18 October 2013
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

First Committee

11th Meeting (PM)

Concept of Nuclear Deterrence, Hard-Wired into Certain Security Strategies,

Comes under Critical Review as First Committee Continues Thematic Debate


Nuclear-Weapon States Boast Dramatic Cuts in Arsenals, Joint Efforts;

Drafts Submitted on Negative Security Assurances, Multilateral Negotiations

Despite “high rhetoric and moralistic assertions”, the fact was that nuclear weapons remained integral to strategic doctrines of military alliances, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told today, while nuclear-weapon States insisted they were “working relentlessly” to live up to commitments.

Aware of its specific responsibilities under the 2010 Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Action Plan, France’s representative said his country had an “exemplary” disarmament record made of actions, not words.  It had halved its nuclear warheads, dismantled its land component and reduced its submarine and airborne deterrent components by one third.  With the United Kingdom, it had been the first nuclear-armed State to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

The representative of the United States said that despite the “hard truth” that disarmament would not take place overnight, his country recognized its responsibilities.  Calling the New START Treaty “the most comprehensive nuclear arms control agreement in 20 years”, he outlined two initiatives with the Russian Federation that would see the elimination of enough fissile material for 17,000 and 20,000 nuclear weapons respectively.  Moreover, he said, the United States had in place a declaratory policy not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States that were parties in compliance with the NPT.

Countries with the largest nuclear arsenals, asserted China’s delegate, should continue to take the lead in making drastic and substantive reductions, and other nuclear-weapon States should join multilateral negotiation when conditions were ripe.  The principles of maintaining global strategic balance and stability and maintaining security for all should be upheld, and the role of nuclear weapons in national security strategies should be reduced, he said.

The progressive erosion of international consensus was evident, said Pakistan’s representative, pointing to the “disavowal” by most nuclear-weapon States of complete nuclear disarmament.  The fact was that nuclear weapons remained integral to strategic doctrines of military alliances.  Those weapons also provided extended deterrence to non-nuclear-weapon States that were members of military alliances.  He recognized that disarmament would not happen overnight or even in a lifetime, but the effort to eliminate those weapons must start now. 

The representative of Bangladesh said nuclear-weapon States showed “insensitivity to the security of all others”, as the arms race continued.  The representative of Nigeria said that alert levels of the arsenals of the largest nuclear-weapon States had not decreased since the cold war, which he described as a “dangerous relic”.  Of particular concern, he said, was that the decision-making time for a nuclear launch was “counted in minutes”.

Some speakers, however, voiced support for the disarmament efforts of the nuclear-weapon States.  The representative of Norway said his country was a staunch supporter of bilateral disarmament measures, such as the New START Treaty, while the representative of the Netherlands likewise welcomed the regular meetings of the permanent five, or “P-5”, members of the Security Council on disarmament, but wished for more de-briefings in the Conference on Disarmament or other disarmament forums.

During the meeting, the representative of Pakistan introduced a draft resolution entitled “Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons” (document A/C.1/68/L.49).

Also during the meeting, the representative of Costa Rica introduced a draft resolution entitled “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations” (document A/C.1/68/L.34).

Also speaking in the thematic debate were the representatives of Costa Rica, Suriname (on behalf of the Union of South American Nations), Belarus (on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Association), Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Morocco, Thailand, Iraq, Spain and Portugal.

The representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 21, to continue its thematic debate segment.


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic debate segment on its Cluster 1 on nuclear weapons and hear the introduction of draft resolutions and decisions.


MANUEL B. DENGO (Costa Rica), speaking in his role as Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group on taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations, introduced the Group’s report (document A/68/514), which had been adopted by consensus.  He said delegations had expressed their view that the Geneva-based Group should be organized in a flexible, open and transparent manner and be able to address all nuclear disarmament-related issues without prejudice to the eventual outcome.  It also should be as comprehensive and deliberative as possible.

The Group, he continued, had held a series of informal meetings with many delegations to consult on the topics, organization and final outcome of its work. As for its substantive deliberations, in May and June, the Group took stock of existing unilateral, bilateral and multilateral nuclear disarmament commitments and proposals, and delegates submitted formal proposals.  In August, those proposals were discussed in an intensive and comprehensive way.  They had been structured into six clusters: approaches on how to take negotiations forward; elements to consider in that regard; reviewing the contemporary security role of nuclear weapons; the role of international law; and role of States and other actors; and other practical actions.

