High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Urges First Committee Not to Become Arena for Competitive Advancement of One State's Interests Over Another

9 October 2012
GA/DIS/3454

High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Urges First Committee Not to Become Arena for Competitive Advancement of One State's Interests Over Another

9 October 2012
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3454
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

First Committee

3rd Meeting (AM)

High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Urges First Committee Not to Become

Arena for Competitive Advancement of One State’s Interests over Another

Says Disarmament Impasse Due to Differences in State Policies,

Priorities Rather than Flaw in Organization or Committee Mandate

Advancing priorities common to all States advanced the interests of each State and had the potential to revitalize faltering global disarmament efforts, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today during its annual debate.

Addressing the Disarmament Committee for the first time in her new capacity, Ms. Kane said that the Committee, as well as the rest of the United Nations disarmament machinery, would regain its momentum and advance disarmament norms once Member States recognized that harmony among global interests would benefit individual States in turn.  A “business as usual” approach might seem easier, but it would not solve the problems faced in achieving disarmament goals.  Rather, it would only aggravate the global crisis, especially with respect to nuclear disarmament.

The First Committee must not become “just another arena” for the competitive advancement of one State’s interests over another, she warned. Recalling that wēijī - the Chinese word for crisis - combined two characters, representing “danger” and “opportunity,” she encouraged delegations to convert the known dangers of the disarmament crisis into an opportunity for progress.

Surveying entrenched positions which often dogged Committee deliberations, many of which “featured an abundance of red lines and a scarcity of green lights”, she pointed to the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, the chronic inability of the Disarmament Commission to achieve a consensus, and the long history of divided votes on certain key resolutions.

New challenges to the growth of the rule of law in disarmament had emerged, she said, adding to the list that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) still had not entered into force.  An arms trade treaty had yet to be concluded, and the creation of a multilateral fissile material treaty had been delayed.  Furthermore, none of the major treaties addressing weapons of mass destruction had achieved universal membership, and there were allegations of non-compliance over each of the key obligations in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

One might conclude, she said, that the entire process of multilateral cooperation to advance disarmament and non-proliferation goals had come to a halt.  However, the complexity of the issues at hand meant that none of those impasses should come as a surprise.  The difficulties were due far more to differences among the policies and priorities of Member States than to any flaw in the Organization or mandate of the Committee. 

“The essential challenge is to harmonize national efforts to achieve common ends,” she said, underlining that, year after year, the Committee had laboured to make incremental progress by solving parts of larger problems, while never forgetting their fundamental shared objectives.

Other speakers concurred with Ms. Kane, suggesting that the stalemate was tied to the conflict between key policy priorities and perceived interests of individual States, and that overcoming it would require a commitment by Member States to build upon shared interests rather than focus on that which divided them.

Kenya’s representative said the Committee was meeting in New York at a time when the disarmament machinery had virtually ground to a halt.  Despite the lack of movement in multilateral disarmament negotiations, the country was fully committed to the Conference on Disarmament and believed disarmament was the best protection against the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

Among the issues that Kenya believed contributed to the deadlock, he highlighted ongoing integration of tactical nuclear weapons and the incorporation of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence in the defence strategies of nuclear-armed States and military alliances, as well as policy statements justifying nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence.  Also disturbing, he said, was the continuing development of a new generation of nuclear weapons and the modernization of weapons production facilities and delivery systems.

Several speakers upheld the value of the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament.  Cuba’s representative said the paralysis affecting the lion’s share of the machinery was chiefly due to a lack of political will on the part of nuclear-armed States.  Ideas put forward by some to sideline the Conference and engage in an alternative process constituted a “dangerous step backwards”.

The representative of Japan, deeply concerned over the Conference’s deadlock, especially with regard to negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty, agreed the Conference was the most appropriate place for those negotiations, but given the lack of movement on that front, the First Committee should examine ways to overcome the impasse.

In that vein, Turkey’s representative felt the parameters for the negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) were at the core of the deadlock.  The Conference, he said, must be revitalized, preferably by an internal process, but his delegation would support a resolution that took stock of the current situation and proposed an acceptable way forward to break the impasse.

Also speaking today was the representative of Myanmar on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as the representatives of Peru, Chile, Senegal, Kazakhstan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The First Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 10 October, to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all disarmament and international security agenda items before the General Assembly. 

Along with the reports summarized in Press Release GA/DIS/3453 of 8 October, the Committee had before it the annual report of the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (document A/67/27).

Adopted on 13 September, the report notes that the Conference was in session from 23 January to 30 March, 14 May to 29 June and 30 July to 14 September 2012.  During this period, it held a series of formal plenary meetings, as well as two informal plenary meetings on its agenda items, programme of work, organization and procedures, and other matters.  In accordance with rule 9 of the rules of procedure, the following Member States assumed successively the Presidency of the Conference:  Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France and Germany.

