Conditions Not Yet Ripe to Rid World of Nuclear Weapons, United States Tells First Committee, Amid Growing Appetite to Make Difficult Policy Choices
Conditions Not Yet Ripe to Rid World of Nuclear Weapons, United States Tells First Committee, Amid Growing Appetite to Make Difficult Policy Choices
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
5th Meeting (AM)
CONDITIONS NOT YET RIPE TO RID WORLD OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, UNITED STATES TELLS
FIRST COMMITTEE, AMID GROWING APPETITE TO MAKE DIFFICULT POLICY CHOICES
Despite Deep Reductions in Arsenals, New Agenda Coalition Countries
Say Nuclear Disarmament Not Only Legal Obligation, But Moral Imperative
Conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons “did not yet exist,” the United States’ representative told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, quick to add, however, that, together, the international community was “completely capable” of creating those conditions.
As the Committee’s general debate continued amid calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, Acting United States Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose E. Gottemoeller said that over the past half century, the world had gone from the brink of nuclear war to successful strategic reduction treaties. The latest of those treaties would, by 2018, bring the lowest number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons since the 1950s.
However, she said, while great strides had been made in reducing arsenals, that was “not enough”. The United States and the Russian Federation still possessed over 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, and the time had come to move beyond cold war postures.
Her country, after careful review, she said, found that it could ensure its security and that of its allies, including with a strong strategic deterrent, while still reducing its deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third below the level established by the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. President Barack Obama had expressed the intention to negotiate further cuts with the Russian Federation, and would pursue a treaty to that end, she informed the membership.
Despite the growing international consensus regarding the illegitimacy of nuclear weapons, said Egypt’s representative on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition ( Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa), an estimated 20,000 nuclear devices still existed and they remained at the heart of the security doctrines of many States. In a world where the basic human needs of billions could not be met, the growing spending on nuclear weapons was both unacceptable and unsustainable. Nuclear disarmament was not only an international legal obligation, but a moral imperative as well, he declared.
Similarly, Brazil’s representative said that while preventing the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons had been a relative success of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime, the same could not be said for nuclear disarmament. There was a “compliance deficit” on the part of nuclear-weapon States, he said, insisting it was time for them to fulfil their NPT commitments.
Describing India as a “responsible nuclear Power”, its representative said the goal of nuclear disarmament could be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by universal commitment and a global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework. Nuclear-weapon States needed to engage in meaningful dialogue to build trust and confidence for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines.
Speaking to the concerns of many delegations in the room, Canada’s representative said that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remained a major concern. This summer, the world had been shocked by the use of mass destruction weapons in Syria on a scale “not seen in almost two decades”, which the international community could not ignore.
Her delegation, she said, was of the view that Iran was continuing to illegally enrich nuclear material and refusing to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). She urged that Government’s immediate compliance. The nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in February, as well as ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, had shown a “blatant disregard” for global disarmament and non-proliferation obligations and represented a serious threat to international stability.
During the meeting, the representative of Myanmar spoke on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Also speaking were the representatives of Hungary, Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Thailand and Venezuela.
Exercising their right of reply were representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Iran and Republic of Korea.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 10 October to continue its general debate.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate. For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3475.
U MAUNG WAI (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), emphasised ASEAN’s “pivotal role” in maintaining and promoting peace and stability in the region. He noted that, among other things, the adoption of the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN Network of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia all helped the Association to materialize their vision of a “concert” of nations.
He said that nuclear disarmament remained ASEAN’s highest priority on the disarmament agenda, which was of the view that multilateralism was the only sustainable method for addressing international security. ASEAN attached great importance to the outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and called for its implementation, in particular, the 22-point action plan on nuclear disarmament.
While there had been some positive developments, the world nonetheless still confronted unresolved challenges, such as the impasse in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, which required renewed efforts, he said. In that context, ASEAN stressed the significance of achieving universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which it reaffirmed was a core instrument. ASEAN planned to submit draft resolutions to the First Committee underscoring the priority it attached to nuclear disarmament. It also firmly believed that nuclear-weapon-free zones established in its region contributed significantly to strengthening global disarmament and non-proliferation. As such, he encouraged the establishment of such zones elsewhere, especially in the Middle East.
The Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, he said, also played a major role, as those weapons posed a serious threat to humankind. He was concerned at the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and urged States that had not yet done so to join those conventions. Small arms and light weapons, he said, affected human rights and social and economic development at all levels, making it essential to promote implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects. ASEAN also recognized the adverse humanitarian impact caused by the use of landmines and cluster munitions. Wrapping up, he expressed disappointment at the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, and in that connection, welcomed the establishment of an informal working group to further negotiations on a work programme as a “step in the right direction”.
MOOTAZ AHMADEIN KHALIL ( Egypt), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition ( Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa), said he would present a draft on behalf of that group during the thematic debate on nuclear weapons. Despite United Nations’ efforts, the existence of nuclear weapons continued to pose a threat to the very survival of humanity. Renewed international focus on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of those weapons had reinvigorated international efforts to achieve and maintain a world free of nuclear weapons. That had been reaffirmed by 125 countries in Oslo last March.
He noted the General Assembly’s establishment of an open-ended working group on taking forward multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament, as a response to the lack of clear movement in that field. However there was a growing gap between increased awareness of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons on the one hand, and the slow pace, if any, in achieving nuclear disarmament on the other. Rather than lamenting that fact, the Coalition and many others had chosen to direct energy towards initiatives that held the promise of progress. The action plan agreed at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was an important step and could put the process towards a nuclear-weapon-free world back on track. The plan also required nuclear-weapon States to report on their progress on nuclear disarmament.
Throughout the past 15 years, the Coalition had advocated for the implementation of concrete, transparent, mutually reinforcing, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament measures, he said. The absence of a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction remained a serious concern, and all efforts must be extended to hold a conference on the matter without further delay. Nuclear disarmament was an international legal obligation, as well as a moral imperative. Despite the growing international consensus regarding the illegitimacy of nuclear weapons, an estimated 20,000 nuclear devices still existed and those weapons remained at the heart of the security doctrines of many States. That state of affairs weakened international peace and security, aggravated international tensions and conflict, and jeopardized the collective well-being of all States.
In a world where the basic human needs of billions could not be met, the growing spending on nuclear weapons was both unacceptable and unsustainable, he asserted. The allocation of vast resources to retain and modernize nuclear weapons was at odds with international aspirations to development, as expressed by world leaders at the turn of the century. Rather than investing in nuclear weapons, Governments should redirect much needed resources towards the realization of Millennium Development Goals, he concluded.
ELISA GOLBERG ( Canada) said that the past year had seen increased efforts to make progress on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. In that regard, she encouraged all States to enhance implementation of the 2010 NPT Action Plan. This year had also seen renewed efforts to return the Conference on Disarmament to work. Though the continued deadlock was regrettable, she welcomed the establishment of the informal working group. Canada looked forward to convening of the Group of Governmental Experts on a treaty banning the production of fissile material, which offered a renewed opportunity to make progress on negotiations on that key issue. Her country also was encouraged by recent positive outcomes of the Biological Weapons Convention, adding that implementation of the Convention must address the increasing threats of those weapons.
Despite these and other positive initiatives, she said, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remained a major concern. Iran continued to illegally enrich nuclear material and refused to cooperate with IAEA. In a region where peace was fragile and tensions were high, a nuclear-weapon-capable Iran would have devastating consequences, she said. That country had yet to begin any meaningful cooperation with the IAEA, and she urged the Government to comply fully with its NPT obligations, as well as with IAEA, without delay.
The nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in February, as well as ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, had shown a “blatant disregard” for global disarmament and non-proliferation obligations, and represented a serious threat to international stability, she said. This summer, the world had been shocked by the use of mass destruction weapons on a scale “not seen in almost two decades”. The international community could not ignore the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which had been confirmed by the “excellent” work of the United Nations investigation team. The people of Syria had been subjected to the use of an illegal weapon that the Syrian Government had promised not to use.
Nevertheless, Canada welcomed Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention, she said, while voicing great concern at that country’s “years of deceit”. Anything less than full compliance by the Syrian Government would be completely unacceptable. Furthermore, Syria remained uncooperative with regard to nuclear issues. That Government must be held to account.
