Non-Nuclear-Armed States in First Committee Call for Binding Security Assurances to Address Crippling Potential of Nuclear Weapons Use against Them

10 October 2013
GA/DIS/3477

Non-Nuclear-Armed States in First Committee Call for Binding Security Assurances to Address Crippling Potential of Nuclear Weapons Use against Them

10 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3477
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

First Committee

6th Meeting (AM)

Non-Nuclear-Armed States in First Committee Call for Binding Security Assurances

To Address Crippling Potential of Nuclear Weapons Use against Them

Arab States Advocate Middle East Zone Free of Mass Destruction Weapons

Until the total elimination of nuclear weapons became a reality, non-nuclear-weapon States had the “legitimate right” to negative security assurances against the use or threat of use of those weapons, Bangladesh’s representative told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, as many in the debate sought to stave off that crippling potential by correcting what they saw as a serious weakness in the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

When the United Nations was founded, that delegate said, the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had so strongly shaken the world’s conscience that the Organization’s very first resolution had envisioned a nuclear-weapon-free world.  But 67 years later, mankind was still confronted by the unprecedented threat of self-extinction through the competitive accumulation of nuclear arms.

Echoing the concerns of a number of delegations in the room, he said a handful of States were simply “insensitive” to the security of the majority.  In that light, he said existing provisions for negative security assurances, if any existed at all, were inadequate.  He called for “effective interim measures” pending the elimination of nuclear arsenals, and insisted that negative security assurances must be codified into a universal legal instrument.  Along with that, he urged the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones wherever they did not yet exist, including in South Asia and the Middle East.

Joining the appeals of other Arab States for protection against nuclear weapons in that region was Iraq’s representative, who said that non-nuclear-armed States had voluntarily chosen to refrain from developing nuclear weapons, and thus, their call for negative security assurances was both “fair and credible”.

Similarly, Lebanon’s representative said that weapons of mass destruction hung like a “Damocles sword” over international peace, and he urged the international community to create a Middle East zone free of those and nuclear weapons, which remained “the most dangerous thing ever invented by human beings”.

The representative from the United Arab Emirates expressed dismay that the planned 2012 conference to create such a zone in the Middle East had not been held.  Noting that Israel was the only State in the region that had not acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), he urged all parties concerned to work constructively towards establishment of the Middle East zone.

Also deploring the delayed establishment of that zone, Jordan’s representative reiterated the appeal to Israel to accede to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Referring, as others had, to recent events in Syria, Denmark’s representative deplored the “atrocious war crimes” committed with weapons thought to have already been confined to the “dustbin of history”.  The “disturbing” use of those weapons had cast a dark shadow on the First Committee’s work, he said.  While it was not the role of the United Nations inspectors’ to place blame, the use of chemical weapons was nevertheless a war crime, and there should be no impunity.

Also speaking were the representatives of Australia, Belarus, Colombia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Qatar and San Marino.

A representative from the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) also spoke.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 11 October to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3475.

Statements

MOHAMED ALHAKIM ( Iraq), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that when it came to disarmament, multilateralism strengthened credibility.  His country was striving to ensure that it was a source of stability, both in the region and on the international stage, and was committed to respecting international treaties and conventions.  Iraq attached the utmost importance to complete and total disarmament, particularly global disarmament, because an arms race would “not make it possible to fully settle international problems”.

He said that universal adherence to treaties and conventions was crucial, and Iraq was abiding by the chief disarmament instruments and was committed to implementing their provisions “to the hilt”, such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention, the additional protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the convention to combat nuclear terrorism, and the conventions against anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions.  The very existence of nuclear weapons was a threat to international peace and security, and, thus, nuclear disarmament must top the list of priorities.

Despite recent progress, the existence nuclear weapons and the development of new ones remained an enormous concern.  Greater security guarantees must be given by the nuclear-weapon States that those weapons would not be used against non-nuclear-armed States that had given guarantees to voluntarily not develop nuclear weapons.  Those assurances were a fair and credible demand.

ALEKSANDR MIKHNEVICH, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that recent events in Syria had shown the importance of strengthening the global regime of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The use of chemical weapons could not be justified, he said.  In this context, the 14 September agreement for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria had put in place a foundation a “peaceful settlement” to the Syrian crisis.  The NPT remained a fundamental element of the international security system, he said, calling on all States to implement its 2010 Plan of Action and give due consideration to all the Treaty’s components.

