|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
2013 Substantive Session
330th & 331st Meetings (AM & PM)
With Profoundly Difficult Agenda, Disarmament Commission Will Be Judged
Less by Words, More by Quality of Outcomes, Says High Representative
As Session Opens, Chair Says Commission at ‘Watershed Moment’ — Disarmament
High on Global Agenda, But Multilateral Machinery Still Delivering ‘Very Little’
In a “very complex” security environment — marked by diplomatic divisions between national and international interests, slow progress on nuclear disarmament, and the “relentless” expansion of military budgets — the Disarmament Commission’s record would be judged less by the volume of its words than the quality of its outcomes, said Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, as she opened the deliberative body’s 2013 substantive session.
To be sure, the issues on the agenda — recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms — were profoundly difficult, she said. That was precisely why they were there. “If they were easy, they would have already been solved.” But the Commission faced the same lack of confidence it did during its cold war founding 61 years ago, a problem that aggravated the most serious peace and security challenges, and deeply divided votes on many Assembly resolutions.
Against that backdrop, she said the United Nations disarmament machinery aimed to provide a process for building confidence through the establishment and elaboration of global disarmament norms. Efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction had always been pursued alongside those to regulate — and reduce — conventional arms. “We need concrete progress in both of these fields and this Commission has its own contributions to make,” she asserted.
A positive result from the Commission’s 2013 session, which runs until 19 April, would set the stage for a new consensus on nuclear disarmament when it concluded its three-year cycle next year, she said. There also was an opportunity to build on gains made last month in negotiating the arms trade treaty, as well as in fulfilling the larger objective of regulating armaments, which would require additional confidence-building initiatives.
Indeed, it would be a “worthy goal” to revive the Commission as a resource for cultivating the seeds of future global disarmament norms, she said: guidelines, standards and recommendations, which could one day flourish into customary practices observed by all States. The Commission had an interest in determining whether there were alternative procedures to achieve results.
Broadly agreeing, Chairman Christopher Grima of Malta said the Commission was at a watershed moment. “While general and complete disarmament remains high on the agenda of the international community, the multilateral disarmament machinery continues to deliver very little.” The time for advancing the disarmament agenda was now. The challenges were unprecedented in nature and scope.
Fresh thinking was needed, he said, as was the political will to abandon intransigent positions that had blocked the Commission’s work for far too long. A middle ground also must be sought on specific areas where progress could be achieved. The Commission’s value lay in its universal character and the opportunities it provided for open debate. He called on delegates to bring down the barriers to trust that had stymied progress for well over a decade.
In the general debate that followed, delegates from more than 30 countries outlined their efforts both to create a nuclear-weapon-free world and take practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms. On the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation front, many echoed the calls to strengthen the global regime set up by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and emphasized the need to devalue the role and status of nuclear weapons in the security doctrines of nuclear-armed States. Speakers also stressed the right of NPT non-nuclear-weapon States parties to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination.
In that context, Indonesia’s representative, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern at the persistence of restrictions imposed on those countries, as well as over the fact that the conference aimed at establishing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East had not been held in 2012.
Many in the Movement said the Commission could build upon guidelines agreed in 1999 on nuclear-weapon-free zones by devoting attention to a fundamental aspect of that issue: negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Voicing the views of many, Brazil’s delegate said non-nuclear-armed States should be granted such unequivocal, legally binding assurances through a multilateral instrument.
For its part, the United States had taken steps to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy, said that country’s delegate, stressing: “We are not developing, nor are we planning to develop, new nuclear weapons.” Moreover, the life extension programmes for its nuclear weapons would not support new military missions. It was in the interest of all nations that the nearly seven-decade record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever.
The issue of conventional weapons also received attention, with several delegates supporting practical confidence-building measures, as well as openness and transparency in relation to military activities, which in turn, fostered mutual understanding. Pakistan’s delegate underlined the need to address the “excessive” production and sales of conventional weapons. A balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments was also vital.
Cuba’s representative, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States said the relationship between the international security environment and the development of confidence-building measures could be mutually reinforcing. He encouraged States to adopt and apply such measures as appropriate, and to consider providing related information.
In other business today, the Commission elected as Vice-Chairs Eleni Apeyitou (Cyprus) and Bhima Dwipayudhanto (Indonesia) from the Group of Asia Pacific States; Mislav Kolovrat (Croatia) and Dovydas Špokauskas (Lithuania) from the Group of Eastern European States; and Shorna-Kay Richards (Jamaica) from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States. Charlene Roopnarine ( Trinidad and Tobago), also from the last Group, was elected as Rapporteur.
The representatives of Ireland (on behalf of the European Union), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Argentina, Switzerland, Brazil, Peru, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Spain, China, Algeria, Nepal, Egypt, Iraq, Austria, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, South Africa, Kuwait and Iran also spoke.
Exercising their right of reply were the representatives of the United States, Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Commission will reconvene in plenary at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 3 April, to continue its general debate.
The Disarmament Commission met today to open its 2013 substantive session, which will run until 19 April. The Commission, which generally meets for three weeks, operates in plenary meetings and working groups, with the number of working groups depending on the number of substantive items on its agenda. The 2013 session features two agenda items: recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms.
ANGELA KANE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the Commission’s substantive work was taking place in a “very complex” international environment, which combined both old challenges and new opportunities. The Commission was the oldest component of the United Nations disarmament machinery, she recalled, citing its founding resolution, in which the General Assembly had declared that it was “moved by anxiety at the general lack of confidence plaguing the world and leading to the burden of increasing armaments and the fear of war”.
“In many ways, we are still facing this problem of lack of confidence,” she said, with many of the gravest challenges to international peace and security reflecting that underlying condition, including in the Middle East, South Asia and Northeast Asia. It helped explain the slow progress in achieving global nuclear disarmament, as well as the robust growth of long-term nuclear weapon modernization programmes. It also underlay the “relentless” expansion of military budgets and accounted for deeply divided votes on many Assembly resolutions.
With that in mind, she said the disarmament machinery was not simply meant to provide various arenas for voicing insecurities. Rather, it was meant to provide a process for building confidence through the establishment and elaboration of global disarmament norms. The Commission played a vital role in developing those norms, as seen in its first agenda item — “Recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”. While differences persisted, there was a lot of common ground on that difficult topic.