At the first plenary meeting on 24 January, the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, delivered a message on behalf of the Secretary-General in which he, inter alia, reflected on the accomplishments of the Conference as the world’s single multilateral negotiating forum and spoke about its present and future.  At the same time, he expressed his concern that the Conference was no longer living up to the world’s expectations of its advancement of disarmament goals.  He reminded members of their responsibility to make the Conference work by supporting the immediate commencement of negotiations on agreed disarmament issues through the adoption by consensus of a programme of work in order to strengthen the rule of law in the field of disarmament.

Sixty-five Member States of the United Nations participated in the Conference, which, following a debate on the draft agenda presented by the Conference President ( Ecuador), adopted it on 24 January.  It included the following items:  cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters; prevention of an arms race in outer space; effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons; new types of weapons of mass destruction and new systems of such weapons; radiological weapons; comprehensive programme of disarmament; transparency in armaments; consideration and adoption of the annual report and any other report, as appropriate, to the General Assembly.  The President stated that, if there was a consensus to deal with any issues, they could be dealt with within the agenda.

As for a programme of work, throughout the 2012 session successive Presidents of the Conference conducted intensive consultations with a view to reaching consensus on the basis of relevant proposals.  During plenary meetings, delegations expressed their views on the issue of a programme of work, accounting for relevant proposals and suggestions, which are duly reflected in the plenary records.  However, despite these efforts, the Conference did not succeed in reaching consensus on a programme of work in 2012.

Also according to the report, the question of the expansion of the membership of the Conference was addressed by delegations in plenary meetings, as well as the improved and effective functioning of the Conference, in plenary meetings devoted to the “revitalization of the CD”.  With a view to the growing importance of and need for progress on multilateral disarmament, and building on the focused efforts in the Conference to establish a programme of work for the 2012 session, and with a view to early commencement of substantive work during its 2013 session, the Conference requested the current and incoming Presidents to conduct consultations during the intersessional period and, if possible, make  recommendations taking into account all relevant proposals, past, present and future, including those submitted as documents of the Conference on Disarmament, views presented and discussions held, and to endeavour to keep the membership of the Conference informed, as appropriate, of their consultations.

The report notes the decision of the Conference to convene in 2013, as follows:  first part, 21 January-29 March; second part, 13 May-28 June; third part, 29 July-13 September.

Opening Remarks

ANGELA KANE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noting that she had recently returned from a disarmament mission in the Middle East, said that many had viewed last year’s deliberations of the First Committee with some concern.  Words she had heard describing the session were:  “frustrating”, “gravely disappointing”, and an atmosphere of “tension” and “significant divergences of views”.  In particular, the deliberations on nuclear disarmament resolutions had featured an “abundance of red lines and a scarcity of green lights”.

Some of those concerns, she said, had reflected longstanding difficulties in the United Nations disarmament machinery – including the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, the chronic inability of the Disarmament Commission to achieve a consensus, and the long history of divided votes on certain key resolutions in the First Committee.  Other concerns had reflected an abiding impatience over the slow rate of progress in nuclear disarmament and the persistence of nuclear proliferation concerns in at least three regions.  There were continuing very high levels of global military expenditure – despite the world financial crisis – as pressing social and economic needs went unaddressed.  And, there were greater efforts to perfect weaponry rather than to refine the instruments of peace.

On a larger dimension were new challenges to the growth of the rule of law in disarmament, Ms. Kane said.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) had still not entered into force.  Significant obstacles and competing interests had continued to delay the conclusion of an arms trade treaty and even the start of negotiations on a multilateral fissile material treaty.  None of the major treaties addressing weapons of mass destruction had yet achieved universal membership.  Allegations of non-compliance persisted over each of the key obligations in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  There remained strong resistance to commencing negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention, despite the support for such a goal voiced by more than 140 Member States.  Several Protocols to treaties establishing regional nuclear-weapon-free zones remained “un-ratified”.  And there were no multilateral disarmament treaties addressing nuclear-weapon delivery systems, missile defence, or space weapons.

After surveying such concerns, one was tempted to conclude that the entire process of multilateral cooperation to advance disarmament and non-proliferation goals had come to a halt, she stated.  Yet none of those concerns should come as a surprise, given the complexity of the issues on the Committee’s agenda, including some that had preoccupied it for decades.  Future generations might well inherit some of those challenges.  In that regard, she reminded delegations with pleasure that this year marked the tenth anniversary of the Secretary-General’s first report on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education.  According to the text, the purpose of education in those fields was to empower citizens to make contributions to disarmament and non-proliferation measures.

