Recent Use of Chemical Weapons 'Stark and Horrific Reminder' of Duty to Eliminate Them, Speaker Tells First Committee as It Continues Full-scope Debate

8 October 2013
GA/DIS/3475

Recent Use of Chemical Weapons 'Stark and Horrific Reminder' of Duty to Eliminate Them, Speaker Tells First Committee as It Continues Full-scope Debate

8 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3475
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

First Committee

4th Meeting (AM)


Recent Use of Chemical Weapons ‘Stark and Horrific Reminder’ of Duty to Eliminate


Them, Speaker Tells First Committee as It Continues Full—Scope Debate

 


Nuclear—Weapon States Spotlight Deep Cuts in Arsenals

Amid Worrying Trends — Lethal Autonomous Robots, Outer Space Arms Race


The “appalling” scenes that emerged from Syria in August were a “stark and horrific reminder” of why the international community had a duty to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in all their forms, Ireland’s delegate told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today as its annual debate on the broad spectrum of items before it continued in the glare of recent events.


“For the vast majority of UN Member States, the days of these weapons as weapons of war are over,” he stressed.  While the Chemical Weapons Convention was a successful treaty by any standard and enjoyed almost universal adherence, he said there was “no room for complacency” and the international community had rightly conveyed its sense of revulsion at the use of chemical weapons in Syria.


It was Ireland’s view that, as with chemical weapons, the days of nuclear weapons were also over.  The global nuclear arsenal, however, still stood in excess of 17,000 weapons, while the international community was mired in discussions about how those weapons could be consigned to history.  “For far too long, we have allowed process to trump progress in nuclear disarmament negotiations,” he said, but that “time cannot stand still” on nuclear disarmament.


Against that and other expressions of frustration heard throughout the Committee’s debate, a number of representatives of nuclear—weapon—States took the floor today, including the Director of the Department of Security Affairs and Disarmament of the Russian Federation said that under the 1991 START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), his country had reduced its arsenal almost six—fold, and had slashed the number of deployed strategic warheads from 9,000 to 1,700.  The nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Russian Federation, by some estimates, were now what they were at the end of the 1950s.


Moreover, concluding the second START treaty in 2010 had led to a “new home” for nuclear disarmament, he said.  Unfortunately, the current focus was on making declarative statements, and the “difficult discussion” was turned into public diplomacy while the comprehensive context was forced to take a back seat.  At the same time, he felt the current global situation was not conducive to achieving new nuclear disarmament agreements, as negative forces were gaining traction and undermining strategic stability, and a mindset prevailed whereby one party bolstered its own security while simultaneously undermining that of another.


China’s representative said that the international situation was undergoing profound and complex changes.  He spotlighted cyberspace and outer space, which he said were becoming the “new battlefields”.  With that, he urged all countries to safeguard common security through practical cooperation.  Cyberspace was neither an enclave without law, nor a “jungle where jungle law applied”, and his delegation, along with the Russian Federation and others, had put forth the International Code of Conduct for Information Security.  Another legal instrument was needed to prevent an arms race in space, he added.


The representative of France drew attention to an “important emerging” debate concerning the use of lethal autonomous robots, which, he said, raised many fundamental ethical, legal and technical questions when considering use of force.  Similarly, Egypt’s representative said the potential or actual development of lethal autonomous robots raised many concerns about warfare ethics and international law.  He cautioned that “technology should not overtake humanity”, and urged that regulations be put in place before such systems were developed or deployed.


Stressing the “crucial and irreplaceable” role of the United Nations in tackling disarmament challenges, the delegate from Spain said that while the effective functioning of multilateral disarmament institutions could guarantee collective security, consensus should not be used as a “virtual veto” as that undermined its very nature.


Malaysia’s representative said he agreed with the Secretary—General that the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament was “the greatest institutional challenge” on the agenda.  The delegate said the Conference “must re-conquer its relevancy as the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum of the international community”, and encouraged members to exercise flexibility and political will to rejuvenate the negotiations.


Also speaking were the representatives of Algeria, Kazakhstan, Botswana, Cuba, United Republic of Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.


Exercising their right of reply were the representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, Japan and Syria.