She said that a positive result from this session would set the stage for a new consensus on nuclear disarmament when the Commission concluded its three-year cycle next year. “What a tremendous achievement that would be,” she said, especially given the difficulties in launching negotiations at the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament. Efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction had been pursued in parallel with efforts to regulate — and reduce — conventional arms. Together, they created an integrated approach to fulfilling the United Nations Charter goals of disarmament and arms regulation. “The fact is: we need concrete progress in both of these fields and this Commission has its own contributions to make,” she said.
With respect to the Commission’s second agenda item — “Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons” — she said there was an opportunity to build on progress made last month in negotiating the arms trade treaty. As efforts continued to conclude that treaty, the fulfilment of the larger objective of the “regulation of armaments” would require additional confidence-building initiatives. Many such measures related to transparency, which the Office for Disarmament Affairs had worked to improve over the years, notably vis-à-vis the United Nations Report on Military Expenditures and the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. She encouraged States to “make good use” of those transparency measures precisely because of their value in building confidence.
On other matters, she said it was always possible to improve working methods, noting that a “worthy goal” would be to revive the Commission’s productivity as a resource for cultivating the seeds of future global disarmament norms: guidelines, standards and recommendations, which could one day flourish into customary practices observed by all States. The Commission — on no less than 16 occasions — had reached a consensus on such steps on a wide variety of disarmament topics. Its procedures alone did not explain why it had been unable to adopt any new such guidelines since 1999 — the differences in policy priorities must also be considered.
Even so, the Commission had a legitimate interest in examining whether there were alternative procedures to help it achieve results, she said, stressing that: “In the end, history will judge the Commission’s record less by the volume of its words than the quality of its outcomes.” The issues on the agenda were profoundly difficult, “but that is why they are there”, she said, noting that the Assembly was confident in the Commission’s ability to reach a positive outcome.
CHRISTOPHER GRIMA ( Malta), Commission Chairman, reviewed some “meaningful” progress made recently in various areas of the disarmament agenda — including the successful completion of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and the reduction of strategic nuclear arsenals by the United States and the Russian Federation, as well as a number of setbacks. In that regard, he said, “the disappointment and frustration we all share following a further failed attempt to adopt an arms trade treaty is still very fresh in our minds”.
Additionally, he said, serious obstacles continued to stand in the way of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Also, new levels of trust created by the successful outcome of the 2010 NPT Review regrettably had been weakened by the recent postponement of the conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said, urging all States in that region, together with the international community, to work tirelessly to convene that meeting without delay.
“We are at a watershed moment,” he said, adding that “while general and complete disarmament remains high on the agenda of the international community, the multilateral disarmament machinery continues to deliver very little”. Nuclear disarmament remained a global priority; paradoxically, however, the international community continued, “almost recklessly”, to pursue a path that could lead to mankind’s destruction. The time for taking meaningful steps to advance the disarmament agenda was now, he stressed.
In that context, today’s meeting was taking place at a critical moment he continued. The challenges before the Commission were unprecedented, both in terms of their nature and scope. Significant progress in nuclear disarmament was urgently needed, as were more effective controls against the proliferation or possible acquisition by terrorists of all types of weapons of mass destruction. Progress was also needed to establish confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons. “Let us find the right balance between the inherent right of States to defend themselves and recommended measures on conventional arms that reduce risks to international peace and security,” he said.
While an agenda for the Commission had been adopted last year and a productive exchange had taken place in 2012, “we need to do much better if we are going to deliver recommendations by the end of this session or, indeed, by the end of the cycle”, he said. The Commission’s record in the last few years had hardly been flattering, as Member States had failed to adopt recommendations since 1999. “In our deliberations, we must inject fresh thinking and innovative ideas to register progress.” A successful outcome would send a positive signal and could also spur progress in the disarmament machinery as a whole.
Indeed, he continued, “with each failed attempt to reach consensus, the risk of this body becoming irrelevant draws ever closer”. He, therefore, called on delegations to muster the political will needed to abandon intransigent national positions that had blocked the Commission’s work for far too long, and to identify the middle ground on those specific areas in which progress could be achieved. It was crucial not to forget that the Commission was not a negotiating body but a deliberative instrument. “Its value lies in its universal character and the possibilities it provides for frank and open debate,” he said, noting that dialogue built trust, which, in turn would open doors to tangible progress. “In our deliberations over the next three weeks, we must make every effort to bring down those barriers to trust that have taken control of this Commission now for well over a decade”.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for a results-oriented session in 2013. The Movement was deeply concerned over the lack of progress by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals in line with their relevant multilateral obligations, and he underscored the need for those countries to implement the unequivocal undertaking to which they had committed at the 2000 and 2010 NPT Review Conferences. There was also an urgent need to commence and conclude negotiations on general and complete disarmament, without delay. In that, nuclear disarmament was the highest priority, as established by the first special session in 1978, and, as a multilateral legal obligation, it “should not be made conditional on confidence-building measures or other disarmament efforts”.
Thus, he said, negotiations must begin without further delay on a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified time frame, including a nuclear weapons convention. In that context, the Movement welcomed the convening of a meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, scheduled for 26 September, and he urged all Member States to be represented at the highest level. Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the Movement reaffirmed the need to conclude a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on security assurances. Improving existing nuclear weapons and developing new types of those weapons contradicted the nuclear disarmament goals.
At the same time, he said, the Movement reaffirmed the inalienable right of developing countries to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy, including the sovereign right to develop a full national nuclear fuel cycle, for peaceful purposes without discrimination. It was, thus, concerned at restrictions imposed on those countries in that regard. The Movement’s States parties to the NPT were also seriously concerned over the long delay in implementing the 1995 resolution on the Middle East and was disappointed that a conference on that goal had not been held in 2012. He urged all parties concerned to take urgent and practical steps to establish such a zone and, pending that, demanded that Israel, the only country in the region that had not joined the NPT or declared its intention to do so, renounce possession of nuclear weapons, accede to the NPT without precondition or further delay, and promptly place all its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), noted that countries in the region had a long tradition of involvement in disarmament issues. At the Community’s founding summit, Heads of State and Government had adopted a special communiqué on the total elimination of nuclear weapons and participants had confirmed “the pride of our region in being the first densely populated area in the world to be declared a nuclear-weapon-free zone” through the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, or Treaty of Tlatelolco. The Community urged the nuclear-weapon States to withdraw all reservations to the Treaty’s protocols and to respect the region’s denuclearized character. CELAC deplored the failure to hold an international conference in 2012 on the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East, and offered to use its experience to help make such a zone a reality.