He said his personal vision for the Group was that it supplement and not be an alternative to the existing disarmament machinery.  That vision was shared by all participants and was based on the understanding that there was a long overdue need for a frank, open, transparent and inclusive discussion on the issues.  The Group appeared to be “a very exciting brainstorming exercise”, which generated interesting reflections and fresh ideas.  The meetings helped to better understand the challenges on the way to a world free of nuclear weapons.  An added value was the lack of confrontation and polarisation so typical for some more traditional nuclear disarmament forums.  Despite the overall frustration with the lack of development and clear prospects for multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, in the Group, there was no blaming or accusations, but rather an open dialogue focused on the substance of the issues under consideration.

KITTY SWEEB (Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), stated that the very existence of nuclear weapons diminished the security of all States, including those who possessed them.  UNASUR was deeply concerned by the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of nuclear weapons, and welcomed this year’s Oslo Conference in the matter.  The Union called for the adoption of concrete measures, with clear benchmarks and tables, at the next Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Nuclear-weapon States should provide legally binding guarantees not to use or threaten to use those weapons against non-nuclear-armed States.  Furthermore, those weapons should be eliminated from security policies and military strategies.

She welcomed the recent ratification by several countries of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and reiterated the importance of maintaining a moratorium on nuclear testing, pending that Treaty’s entry into force.  To help eliminate the nuclear weapon risk in the region of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), she urged all nuclear-weapon States to withdraw all interpretative declarations to the Protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  There had been several welcome developments in her region in nuclear disarmament, and she hoped those initiatives would help divert resources devoted to the maintenance and modernization of nuclear arsenals to social and economic development.

Mr. DENGO ( Costa Rica) introduced the draft resolution L.34 entitled “Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations” on behalf of Austria, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Honduras, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Samoa, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica.  General Assembly resolution 67/56 had established the Open-ended Working Group for that purpose, and the current draft contained several operative proposals on how to further that objective.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said the international community could either assume a pessimistic position — which some called “realistic” — or decide to take an optimistic stance and persevere.  His country fell into the latter camp, and he applauded progress made, including the bilateral negotiations that had taken place between nuclear-weapon States seeking to reduce their arsenals. The best defence strategy was one in which mass destruction weapons were not used by any actor.

JOY OGWU (Nigeria), speaking also on behalf of Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Switzerland on the issue of de-alerting, said that nearly 2,000 warheads were estimated to be ready for use on short notice.  “The decision-making time for launch is counted in minutes.”  The group had called for action to address it for a number of years.  Though tensions that marked the international security climate during the cold war had lowered, the alert levels of the arsenals of the largest nuclear-weapon States had not seen corresponding decreases.  That was a dangerous feature of cold war doctrine that persisted today.  Compounding that were the worrying developments in cyber-warfare.  Such attacks on command and control systems, or even on nuclear weapons themselves, could not be ruled out, and that possibility represented a “clear new danger”, she said.

In that context, she said, lowering the operational readiness of nuclear weapon systems would be an important step in diminishing their role in military doctrines, and would have positive effects on international and human security. Acknowledging steps that had already been taken in that regard, she said that de-alerting was technically and politically possible.  She was encouraged by the numerous calls in favour of reducing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons, and next year’s reporting by nuclear-weapon States in accordance with Action 5 of the 2010 Action Plan would enable NPT States parties to assess progress made and inform decisions regarding further action.

VLADIMIR GERASIMOVICH ( Belarus), on behalf of member States of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), highlighted many of the historical initiatives undertaken by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine in the field of nuclear disarmament.  Those included the voluntary carrying out of their obligations in accordance with the Lisbon Protocol of 1993-94, endorsing the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) of 1991, and joining the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States.  Those and other initiatives were key events in the post-Soviet era that had paved the way for new ones.  Indeed, the importance of the countries of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation had been recognised in that regard by the international community.  The organization, believing in the obligations enshrined in the NPT, would continue to strengthen its efforts in those areas.

JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL ( France) said that the NPT was the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the basis for his country’s disarmament efforts.  The Action Plan adopted by consensus in 2010 was France’s road map, and it was important to implement it and stick to it, without deviating from the chosen route.  That meant that nuclear-weapon States needed to live up to their commitments, and the “P-5” partners were working relentlessly with that objective in mind.  The permanent five Security Council members also remained fully committed to the entry into force of the CTBT and continued to support the immediate launch of negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty.

He said that France had carried out complete, unilateral and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear test site and its plutonium and uranium production facilities for nuclear weapons.  It had also halved its number of nuclear warheads, completely dismantled its land component, and by 2010, had reduced its submarine and airborne deterrent components.  France had never participated in a nuclear arms race and maintained its arsenal at the lowest possible level.  The French deterrent was strictly defensive and designed for extreme circumstances of extreme defence. 

Proliferation remained the most serious threat to international peace and security, he said.  The test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a major threat, and Pyongyang must put an end to that escalation and its war-mongering rhetoric.  The Iranian proliferation crisis was also of concern, but he hoped that President Rouhani’s declarations had been an overture.  He and the French President had met in New York last month, and France awaited concrete confidence-restoring gestures that would show that Iran was truly prepared to fulfil the expectations of the international community.

Mr. AKRAM ( Pakistan) said that while the General Assembly had reached consensus on a disarmament mandate and machinery 30 years ago, that consensus had broken down over time and the shared goal of nuclear disarmament had become elusive.  That progressive erosion of international consensus was evident in a number of developments, namely the disavowal by most nuclear-weapon States of complete nuclear disarmament; the prolonged non-entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and prospects of new tests by some States; doctrines that envisioned the use of nuclear weapons against non-possessor States; selective non-proliferation; asymmetrical power among States; the dangers of terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction; and the inability of the disarmament machinery to reach consensus.

Despite high rhetoric and moralistic assertions, the fact was that nuclear weapons remained integral to strategic doctrines of military alliances, he said. Those weapons also provided extended deterrence to non-nuclear-weapon States that were members of military alliances.  Those possessor States indirectly and implicitly encouraged the possession or even the use of nuclear weapons as part of the strategic doctrines of their alliances.  He recognized that disarmament would not happen overnight or “even in a lifetime”, however, the effort to eliminate those weapons needed to start now. 

He called for a rules-based, equitable and non-discriminatory international order should be evolved to pursue a comprehensive disarmament agenda, one that addressed security concerns of States, carried forward strategic and conventional weapons limitations, and strengthened the international non-proliferation regime. That agenda must also serve as an end to the horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons, provide negative security assurances, and reduce existing fissile material rather than simply ban it while disowning obligations to disarm.

For the vast majority of States, nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority on the international security agenda, he said.  But efforts to project the fissile material cut-off treaty as the “new” priority and the “only ripe” issue betrayed facts on the ground.  Some States had asserted that national security concerns could and should be addressed during the Conference on Disarmament negotiations on such a treaty.  He agreed, as long as those States applied the same logic to the other three core issues of the Conference’s agenda.

Regarding negative security assurances, his delegation introduced the traditional draft resolution, entitled “Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons” (document A/C.1/68/L.49).

ABDUL HANNAN ( Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country’s position was unambiguous:  nuclear weapons did not secure lives, they endangered them.  Accordingly, Bangladesh had voluntarily opted not to seek out a nuclear arsenal.  And yet, the arms race continued. Nuclear-weapon States were “insensitive to the security of all others”.  As long as nuclear weapons existed, so did the risk of their use.  Until their total elimination, non-nuclear-armed States had a legitimate right to negative security assurances. Existing provisions of such assurances were inadequate.

The world contained finite resources, he continued, emphasising a sombre contrast between the hundreds of billions of dollars, as well as the human and technological resources, spent on nuclear weapons, and the want and poverty experienced by two-thirds of the world’s population.  That was a “colossal wastage” of scarce resources.  Progress lay, not in making weapons, but in making peace.  It was from that perspective that Bangladesh tabled a resolution on the subject every year.  Despite living in the shadow of nuclear Powers, nuclear weapons had no place in Bangladesh’s security posture.  Instead, his country, under strict supervision of the IAEA, had been working on civil and peaceful use of nuclear technology.