In considering the many difficulties encountered in pursuing those ends, Ms. Kane said she thought it was indisputable that they were due far more to differences among the policies and priorities of its Member States than to any flaw in the Organization or mandate of this Committee.  “The essential challenge is to harmonize national efforts to achieve common ends,” she stated.  Year after year, the Committee had laboured to make incremental progress by solving parts of larger problems, while never forgetting their fundamental shared objectives.  Former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld once described this process saying:  “The tendency in the United Nations is to wear away, or break down, differences, thus helping toward solutions which approach the common interests and application of the principles of the Charter.”

It was that pursuit of the common interest that must remain the primary focus of the deliberations of this Committee, which must not become just another arena for the competitive advancement of one State’s interests over another, Ms. Kane stated, noting there were already too many such arenas elsewhere.  Members had much to learn from their predecessors who had established strong foundations upon which they were expected to build.  Speaking shortly after his election as President of the first General Assembly in January 1946, Paul-Henri Spaak had called upon all delegations to remember that in advancing their own particular national interests that those interests must, in his words, “take their place in the wider setting of the general interest”.

“This Committee and the rest of the UN disarmament machinery will regain its momentum and will continue to advance disarmament norms when Member States recognize that there is in fact a harmony between national interests and the general interest,” she said, noting that was what Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had meant when he had called nuclear disarmament a “global public good of the highest order”.  Advancing the interests common to all States advanced the interests of each State.  That was the spirit that had the potential to revitalize global disarmament efforts, she stated, asking what could be a better time and place for that to begin than in the sixty-seventh session of the deliberations of the General Assembly’s First Committee.  A “business as usual” approach might well be the easiest to pursue, but it would not suffice to solve the problems faced in achieving disarmament goals and would only aggravate the global crisis in this field, especially with respect to nuclear disarmament.

Ms. Kane asked Committee members to recall that wēijī – the Chinese word for crisis – combined two characters, one representing “danger” and the other “opportunity”.  Everyone knew the dangers if this particular crisis was not resolved soon; the real challenge facing the Committee was to discover or create new opportunities for progress across the full range of challenges.  Together, Ms. Kane said, “let us convert these dangers into new common opportunities”.

Statements

U MAUNG WAI (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the mere existence of nuclear weapons on Earth, together with the lack of a legal regime for their total elimination, posed a threat to humanity.  ASEAN was disappointed by the continued stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and invited all members to demonstrate “maximum political will” in order to move forward.  Nuclear disarmament remained the highest priority on the disarmament agenda of the ASEAN, and two of its member States would submit two draft resolutions on this issue this year.  He also emphasized the need to implement the outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, particularly its Action Plan, and stressed the importance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT, calling particularly on those States whose ratification was needed for its entry into force to ratify at an early date.

He said that the Association played a vital role in the promotion of peace and stability in the region.  Towards that end, it had recently established the ASEAN Network of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies or Relevant Authorities (ASEANTOM) and would launch an Institute of Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) in November.  It welcomed the accession of the European Union and the United Kingdom to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), and was encouraged by the interest of other non-ASEAN States in acceding.

Nuclear-weapon-free zones within his region had contributed significantly to strengthening global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regimes, he said, noting that progress had also been made in negotiating with the five Nuclear Weapon States on the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.  The group looked forward to signing it as soon as possible.  He also stressed the need for nuclear-armed States to provide unconditional assurances to countries within the nuclear-weapon-free zones.

Turning to conventional weapons, he said the outcome of the Conference on the arms trade treaty had fallen short of ASEAN’s expectations.  Every nation had the right to self-defence, but States also had the primary responsibility to prevent illicit arms trade in their territories.  ASEAN was concerned by the impact of such trade on security, human rights, and social and economic development at the national, regional and international levels.  He promoted the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action on those weapons.  ASEAN also reaffirmed the importance of the Conventions on Chemical and Biological Weapons, Landmines, and Cluster Munitions.

ENRIQUE ROMÁN-MOREY (Peru), aligning his statement with that made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, touched on those weapons, which, in practice, were the most dangerous of all and that caused the most damage to humankind — small arms and light weapons.  Their proliferation posed a serious threat to Governments, in both developing and developed countries alike, and the destabilizing effects in developing countries when those weapons fell into illicit hands were notorious.  They exacerbated armed violence and were used daily in violent and organized crime, such as for drug trafficking and terrorism, which had affected his own country for two decades.

He said that newspaper headlines confirmed daily that his part of the world accounted for among the highest number of deaths caused by those weapons, but the concern was not specific to Latin America alone.  Devastation was also evident in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.  The international community had witnessed the astounding consequences, and sombre cases in North America and Europe were also part of that dark history.  The international community must ensure that the legal acquisition of those weapons met the minimum security standards, preventing terrifying scenes such as those of recent months.  Thus, he supported the creation of an effective arms trade treaty.  But Member States were not on the same page and, unfortunately, failed at the last hurdle in their attempts to finalize the treaty.  However, there was still a chance to meet that important objective, and he supported the convening of a new round of negotiations in 2013 to continue the work based on what was accomplished in July.