CELAC members, he said, reaffirmed that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was a crime against humanity and a violation of international law, including international humanitarian law. It also believed it unlikely that any State or body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency that would occur if such a weapon was to detonate. The Community’s NPT States parties also reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the regime’s three pillars: nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It strongly supported the conclusion of legally binding instruments leading to effective, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament. Also critical was to achieve the NPT’s universality, and CELAC urged all Governments to accede to it. The delegate also reaffirmed the region’s commitment to the application of IAEA safeguards, and called for the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by those States holding up its entry into force.
On the issue of conventional weapons, CELAC supported practical confidence-building measures as a way of strengthening international peace and security, in strict observance of the United Nations Charter and respect for the voluntary nature of those measures and the particular security concerns of States. The Community was convinced that the relationship between the international security environment and the development of confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms could be mutually reinforcing. In that regard, CELAC encouraged Member States to adopt and apply such measures as appropriate, and to consider providing related information.
COLM Ó CONAILL ( Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that reinforcing the non-proliferation regime should be a priority for all Member States. The Union was concerned that non-compliance by States parties with the NPT’s provisions undermined non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. Plus, States not yet party to the NPT should join as non-nuclear-weapon States and, pending their accession, adhere to its terms and pledge their commitments to its non-proliferation and disarmament principles.
He urged States to pursue the CTBT’s early entry into force and universalization. Equally important was the immediate launch of negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, in the absence of which, all concerned States that had not yet done so should declare and uphold an immediate moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.
To address the threat posed by mass destruction weapons, he urged States to be guided by the conviction that a multilateral approach to security provided the best way to maintain global order. It was essential to commit to uphold, implement and strengthen the multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation treaties and agreements. Committing to strong national and international export controls was also vital, as was addressing the root causes of instability.
He welcomed the outcome of the Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. At the same time, he regretted that the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty had not managed to finalize negotiations aiming at making trade in conventional arms more responsible and transparent. There was great momentum to be seized to conclude the treaty’s elaboration, and swift action should be taken to do so.
USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group of States and joining with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed the Group’s commitment to the principle and validity of multilateral diplomacy in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. The African continent had remained a nuclear-weapon-free zone since the entry into force of the Pelindaba Treaty. He encouraged the remaining nuclear-weapons States that had not yet done so to ratify the protocols, without delay, and called for deepened efforts and unyielding determination to truly address the threat of nuclear weapons and achieve the end goal of the NPT. In that respect, the Group reaffirmed the application of the principles of transparency, irreversibility and verifiability by nuclear-armed States.
The Group, he said, also reiterated its deep concern over the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament and what appeared to be a lack of concrete attempts to accomplish the goal of total elimination of nuclear arsenals. It hoped that the Commission, during the current session, would steer its deliberations towards concrete recommendations on its agenda issues, and called for more flexibility towards that goal. The Group also reiterated its commitment to the convening of a high-level conference to identify ways and means of eliminating nuclear weapons and prohibit their development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and to provide for their destruction. “We underline that all attempts to improve existing nuclear weapons and developing new types of nuclear weapons contradict the objective of achieving nuclear disarmament as a multilateral obligation, as well as the commitments undertaken by nuclear-weapon States in this regard,” he stressed.
He reiterated the need for the full implementation of the actions plans adopted at the 2010 NPT review on nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East. He also recalled the consensus decisions contained in the Final Document of the 2010 Review Conference on convening, in 2012, a conference on establishing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, and expressed deep disappointment over the failure to have done so. He noted the lack of consensus on a final arms trade treaty text, and called for continued dialogue on adequate measures for regulating the global transfer of conventional arms and on preventing their diversion to the illicit market.
GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), associating with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that, at a time when the world was combining efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and to define the post-2015 development agenda, it could not abandon efforts to achieve disarmament. Indeed, the world could not justify trillions of dollars being spent on defence while people around the world were living in extreme poverty.
He said that his country, from the Global South and from a zone of peace, had long worked in the disarmament arena to build upon confidence and shared interests towards a common future. It was for those reasons that the two issues under consideration by the Commission were so relevant and timely. “We have to be capable of identifying measures to advance nuclear disarmament,” and to pursue the goal of peace that motivated all people without distinction. She called on all delegations to adopt a pragmatic approach to achieve sustainable disarmament.
PAUL SEGER ( Switzerland) said he hoped that the Commission’s exchange of views would help it reach consensual recommendations and principles on its agenda items. The Commission must continue to reflect on the best way to approach the agenda for its cycles. One reason the machinery had halted was due to the “duality of topics”: nuclear disarmament and conventional disarmament. The lack of progress in one field usually led to stagnation in the other. He proposed that the Commission focus on just one of the two topics. Also, it should open deliberations to exchanges with academia and civil society, which could “breathe new life” into its efforts and ensure all disarmament concerns were taken into account.
Moreover, he said, the Commission must give more thought to submitting its report to the General Assembly. Its paralysis had meant that such submission had been impossible. Thought must be given to the possibility of the Chairman submitting in a report in his own name to the Assembly that reflected the views and information exchanged. No effort should be spared to improve working methods, and he encouraged the Chair to find the ways and means to move forward. The frustration generated by such long-standing failures had prodded the Assembly to make decisions previously “unheard of”, he said, such as creating a working group to advance disarmament negotiations. The need for action now was a priority.
“It is well known that the adoption of an outcome by consensus is always a hard endeavour,” said MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil), adding that, nonetheless, “we must find the common ground needed to advance the discussions and produce substantive results in the field of disarmament”.
She said that the Commission’s working methods should be improved. For that reason, her delegation favoured the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament, in which the issue could be tackled comprehensively. Nuclear disarmament remained Brazil’s utmost priority. It was only through a multilateral, concerted effort that nuclear weapons would be totally eliminated, in a transparent, irreversible and verifiable manner, according to an agreed legal framework and a specified timeframe. It was of grave concern that nuclear weapons still played a central role in the security doctrines of some nuclear-weapon States and military alliances. “This situation must change,” she stressed, adding that the maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons were costly, their use was inconsistent with international humanitarian law, and their possession by some States contributed to the risk of proliferation.
Brazil, therefore, supported immediate discussions on the principles and elements of a nuclear weapons convention and considered that the Commission could play an important role in that regard. The Commission could also build upon the guidelines agreed in 1999 on nuclear-weapon-free zones by devoting attention to a fundamental aspect of that issue, namely, negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Pending those weapons’ total elimination, non-nuclear-armed States should be granted such unequivocal, legally binding assurances, trough a multilateral instrument. Brazil fully supported multilateral efforts under United Nations auspices to build confidence-building measures in the field of conventional arms. In that vein, the delegation reaffirmed its support to the present draft text on the arms trade treaty, and looked forward to its adoption and subsequent implementation.