The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 October, to continue its general debate.


Background


The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all related agenda items before it.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3474.


Statements


FERNANDO ARIAS GONZALEZ ( Spain) stressed the crucial and irreplaceable role of the United Nations in tackling the disarmament challenges.  Achievements such as the new Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) were promising, and progress had also been made in the area of conventional weapons, with the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, to which Spain was resolutely committed.  It had been among the first signatories, and the Spanish system already complied with the treaty’s provisions, and, even, in several aspects, had gone beyond them.  Progress, however, lagged in other areas, he said, highlighting the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and the continuing manufacture of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  The effective functioning of multilateral disarmament institutions could guarantee collective security, however, using consensus as a “virtual veto” undermined its very nature.


Even more serious, he said, was the confirmed use of chemical weapons in the war in Syria.  He supported the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in ensuring that those weapons were eliminated within the set timeframe, and stressed that the perpetrators of those acts must be held accountable.  The NPT served as the keystone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, and resolute implementation of the 2010 Action Plan must be ensured.  The establishment of a nuclear—weapon—free zone in the Middle East was a central issue.  Also crucial was to adopt a pragmatic and realistic approach to adopting measures to ensure that weapons of mass destruction did not fall into the hands of terrorists.


He expressed support for those countries developing nuclear capacities in a responsible and transparent manner, and in keeping with IAEA requirements.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), once it entered into force, would add a further fundamental component to the disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, and he called on the so-called Annex II States to ratify it as soon as possible.  The international community must tackle two serious non—proliferation challenges concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran.  The former country must stop flouting international norms and begin complying with the relevant Security Council resolutions.  As for Iran, he welcomed the conciliatory statement given by its President at the General Assembly.  He did not doubt Iran’s aspiration of a peaceful nuclear programme, and called on Iranian authorities to help ease any international concerns.


JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France), aligning with the European Union, welcomed a year of “significant achievements”, but said that at the same time there had been “new, unacceptable developments”.  The adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty in April represented historic progress in international law.  It also was the first major treaty adopted at the United Nations since 1996.  He described the Treaty as the “best example of multilateralism” to which France aspired, and stressed that it was essential to move quickly towards its universalization.


He said that the Third Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention, also in April, was another significant milestone.  However, while 188 States parties to the treaty had adopted an ambitious report by consensus, that “barbaric weapon” had been used in Syria.  The use of a weapon of mass destruction by a Government against its own people was intolerable, he said, further noting the use of other “unacceptable” weapons in Syria, including cluster bombs, and, “according to certain allegations”, incendiary weapons.


Referring to the nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in February, he said that was a major threat to international peace and security.  The new report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Syria had failed to meet its obligations under resolutions of both the Agency and the United Nations Security Council.


Regarding future developments, he pointed to an “important emerging” debate concerning the use of lethal autonomous robots, which was one that raised many fundamental ethical, legal and technical questions when considering use of force. 

Describing NPT as the “keystone” of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he said the 2010 Action Plan that had been adopted by consensus was “our road map”.  As such, he stressed the importance of adhering to its “chosen route”.


France was well aware of its responsibilities as a nuclear—weapon State, he said, emphasizing that the country had an “exemplary” record on nuclear disarmament.  “It is a record of acts, not words,” he added, recalling several “notable examples” of its disarmament efforts.  France was aware of the grave consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, he said, adding that “the French deterrent is strictly defensive”.


HALIT ÇEVIK ( Turkey) stated that while there was strong support for the common aspiration of the international community for a world without nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, such support must be complemented with concrete steps.  The International Atomic Energy Agency system of international safeguards was the fundamental tool in global non-proliferation efforts, and his country believed that strengthening it, while promoting the Agency’s role and bolstering its finances were essential for the sustainability of the NPT regime in the long-run.  Further, the cessation of all nuclear-weapon tests was an indispensable measure to achieve both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Turkey, therefore, encouraged all States, especially the CTBT’s Annex II States, to ratify that Treaty as soon as possible.