ROSE E. GOTTEMOELLER, Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security of the United States, said that the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons did not yet exist. However, together the international community was “completely capable” of creating those conditions. If their predecessors could accomplish a treaty like the Limited Test Ban Treaty 50 years ago in the midst of the cold war, then surely the Committee could find ways to work on further arms reductions, increasing transparency, banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and more. Over the past half century that world had gone from the brink of nuclear war to successful strategic reduction treaties, the latest of which would, by 2018, bring the lowest number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons since the 1950s.
The United States had continued to limit nuclear-explosive testing over the years through treaties, including the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT). The Joint Verification Experiment between the United States and the Russian Federation of 25 years ago had paved the way for subsequent negotiations of new verification protocols for both that instrument and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (PNET). That would ultimately help the international community negotiate a total ban on nuclear-explosive testing via the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
This year marked a significant non-proliferation accomplishment, namely that the 1993 United States-Russian Federation Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement would reach a major milestone with the final delivery of low-enriched uranium derived from down-blending 500 metric tons of Russian-weapons-origin highly enriched uranium. The low-enriched uranium that resulted had been delivered to the United States, fabricated into nuclear fuel, and used by nearly all United States nuclear power plants to generate approximately half of the nuclear energy in her country. Approximately 20,000 nuclear warheads had been eliminated under that unique Government-industry partnership. Over the past 15 years, nuclear fuel from that source had accounted for approximately 10 per cent of all electricity produced in the United States.
She said the Obama administration was working with international partners and had made many significant achievements in non-proliferation and disarmament, including the entry into force of the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START), the launching of the Nuclear Security Summit process, and others. However, she acknowledged, that was not enough. The United States and the Russian Federation still possessed over 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, and the time had come to move beyond cold war postures. For that reason, the United States planned to reduce further its deployed strategic nuclear weapons, in a decision that had arisen from an extensive analysis of the current strategic environmental and deterrence requirements. That review had confirmed that the United States could ensure its security and that of its allies, including with a strong strategic deterrent, while still reducing its deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third below the level established by the new START. President Obama had expressed the intention to negotiate further cuts with the Russian Federation, and would pursue a treaty to that end.
Her country, she continued, held to its long-standing position calling for the immediate commencement of long-delayed negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament. That treaty was the “obvious next step” in multilateral disarmament, and it was “time to get to the table”. She hoped that the upcoming United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on the instrument would provide useful impetus. On other matters, she said that the international community must continue its push to “bring Iran back into line” with its international nuclear obligations, and to make clear to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that if it was to meet its denuclearization commitments, it too could have an opportunity to reintegrate itself into the international community. “The United States is ready to talk, we are ready to listen, we are ready to work hard, and we hope that every country in this room is ready to join us,” she said.
OH JOON ( Republic of Korea) said that the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty in April was a historic milestone, which would contribute to efforts to regulate the illicit flow of conventional weapons and munitions into “fragile regions and wrong hands”. His country was encouraged that the Treaty already had 113 signatories; his had been among the original. This year had also seen an “unforgiveable tragedy” with the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Footage of dying children had deeply shocked every man and woman throughout the world. His country held that chemical weapons use was a crime against humanity and could not be tolerated under any circumstances. The adoption by the Security Council of resolution 2118 (2013) was a belated, yet historic, achievement. He called on other countries, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention without delay.
The use of chemical weapons was a reminder that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was one of the most serious threats to human beings, he said, stressing that now was the time to renew collective efforts on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon States must observe their commitments and do their part to make progress. In that regard, he welcomed the entry into force of the new START between the United States and Russian Federation. He hailed the importance of both NPT and CTBT, describing them as significant steps towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Revitalizing the Conference on Disarmament was imperative, he said his country was ready to cooperate closely on all efforts to reinvigorate the Conference.
Referring to the report of IAEA’s Director-General, he said that Iran’s nuclear programme remained a source of deep concern. His country was “cautiously watching” the positive developments between Iran and “E3+3” countries, and held that credible actions were needed to back up Iran’s words. He regretted that the proposed conference on a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction had not taken place. At the same, the continuing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was among the international community’s “gravest concerns”. That country had flagrantly violated Security Council resolutions, and it must realizes that it could not have the status of a nuclear-weapon-State in accordance with NPT. Rather, it must listen to the international community and abandon all its nuclear programmes.
In conclusion, he drew attention to the “emerging issues” of both cyber-terrorism and the need to preserve outer space for peaceful purposes.
SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that only the total elimination of nuclear weapons could guarantee against their use or threat of use. Universal adherence to CTBT would contribute to the promotion of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, however 17 years after its adoption, it remained ineffective. It was the duty of the international community to ensure its entry into force. The creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones was a significant contribution to strengthening global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Also essential was for nuclear-armed States to give negative security assurances to the countries of those zones. He emphasized the importance of the full operation of the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.
While focusing on the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation, the international community could not afford to ignore the challenges posed by conventional weapons, especially cluster munitions, he said, adding that those also threatened peace, human security and development. As a country affected by explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic welcomed the progress made thus far in universalizing the Convention on Cluster Munitions and encouraged further efforts by the international community in that regard. He called on those States which had not acceded to that Convention to consider doing so.
DAVID WENSLEY, speaking on behalf of JEREMIAH NYAMANE KINGSLEY MAMABOLO( South Africa), welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, as evidence of a recent improvement in the disarmament and international security landscape. However, beyond that, much still remained to be done. The disarmament machinery established by the General Assembly in 1978 remained divided on many key issues, and the continuing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament undermined its credibility and raised questions about its continued relevance. It was imperative that it was revitalized.
Additionally, he said, exasperation by the vast majority of Member States over the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament had become more pronounced with each passing year. Achievements in that area remained particularly uneven. The NPT was constantly reaffirmed by the international community, and yet the Treaty’s nuclear disarmament pillar was neglected. With regard to chemical weapons, South Africa was alarmed at escalations in the Syrian conflict, and condemned the use of those weapons. No cause could ever justify the use of weapons of mass destruction by any actor under any circumstances, and he, therefore, welcomed Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention was also vital, he said, given the rapid pace of developments in the life sciences. Central to the goal of eliminating the biological weapons threat was the need to ensure that Member States were able to realise the vast potential of biological technology.
NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand), associating with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that recent events were a “solemn reminder” that conventional arms in the wrong hands continued to fuel conflicts around the world and were the weapon of choice for transnational criminals and terrorists. Disarmament was vital if the international community was to succeed in securing peace and security in the world. Thailand had taken steps to enhance its own disarmament capabilities by joining the Proliferation Security Initiative last year.
He said the Conference on Disarmament was the only formal multilateral disarmament negotiating body, but unfortunately, it still struggled to make progress. Nuclear safety was an equally important pillar of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. He reiterated the call for the complete destruction of weapons of mass destruction, and supported the strict implementation of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions. Recent events in Syria had reinforced that conviction, and he joined the call for the destruction of those stockpiles.
ANDREJ LOGAR( Slovenia), aligning himself with the European Union, expressed his country’s strong condemnation of the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria. He had believed that such stories “belonged to the past” and that the international community had closed that chapter long ago. He hoped that the mission of United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would soon fulfil their mandates, and that those who committed that ferocious crime would be prosecuted and punished.
He welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, which, by regulating the conventional arms trade, would create a better world. He looked forward to a future with more respect for human dignity and human rights — “in short, a world with less suffering”. In that respect, he urged other States to sign and ratify that treaty as soon as possible. In its capacity as chair of the twelfth meeting of States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines (Mine-Ban Convention), Slovenia had already submitted a draft resolution to the First Committee concerning that instrument. There was still a “long road ahead”, and he emphasised the need to clear all mine—affected areas and decrease the number of victims. Despite those and other challenges, Slovenia was convinced that its draft resolution remained relevant and necessary.
Referring to the 17-year impasse in the Conference on Disarmament, he said Slovenia deplored that failure and that of other international disarmament forums failing to fulfil their mandates. Slovenia believed that the Open-ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament was a fair attempt to break that impasse, and, as such, deserved a new opportunity through extension of its mandate for another year.
VENKATESH VARMA ( India) said that while the international community was confronted with multifarious challenges to international peace and security, the First Committee could play a substantive role in bringing purpose and direction to the efforts seeking to build international consensus to meet those challenges. India had been unwavering in its support for universal and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The goal of nuclear disarmament could be achieved by a step-by-step process underwritten by universal commitment and a global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework. Nuclear-weapon States needed to engage in meaningful dialogue to build trust and confidence for reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines.