ENRIQUE ROMAN-MOREY ( Peru), former Chairman of the Commission, said last year had marked the beginning of a new three-year cycle. Thanks to flexibility, two substantive issues had been agreed upon: nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons. States had come to the Commission after two weeks of exhausting multilateral negotiations for an arms trade treaty, and while discussions had been held in both working groups, it had not been possible to achieve consensus. “We have been negotiating tirelessly for two weeks,” he said, but again, agreement had not been possible.
He said that the Assembly’s mechanisms would allow for the arms trade treaty to be adopted by a recorded vote. Not all were in agreement with the text, but it was a “least common denominator”, which could be adopted. He urged States not to lose the opportunity to make progress. Similarly, the Commission should not squander the opportunity to adopt recommendations; it was the only universal organ within the disarmament machinery alongside the Assembly, and he called for supporting dialogue in the interests of all people to live in peace.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said that the session was taking place against a “turbulent” global security backdrop, marked by regional conflicts and signs of growing global confrontations. The complex global political landscape had negatively impacted the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, while the hostile use of cyber and other technologies were worrying trends. The Commission held “immense” promise to meet some of those challenges, as it had produced several useful guidelines. For years, Pakistan had called for evolving a new consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation, starting from a basic premise: the recognition of the right to equal security for all States, in the non-conventional and conventional fields, as well as at regional and global levels.
He said that States’ motives for acquiring weapons must also be addressed, including perceived threats from superior conventional or non-conventional forces. Nuclear-weapon States must recommit to achieving disarmament within a reasonable timeframe, while non-nuclear-armed States should have assurances they would not be threatened with the use of nuclear or even conventional weapons. A universal and non-discriminatory agreement for addressing the proliferation of anti-ballistic missile systems must evolve, while an agreed approach was also needed for promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under appropriate international safeguards. Any new inspection regime must be applied equitably.
He underlined the need to address the “excessive” production and sales of conventional weapons, as well as their reduction. A balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments was needed. Pakistan was pursuing a “strategic restraint” regime in South Asia, comprising nuclear restraint, conventional balance and conflict resolution, with a focus on confidence-building measures. It also was promoting conventional stability and restraint, and would continue advocating for reductions in conventional forces at the United Nations. A balanced approach to disarmament and non-proliferation at the Commission must be adopted. Nothing was wrong with its rules of procedure or its working methods. “What we need is due diligence for consensus,” he said. “What we need is political will.”
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said the Commission was integral to the United Nations disarmament machinery and its “considerable” potential should be used to find balanced solutions based on the principles of equal and indivisible security for all. The Russian Federation was committed to its obligations under article VI of the NPT and was advancing towards the creation of conditions to build a world free of nuclear weapons. The implementation of the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) had substantially contributed to consolidating its nuclear non-proliferation regime.
He said the Russian Federation was open to discussing steps to reduce nuclear weapons, but that would be impossible without considering all the international security factors that could negatively impact strategic stability, including the unilateral and unlimited build-up of the global anti-missile defence system, the lack of progress in ratifying the Test-Ban Treaty, and an unwillingness to renounce the possibility of placing weapons in outer space. Every global or regional threat to the non-proliferation regime should be eliminated exclusively on the basis of the NPT. His Government’s focus was still on preventing non-State actors from obtaining nuclear materials and technologies.
More broadly, he said, his country had “done everything it could” to fulfil its obligations to promote the holding of a conference, due to have been held in 2012, on establishing a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and their delivery means in the Middle East, and it would make every effort to ensure that such an event took place soon. Also important was to preserve the Conference on Disarmament and the prospect of negotiations on priority matters. Rather than trying to radically reorganize that unique forum, joint efforts to unblock its work were needed.
The prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space remained one of Russia’s foreign policy priorities, he said. The main ideas of the Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, supported by an overwhelming majority of States, were reflected in the relevant Russian-Chinese draft. It was extremely difficult to have a serious dialogue aimed at solving space security problems without a legally binding agreement that could serve as a barrier to the weaponization of outer space, and he called on all States to commit to a policy of “no first placement” of weapons in outer space.
An agreement on the conventional arms control regime, he said, should reflect the balance of interests of all participants and meet modern European realities. The draft arms trade treaty could add new positive aspects to the global arms trade, but the standards set were lower than those of the Russian military and technical cooperation system. His Government would take that into account when considering adherence. It also favoured preserving — without conditions — the United Nations’ lead role in addressing trafficking in small arms and light weapons.
JAMES MORTIMER ( United Kingdom) urged a focus on the commitment to a shared future in which all States did their part across the three pillars of the NPT. The United Kingdom was committed to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. It had contributed to building conditions for further nuclear disarmament, with a strong track record of fulfilling its commitments and meeting international legal obligations. Its 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review set out a number of new disarmament measures, including a reduction in the warheads onboard its nuclear deterrence submarines from 48 to 40, a reduction in the requirement for operationally available warheads to no more than 120, and a reduction in its nuclear weapons stockpile to no more than 180.
As for building confidence, he said the United Kingdom, in 2009, had initiated a dialogue among the Permanent Five (“P5”) Security Council Members, where they had reaffirmed unconditional support for the NPT. The P5 would hold its fourth such conference in April. Building confidence between nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States was equally important, and the United Kingdom had carried out “groundbreaking” work with Norway on the verification of warhead dismantlement, the first time a nuclear-armed State had engaged in such an open way. It also was working with Brazil to develop a disarmament-focused dialogue.
More broadly, he said the United Kingdom, along with France, had been the first to sign and ratify the CTBT and supported the need to negotiate an international fissile material cut-off treaty. It was committed to achieving a Middle East zone free of mass destruction weapons and strongly supported the facilitator, who had made more than 100 outreach visits to the region. Nowhere was the need for collective responsibility more evident than in connection with the threats posed by the nuclear programmes of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the latter of which had violated its international obligations by conducting its third nuclear test on 12 February. He called on Iran to engage with the “E3+3” talks. Finally, he urged a vote in favour of the “strong” arms trade treaty text, which would come before the General Assembly tomorrow. No State got everything it wanted, but compromise was necessary, he said.