He said that Turkey, along with 11 other countries from around the globe, was part of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), which promoted implementation of the consensus outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  The international community had passed the halfway mark of the current NPT review cycle, with the next Review Conference in 2015 fast approaching.  However, commitments had been overlooked and promises for the present review cycle had not been upheld, including the promise to hold an international conference in 2012 for the establishment of a Middle East zone free from all weapons of mass destruction.  Despite the negative conditions that existed in the region, the convenors should not spare any efforts to organise the conference as the success of the review cycle depended on it.


The Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions were also important components of the global system against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said, adding that Turkey did not possess any such weapons and reiterated its call for a wider adherence to those treaties.  His country viewed Security Council resolution 2118 on the verification and elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons inventory as a significant step forward, he said, adding that the Syrian regime must abide by its promises, as non-compliance had consequences.


YADIRA LEDESMA HERNÁNDEZ (Cuba), endorsing the statements of the Non—Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said the first high—level meeting of the General Assembly devoted to nuclear disarmament, held last month, had been an excellent opportunity to send a political message of commitment to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  Cuba supported the Movement’s proposal for the urgent start negotiations in the Disarmament Conference for the early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.  It was unacceptable that nuclear deterrence remained the bedrock of military doctrines, she said, adding that their complete elimination and prohibition under tight international control was the only guarantee against their use by States or anyone else.  The failure of nuclear-weapon States to comply with the NPT’s article VI to negotiate a global treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons contributed to vertical proliferation, about which little was said.


Another priority, she stressed, was to conclude, as early as possible, a treaty that offered universal and unconditional security assurances to non—nuclear—armed States against the use or threat of use of such weapons.  Supporting the establishment of a nuclear—weapons—free zone in the Middle East, she said failure to hold an international conference in 2012 for that purpose was worrying and unjustified.  The conference should be convened without further delay, as it was an important and integral part of the final outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  Manipulation of non—proliferation based on double standards and political interests should stop, as it infringed on the inalienable right of developing countries to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.


The paralysis affecting the United Nations disarmament machinery was the result mainly of a lack of political will by some States to achieve actual progress, she said, emphasizing the central role played by the Conference on Disarmament.  That forum was prepared to negotiate simultaneously treaties banning nuclear weapons, prohibiting an arms race in outer space, providing security guarantees to non—nuclear—weapon States and prohibiting the production of fissile material.  The OPCW had an important role in the promotion of economic and technological development of States parties, particularly those less developed.  It was urgent to adopt a plan of action to ensure the full, effective and non—discriminatory implementation of article XI of the Convention on Chemical Weapons.  There was much to do in favour of the full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of article X of the Biological Weapons Convention.


She voiced concern that the Arms Trade Treaty, in her view, had numerous ambiguities, uncertainties, inconsistencies and loopholes, favouring arms—exporting States.  International efforts to prevent, combat and eliminate the illicit small arms and light weapons trade enjoyed consensus and validity.  The growth in the global arms trade, funding for regime—change policies supporting the geopolitical interests of major Powers, and conflicts fuelled by illegal arms transfers to non—State actors violated the United Nations Charter and underscored the importance of the work of the First Committee.


MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL( Egypt), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said the General Assembly’s first ever high—level meeting on nuclear disarmament on 26 September had demonstrated the global resolve to rid the world of those weapons.  The international community must invest that momentum by tabling a resolution in the First Committee aimed at mobilizing efforts within the United Nations system, and on a broader scope, aimed at the total elimination of nuclear weapons, as the Non-Aligned Movement had proposed.  He called on the whole United Nations membership to support those concrete and incremental measures.


Meanwhile, he said, efforts towards global nuclear disarmament were strengthened by the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  Nowhere was that more important than in the Middle East.  That global consensus achieved on that quest at the 2010 NPT Review Conference had given it an operational dimension, with its stated intention to convene a conference in 2012 on such a zone.  The postponement of that conference was a “profound disappointment” and contradicted the 2010 collective agreement.  He called for the convening of that conference without delay, and said he expected the First Committee to deliver the necessary support of Egypt’s two annual resolutions on the establishment of a nuclear—weapon—free zone in the region of the Middle East and the risk of nuclear proliferation in the region.