Belarus, he said, as a consistent supporter of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, had been the first State, in 1993, to have voluntarily and without preconditions, given up the opportunity to possess nuclear weapons.  Unfortunately, the welcome process of the 1990s of renouncing nuclear weapons, and the establishment of weapons-free-zones, had not continued into the new millennium.  His country would organise a round-table discussion on the theme of renunciation of nuclear weapons, in order to draw attention to the importance of decisions taken in the 1990s, which had stimulated nuclear disarmament

Adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty had been a “step in the right direction”, but it did not fully meet its primary task of preventing illicit trafficking in conventional weapons, he said.  The effectiveness of that instrument depended on several factors, including strong national export control systems in countries where those were not currently available.   Belarus would consider its options to join that Treaty based on those factors, he said.

LANA NUSSEIBEH ( United Arab Emirates) stated that her country had a “clear position” on disarmament and proliferation, based on full accession and implementation of all relevant international conventions.  The United Arab Emirates had itself acceded to the NPT and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), as well as having recently signed the Arms Trade Treaty.  It was concerned, however, at the lack of progress, as that could undermine international peace and security efforts.  She renewed her country’s call for taking the “obligation” of nuclear disarmament seriously, despite of a concern the impasse in the Conference on Disarmament.

She said her country was deeply concerned by the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea this year.  That constituted a clear threat to international peace and security and was another indication of the importance of the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty.  Likewise, her country attached special importance to the NPT, as well as to the safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  It was of particular concern that the Agency had not been able to verify the nature of Iran’s nuclear activities.

Turning to the Middle East, she expressed dismay that the planned 2012 conference had not been convened, and called upon Israel, the only State in the region that had not acceded to the NPT to do so.  All States in the region should work constructively towards the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, she urged.

MICHEL HADDAD (Lebanon), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said that as the international community was at work identifying guidelines for review of post-2015 agenda.  The alarming number of armaments in the world should factor into that review.  Strengthening peace and security could be achieved by diverting those resources elsewhere, but that required political will.  Lebanon believed that weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, were a “Damocles sword” hanging above international peace, and he strongly condemned their use.  Nuclear weapons remained the most dangerous thing ever invented by human beings in our time.  That represented a moral failure, and one that endangered humanity and civilisation.

He called for implementation of the resolution agreed at the NPT Review Conference in 1995 to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  To that end, the conference agreed at the 2010 review should be convened as soon as possible.   Israel was the only one in the region to have remained outside the NPT, he said, calling for support to pressure it to place its weapons under IAEA safeguards.  Lebanon reaffirmed the right of States, as enshrined in the NPT, to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Integrating the human aspect of nuclear energy was important, and in that connection, he was pleased to note international efforts to ensure nuclear science did not undermine security.

Lebanon welcomed adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, he said, voicing hope that it would help oversee the weapons flows and their use by criminals.  That Treaty should also lead to an accountability mechanism for non-compliance cases.  Calling the international disarmament machinery the most representative platform for exchanging views, as well as building confidence, he urged the strengthening of the Conference on Disarmament.  He also urged the international community to scale up efforts to free the world of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  He said he was speaking from bitter personal experience, given the continuing threat from Israel.  Lebanon had suffered repeated attacks by Israel with lethal and prohibited weapons, and those assaults had victimized innocent civilians.

KELEBONE A MAOPE ( Lesotho) said that the goal of a place where humankind can live without fear of annihilation from nuclear or other mass destruction weapons “continues to elude us”.  Referring to numerous threats to peace, he said that the real issue was how to increase human security without diminishing the security of any individual State.  For countries like his, in the developing world, small arms were responsible for the loss of people’s lives on a daily basis.  In that regard, the Programme of Action to Combat the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as its international tracing instrument, had the potential to curb the uncontrolled spread of those weapons in many regions of the world.  It was a challenge that the Action Programme was not legally binding, and he called for increased international cooperation and funding to implement it.

Welcoming the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, he said he was proud to count his country among the 113 Member States that had signed it.  Lesotho would shortly embark on the path to ratification, and encouraged others to do so “without delay”.  Lesotho derived no comfort from the possession by some States of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, “under the pretext of deterrence”.  Calling on nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations under the NPT, he also urged those states outside the Treaty to consider joining as non-nuclear-weapons states.  Attention should be focused on strengthening the NPT and thwarting efforts to erode its credibility.