KAZUYOSHI UMEMOTO ( Japan) said that progress in nuclear disarmament had been slow and the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva seemed incapable of breaking out of its prolonged stalemate. Furthermore, in spite of the repeated adoption by the Security Council of resolutions on nuclear and missile-related activities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran, the international disarmament and non-proliferation regimes under the NPT continued to face serious challenges, including numerous cases of violations. To maintain and strengthen that regime, it was essential to take practical and realistic steps to promote both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, promoted by Japan, was one such step, having submitted working papers to the Preparatory Committee process of the NPT Review Conference on such topics as the CTBT, non-strategic nuclear weapons and export controls.
In that vein, he said that the early entry into force of the CTBT and the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material ban were of pressing importance. Accordingly, Japan had supported the so-called “Article XIV conference” in 2011 and the “Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty” Foreign Ministers Meeting early last year. The Commission should take into account recent developments in the area of conventional weapons and confidence-building. The success of last year’s review of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons gave the international community a clear goal and timeline to strengthen efforts to combat and eradicate the illicit arms trade. Regarding the recent failure to adopt the arms trade treaty, he stressed that “we should not be discouraged by the attempt to hamper the aspirations of an overwhelming number of States”. Japan was confident that the treaty would be adopted very soon and that the United Nations would play a central role in suppressing the illegal trade.
SHIN DONG-IK (Republic of Korea) deplored that the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery had been in a long-standing stalemate. As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had put it, “delay comes with a high price tag”. The Commission must seize the opportunity to revitalize the global agenda for disarmament and non-proliferation. With this year’s session coming in the middle of its triennial discussion cycle, the Commission “should play a pivotal role in living up to its name as a specialized, deliberative body for submitting recommendations to the General Assembly”. As the host of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, his country looked towards a world without nuclear weapons. To that end, “we must return to the basics”: in accordance with the NPT, nuclear-weapon States should faithfully implement their obligations, while non-nuclear-weapon States should abide by their non-proliferation obligations. The CTBT’s entry into force and negotiations for a fissile material ban were indispensable, not only for non-proliferation, but also for disarmament.
Turning to confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, he said he regretted that consensus on the arms trade treaty had been blocked last Thursday by three delegations. “Nonetheless, we must not stop here,” he said, expressing expectation that the General Assembly would act swiftly to bring the instrument into reality. He drew attention to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s missile launch last December and its third nuclear test in February this year, saying those “pose a serious challenge to realizing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as confidence-building”. That country had further undermined peace by its repeated inflammatory statements, such as its unilateral nullification of the Armistice Agreement and the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That Government had also threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes and declared a “touch-and-go” situation for a nuclear war on the peninsula. “This is simply not acceptable,” he said, reminding the neighbouring State that Security Council resolution 2094 (2013) stated that there would be “further significant measures” in the event of any further provocation.
SAIFUL AZAM ABDULLAH ( Malaysia) said that the challenges facing the United Nations disarmament machinery could be seen as an opportunity for parties to renew their positions. He hoped for a more results-oriented session of the Commission, and called on Member States to exercise flexibility and political will so as to rejuvenate negotiations and move forward on substantive matters. He noted that the Non-Aligned Movement would be submitting a working paper on “recommendations for achieving the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons”, which he hoped would provide an impetus for substantive progress in 2013. In addition, the delegation felt that the 2013 Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference should continue the momentum towards greater cooperation in achieving the Treaty’s objectives.
He expressed his concern at the slow progress in the reduction of strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons, and said his country was “deeply disturbed” that the nuclear-weapon States continued to modernize and upgrade their nuclear arsenals. He, thus, called for the urgent conclusion of a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances. Concerning nuclear-weapon-free zones, such initiatives contributed significantly to global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives. In that regard, he was pleased to note the progress in concluding negotiations between Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the five nuclear-weapon States on the relevant protocol, and he looked forward to its signing as early as possible. Finally, with regard to the CTBT’s entry into force, Malaysia continued to believe that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were “two sides of the same coin”, and called on all States — particularly the so-called “Annex II” States — to work towards the Treaty’s entry into force.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that, with little progress made by the Disarmament Commission since 1999, “we must now seize the opportunity to break the stalemate to revitalize the effectiveness of the disarmament machinery”. The objective should be to consolidate the past rather than to reinvent the wheel. It was crucial to be proactive in responding to changing political situations and challenges, and greater emphasis should be placed on conventional arms considering the outcome of the arms trade treaty negotiations last week and the next steps to be taken in the General Assembly. “We call on a stronger regulation of illegal arms traffic flow and greater adherence to its provisions,” she said in that respect. Trust and confidence-building measures were crucial in all aspects of disarmament and also needed to be reviewed.
She said that, in light of the several regional tensions escalating in various parts of the world, Kazakhstan called for the universalization of the NPT and its Additional Protocol, as well as the entry into force of the CTBT. The need for an enhanced and strengthened verification mechanism could not be overstated. Likewise, following through with the 64-point Action Plan of the 2010 NPT Review Conference would create safeguards for our “fragile and threatened” world. Also critical was to grant negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States. Her country was committed to working with others in the region to guarantee the physical safety of nuclear materials and equipment, in order to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism. With the IAEA’s approval and supervision, Kazakhstan would host a nuclear fuel bank. In addition, the growing scenarios of the possible use of weapons of mass destruction, including biological and chemical weapons, should be averted at all costs. Under the present circumstances, greater support should be given to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
VICTORIA GONZÁLEZ ROMÁN ( Spain) said her country was ready to work with other States to debate and make recommendations on the two agenda items before the Commission. The NPT was the sole framework for the maintenance of international peace, security and stability, and it was more important now than ever, she said, noting that the second preparatory committee for the 2015 Review Conference would convene this month. The CTBT was also crucial for disarmament and non-proliferation. More ratifications, mainly by Annex II countries, had given new impetus to efforts to achieve its entry into force.
Also important, she said, was the creation of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, as that would also increase international security and stability. At the same time, a firm response was needed to address the threat of conventional weapons. Spain supported efforts to reach an agreement on arms trade and deplored that some countries had blocked consensus on the draft. The small arms Action Plan, as well as the United Nations Register of Conventional Weapons, helped to combat the spread of those weapons and support an atmosphere of confidence. All such instruments should be put into practice and it should be ensured that all States complied with their international obligations.