To achieve the above goals, Egyptian Minister Nabil Fahmy, he noted among several constructive steps, had launched an initiative on 28 September at the General Assembly inviting all countries of the region, along with the Security Council’s five permanent members, to deposit official letters to the Secretary—General stating their support for the zone.  Any countries that had not acceded to international conventions on weapons of mass destruction should commit to simultaneous sign and ratify them before the end of 2013.


Egypt, he continued, was also aware of the effects of illicit weapons trafficking, and it would exert all efforts to combat and eradicate that trade.  He urged all countries to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty, and stressed that every effort should be exerted to bring the stockpiles of major arms—producing States under international scrutiny.  As for upgrading conventional weapons, he stressed that “technology should not overtake humanity”, and added that the potential or actual development of lethal autonomous robots raised many questions concerning compliance with international law, as well as issues of warfare ethics.  Regulations must be put in place before such systems were developed or deployed.


YURIY SERGEYEV ( Ukraine), stating that disarmament was the “cornerstone” of international peace and security, said that his country consistently supported a multilateral approach.  Despite the difficulties in implementing existing treaties, as well as the “deadlock” in disarmament negotiations, Ukraine was committed to strengthening the disarmament machinery.


He said his country, for many years, had been consistent in its call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  In pursuit of that goal, it had taken a “proactive approach”.  He reiterated the importance of proper implementation of the NPT 2010 Action Plan, as well as the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  In the same context, he encouraged the universalization of CTBT, stating that its entry into force would be a “tangible stride” towards a safe and peaceful world.  Although the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against that “scourge”, he conceded that that goal remained “unattainable”.  It was necessary, therefore, for the non-nuclear-armed States to be granted legally binding protection from the use or threat of use of those weapons.


Welcoming the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty as an “important step forward”, he called for the resumption of the activities of the Conference on Disarmament.  Despite a “longstanding impasse”, he said that Ukraine had not lost hope in that forum, which remained the “most relevant venue” for consideration of the disarmament agenda.


DAVID DONOGHUE (Ireland), aligning with the European Union and the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa), called the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria “a stark and horrific reminder of why the international community has a duty […] to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in all their forms”.  The Chemical Weapons Convention stood as a successful treaty by any standards.  It enjoyed near—universal adherence and, in just 15 years, had almost succeeded in eliminating an entire category of weapons from global arsenals.  However, the “appalling scenes which emerged from Syria in August” had demonstrated that there was no room for complacency.  The international community had rightly conveyed its revulsion at those events, and for the vast majority of Member States, “the days of these weapons as weapons of war are over.”


In Ireland’s view, the days of nuclear weapons, as with chemical weapons, were also over, he said.  The global nuclear arsenal, however, still stood in excess of 17,000 weapons, while the international community was mired in discussions about how those weapons could be consigned to history.  The situation was no longer sustainable and no longer acceptable.  Given the potential “calamitous” consequences of any nuclear weapon detonation, he stressed the need for action, adding that “for far too long, we have allowed process to trump progress in nuclear disarmament negotiations”.  The sixty-seventh General Assembly session had clearly expressed its dissatisfaction with the lack of disarmament progress, which only served to underscore the view of the overwhelming majority of countries, that “time cannot stand still” on nuclear disarmament.


Also for too long, the unregulated conventional arms trade had exacted a heavy toll on lives and economies.  Efforts in that regard must be concentrated on encouraging States to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty as soon as possible.  Ireland was currently working towards ratification.


HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), endorsing the statements of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), pointed out the sad reality of lack of actual progress on nuclear disarmament, despite its high priority on the United Nations agenda.  The dangerous divisions between nuclear—armed States had not only resurfaced, but were at risk of being exacerbated by the actions of external actors.  Still, there was faith in the multilateral process, he said, adding that it fell upon the First Committee “to prevent the world from again being brought to the brink of nuclear war”.  Echoing calls for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, reaffirmed at the recent high—level meeting on the subject, he said increasing recognition of the humanitarian impact of those arms was another significant development.


Agreeing with the Secretary—General’s characterization of the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament as “the greatest institutional challenge” on the agenda, he said it “must re-conquer its relevancy as the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum of the international community”.  Members should exercise flexibility and political will to rejuvenate the negotiations.  Malaysia supported efforts to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, as it was essential in preventing both vertical and horizontal proliferation.