The agreement reached to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons spoke to what the international community could achieve through effective diplomacy, he continued, saying that Lesotho was encouraged by Syria’s decision in that regard and hoped that other countries in possession of those weapons would renounce them and join the “consensus to have a safe and secure world”.

CHRIS BACK ( Australia) said the year had graphically highlighted the reason for the international community’s deep concern over the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.  Australia had condemned the Syrian chemical weapons attacks in the strongest possible terms, including the 21 August attack in Damascus, which killed many hundreds of people, including children.  The adoption of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) and the decision by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) strengthened a fundamental norm of international relations that the use of those weapons by anyone in any circumstance was abhorrent and a serious breach of international law.  For the first time, the Security Council had determined that the use of chemical weapons anywhere constituted a threat to international peace and security, and he supported the prompt implementation of measures to eliminate them.

He said that the past 12 months had also shown progress towards advancing global action on conventional weapons control.  Now that the Arms Trade Treaty had opened for signature, the international community must continue to maintain momentum to achieve its entry into force as soon as possible.  As one of the Treaty’s co-authors, Australia would also join other States in presenting a resolution promoting its further signature and ratification.  He encouraged continued momentum on universalizing the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine-Ban Convention.  The impact of those weapons on civilians was tragic, and the international community must harness national and international assistance and cooperation to further promote universalization of those Conventions.

Despite the fact that the NPT was a cornerstone of the non-proliferation and disarmament regime, those weapons still existed 68 years after their only use in war, he said.  The international community must acknowledge that progress on nuclear disarmament most readily occurred in an atmosphere of trust.  Expectations fell most heavily on the nuclear-weapon States, but he acknowledged that reporting nuclear disarmament progress remained a particular challenge.  Thus, a stronger culture of transparency was required.  The entry into force of the CTBT was another priority and symbolic of a broader undertaking to prevent the further development of nuclear weapons.  Additions to those arsenals must be brought to a halt.  The need for a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices had long been recognized by the General Assembly, and starting negotiations on that issue was long overdue.  Recommendations by the Group of Governmental Experts could advance the 2010 Review Conference Action Plan and bring fresh impetus to the Conference on Disarmament.

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ BLANCO ( Colombia) said he spoke with concern but also hope over the greatest challenges ever facing humanity, namely, disarmament and non-proliferation, whatever the weapons’ specific destructive power.  Those tasks would remain unresolved without the resolute input of all States in the community of nations.  More than a challenge, disarmament was a fundamental obligation of every State.  The trade in conventional weapons also must be controlled.  The Colombian President had signed the Arms Trade Treaty, which was a milestone in the control of the conventional weapons trade.  Its entry into force would contribute to peace and global stability, and make it easier to prevent crimes of trafficking of arms to terrorists and criminal groups and organizations, which affected many countries worldwide, including Colombia.

However, he said, the lack of regulation of conventional weapons, especially small arms and light weapons, had only begun to be rectified.  For developing countries, which were the first to be affected by the proliferation of those weapons, strengthening measures to curb their flow was a matter of survival. The international community should undertake the complete and effective implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects to protect peace and human life, and promote sustainable development.  Also important was to support the international tracing instrument. Colombia would once again present the resolution on that topic, calling for States to step up efforts to implement the Programme of Action.

While weapons of mass destruction posed a latent risk, the trafficking of small arms and light weapons had a daily impact on the citizens of all regions of the world, he went on.  Their use was the common denominator in all criminal behaviour, including drug problems, extortion and terrorism.  The international community must address the issue with the importance that it warranted.  His country could work with other States in address that serious phenomenon.  He supported a comprehensive approach to protecting the victims of all types of weapons, and endorsed the Mine-Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Weapons to constrain those weapons, which severely impacted economic development and caused substantial suffering.  Colombia would become a State party to the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions.  It had suffered from the presence of anti-personnel mines, laid by armed actors.  It had garnered a significant amount of expertise in that field and would continue to extend cooperation to other affected countries.

Colombia, he said, also was committed to the consolidation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and its four basic pillars, and it welcomed Syria to the Convention.  Given the current setting, that had particular relevance.  He expressed gratitude to the OPCW for its work on Syria, as well as for their work to ensure the prohibition of chemical weapons elsewhere in the world.