JOHN A. BRAVACO ( United States) stressed the importance of conventional weapons confidence-building measures, emphasizing that promoting openness and transparency in military forces and activities helped to enhance mutual understanding and confidence. Pursuit by the Commission of consensus recommendations in that area was a worthwhile effort. He also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the shared goal of nuclear disarmament, noting that the Commission’s session was taking place just before a preparatory committee session for the 2015 NPT Review Conference. “The grand bargain of the NPT […] sets an enduring standard that is as relevant today as it was at the Treaty’s inception,” he declared.
He said that the speech given in Prague in 2009 by United States President Barack Obama clearly reaffirmed the country’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. “But, it was not a call to unilaterally disarm, nor did it assume that the world would change overnight,” he said. Instead, it was a road map to the future — a step-by-step, measured strategy that took into account the changed and chancing security landscape of the twenty-first century. Indeed, the 2010 United States Nuclear Posture Review rightly emphasized that today, “our greatest threat is no longer a large-scale nuclear exchange, but the danger that terrorists could acquire nuclear materials or worse, a nuclear weapon”.
In addition to working on the prevention of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, the United States had taken steps to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy, he said, stressing: “We are not developing, nor are we planning to develop, new nuclear weapons.” Moreover, the life extension programmes for its nuclear weapons would not support new military missions. “We have clearly stated that it is in the United States’ interest, and that of all other nations, that the nearly seven-decade record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever,” he said, adding that the step-by-step approach pursued by the United States was suited for its security needs and tailored to address twenty-first century global security threats.
There was no “quick fix” to achieving nuclear disarmament; instead, the only practical path was a careful, step-by-step approach to verifiably reach that objective, he said. His delegation would be submitting a formal Commission Working Group I paper entitled, “Preventing the use of nuclear weapons”, which detailed the United States’ record of accomplishment in achieving the safety and security of a world without those weapons and forestalling their use.
ZHANG JUN'AN( China) said he believed in the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. China had exercised utmost restraint in the development of those weapons and it had not and would not participate in a nuclear arms race of any form. China pledged to maintain its own nuclear forces at a minimum level necessary for national security needs. It adhered to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstance, and had made the unequivocal commitment that it would unconditionally not use or threaten to use them against non-nuclear-weapon States and nuclear-weapon-free zones.
He said that the global nuclear disarmament process should be actively promoted under the premise of maintaining global strategic stability and undiminished security for all. Countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should continue to make drastic and substantive reductions. He supported the early entry-into-force of the CTBT and “will continue its positive efforts to this end”. China “will stick to its commitment on nuclear test moratorium”.
Touching on other related topics, he said the country hoped the Conference on Disarmament could reach consensus on a programme of work at an early date so as to start work as soon as possible, including conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty. Concerning the Korean peninsula, China urged relevant parties to remain calm, exercise restraint and avoid moves that could escalate the situation. As for the Iranian nuclear issue, China had all along believed that dialogue and cooperation was the “only correct way” to properly resolve it. For the sake of early progress, parties should accommodate each other’s concerns, gradually bridge differences and expand common ground.
China supported transparency and confidence-building in the field of conventional arms control and was an active participant in the Register, he said, noting its support for necessary adjustments to it in line with the development of international and regional security situations. One of the most pressing tasks was to improve coverage of the Register, such as by increasing the number of participating countries. China attached great importance to the fight against the illicit small arms and light weapons trade and had adopted a series of national measures, “yielding remarkable results”.
DJAMEL MOKTEFI ( Algeria) reaffirmed the United Nations’ central role in consideration of disarmament issues and the importance of revitalizing those mechanisms. Algeria had spared no efforts to re-launch the Commission, which had an irreplaceable role as a body for deliberation and proposals, providing an opportunity for in-depth consideration of disarmament questions. It had not adopted recommendations in more than a decade, and he urged States to seize the new opportunity to inject the necessary dynamism into the process via a genuine spirit of mutual cooperation. The stalemate was due to a lack of political will. The session was taking place in the middle of the three-year cycle and its deliberations should culminate next year with formulation of concrete recommendations, he reminded delegations.
Reiterating that the ultimate goal of the NPT was the elimination of nuclear weapons, he urged nuclear-weapon States to abide by the Treaty’s article VI, as well as commitments made at the 1995 and 2010 Review Conferences. Disarmament measures must be carried out in line with the principles of transparency, verifiability and irreversibility. Only a balanced approach that ensured implementation of the three mutually reinforcing pillars would achieve the ultimate goal. The CTBT and conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty were also priorities, as was the conclusion of a legally binding instrument to grant assurances to non-nuclear-armed States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. With that, he urged the start of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention, and expressed disappointment that a conference on the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East had not yet taken place.
SEWA LAMSAL ADHIKARI ( Nepal), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said “disarmament is not a choice; it is a compelling security imperative”, as global peace and security lay in collective prosperity, not in the race for arms. Yet, today, the world had a large stock of nuclear weapons that could destroy human civilization. In less than 60 years, the production, transfer and trading of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, had increased several-fold and many conflict-ridden countries were bearing the brunt. Nepal strongly believed in the complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction in a time-bound manner.
She said that, as a corollary to nuclear disarmament, universal adherence to the CTBT was another critical element of nuclear disarmament, she said. In that vein, a fissile material cut-off treaty was an absolutely essential step on the path to global nuclear disarmament. She strongly opposed the weaponization of the outer space, and supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, which were critically important to give genuine meaning to disarmament. The United Nations should play a facilitating role as a truly global forum for maintaining international peace and security. Nepal attached high importance to multilateral negotiations in disarmament and non-proliferation, which promoted collective ownership, deliberations and responsibility for collective global action. “The process might be difficult and challenging, but not impossible,” she said.
MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the Commission should be “the nurturing ground for new ideas” and “the launching pad for new initiatives”. It should also enable continued discussions on unfinished business. There were many simple ideas that could strengthen the work of the Commission, such as the development of a portal containing all former proposals and working papers that had been discussed in earlier sessions. That would provide an institutional intellectual memory on which the Commission could build. Another idea was to hold side events where fresh ideas could be tested, with conclusions to be shared with the Commission.
Noting that nuclear disarmament was the highest priority established by the first special session on disarmament, he said that had not been reflected sufficiently in the work of the multilateral disarmament machinery. The working group on nuclear disarmament should provide creative and concrete ideas on a phased programme for the total elimination of those weapons. The ideas could be presented to the high-level meeting of the General Assembly, slated for 26 September, for endorsement by Heads of State and Government. The working group should also highlight ways to ensure the implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference commitments, including the convening of a conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Turning to confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons, he said the topic was even more relevant now in light of the outcome of the arms trade treaty conference. Any serious process to that end should address over-production and the ever-increasing stockpiles of conventional weapons in the hands of major arms exporters and producers, as well as mutual international accountability and protracted threats to international peace and security.