He said the vision of a nuclear—weapon—free world was also pursued through the NPT, which rested on the fulfilment of the basic bargains embodied in its three pillars of disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Much work was still required, however, given the divergent approaches.  The NPT regime itself may not be sustainable if important issues remained in an “indefinite holding pattern”.  Nuclear—weapon States should use the current cycle to substantiate their commitments to eliminate their arsenals in the run—up to the 2015 Review Conference.  He strongly urged the Secretary-General, as well as the concerned States, to convene the long—delayed conference on designating the Middle East a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  He welcomed recent moves to strengthen implementation of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons—Free Zone, and emphasized the centrality of the early entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, especially given the catastrophic effects of a nuclear—weapon detonation, whether by accident, miscalculation or design.


Condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria, he welcomed the Government’s decision to sign the Convention, and urged all parties to comply with its relevant provisions, as well as those of the OPCW and Security Council resolution 2118 (2013).  On conventional weapons, he welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which Malaysia had signed.  Although it might not satisfy all concerns of all States, it would evolve as common understandings and interpretations were made, and as implementation moved forward along with development of the Conference of States Parties.


MIKHAIL ULIYANOV, Director of the Department of Security Affairs and Disarmament, Russian Federation , said that since signing the NPT, his country and the United States were carrying out their obligations under article VI and had achieved a number of fundamental agreements on the reduction of their nuclear stockpiles.  He cited the 1987 treaty on eliminating missiles of medium range or less, 1991 treaty on reducing strategic defensive measures, the 2002 Moscow Treaty, and, in 2010, the treaty known as START II.  Under the 1991 START, the Russian Federation had reduced its arsenal almost six-fold.  It had slashed the number of deployed strategic warheads from 9,000 to 1,700, eliminated greater than three intercontinental ballistic—missile launch pads and short— to medium—range ballistic missiles — all stemming from just one treaty.  To eliminate just one missile cost up to $1 million.  Since those treaties, the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Russian Federation, by some estimates, were what they were at the end of the 1950s.


He said that the nuclear Powers had voluntarily carried out their obligations under the NPT’s article VI, but, unfortunately, that could not be said of the second set of articles, which were directly tied to full and complete disarmament.  Article VI was sometimes interpreted as pertaining to the responsibility of the nuclear Powers, but his delegation “could not agree” with that interpretation, which was not in line with the letter and spirit of the NPT.  Concluding the START treaty in 2010 had led to a “new home” for nuclear disarmament.  The Russian Federation fully shared the goal of freeing the world from nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, however, tackling historic tasks required a comprehensive and carefully balanced approach.  Unfortunately, the current focus was on making declarative statements containing phrases such as “moving forward,” “far-reaching,” “humanitarian impacts”.  As a consequence, the difficult discussion was turned into public diplomacy and the comprehensive context took a back seat.  Suffice it to say that that was not optimal for achieving the desired ends in the quickest way possible.


Indeed, it must be acknowledged, he said, that the current global situation was not conducive to achieving new nuclear disarmament agreements.  Negative forces were gaining traction and undermining strategic stability.  One of the greatest challenges to freeing the world of nuclear weapons was a mindset wherein one party bolstered its own security while simultaneously undermining that of another.  The catastrophic nature of any use of nuclear weapons was absolutely clear, and discussions on those humanitarian effects were useful.  However, that should not detract from the greater goal of reducing nuclear stockpiles.  Another factor adversely impacting global stability was the lack of a legally binding prohibition against placing weapons in space.  The Russian Federation and China had crafted a draft treaty to help resolve that issue, which they had been trying to table at the Conference on Disarmament for some time.  However, no progress had been made, despite the fact that preventing an arms race in space was more and more relevant each year, with the possibility continuing to grow.  In that critical context, the Russian Federation was taking intermediary steps to keep space peaceful.


MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab Group and the Africa Group, stated that it was a crucial time both for disarmament and international peace and security.  Tunisia attached great importance to multilateral efforts and would continue to support all aimed at disarmament and non-proliferation.  In that context, he welcomed the Secretary—General’s prioritisation of disarmament during his second term.