The adoption of a final document at the second review conference of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons was a positive signal, and he commended Nigeria’s representative, who helped make it possible to agree on a consensus document.  He had hoped for a more ambitious text that included a clearer reference to diversion of arms and cross-border trade, but he understood that the current document was acceptable to the greatest number of Governments.  He reiterated his commitment to the full implementation of the Programme of Action, and pledged to work with other Member States at the 2018 review.

He stressed that munitions were of great interest in disarmament matters.  Questions about its inclusion had been raised during the arms trade treaty negotiations, and munitions were included minimally in the Programme of Action.  But neither instrument could ensure inclusion, and now the First Committee and the General Assembly should address that urgent requirement, and his delegation would work towards that aim.  As a further sign of commitment to disarmament, Peru had ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, bringing that important instrument into force.  He meanwhile called on all States that had not yet adhered to the NPT to do so without delay.

He regretted that the deliberative organ of the disarmament machinery had thus far been unable to reach agreement, but the situation was even more “desperate” in the Conference on Disarmament.  He had served as the Secretary-General of the Conference and noted that efforts had been made to “untangle” its inner workings, but that had not been possible and the organ had been unable to reach an agreement.  Instead, it remained tangled in a web of its own making and bogged down in procedural matters, sidetracking it from its true agenda.  His delegation was open to all proposals on the table to devise mechanisms to overcome that “absurd” stalemate.

MARI AMANO ( Japan) said it was valuable for the Committee to invigorate its determination each year.  He highlighted advancements of the past 12 months, namely the holding of the 2015 NPT Review Conference First Preparatory Committee in May and the P5 Conference in June, and he looked forward to convening, in 2012, a conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Japan regarded the establishment of such zones as important for both regional and international stability, and in that connection, hoped that the nuclear-weapon States would sign at an early date the Protocol of the South-East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty (Bangkok Treaty).

He noted that both the nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States were undertaking disarmament efforts.  The Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), a cross-regional group of countries which included Japan, had held its fifth ministerial meeting in New York last month.  Through such meetings, the Initiative was deepening discussions at a high level with the idea of steadily implementing the 2010 NPT Action Plan and making practical proposals for mid- to long-term nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Emphasis was placed on improving transparency, which was an indispensible prerequisite for advancing nuclear disarmament.

However, he said, despite such positive developments, his delegation was not satisfied.  Japan was deeply concerned that the Conference on Disarmament had again failed to meet expectations by failing to commence substantive work, especially with regard to negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT).  For attaining a peaceful, secure world free of nuclear weapons, step-by-step disarmament efforts were essential and an FMCT was the next logical step.  Further, the Conference on Disarmament was the most appropriate place for those negotiations.  However, given the lack of movement on that front in the Conference, this session of the First Committee should examine ways to overcome the impasse.  In that regard, he strongly supported “NPDI-member” Canada’s efforts to advance fissile material negotiations.

Noting related issues of concern, he said that the nuclear and missile development programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including its enrichment work, was a serious violation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  Such activities were harmful, not only to the Asian region, but also to the international community as a whole.  He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with international obligations and commitments.  He also urged Iran to comply with the demands of the resolutions of the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors.  Iran should immediately take actions to restore the international community’s confidence.  But disarmament was not limited to nuclear issues; also important was an arms trade treaty, as well as curtailing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and strengthening the Convention on Biological and Toxin Weapons.

He stressed the need to deepen understanding of disarmament and non-proliferation among young people, who would be the leaders of tomorrow.  To that end, Japan was continuing its mission to pass on to the next generation its experiences of the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons use.  As just one example, he highlighted the convening of a Global Forum on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education, in the city of Nagasaki.

OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking in the capacity of Pro Tempore Presidency and associating with the statements made on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite some favourable signs in the last two years concerning nuclear disarmament, the Community continued to view with concern the symptoms of deadlock that had affected some areas of the disarmament agenda, as well as the very modest progress in the implementation of the road map bequeathed to them by the 2010 NPT Review Conference in its Action Plan.  The entry into force of the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) was undoubtedly a significant step, and he urged the United States and the Russian Federation to implement it speedily and to continue to reduce their nuclear arsenals, as well as to deepen the dialogue initiated in Paris last year, with a view to achieving greater transparency, fostering mutual confidence and sustained leadership.