JEFFREY L. EBERHARDT ( United States) said that while some had called for “immediate, wholesale” approaches to rid the world of nuclear weapons, real and lasting disarmament required a deliberate, step-by-step process.  The United States was pursuing concrete measures in that regard, but the hard truth was that disarmament would not be achieved overnight.  While his country understood efforts to address the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, he said that moving disarmament into the sphere of international humanitarian law would only distract from the practical agenda of the NPT’s 2010 Action Plan.  Likewise, he did not support the establishment of new United Nations disarmament mechanisms, since the same political problems in existing ones would be replicated in any new body. 

He said that his country recognized its responsibilities, and he pointing to as an example the New START Treaty, which he called the “most comprehensive nuclear arms control agreement in 20 years”.  He highlighted other United States nuclear reduction initiatives and underscored that his country was not developing new nuclear weapons.  The five nuclear-weapon States were engaged intensively on a wide range of topics related to the NPT Action Plan.  The United States, he said, had in place a declaratory policy not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States that were party to that Treaty and in compliance with their non-proliferation obligations.

The United States, he said, would work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and others to resolve non-compliance with non-proliferation obligations by Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Syria.  In that regard, the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty would play a central role, and he likewise called a fissile material prohibition treaty an “absolutely essential step”.  Highlighting initiatives to dispose of weapons-origin fissile material, he said that under one such agreement, the United States and Russia would each dispose of “no less than 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, enough for 17,000 nuclear weapons”.  The path to a world without nuclear weapons remained long, but it should not be forgotten that real progress had been made, he said.

STEN ARNE ROSNES ( Norway) stated the international conference in Oslo in March on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, attended by 128 States, had concluded that no State or international body would be able to address the humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear-weapon detonation in any adequate or meaningful way.  Norway remained a staunch supporter of bilateral disarmament measures, such as the New START, and welcomed United States’ President Barack Obama’s Berlin address in June highlighting the need for further disarmament initiatives.  Norway also appreciated the forward-looking cooperation with the United Kingdom on verification of nuclear disarmament.

However, there had been a protracted impasse in multilateral efforts.  The current situation in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva prevented the international community from moving forward as recommended by the NPT 2010 Review Conference.  It was also paradoxical that the CTBT, despite the support of more than 150 States, was unable to enter into force.  Efforts must be accelerated to reduce existing arsenals and halt development of a new generation of nuclear arms. Existing nuclear-weapon-free zones should be extended and new ones should be created, particularly in the Middle East.  His country also maintained its call for universal adherence to IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards and the Additional Protocol.

ISRAIL TILEGEN ( Kazakhstan) said that the NPT remained the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and he called for its universalization, with timely action between now and the 2015 NPT Review Conference.  That should be done in harmony with the Secretary-General’s five-point plan and the various initiatives launched by groups of countries.  Kazakhstan also called for a universal declaration on the achievement of nuclear-weapon-free world as a first step towards a convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.  The main criterion commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world was the ratification of the CTBT.  A voluntary moratorium against nuclear-weapon tests enjoyed near-universal political support, but it was no substitute for a strong, transparent, confidence-building and legally binding obligation.

He said his country had been an unwavering supporter of banning nuclear-weapon testing.  It also strove to ensure that the CTBT’s deterrence and detection mechanisms were fully operational even before the Treaty entered into force.  Those were important not just for detecting nuclear test explosions, but also for civil and scientific applications and urged the Signatory States to provide the political and financial support to complete the verification regime.  Kazakhstan had been a venue for four CTBTO field exercises and stood ready to offer its expertise to Jordan, which would conduct the Integrated Field Exercise in 2014.  Establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in Central Asia had contributed to international and regional security, and he said it was time to move forward in establishing such a zone in the Middle East.  He added that his Government had initiated the “ATOM” programme, or Abolish Testing, Our Mission, with the aim of mobilizing people worldwide to press for ban on nuclear weapons.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITÉ (Lithuania), associating himself/herself with the European Union, reiterated the country’s enduring commitment to the goal of general and complete disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons.  Confidence-building measures, reciprocal transparency and effective verification should be an integral and essential part of the nuclear arms control and disarmament process, and be applied to both strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons.  The international community should focus, not on differences, but on a common ground by identifying concrete and practical “building blocks” for sustainable process.  There was a need to avoid fragmentation in disarmament, and the process must be multilateral and inclusive, particularly involving States possessing nuclear weapons.  He called on States that had not ratified the Treaty, especially the Annex II States, to do so without further delay or conditions.