The NPT was the pillar of international disarmament machinery, he continued, and the accession of almost all States allowed for its strengthening.  Despite its shortcomings, that treaty was a sine qua non for international peace and security.  Indeed, there were no other alternatives except to support and strengthen it.  The refusal of some parties to accede to it left the Middle East as “one of the most impacted areas”.  Tunisia, therefore, called on the international community, in particular, those with most influence, to support establishment of a weapon-free zone in that region.  His country called for the conference on that matter on the matter to be convened as soon as possible.


Turning to issues of small arms and light weapons, he said globalisation had changed the nature of their trade.  Among other things, insufficiently regulated arms flows endangered peace processes, undermined the rule of law and hampered achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Tunisia welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as efforts made by the Security Council in that context.  However, despite the work of peacekeeping operations and other mechanisms to uphold arms embargoes, trade in those weapons continued to grow “because it is lucrative”.  There was a lack of oversight, including by Governments, whose reserves and stockpiles often were “hardly secure”.  Africa suffered the “lion’s share” of the negative impact of that accumulation, he said, urging all members of the international community to maintain their commitment to stem the illicit flows.


WU HAITAO ( China) said that the international situation was undergoing profound and complex changes.  There was extensive support for world multilateralism and greater democracy in international relations, and economic globalisation and information technology were also changing the world.  Addressing difficult global issues required the joint efforts of all Member States.  All parties must abandon the cold war mentality and zero—sum game theory, and instead, promote mutual trust, inclusiveness and mutual learning.  The international disarmament machinery was in urgent need of revitalization, and countries should make joint efforts to further promote the process of international arms control.


He said that nuclear—weapon States should abandon the nuclear deterrence doctrine based on the first use of nuclear weapons and make an unequivocal commitment of no—first—use or threat of first use.  China had always stood for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.  His country was firmly committed to its nuclear strategy of self—defence and had adhered to the policy of no—first—use.  Dialogue and negotiations were the only ways to resolve regional nuclear issues.  For the Iranian nuclear issue, the parties concerned should step up diplomatic efforts so as to create conditions for a comprehensive long—term and appropriate solution.  Regarding the Korean peninsula, an effective mechanism should be put forward to denuclearize it, and China was ready to work to re—launch the six—party talks.


The Chemical Weapons Convention had played a significant role in removing the threat of chemical weapons and in preventing their proliferation, he said, adding that the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria was an important task facing the OPCW.  He welcomed Security Council resolution 2118 (2013), noting that China, itself, had been a victim of chemical weapons.  Last month, with Japan, his country had invited the OPCW Director General to visit the Chemical Weapons Abandoned by Japan in China, known as the ‘JACW’ destruction facility, in Haerbaling.  That destruction had posed grave threats to the lives and property of the Chinese people and environment, and he urged Japan to faithfully fulfil its obligations as the ‘a bandoning State party’ and complete the destruction of those weapons at an early date.


Cyberspace and outer space were becoming “new battlefields”, he said, urging all countries to safeguard common security through practical cooperation.  Cyberspace was neither an enclave without law, nor a “jungle where jungle law applied”.  China, along with the Russian Federation and others, had put forth the “International Code of Conduct for Information Security” to the General Assembly in 2011, and an updated version was currently in the works.  A legal instrument was needed to prevent an arms race in outer space, and China was willing to work with all parties in order to continue in—depth discussion on the treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, so as to further improve that draft and facilitate the early start of its negotiations.


CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE(Botswana), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, noted that his country was not a nuclear—weapon State, but it nevertheless remained committed to the prevention of threats to international security.  Like all concerned parties, Botswana was “extremely wary” at the lack of progress in achieving a world free of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, which was due, he said, to the non—cooperation of some Member States that refused to destroy their nuclear arsenals.  Sustained effort by the international community would be in vain as long as the concerned States did not cooperate and act accordingly.  Effective implementation of the CTBT and NPT were of “paramount importance” in that regard.