ZAYTOON FARAJ ABDULLAH ( Iraq) said preventing nuclear proliferation could only be achieved if all States acceded to both the NPT and CTBT, and placed their programmes under IAEA safeguards. On 9 October 2012, Iraq adopted a law for its accession to the Test-Ban Treaty. It also had ratified the Additional Protocol to the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, bringing the number of States parties to that instrument to 119. Underlining the importance of negative security assurances, she said the only guarantee against non-proliferation was the comprehensive, non-selective implementation of the NPT. The creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was essential for building confidence in the region, and she regretted that the 2012 conference had been postponed.
She invited the United States, United Kingdom and the Russian Federation to hold a conference on such a zone this year, with the participation of regional States, and the Secretary-General must play an active role in ensuring that conference took place. Preparations for the 2015 NPT Review Conference were “going well”. As for conventional arms, she said that addressing small arms and light weapons was important, and she supported the Commission’s guidelines to that effect. Iraq had created a national commission for conventional weapons and a focal point for their management. It was working to adopt legal measures enabling it to accede to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons).
HARTMUT KOLLER-LENHARDT ( Austria) said collective disarmament efforts were guided by Article 11, paragraph 1 of the United Nations Charter. In that spirit, Austria had tabled Assembly resolution 65/93, following up on the Secretary-General’s High-level meeting on revitalizing the work of the Conference on Disarmament. In 2011 and 2012, Austria, along with Norway and Mexico, had pursued an initiative leading to the Assembly’s adoption of resolution 67/56 on Taking forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations. The open-ended working group launched by the text had held its organizational session in March, and he counted on the continued engagement of its members going forward.
He went on to say that the nuclear weapons debate should transcend the narrow scope of military security concepts and emphasize the humanitarian, economic and ecological consequences of a nuclear event. The Secretary-General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament provided guidance for achieving a world without nuclear weapons. The “contagious doctrine” of nuclear deterrence made non-proliferation more difficult. The Commission’s item on “recommendations for achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” was highly topical. Austria fully acknowledged the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, but would not subscribe to any promotion of such uses for power generation. As for conventional weapons, Austria looked forward to a swift and successful finalization of the arms trade treaty process tomorrow.
RI TONG IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), joining with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament was due to the “strong muscles” policy of certain States. Furthermore, the global missile defence system under way was inevitably inviting an arms race between nuclear Powers. On the Korean peninsula, a “touch-and-go” danger of nuclear war was escalating with increased “nuclear blackmail” by the United States, the world’s largest nuclear-weapon State. Indeed, the so-called “ North Korea provocation” being intentionally spread by that country was nothing but a “ridiculous sophism”. The United States and its followers had committed “ferocious hostilities” and fabricated sanctions in the Security Council, making illegal the legitimate right of a sovereign State to launch a satellite. Under that situation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had had no other option but to conduct the third underground nuclear test in order to safeguard its sovereignty and security.
He said that the United States, despite having pushed his country to conduct the test, had brought the matter to the Security Council to once again fabricate another “resolution on sanctions”, going so far as to open dangerous joint military exercises with South Korea involving more than 200,000 troops and different types of strategic nuclear-strike delivery means. Those actions had increased the danger of nuclear war, whereas the military counter-actions taken by his country were just a matter of self-defence. On 11 March, his country had nullified the Korean Armistice Agreement in response to the entrance into the full-scale stage of “Key Resolve” by the United States and South Korea. In addition, it had nullified the non-aggression declaration and the joint declaration of denuclearization between North and South Korea.
The aim of United States’ actions, he said, was to disarm the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and to bring about regime change at all costs. “However, what the United States will eventually have will be a bloody lesson that the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is neither Iraq nor Libya,” he said, adding that its armed forces could never be abandoned as long as imperialists and nuclear threats persisted.
SUJATA MEHTA ( India), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, attached high importance to the Commission, calling it the “deliberative leg of the triad of disarmament machinery”. She said: “We cannot overemphasize the role of this body at a time when both the disarmament agenda and the disarmament machinery face numerous challenges.” While disappointed that the Commission had not been able to adopt substantive recommendations for more than a decade, she continued to believe in the forum’s inherent value. She urged States to realize its value by giving importance to its work and showing great political commitment on disarmament issues.
She said India attached the highest priority to global, non-discriminatory, verifiable nuclear disarmament. The goal of nuclear disarmament could be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework. She called for meaningful dialogue among all possessor States to build trust and confidence, and to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines. “We can demonstrate our commitment by adopting consensus recommendations on the objective of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” she said.
Whether unilateral, bilateral, regional or global, confidence-building measures could enhance transparency, minimize misunderstandings and misperceptions, and promote a suitable environment of peace and security, she said. Initiation of a confidence-building process must be decided upon States freely and in the exercise of their sovereignty. The process should evolve at a pace comfortable to all participating States. Confidence-building measures in specific regions should fully take into account the political, military and other conditions prevailing in the region. In elaborating such measures in the conventional weapons field, advantage should be taken of the Commission’s guidelines, adopted by the General Assembly at its forty-first session. Also important was to ensure that the discussions did not become a tool for pursuing political agendas or for promoting instruments that lacked universal support.
ROB WENSLEY ( South Africa) attached great importance to the Commission as the sole deliberative body of the multilateral disarmament machinery. He was concerned at the slow progress in achieving the goals of nuclear disarmament, and he reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to the NPT as the foundation of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. The Treaty contained a legally binding commitment by nuclear-weapon States towards the elimination of their arsenals, while recognizing the inalienable right of States to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. While he welcomed the significant progress made towards realizing the Treaty’s non-proliferation objectives, he remained concerned about the lack of progress in fulfilling the Article VI commitments.
He went on to say that the 2010 NPT Review Conference had been of particular importance, as its Final Document reconfirmed the validity of agreements reached in 1995 and 2000, and contained important measures to rid the world of nuclear weapons. He was profoundly disappointed at the delay in implementing the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, and urged that the Conference on its creation be convened. The momentum of the arms trade treaty process would offer the Group of Governmental Experts set to review the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms “food for thought” on ensuring the relevance of that instrument in the area of confidence-building. Concerning the arms trade treaty process, the 27 March draft was not perfect, but it provided a good basis for such a treaty.