As a responsible nuclear Power, India, he said, had adopted the policy of credible minimal deterrence and a posture of no-first-use and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon States. His country’s proposal for a convention banning the use of nuclear weapons remained on the table, as did India’s commitment to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. India was also ready to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear devices on the basis of the Shannon mandate, and would be ready to join such a treaty that met its national security interests.
He attached high importance to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, which were examples of non-discriminatory treaties. India had completed the destruction of its own chemical weapons stockpiles in 2009 as per its obligations. The recent events in Syria had shown the importance of complete destruction of those weapons in preventing terrorists and non-State actors from gaining access to them. India contributed effectively to the Biological Weapons Convention discussions, as well. It also supported efforts to prevent the weaponization of space, encouraging all major space-faring nations to be involved in any multilateral endeavour related to preventing a space—based arms race. As in past years, India would present three resolutions to the First Committee, namely, on a convention banning the use of nuclear weapons, reducing nuclear danger, and measures to prevent terrorist acquisition of mass destruction weapons.
JULIO C. DERY (Philippines), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that this year’s session was indeed special, as it came on the heels of the historic high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament, which had been an excellent opportunity for States to reflect on their responsibilities in that regard. Now was the time for action on the words delivered in that meeting. Likewise, the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty was a welcome development, as it could curb violence and instability in his own country.
He voiced continued support for multilateral efforts to promote disarmament and non-proliferation, adding the need for a “harmonized response” by the international community. In that regard, it was crucial to sustain the momentum created by the 2010 NPT Review Conference by fully implementing its action plan. Looking forward to the next Review Conference, he underscored the need for significant advances on a range of critical NPT issues. Addressing the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was an absolute necessity and should guide the work of Member States.
Millions of Filipinos lived and worked in areas where nuclear weapons existed, making it imperative for his country to promote the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, in order to protect its nationals. He remained hopeful that a conference would be convened to discuss the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. The Conference on Disarmament was another core issue for the Philippines, and he saw great potential in the various initiatives that had been proposed. Its revitalization, however, was imperative, he said.
The several disarmament and non-proliferation initiatives taken by his country were indicative of its desire and capacity, throughout its history, for peace. Those efforts, he added, had not been undertaken in isolation, but through regional and international partners, in “relationships we foster with others”.
ABDALLAH YAHYA A. AL-MOUALLIMI ( Saudi Arabia) said that as a founding member of the United Nations, his country had always been keen to participate in every effort towards maintaining international peace and security. He supported all positions calling for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones all over the world, and expressed deep regret that a conference for a Middle East zone had not been held. That gathering must be held as soon as possible during 2013, as its delay was a breach of the NPT review process and the commitments agreed in 2010. That postponement was the responsibility of Israel, which had not declared its acceptance to attend the conference and, as a result, the progress towards ridding the Middle East of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction was denied. In that regard, he stressed the need to achieve universality of NPT.
He said that the crisis of the “Iranian nuclear file” was among the most important challenges to international peace and security in general, and to the Gulf region in particular. In that context, he supported the ongoing efforts of “G5+1” to peacefully resolve the crisis in a manner that guaranteed that Iran and all countries in the region had the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. He supported the work of the Security Council and its “1540 Committee” to control and prevent any non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear weapons, reiterating the importance of resolution 1540 (2004), which addressed that.
GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), aligning himself with the New Agenda Coalition and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that preventing the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons had been a relative success of the NPT regime. The same could not be said, however, for nuclear disarmament, where there was a “compliance deficit” on the part of nuclear-weapon States. It was time for those States to fulfil the measures to which they had agreed under the NPT. Brazil welcomed the timely convening of the high-level meeting on disarmament and was encouraged by the expressions of commitment to sustained actions.
During that meeting, Brazil, he noted, had expressed its conviction that nuclear disarmament must be a top priority on the international agenda for three reasons. Firstly, nuclear weapons were at odds with international humanitarian law. Secondly, there was a socioeconomic perspective. Despite global financial constraints, nuclear-weapon-States continued to invest large sums of money to maintain their nuclear arsenals. Finally, there was a security perspective. As long as nuclear weapons existed, the world would not be free of the risk of a nuclear detonation, intentional or otherwise. While welcoming bilateral agreements aimed at reducing certain types of weapons, he pointed out that such efforts did not lead to permanent disarmament.