He said his country was proud to be associated with the Pelindaba Treaty, and, as such, was in total support of the establishment of such zones elsewhere.  Botswana believed in a regional approach in that respect, and urged other groups of countries to work together to establish zones free of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.  Describing the Arms Trade Treaty as a “landmark”, he nevertheless warned that illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons remained “one of the greatest challenges of our time”.  Noting their particular impact on developing countries, he also pointed out that those weapons posed a grave danger to peace and security in the world at large.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, underscored the importance of complete and general disarmament.  There was a need to universalize the NPT, as it was the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regimes, he said, adding that a majority of States used atomic energy “exclusively” for civilian applications.  He was concerned at the lack of progress in implementation of the 2010 Action Plan, which had been adopted by consensus, and he called for progress in that regard, emphasizing in particular the obligations of nuclear—weapon States under the NPT.  He reaffirmed Algeria’s support for the road map proposed by the Non—Aligned Movement at the recent high—level meeting on nuclear disarmament, and said universal adherence to the CTBT was another important objective.


He highlighted the African Nuclear—Weapon—Free Zone Treaty, known as the Pelindaba Treaty, as another important contribution to disarmament.  Noting that Algeria was one of the first countries to have signed and ratified it, he called on the nuclear—weapon States to do the same.  The example of the Pelindaba Treaty could be followed in the Middle East, and it was disappointing, therefore, that a conference on the subject of weapons of mass destruction in that region, due to be held in 2012, had not yet been convened.


He said the impasses in both the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission were the result of a “lack of political will” by some States.  Nevertheless, he reaffirmed the importance of the Conference as the “sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament”.  The Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions were also important components of the international legal architecture related to weapons of mass destruction, and he called for their effective implementation.  He emphasised the threat to peace and stability caused in many countries and regions caused by the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, which supplied weapons to terrorists and fuelled organized crime.  He reiterated the importance of international cooperation and assistance in that area.


BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) said that while tangible progress had been made in the past few years in nuclear disarmament, such as with the START treaty, global nuclear disarmament was more of an aspiration than an action, since the international community remained under the threat of thousands of nuclear weapons.  He called on the nuclear Powers to make the promised effort towards eliminating those weapons in accordance with the NPT’s article VI.  Those countries not yet party to that Treaty should also be held to compliance.  Total elimination of all nuclear arsenals was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use.  The catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences from nuclear tests in Semipalatinsk, and other test sites around the globe, demonstrated that the aftermath of any use of nuclear weapons was uncontrollable in time and space.


He said his country was deeply concerned by the long—lasting deadlock in the disarmament machinery, including in the First Committee, the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, urging the start of multilateral negotiations in good faith.  Failure to seize the momentum was a reminder of the urgent need for the United Nations disarmament triad to “get back to their main track”.  While the NPT had not so far been able to prevent a further spreading out of nuclear weapons, political will and sincere aspiration was not yet exhausted.  At the same time, a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing was no substitute for a legally binding document such as the CTBT, whose early entry into force was essential for implementation of the NPT.


Although nuclear-weapon-free zones now covered more than half the world, most of their protocols were still under negotiation or remained to be ratified by the nuclear—weapon States, including the treaty on the zone in Central Asia, he said.  The Semipalatinsk treaty was meant to foster regional peace and security, and launching ‘C5—P5’ consultations in Geneva this year at the Second NPT Preparatory Committee session had been a good move forward.  Given the contemporary “nuclear renaissance”, his country, as one of the world’s biggest suppliers of uranium products, stood ready to add to the common cause.  Kazakhstan’s talks with the IAEA and its member States on establishing the international bank for low-enriched uranium under IAEA auspices was advancing successfully.  That initiative was another practical input to guarantee access by all States to nuclear fuel.


RAMADHAN MWINYI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating with the African Group and the Non—Aligned Movement, emphasized that his country advocated for “total, complete and irreversible” disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction.  It was opposed to all efforts to wage war with whatever means, whether nuclear or conventional.  He noted that the First Committee had been established to assist the Organization in discharging its “primary responsibility” of ensuring peace, security and human development, but felt that because of various challenges, that goal had not yet been fully met.