He said that although unilateral, bilateral and regional efforts were contributing to disarmament, there were signs of paralysis in multilateral negotiations.  Progress required political will and functional mechanisms.  Reaffirming the Community’s commitment to multilateralism, he said the Conference on Disarmament was now in an untenable situation, and he appealed for renewed efforts to achieve consensus on a programme of work.  He reaffirmed that the NPT was the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation system.

As members of the first densely populated zone to be declared nuclear-weapon-free, under the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), he reaffirmed the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones and urged the parties involved to fulfil the commitment made at the 1995 NPT Review Conference to advance the establishment of a such a zone in the Middle East.  Nuclear disarmament should be approached by working simultaneously on the rapid elimination of non-strategic nuclear weapons; the reduction of the role of those weapons in national security strategies; the consistent application of the principles of irreversibility, verifiability and transparency; and the promotion of mutual confidence.  Within that framework, ending all nuclear testing was a vital link and main objective.  He also supported promotion of the IAEA safeguards system and its strengthening through universal acceptance of the Additional Protocol.  Also crucial were efforts to enhance nuclear security through international cooperation. 

Condemning the use of biological and chemical weapons by any county under any circumstances, he urged universal accession by States to those Conventions.  He also reaffirmed support for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Mine-Ban Treaty), and the need to advance towards the total elimination of those weapons.  He was concerned at the lack of agreement on an arms trade treaty in July and appealed for renewed efforts in that regard.  The Community meanwhile supported the Programme of Action to prevent the illicit trade in those weapons, as well as the final document of its Second Review Conference.

ERTUĞRUL APAKAN ( Turkey) said that notwithstanding some recent progress, there was an “ongoing malaise” overall in arms control and disarmament, and the vision of “global-zero” was nowhere near in sight.  Neither nuclear weapons nor other weapons of mass destruction could provide security for any country.  Yet, there had been a stalemate, if not a dead lock, in the Conference on Disarmament for more than a decade and a half.  The work of the Conference must be revitalized, preferably by an internal process.  There was no question that the parameters for the negotiation of an FMCT were at the core of the dead lock. Turkey would support a resolution that took stock of the current situation and proposed an acceptable way forward to break the impasse.

Turkey was located in a region of particular concern with respect to weapons of mass destruction, he said, noting the region’s support for approaching disarmament through the well-balanced NPT, with its three complementary pillars of disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The IAEA international safeguards system was a fundamental tool in global non-proliferation efforts, and he called for the Agency to have greater authority.  States in full compliance with their safeguards obligations should have unhindered access to civilian nuclear technology.  He urgently called for ratification of the CTBT without delay.

The proliferation of conventional weapons was another concern, especially given the well-documented relationship between their illicit trade and terrorism, he said. Turkey was committed to the implementation of the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action and urged the international community to seize the opportunity to conclude an arms trade treaty with robust, legally binding common standards.  Anti-personnel mines were another “worrying issue”, as were cluster munitions, both of which were a humanitarian concern.

OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), supporting the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, said that over the past year the international community had witnessed an increase in financing plans to subvert legitimate Governments.  Religious intolerance was exacerbated through a policy of regime change that supported the geopolitical interests of the main Powers.  Those conflicts were fuelled by the illegal transfer of arms to non-State actors and the use of mercenaries, all of which had taken place in flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations.  The world was witnessing an economic crisis that had slashed public spending and meant fewer available resources to guarantee the fundamental rights of the poorest sectors.  In that light, global military expenditures — at $1.7 trillion — were unjustifiable and unacceptable.  He reiterated the proposal to allocate at least half of all current global military expenditure to finance socio-economic development through a fund administered by the United Nations.

He said it was unacceptable that nuclear deterrent was still the basis for military doctrines.  The only guarantee that those weapons would not be used by States or anyone else was their elimination and absolute prohibition under strict international control.  However, the nuclear Powers still failed to meet their obligations under Article VI of the NPT, mainly to negotiate an international treaty to eliminate those weapons.  Instead, they continued to fine-tune their arsenals in a vertical proliferation.  The world needed to have a body for non-discriminatory, verifiable and irreversible disarmament.  The international community must begin multilateral negotiations to rapidly conclude work on a treaty for universal negative security assurances for non-nuclear-armed States against the use or threat of use of such weapons.  The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones was also a necessary contribution to disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, and he supported the establishment without delay of such a zone in the Middle East.