Brazil attached the utmost importance to the Conference on Disarmament as the “single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum”, he said, adding that the problems it faced were of a political nature and could not be dissociated from the other challenges on the international security agenda. Expressing deep concern about recent revelations concerning “the activities of a global network of electronic espionage”, he warned that information technology could not be allowed to become “the new battlefield” between States. Cyberspace should be prevented from being used as a weapon of war. Brazil could not allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal.
The use of chemical weapons was “heinous” and unacceptable, he said, declaring that their recent use on Syrian territory was particularly regrettable. In that context, Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention was welcome. However, an end must be put to the “spiral of violence” in that country, he said.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO (Senegal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that despite the enthusiasm over the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations last year, he lamented that an agreement had not been reached to control the trafficking of conventional weapons. Still, he welcomed the adoption of the Treaty. On the nuclear front, his delegation was pleased with the collective efforts of all players at the first high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament in September, which illustrated that multilateralism was the best approach. Still, nuclear disarmament remained one of the most worrisome issues on the international agenda. Complete disarmament was the only true goal, and a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa supported efforts in his region.
A global convention on nuclear weapons should be convened, he said, calling on nuclear-weapon States to rally and achieve complete nuclear disarmament and the full elimination of nuclear warheads. Negotiations of a fissile material cut-off treaty had been bogged down, despite some steps forward. Meanwhile, it must be ensured that fissile material did not fall into the wrong hands. He urged the speedy entry into force of CTBT, while reinforcing a country’s inalienable right to research, produce and use peaceful nuclear energy under the International Atomic Energy Agency watch.
What had occurred in Syria in August, he said, was a lesson on the crucial need for all countries to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention so as to ensure against a repeat of that “bloodbath”. He welcomed the invaluable contribution of non-governmental organizations at the United Nations, and asked that they be given a voice during the Committee’s disarmament discussions.
ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI ( Venezuela), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States noted that nuclear-weapon States currently had 20,500 nuclear weapons, more than 5,000 of which were deployed and ready for use. Furthermore, a large number with a yield of between eight and 100 times larger than the bombs that had destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Progress on disarmament was essential, including meeting the objectives of non-proliferation, both horizontal and vertical. The nuclear Powers should show good faith by conforming with article I of NPT.
For his region, he said, the elimination of nuclear weapons was a priority, and Venezuela appealed to all nuclear-armed States to guarantee against the use, or threat of use, of those weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States, in the form of a legal instrument. Venezuela reasserted its conviction that the establishment nuclear-weapon-free zones enhanced international peace and security. His county regretted that no agreement had been reached on holding a conference for establishing such a zone in the Middle East. The conference was an integral part of the final outcome of the 2010 NTP Review Conference, and he urged that it be held as soon as possible, as it would constitute a major step in the peace process. As a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, he appealed to other States parties with those arsenals to ensure their destruction, in order to maintain the Convention’s integrity.
Recognising that multilateralism was the best way for achieving nuclear disarmament, he urged the Conference on Disarmament to focus as soon as possible on priority issues. Furthermore, there was an urgent need to prohibit nuclear tests of any type, and he called on States to sign and ratify CTBT, as a priority. Illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons had a negative impact in many parts of the world, and Venezuela had recently established a law, unanimously approved by the National Assembly, which limited the sale of firearms and munitions to individuals. In conclusion, he said that his country supported the establishment of a global system aimed at peace, justice and development based on international norms and principals.
GYRORGY MOLNAR, Director General for Security Policy and Non-Proliferation of Hungary, associating with the European Union, said, regrettably, conventional arms were not the only types of weapons used in armed conflict, as events in Syria had demonstrated. He welcomed Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) and the decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons, noting that it would bring the international community closer to establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East. He was also “cautiously optimistic” about the changes in tone in the discussion on Iran’s nuclear programme.
He said that Hungary’s commitment to multilateral diplomacy was reflected in, among other efforts, its long-term leadership on the General Assembly’s annual resolution on the Biological Weapons Convention. The treaty was a fundamental pillar of the international community’s efforts against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. On nuclear matters, as a CTBT Annex II State, Hungary not only attached great importance to the Treaty’s entry into force, but, together with its fellow article XIV coordinator, Indonesia, it would make every effort to bring the world closer to that goal. Further, a conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty would be an indispensible step towards a world free of nuclear weapons and an important contribution to non-proliferation. Hungary had made an honest attempt to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament; its proposal had been referred to as an innovative attempt at breaking the longstanding deadlock. The Conference was at a crossroads, and he would follow future debates very closely.