MUTLAQ M. AL-QAHTANI (Qatar), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed that multilateralism was the best means by which to address disarmament and non-proliferation, and he expressed his country’s resolve to cooperate.  He welcomed the high-level meeting of the General Assembly in September on nuclear disarmament and hoped it would help to strengthen efforts to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Among the results of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, he said he wished to single out the resolution aimed at ensuring that the Middle East became a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  That was a prerequisite for the extension of the NPT, yet, despite efforts by Arab States and other actors, no conference on the matter had been held because of one country in the region.  The resolve of all countries concerned was necessary to ensure fulfilment of international obligations.  He hoped that conference would take place as soon.

He said that reduction of military arsenals by certain countries was insufficient.  Many had reduced expenditure in other areas, including health and infrastructure, but had refrained from slashing military spending.  Building a peaceful and secure world required commitment to disarmament as well as allocation of resources.  Meanwhile, there had been a failure to adequately address the issues of small arms and light weapons, and several States continued to produce and export them, free from any controls.  The same was true for anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, such as those deposited by Israel in Lebanon.  His country had signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Qatar believed that a multilateral treaty was the only way to prevent an arms race in outer space, he said, urging the Conference on Disarmament to take a leading role in concluding the Treaty.  The NPT should be further strengthened, while there should be no impediments to States’ use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Restating his country’s position regarding the 2012 conference to establish a zone in the Middle East free from mass destruction weapons, he said that the agreed conference should be convened as soon as possible.  Any delay would create “misgiving” as to commitment.  Concluding, he said that the establishment of a world where stability flourished and violence was rejected remained a “distant goal, far from our reach”, since many States felt that the accumulation of weapons provided safety and security.

MOH’D KAIS MUFLEH ALBATAYNEH (Jordan) supported the statements made by the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, and said that Jordan’s disarmament and non-proliferation position stemmed from the belief that the peaceful settlement of conflicts was absolutely necessary.  That was why his country had been among the first to sign the major instruments in that regard.  He hoped that the recent high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament and other efforts would eventually lead to total disarmament, and he called on all States to participate in the discussions about the draft resolution to create a day of disarmament for 26 September.

He reiterated States’ rights to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, as planned for in the NPT.  King Abdullah II had said that Jordan stood ready to cooperate with all parties to that Treaty, and stressed the need to prevent nuclear materials from falling into terrorists’ hands.  The efforts of those reckless groups must be stemmed.  The international community should move forward resolutely to create a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  He deplored that the conference to create that zone had not taken place last year, and he called for its convening as swiftly as possible this year.  He reiterated the appeal to Israel to accede to the NPT and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Delaying the conference due to preconditions placed upon it undermined the NPT.

Touching on other matters of concern, he said that Jordan had been among the first States to have ratified the CTBT, and he urged States, particularly Annex II States, to ratify it as soon as possible to ensure its entry into force.  Jordan would host a simulated on-site inspection for nuclear testing research.  Regarding de-mining, the authorities had worked to rehabilitate the affected areas; it provided aid to the victims and it disposed of remnants of those munitions.  His country also had ratified the Mine-Ban Convention.

NURAN NIYAZALIEV ( Kyrgyzstan) stated that issues related to disarmament were of “acute urgency” on his country’s agenda.  The NPT stood at the “centre” of international disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, and he hoped that, based on substantive discussions, that the stage had been set for a successful Review Conference in 2015.  It was regrettable, however, that the planned conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free from mass destruction weapons had not been convened.  Such a “disarmament milestone” could contribute to peace in a region where tensions were high.  The CTBT, meanwhile, was one of the most effective instruments in the field of disarmament, and, as such, Kyrgyzstan had ratified it in 2003.  He urged Annex II States to follow suit without further delay.  He looked forward to revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament, as negotiations had been delayed and little progress had been made.

Reaffirming Kyrgyzstan’s commitment to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, he said that the country took pride in the entry into force in 2009 of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and looked forward to constructive dialogue with the nuclear-weapon States.  Kyrgyzstan attached importance to the mitigation of uranium mining, an issue particularly acute in his county.  The potential consequences of ineffective solutions would negatively impact millions of people in Central Asia.  Kyrgyzstan would table a draft resolution to consider the international community’s role in preventing the threat from radiation in its region, and he called for the support of all Member States.