Nuclear disarmament was the highest priority, he said, and Cuba supported efforts to improve the disarmament machinery.  However, his delegation was convinced that the paralysis that affected the lion’s  share of the machinery was chiefly due to a lack of political will on that part of nuclear-armed States to achieve true progress in the area of nuclear disarmament.  It was necessary to revitalize the disarmament machinery, as well as to convene a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament.  He highlighted the role of the Disarmament Commission, as well as that of the Conference on Disarmament.  Regrettably, the Conference had been unable to carry out substantive work for over a decade.  Some argued that that was due to the rules of procedure, but Cuba did not share that view because the problems were not restricted to that organ alone.  He was concerned by the ideas put forward by some to sideline the Conference and engage in an alternative process.  That would be a dangerous step backwards.  It was the responsibility of all present to strengthen the Geneva-based Conference.

FATOU ISIDORA MARA NIANG (Senegal), aligning with the Africa Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, stated that the international community still had not reached agreement on an arms trade treaty and that several areas were suffering grave security problems because they were hotbeds of conventional weapons.  Senegal hoped that the extended negotiating deadline for an arms trade treaty requested by the United States and the Russian Federation would be brief, so that they could achieve the instrument.  The review of the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action had only limited success and produced a lacklustre document that did not resolve specific concerns.

She said the failures of the United Nations disarmament machinery — stemming from the political nature of differing national self-interests — raised additional important concerns, and she called on Member States to show the flexibility and political will needed to create an atmosphere conducive to consensus.  Her country also welcomed the contribution of non-governmental organizations in this sphere and believed that an appropriate role should be granted to them.

The non-proliferation process was stalled and the new START in no way limited the number of stockpiled warheads or resolved differences concerning anti-missile shields, she declared, adding that progress in regulating conventional weapons was also lagging.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference was a modest success since it did not end in total failure.  In that respect, she called on all actors to engage with good faith regarding the convening of a conference on a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.  The FMCT was also bogged down.  It must be ensured that fissile material did not fall into the wrong hands.  Additionally, she called for the Test-Ban Treaty to promptly enter force.

The success of the NPT review in 2010 should be built upon, she said, stressing the need to preserve the legitimate right of countries to research and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the watch of the IAEA.  She called on all States to show political will to resolve the issues and pledged that Senegal would work constructively.

BARLYBAY SADYKOV ( Kazakhstan) stressed the imperative to balance all three pillars of the NPT.  Kazakhstan supported an early entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, the full implementation of the Conventions on Biological and Chemical Weapons, and the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world, particularly in Central Asia and the Middle East.  In keeping with the generally recognized principle of “equal access to the peaceful atom”, Kazakhstan had applied to the IAEA to host the International Bank for Low-Enriched Uranium, which would provide guaranteed access by all States to nuclear fuel as long as they fully met the relevant provisions of the NPT.

Concerning the Conference on Disarmament, all that was needed to resume the substantive work was political will, he said, adding his hope that the members would soon be able to bridge their differences.  Similarly, he expressed disappointment at the failure to achieve an arms trade treaty and hoped that a mutual understanding could be reached in the near future.  In addition, he was deeply concerned at the high volumes of illicit trade and transfer of small arms and light weapons, and said that Kazakhstan stood ready to exert every effort to further the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action.

ANTHONY ANDANJE ( Kenya), aligning with the statements of the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Committee was meeting in New York at a time when the disarmament machinery had virtually ground to a halt.  The lack of movement in multilateral disarmament negotiations was a source of frustration and great disappointment for Kenya.  Despite the setback, Kenya was fully committed to the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum for the international community.  Kenya believed disarmament was their best protection against the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

He said that, after a 13-year impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, his country was convinced the failure to commence negotiations had little to do with the lack of political will, institutional issues or even the impediment posed by  a single Member State.  Kenya agreed with the remarks of High Representative Kane at the 2012 Session of the Conference on 13 September that the stalemate was tied to the conflict between the key policy priorities and perceived interests of States, and that overcoming it would require a commitment by Member States to build upon shared interests.

Highlighting issues that Kenya believed contributed to the deadlock, he said that, first, the issue of ongoing integration of tactical nuclear weapons and the incorporation of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence in the defence strategies of nuclear-weapon States and military alliances was a major stumbling block.  Second were policy statements justifying nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence, contrary to stated commitments and assurances, such as the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons in conventional and customary international law.  The third factor was the continuing development of a new generation of nuclear weapons and the modernization of weapons production facilities and delivery systems under way in the nuclear-armed States. Insisting that those issues be addressed, he said:  “We have to face reality and deal with the world as it is rather than trying to design it in our own image.  As human beings, we have an extraordinary capacity of being delusional.  Let us not live up to that.”

There were strong indications that nuclear-weapon States had resumed sub-critical nuclear tests, which was a worrying development, he went on, noting that the CTBT might not be comprehensive enough.  Regarding conventional weapons, Kenya welcomed the recent adoption by consensus of the Outcome Document of the Review Conference of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons.  However, the country was disappointed at the lack of an outcome on an arms trade treaty, as well as of determination to build on the progress made thus far.