Regarding the Mine-Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention, he said that, in 2011, Hungary had discovered a previously unknown minefield along the Hungarian—Croatian border, which was a spillover from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Hungary had immediately notified the Convention’s States parties and acted promptly to eliminate the danger. That work was completed at the end of last month, and its shared border with Croatia was now free of all known minefields. A final declaration of completion would be presented to the thirteenth meeting of States Parties, set to take place in Geneva in 2013.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the United States was the originator of the hostile policy against his country and the source that had introduced the nuclear issue on the Peninsula, as well as the one that had imposed constant nuclear threats against his country. To protect its sovereignty and its very existence, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was forced to possess its own nuclear deterrent power.
Recently, he said, the United States and the Republic of Korea had signed the “tailored deterrence” strategy, and had adopted a joint statement, which called for doing great harm to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with armed forces. That tailored deterrence strategy was a dangerous nuclear war scenario. If the United States was interested in the peace and security of the region, it should make the decision to move first, because it was none other than that country that had put in place an extremely hostile policy and had spawned the nuclear issue and posed a constant nuclear threat to his country. Regarding the United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had officially announced several times that it did not accept or recognize any of them.
Syria’s representative said that the representative from Canada did not closely follow the developments regarding the true and honest commitment by Syria as per its international obligations, including its accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Many international officials had commented that the elimination procedure had started “in record time”, while at the same time giving credit to the Syrian Government for its cooperation. He called on the representative of Canada to pay attention to the developments in the region, as the majority of the world was seeking diplomatic and peaceful solutions. A minority refrained from the side of peace however, and he called on Canada and the Governments of all countries in that minority to play a positive and diplomatic role for the completion of the conflict in Syria.
Also exercising his right of reply, the representative of Iran said that this morning the Committee had heard a “fake name” in reference to the Persian Gulf. The use of such fake names other than the Persian Gulf, which was the only true geographic, historical and recognised name for the area between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula, should be rejected, as it would create confusion, he said.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was again blaming others for its illicit activities. Needless to say, the tension in the region had its roots in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s weapons launches and testing. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s argument was an irresponsible pretext, he said.
Under relevant Security Council resolutions, he went on, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had the obligation to abandon all its nuclear programmes. Those texts made it clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should not continue its provocative activities. He added that the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States was defensive in nature.
Taking the floor again in exercise of the right of reply, the representative from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the delegate from the Republic of Korea had said that his country was blaming others. He asked that delegate to consider the aircraft carrier and United States aggression forces that had entered the port in Busan in the Republic of Korea on 4 October, wherein the United States and Republic of Korea had been participating in “the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]-targeted joint-level manoeuvres” since 30 September. That fact was not “ridiculous”, and, second, the Republic of Korea was trying hard to put political and military pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, escalate tension through frantic nuclear war provocations, and that “attained without fail” their aggression purposes and would only heighten the indignation of the army and people of his country. If the United States and the Republic of Korea opted for nuclear war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, his country would resolutely counter them.
The Republic of Korea’s representative said that everyone knew that his country and the United States were working in legitimate defence against the provocations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The joint exercises were a purely defensive initiative and had contributed to deterring war for decades against the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The North had repeatedly rejected the relevant Security Council resolutions and insisted it was not bound by those obligations, to which the rest of the Member States abided. According to Article 25 of the United Nations Charter, all Member States should accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council. Article 48 states that “the action required to carry out the decisions of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security shall be taken by all the Members of the United Nations”. All Member States, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, must carry out their obligations. Article 4 of the United Nations Charter clearly states that membership was restricted to peace-loving States, which accepted and carried out their Charter obligations.
He said that the Charter was not an “a la cart menu”, which the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could accept in part while rejecting other parts. Many parties had condemned the nuclear test carried out by the North and had urged it to abide by the relevant Security Council resolutions. He asked the delegate from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to name “even one country” that defended his country’s position. The North received $10 million from the United Nations annually, and it was a pity that those funds were channelled into the development of nuclear weapons instead of to improving the lives of its people and saving them from their daily circumstances.
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