He said that the war that had given rise to an arms race, the Second World War, was the same war that had launched disarmament.  General and complete disarmament required that countries address their political and strategic ambitions with a view to bridging gaps between nations and establishing harmony between them.  His country sought a world, not without competition, but with “cooperation and competition for human development, not human destruction”.  He hoped that the Committee’s resolutions would translate into development processes, enabling the world to live “in larger freedom, as enshrined in the Charter”.


Right of Reply


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s representative reaffirmed his country’s condemnation of chemical weapons.  What had happened in Syria was an abominable crime, he said.  The perpetrators, and the States supporting them, should be held accountable.  Syria was convinced that such weapons should be abolished, and indeed, had accepted the programme for their destruction.  He had expected that the delegation of France would welcome the decision taken by Syria, instead of making negative comments.  As a permanent member of the Security Council, it should welcome developments that helped to find solutions to the crisis in Syria.  He requested that France apologise, and pointed out that that country had carried out nuclear tests in the Algerian desert on human beings and was one of the only countries in the world to have done so.  The representative of France, he said, had sought to impose an outcome on the report issued by the investigative team.  It was clear that France had become part of the problem in Syria rather than part of the solution.


Regarding the intervention by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the First Committee yesterday, the representative of Japan said that any development carried out by his country in outer space was done in conformity with the related treaties on the use of outer space and was based on the policy enshrined in the Japanese Constitution, and strictly limited to peaceful uses.  It was extremely inappropriate, therefore, to compare Japan’s space activities with those of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which did not seem to see that its own missile launch was a clear violation of the Security Council resolutions that prohibited any kind of use of ballistic missile technology.


Further, he said, the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the development of missile capabilities not only violated the relevant Security Council resolutions, but also posed a grave challenge to the international


nuclear disarmament and non—proliferation regime.  Such provocations were totally unacceptable since they undermined the peace and security of northeast Asia and that of the entire international community.  He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully comply with its obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions and the joint statement of the six—party talks.


Also in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation once again strongly rejected the “attempted comments” made by Japan, which had no qualification or reputation to talk about the elimination of nuclear weapons.  The “three non-nuclear principles” of Japan constituted a deception, as Japan possessed more than 40 tons of plutonium, which was enough to make nuclear weapons whenever they decided to.  Japan was currently also going far beyond the limits, desiring the renewal of their militarism in the North-East Asia region.  Japan was “a cancer country” that threatened peace in North-East Asia and the Korean peninsula.


Japan’s representative then said that his Government’s adherence to the three non—nuclear principles of non—possession, non-manufacture, and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons on its territory remained unchanged.  Japan’s determination to further the cause of the total elimination of nuclear weapons to achieve nuclear—weapon—free world was “unshakable”.  There were no facts illustrating that the Japanese Government had ever allowed the introduction of nuclear weapons by other countries onto its territory, and there was currently no introduction of nuclear weapons by the United States on Japanese territory, including on vessels or aircraft, in, on or transiting the Japanese territory.


Japan, he added, had proven itself to be held in high regard by the international community for its path to peace following the Second World War, and was in compliance with the NPT and the IAEA, which had confirmed his country’s peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Beyond its legal obligations, Japan also regularly reported the amount of plutonium holdings in accordance with guidelines for the management of plutonium.  The international community must be reminded that it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that continued to develop its nuclear programme, include uranium enrichment, in violation of Security Council resolutions and the joint statement of the six-party talks.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization in order to resume those talks, and he urged that “peninsula country” to take those concrete actions.


Also speaking in right of reply, the representative of France said the allegations made in the intervention by the Syrian delegation were unjustified, and the speaker referred, as he had in previous years, to updates made some years ago.  He would like his colleague to reread France’s previous statement, as well as the report regarding the use of chemical weapons published some weeks ago.


In a further exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that his delegation regarded Japan’s comments as “full of prejudice, distortion and hypothesis”.  Every year, United States aircraft carriers and submarines went into the territorial waters of Japan freely, and political figures had called for the nuclear weaponization of Japan.  His delegation had clarified its position regarding the six-party talks, and he stressed again that Japan had no moral or legal position to participate.


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