ABDULKHALEQ BIN-DHAAER AL-YAFEI (United Arab Emirates), associating his statement with those made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said that the First Committee was an integral part of the global disarmament mechanism.  Bolstering its work was of great importance, and countries needed to show serious political will and flexibility during deliberations if the international community was to meet the needs for enhancing disarmament negotiations at a time when the world faced so many hotbeds of tension and regional conflicts that were spreading as a result of the circulation of armaments.  The United Arab Emirates was troubled by the absence of progress in the disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation realms.

He reaffirmed the importance of strengthening disarmament treaties prohibiting mass destruction weapons, as those treaties should become truly global.  That required all countries to honour their commitments.  Non-members needed to accede to those treaties as soon as possible and without preconditions.  Progress in disarmament was hampered by the inability of the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a work programme.  Stepping up international negotiations on an FMCT was the first necessary step, and he called on Member States to resolve their differences regarding the agenda items.

The elimination of all threats and catastrophic dangers posed by nuclearweapons required intensified negotiations between the nuclear-armed States, aimed at reducing the size of their arsenals and encouraging them to implement global, balanced polices, underpinned by confidence-building measures to guarantee the full suspension of the development of deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.  The international community must work progressively to reduce those weapons, with a view to their total elimination, making that process verifiable and transparent according to the NPT.

He said that the international community must commit to respecting multilateralism in the field of disarmament, and the principles agreed upon in pertinent international treaties and arrangements.  The aspirations of vertical and horizontal non-proliferation must be realized.  He called for the development of a legally binding instrument to assure that all nuclear arsenals would not be used or threatened to be used against non nuclear-weapon states.  The United Arab Emirates had adopted a clear national policy characterized by accession to the NPT, and his country continued to work tirelessly in diplomatic efforts at the international, regional and sub-regional levels, and on a multilateral basis.  He called for greater efforts to be made at the international level to subject all Israeli facilities to the IAEA controls, and called on Israel to accede to the NPT, as the United Arab Emirates had requested of other countries in the region with regard to implementing all Security Council resolutions.

JAMAL ABDULLAH AL-SALLAL (Yemen), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country believed in the goals and objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation and that multilateralism was among the best ways to achieve them.  Yemen was concerned about the complicated situation regarding disarmament and called for a doubling of efforts to achieve tangible progress.  Yemen had adopted firm positions and ratified several treaties and conventions.  Nuclear weapons did not cross its borders, and the Government had set up a national commission and enacted relevant laws to prohibit their proliferation, as well as imposed sanctions on those involved in illicit activity.

He called on other Member States to eliminate their nuclear weapon arsenals and to establish measures for non-proliferation.  Yemen wished to enhance its relationship with the CTBT Organization (CTBTO) and had established a national contact for doing so.  The NPT was the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime, and Yemen had acceded to it in order to achieve peace, especially in the Middle East.  However, Israel’s continued nuclear policy had led the region into an arms race and the international silence had encouraged Israel to continue those policies, in flagrant violation of international norms.  Yemen demanded that all of Israel’s nuclear sites be subjected to review.

Yemen had adopted a series of measures that sought to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and had endeavoured to set up a national coordinating committee to govern policies relating to those types of weapons, he stated.  The Government had adopted legislation that provided a legal framework for the struggle against the trade in those weapons and had submitted a draft bill that provided for the regulation of their possession and authorized the seizure of illegally held weapons.  Yemen welcomed the adoption of a final document of the Second Review Conference of the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action.  It urged further efforts to be made to combat that trade, which jeopardized peace, facilitated access of terrorist groups, and exacerbated poverty and violence.  The negative fallout far exceeded regional and national boundaries, so efforts must be undertaken to establish a legally binding instrument that included international criteria restricting the illicit trade and providing for effective controls.

The establishment of nuclear-free zones also contributed to strengthening non-proliferation, he said, noting that the Middle East must be free of nuclear weapons.  That was a prerequisite to universalizing the NPT.  Yemen welcomed measures regarding the preparation of establishing a Middle East zone.  At the same time, it respected the peaceful use of nuclear energy by NPT States parties.  Obstacles to developing that capacity must be overcome.

ABDALLAH YAHYA A. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), endorsing the statements made on behalf of the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that Saudi Arabia, as one of the founding countries of the United Nations, and one of the first signatories of its Charter, had always been mindful of working to ensure international peace and security and of improving the functioning of the United Nations and move it towards its noble principles and purposes.  He remained convinced that the capacity of the United Nations to discharge its duties and functions depend on political will and modernization and improvement of its main organs, to enable it to become more representative and more adaptive to the changes on the international scene.