BOUCHAIB EL OUMNI ( Morocco) said that nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not subjected to an international ban.  The disarmament machinery was not making any progress and the NPT had yet to be fully implemented. However, some progress had been made towards implementing the 2010 Action Plan, especially in non-proliferation, and the IAEA was undertaking “Herculean” efforts, which deserved the support and cooperation of all States, in order that appropriate solutions to outstanding issues could be found.

He asked the nuclear-weapon States what form of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations would be acceptable, and stressed that maintaining the status quo was not a viable option.  The international community must agree what was meant by a “gradual” process and the steps must be understood.  There should be a legal instrument to bring about the ultimate objective of eliminating nuclear weapons, and the steps needed to be interdependent so they could ease the way towards that objective in a way that was internationally verifiable.  Efforts must be made to universalize the NPT and to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  In the case of nuclear weapons use, either wittingly or unwittingly, the consequences would be disastrous for human life and the environment.  That required the international community to take steps to eliminate those weapons.

HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country was fully committed to a world without nuclear weapons and the NPT was the most important instrument to reach that goal.  The Action Plan, agreed by consensus in 2010, contained actions on all three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The Netherlands would work to advance its implementation.  It regretted that it had so far not been possible to start negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for military purposes.  He appreciated the regular meetings of the “P5” on disarmament, but wished for more “de-briefings” in the Conference on Disarmament or other disarmament forums.

Turning to regional issues, he said that his government had noted the decisions of the IAEA Board of Governors and the message by the Iranian President in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.  “The ball was firmly in the court of Iran,” he said, urging that country to fully cooperate with the Agency and comply with its international legal obligations.  For two years, his country had expressed its concern about Syria’s non-compliance with its IAEA safeguards obligations.  Its decision to become a member of the OPCW was a welcome step, which he hoped would be followed by steps to clear up the outstanding issues about its nuclear non-proliferation obligations.  The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remained of grave concern.  The Netherlands condemned the third nuclear test, in February, which underscored the importance of the CTBT entry into force at the earliest possible.

KARNTIMON RUKSAKIATI (Thailand), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, commended the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament and stressed the importance of the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty.  She also noted efforts to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament.  Among the top priorities was beginning negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty as soon as possible.  While complete elimination of nuclear weapons was a shared goal, the immediate threat was the possibility of those weapons falling into the wrong hands.  Thailand would host the Nuclear Security Summit Sherpa Meeting in preparation for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit to be held in The Hague.

She said that regional mechanisms, including nuclear-weapon-free zones, had an important role and she regretted that the conference to create such a zone in the Middle East had not yet been held.  She recognized the essential role of the IAEA in promoting and ensuring nuclear safety and security, as well as nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes.  She noted that progress had been made to establish the ASEAN Network of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies or Relevant Authorities; the first meeting had been held in September.

OBAY N. AL-TAII ( Iraq) said that nuclear weapons could not assure security for any party.  States needed to resort to pacific means in a calm environment in order to ease tensions.  Iraq was aware that establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones would bring the international community closer to its final objective of eliminating those weapons and achieving international peace and security.  Such a zone should be established in the Middle East, and any initiative to that effect required a number of steps to be taken.  Among them, Israel must adhere to the IAEA safeguards regime and join the NPT.  He reaffirmed support for the final declaration of the Twenty-Third Arab Summit in 2012, and for the steps adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  The international community should shoulder its responsibilities to establish the Middle East zone, he said, expressing disappointment that the conference had not been held last year.  The reasons for its postponement were unacceptable, he said, adding that it was the responsibility of the depository States to make sure it was convened as soon as possible.

