidence of double standards and misuse of power given to the United States by the United Nations, he added.
Quoting from the Japanese representative’s statement, he said that Japan’s claim to be the only country to have suffered atomic bombs posed the question of what that meant regarding all the people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who had been living with nuclear weapons over their heads for six decades. Those weapons had been brought into the Republic of Korea by the United States. Japan’s remarks were “nonsense”. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been living under the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons for decades. His country had no option but to “go nuclear” in the face of nuclear blackmail and violation of its sovereignty by the United States. His country would never tolerate a nuclear weapon being dropped on the heads of its people. Furthermore, Japan’s provocation meant it was rising as a grave threat to peace and security in the region; it was becoming a military Power and a potential nuclear-weapon State. It had the technical know-how and was sitting on 40 tons of plutonium and other enrichment materials. All of that was under the umbrella of the United States. In those conditions, Japan had no justification to talk about another country’s nuclear position.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Japan said that he would not go into detail since he had already stated his position, but he wished to make some points.
He said that comparison of space activities between his country and that of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was inappropriate because Japan’s space activities had been done in conformity with the relevant treaties. Moreover, Japan’s Constitution limited it to using space for peaceful purposes. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should comply fully with Security Council resolutions that prohibited it from any kind of ballistic launch. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s weapons testing was not only a violation of Security Council resolutions, but also a grave challenge to the NPT regime. Such provocations were unacceptable. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had not complied with commitments on denuclearization under the Six-Party Talks. With regard to the issue of plutonium, Japan had complied with IAEA safeguards obligations, and the Agency had confirmed its peaceful use of nuclear energy.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the Japanese delegating had made another attempt to mislead the public by referring to the issue of their own outer space activities. They had commercial and military satellites, and already had “eyes over the space to look down at the whole Asia pacific region”. Japan possessed more than four spy satellites that were watching all the Asia pacific countries 24 hours a day, including the Korean peninsula. Japan was the country creating territorial disputes with China, the Russian Federation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Japan was saying it was “their land” and giving the impression that there was a territorial dispute and was seeking to become a “more military Power”. It had “all the offensive power” brought in from the United States, as well as the most sophisticated weapons, and could reach the entire Asia Pacific region.
Japan had not apologized for past crimes and left the strong impression that it would “go to another war” if the time came, if not sooner, he said. Japan possessed more than 40 tons of nuclear weapons-grade plutonium. That was not a question of inspection, but of eliminating that plutonium once Japan was sincerely in favour of peace and security for the region. Japan should eliminate that plutonium if it did not wish to become a nuclear Power.
Regarding the Six-Party Talks, he said that every party had a commitment to the Joint Statement, which Japan had ignored. Every time “there was a Six-Party Talk”, Japan raised the issue of abductions, which had nothing to do with those talks, and, therefore, the Japanese delegation had no place to talk about the Six‑Party Talks.
The representative of Japan said that it was not relevant to discuss the territorial or island issue, or the “recognition of history” in the First Committee. On the nuclear-related issues, he said he would not repeat Japan’s position again, which he had already stated.
* *** *For information media • not an official record