He said the world was suffering various international crises at the moment, particularly in the Middle East, which was undergoing major transformation.  Those required tireless efforts to prevent them from spiralling out of control.  That required concerted international action, as no State could confront those crises alone; international challenges needed international solutions.

Saudi Arabia was convinced that negative security assurances could not be given in the Middle East until Israel acceded to the NPT and subjected its nuclear facilities to the IAEA safeguards system.  And yet, Israel had resisted that on various pretexts, which continued to stoke tensions in the region.  It was not possible to allay the fears of States in the Middle East as long as Israel continued indefinitely to put off its accession to the NPT. 

In that vein, he reiterated the importance of creating a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and he called on all NPT States parties to implement comprehensively the resolution on the Middle East adopted at the 1995 NPT Review Conference and the practical steps towards that goal adopted at the 2010 review, including the holding in 2012 of the conference to render the Middle East free from all mass destruction weapons.

He said that the Iranian nuclear crisis was one of the biggest challenges to international peace and security generally, and to stability in the Arab gulf region, in particular.  He supported the efforts of the “P5 plus one” to solve that crisis peacefully, and urged those efforts to continue, with a view to guaranteeing for Iran and all States in the region the right to use nuclear energy peacefully.  He called on Iran to respond to those efforts and to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions, and to cooperate with the IAEA and allow its inspectors to visit its nuclear sites, in order to put an end to that crisis.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the statement made by the Japanese delegate as misleading public opinion, adding that it distorted the nuclear issue in the Korean peninsula.  The nuclear and missile issue on the peninsula was a product of the United States’ hostile policy towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said.  The United States had defined his country as an enemy from the first day of its founding and refused to recognize its sovereignty.  The United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was part of an “axis of evil” and threatened its very existence by nuclear weapons for over half a century.  It had stepped up hostile moves with the ultimate aim of overthrowing his country’s political system.  Recently, troops in South Korea had fired live ammunition at the flag of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  His country possessed nuclear weapons to deter the United States’ nuclear attack.  Without that threat, the programme would not have originated.  The enrichment of uranium was for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which was the right of all States.

He said his country had never recognized certain requests because they were the product of high-handed arbitrariness, with the United States spearheading an anti-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea slander campaign.  There were hostile nuclear threats against his country.  The Japanese delegation mentioned the need to comply with the 2005 Joint Statement of the six-party talks, but he wished to place on record that the understanding of all six parties concerned as enshrined in the joint statement was that each party had an equal share of the obligations to be fulfilled, and all had agreed to take steps to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  The notion that denuclearization depended on a unilateral undertaking by his country was very much mistaken.  Rather, the joint statement called for harmony, compensation for energy and the establishment of a peacekeeping regime.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States must respect each other’s sovereignty and take steps to normalize their relations.

He added that Japan was the only party of the six that was laying down obstacles and hindering implementation.  Japan was in no position to talk about the risk to the six-party talks.  Japan posed the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the region and was under the nuclear umbrella of the United States.  Japan had signed a pact with the United States in the 1960s and allowed United States nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers in its waters.  Japan was ready to produce nuclear weapons at short notice, and politicians in Japan did not hesitate to call for the nuclear weaponization of the country.  Japan was a real threat to the peace and security of the region, he concluded.

Japan’s representative, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that allegations made against his Government were groundless.  Japan’s adherence to disarmament principles – non-possession, non-manufacturing and not permitting nuclear weapons into State territory – remained unchanged, and its determination to reach the total elimination of nuclear weapons was unshakable.  Japan maintained an exclusively defence-oriented policy.  The ballistic missile defence system it introduced was purely defensive and did not threaten any country or area surrounding Japan, nor did Japan target any particular country or area.  Further, Japan had never allowed the introduction of nuclear weapons by the United States into its territory, either by vessel or aircraft.  He reiterated that Japan continued to adhere to the three non-nuclear principles and was in strict compliance with the NPT and IAEA safeguards.  Japan’s peaceful uses of nuclear energy had been confirmed by the IAEA in its annual conclusions, and all nuclear materials remained for peaceful activities.

Even beyond its legal obligations and transparency measures, Japan, he said, regularly reported its amounts of plutonium holdings, and had done so as recently as 17 September.  Regarding the resumption of the six-party talks, it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who continued to develop nuclear weapon programmes, including its uranium enrichment program, in violation of Security Council resolutions as well as the Joint Statement of the six-party talks.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must take concrete action to verify and irreversibly de-militarize, in order to resume the six-party talks, and he urged that country to take those actions.

Speaking again in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the Japanese delegate had made provocative remarks.  Japan was “a cancer” on North-East Asia that hindered regional peace and security.  Its policies went beyond the scope of its own self-defence.  Reviving its long-cherished dream of militarization, Japan should realize where it currently stood and “behave itself”.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.