MARIA VICTORIA GONZÁLEZ ROMÁN ( Spain), associating herself with the European Union, said that in a world of great changes, strengthening the non-proliferation and disarmament regime was, and must remain, a priority.  Spain had renounced nuclear weapons in its territory, and had, at the same time, advocated a pragmatic approach for the fulfilment of a realistic and phased agenda, as it was aware of the complexity of the process.  She upheld the universality of the NPT and said progress needed to be made on the 2010 Action Plan.  The START was welcome, and she hoped the United States and Russian Federation would continue in that process, and that other nuclear-weapon States would join them on that path.  The entry into force of the CTBT was another priority for Spain.  It had been open for signature for a decade, and the recent ratifications of Iraq and Guinea Bissau showed that the treaty was “still alive”.

Regarding a fissile material cut-off treaty, she said that the resolution on that topic last year had agreed that a group of governmental experts would meet in 2014 and 2015.  Spain lent firm support to the work of that group to negotiate such a treaty in the Conference on Disarmament, which must recover its leadership and dynamism.  She welcomed Iran’s overtures of cooperation, and she supported the convening of a conference to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  States should continue to pursue that undertaking.

ZHANG JUNAN ( China) said the international nuclear disarmament process was moving forward, but many uncertainties and negative factors remained. It was important to adhere to the goal of promoting that process, and countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should continue to take the lead in making drastic and substantive reductions.  When conditions were ripe, other nuclear-weapon States should join the multilateral negotiations.  The principles of maintaining global strategic balance and stability and maintaining security for all should be upheld.  The role of nuclear weapons in national security strategies should be reduced, and the authority, universality and effectiveness of the existing multilateral disarmament mechanisms should be maintained.

He said that China had always stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and was firmly committed to a nuclear strategy of self-defence.  The country had adhered to the policy of no-first-use at any time or under any circumstance, and had made the unequivocal commitment that it would unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones.  That open, unequivocal and transparent policy was unique among the nuclear-weapon States.  Further, China had never deployed nuclear weapons on foreign territory and would keep its capabilities at the minimum level required for national security.

China supported nuclear-weapon-free zones that were freely arrived at and based on the actual situation of the region, he said, voicing the country’s support for the establishment of such zones in South-East and Central Asia.  He also supported the convening of a conference to establish a zone in the Middle East.  Last year, China had signed a joint statement reconfirming the nuclear-weapon-free status of Mongolia and had committed security assurances accordingly.

ALVARO MENDONCA E MOURA (Portugal), associating himself the statement made on behalf of the European Union, said the importance of the NPT could never be overstated.  Unfortunately, the threat of nuclear proliferation remained real, and doubts over the nuclear programmes of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remained unanswered.  He urged both States to fully abide by their international obligations, including the relevant resolution of the Security Council and IAEA.  With Iran, he was confident that the negotiations that were started in Geneva would be replicated in the IAEA; that positive momentum should not go unanswered.  He also called on Syria to comply with IAEA resolution 41, adopted in 2011.  The CTBT’s entry into was of key importance, and it was painfully clear that negotiations for a fissile material ban must start at once. More broadly, the Conference on Disarmament needed to work in a more inclusive basis.  Nuclear security required both a comprehensive and inclusive approach, and Portugal was taking part in several global initiatives, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the United States had again avoided commenting on its nuclear posture in the Korean peninsula, meaning that the United States deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea.  In fact, the United States was the original “country of nuclear issues” in the Korean peninsula.  The strong peace and security of the region and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula remained the unchangeable position of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Government, but that goal was getting farther and farther away from being reached.  That was due to the lack of political will of the United States, which was introducing all kinds of nuclear weapons and thereby forcing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to hold even more strongly to its “nuclear deterrence power”.  The United States was also trying to take away the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s right to peaceful uses of outer space by manipulating the Security Council.  Outer space was the right of the international community as a whole and not “a parking garage” intended only for the United States and its allies to park in.  He strongly and totally rejected the Security Council resolutions that were nothing more than a product of manipulation and the deep-rooted hostile policy of the United States.

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