ABDUL AZIZ ALAJMI (Kuwait), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, asserted the importance of the United Nations and its messages in safeguarding international peace and security, at a time of enormous challenges. Among the major threats facing the world were weapons of mass destruction. “These are a real peril to the international peace and security,” he said. That was why the Government of Kuwait had acceded to the NPT, which was particularly important, he said, adding that his country did not manufacture those weapons. The treaty also affirmed the right of States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
In the face of serious global challenges, he stressed the importance of international and regional cooperation. Regional stability in the Middle East was undermined by Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons, and he called on it to join the NPT. He also regretted the failure to hold a conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. Turning to the outcome of the Arms Trade Treaty Conference last week, he said he was disappointed that it had not been possible to achieve consensus, despite the wisdom and transparency demonstrated by the Chair. The Arab concerns had not been taken into account, he said, adding that an arms trade treaty could be expression of greater balance in order for it to put an end to the illicit conventional arms trade. He expressed his expectations that the Commission would make progress at the current session.
GHOLAM HOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the continued existence of thousands of deployed and non-deployed strategic and non-strategic nuclear weapons around the world seriously threatened international peace and security and the very survival of human civilization. The Commission should set as a principle that there was no legal, political or security reason to justify the possession of those weapons by any country; in the words of the Secretary-General, “there are no right hands for wrong weapons”. It was a source of grave concern that nuclear-weapon States continued to allocate billions of dollars to conduct nuclear-weapon tests, resorting to obsolete deterrence policies and promoting the role and status of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines.
He said that was true of the Strategic Concept for the Secuity of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, which justified the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, and maintained unjustifiable concepts in international security based on the promotion and development of military alliances and deterrence policies. Iran strongly called on all those States to comply with their explicit legal obligations under the NPT and to exclude completely the possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons from their military and security doctrines. Iran, along with the overwhelming majority of States, maintained its principled position that the total elimination of nuclear weapons, as the highest priority, was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat. The delegation, therefore, called for the commencement of negotiations, without any further delay, on universally legally binding negative security assurances.
Still, he said, the best way to guarantee the non-proliferation of those weapons was to assure the NPT’s universality, in particular, in the Middle East, where the nuclear weapons programme of the only non-party to the Treaty — assisted by certain nuclear-weapon States — seriously threatened regional and international peace and security. Iran had proposed the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East in 1974, yet it had not yet been created, owing to the persistent refusal of the Israeli regime to join the NPT and place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA comprehensive safeguards.
In that regard, he pointed to the cancellation of the 2012 conference on the establishment of such zone, adding that while the United States claimed that the States in the Middle East had not yet reached an agreement on acceptable conditions for such a conference, the truth was that Iran and all Arab countries had already announced their readiness to participate; the Israeli regime was the only party that rejected it. Iran strongly reject any precondition regarding the conference, and stressed the need for strong pressure on the Israeli regime.
Right of reply
The representative of the United States, exercising the right of reply in response to the statement issued by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that his delegation was committed to maintaining peace and security in Northeast Asia. “The [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] should stop its provocative threats”, and instead focus on its international obligations, he stressed. The United States was taking a range of prudent measures to enhance both homeland and allied security; meanwhile, the “belligerent rhetoric” coming out of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea only deepened its isolation and raised tensions. Indeed, if that country took steps to come into compliance with its international obligations, it would begin to find real security.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, also in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the “baseless allegations” made by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Security Council resolution 1718 (2006), among others, had made it clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not entitled to any launch using ballistic missile technologies, and that such a launch was a serious violation of those resolutions, even if it was characterized as a satellite launch. The United States’ joint exercises had been conducted for decades and were purely defensive in nature. Those exercises had contributed to the deterrence of war in the Korean peninsula. In addition, enumerable cases of violations of the Korean armistice agreement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been recorded. That instrument could not be nullified unilaterally.
If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was to be a member of the United Nations, it must abide by international law, he continued. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had the obligation to abandon all existing nuclear programmes, including its nuclear enrichment programme. Security Council resolution 2094 (2013) of 7 March had further made that clear. Finally, he said, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had a habit of blaming others for its provocations and “irresponsible” activities. The Security Council, as well as many IAEA resolutions, had made clear that the country could not have the status of a nuclear-weapons State. Instead, it should “wake up” and realize that it would not achieve anything through such provocative acts.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also speaking in the right of reply, totally rejected the “ridiculous” and “misleading” remarks made by the representative of the United States — the country which was, itself, the source of threats and provocations. The United States had started the escalation of tensions and was now driving the situation to the brink of war. The starting point had been the Security Council resolution making it illegal for a sovereign State to launch satellites. In that respect, he asked the representative of the United States directly: why single out the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, among the many States that had launched satellites?
The Security Council had been misused, he said, as a political tool of the United States with the aim of bringing about regime change and sidestepping the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The United States was the true source of proliferation on the Korean peninsula, having introduced nuclear weapons as early as the 1950s. Indeed, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been compelled to have nuclear weapons, not for internal reasons, but owing to external factors — it had to defend its country and people. “We could not allow bombs to be dropped on civilians” like in other countries, he stressed.
To the representative of the Republic of Korea — which he said had no sovereignty of its own and instead relied on the United States — he pointed out that that the first “flagrant” violation of the Korean armistice agreement had been the decision by the Republic of Korea to retain United States’ troops on its territory. The armistice agreement had been misused as a loophole in order to bring about regime change. Regarding the satellite launch, there was a “double standard” on the part of the Security Council, which had defended a similar South Korean launch while condemning that of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He again asked why that was, saying: “this is a double standard … which history will recall as a crime”.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, making its second intervention in exercise of the right of reply, said that all the rights mentioned by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were granted to countries that implemented all their international obligations. He advised him to review the relevant Security Council resolutions, which made clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not entitled to launches using ballistic technologies. He also strongly urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to listen to the unified voice of the international community and to heed its warning. Finally, he repeated that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should “wake up from the delusion” of becoming a nuclear-weapon State.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also making his second intervention in exercise of the right of reply, once again rejected those remarks. Regarding the relevant Security Council resolutions, he again raised a direct question to the representative of the United States: why only single out the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? He again spotlighted the double standard in selecting just his country to ban from launching a satellite, when last year, more than 50 countries had launched similar satellites. “You are responsible for the creation of this problem,” he told the Republic of Korea, saying that it had brought the United States onto the Korean peninsula. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was “not sleeping” — it had woken up when American nuclear weapons were brought onto the peninsula in 1957, introducing the disastrous threat of nuclear annihilation of the entire region.
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