UFFE A. BALSLEV, Under Secretary for Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control of Denmark, said that this year the international community had been faced with some of the most blatant examples of non-compliance with long-standing obligations and, even worse, atrocious war crimes committed with weapons thought to have already been confined to the dustbin of history.  However, the world could reach its goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons through a gradual “building block” approach where the role played by those weapons, including their importance and legitimacy, could be slowly chipped away.  The United States and Russian Federation, for example, could consider reciprocal cuts in non-strategic nuclear weapons, as was suggested by President Barack Obama in his Berlin speech.

Regrettably, he said, the Conference on Disarmament was not delivering. After more than a decade of frustration, three important measures had been agreed: establishment of an open-ended working group, convening by the General Assembly of the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, and the establishment of a group of governmental experts to look at a treaty banning fissile material.  While his delegation threw its support behind that third group, it felt that the open-ended working group, in particular, could be considered as having been a success — not in reaching agreement, but in conceptualizing new approaches and better defining differences that should be bridged.

The international community must address the real proliferation threats to its collective security, he said.  Those came from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Syria and elsewhere, including from non-State actors.  For that, the Security Council had a key responsibility.  All countries, and not just those mentioned, must comply fully with all resolutions of the Council, the IAEA and other obligations under the NPT.  His delegation stood squarely behind the laudable efforts of European Union High Representative Catherin Ashton in the ‘E3+3’ context to seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, and Denmark was encouraged by the conducive atmosphere.  However deeds, not just words, were needed to bring the international community forward.

The disturbing use of chemical weapons had cast a dark shadow on the First Committee’s work, he said.  It was not the role of the United Nations inspectors to place blame for the atrocity of 21 August, but the sheer amount of proof that existed, in addition to the report, pointed to the likely perpetrators.  The use of chemical weapons was a war crime, and there should be no impunity.  He was encouraged, however, by the preliminary reports from the United Nations and the OPCW of cooperation from the regime and the Syrian opposition in implementing the decisions of those bodies.   Denmark had contributed financially to removing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons, and was looking forward to further ways of contributing, including with expertise, know-how and personnel, as appropriate.

MOHIUDDIN AHMED (Bangladesh), supporting the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country had been widely recognized for its contributions to international peacekeeping efforts, and it was out of that commitment that it supported general and complete disarmament.  However, his delegation was dismayed to see the near deadlock in United Nations-led global multilateral disarmament diplomacy.  The “only ray of hope” had been the conclusion of the Arms Trade Treaty.  Time and again, in different disarmament forums, nuclear disarmament emerged as a crucial issue for the survival of humanity on the planet.  Bangladesh was firmly convinced that nuclear weapons could not guarantee ultimate security and peace.  Unfortunately, a handful of States was insensitive to the security of the majority, and sadly, continued to possess or sought to possess those “wrong weapons”.

In addition, he said, valuable resources that could feed and provide decent lives to the deprived were still being used to create yet more sophisticated nuclear weapons with the power to annihilate both mankind and the world.  He urged those nuclear-armed States to ponder the fact that they spent more than $105 billion each year on the research and testing of new nuclear arsenals, when only an average of $50 billion per annum would be sufficient to halve the poverty of 5 billion people and meet all eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Until the total elimination of nuclear weapons became a reality, he said, non-nuclear weapon States had the legitimate right to negative security assurances against any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against them under any circumstances.  Unfortunately, existing provisions for negative security assurances, if any existed at all, were inadequate.  Those must be codified into a universal legal instrument.  As an effective interim measure, he underscored the importance of establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, wherever they did not yet exist, including in South Asia and the Middle East.

When the United Nations was founded, the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had so strongly shaken the world’s conscience that the very first resolution of the Organization had envisioned a world free of nuclear weapons, he said.  Yet, 67 years later, mankind was still confronted by that unprecedented threat of self-extinction through the competitive accumulation of nuclear arms.  The Member States were legally bound not to rest until the ultimate guarantee of those weapons’ total elimination was secured.  Nuclear weapons, nuclear deterrence or honing nuclear weapons technology had no place in national security or foreign policy architecture.  Following five decades of struggle against nuclear weapon testing, the CTBT would be humanity’s first “silver lining” towards a comprehensive global ban.  Unfortunately, there was no discernible movement towards negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty, and that delay must end.

DANIELE D. BODINI ( San Marino) stated that his country, along with the vast majority of countries, believed in the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.  Therefore, revitalization of the Conference on Disarmament and full implementation of the NPT remained cornerstones of nuclear disarmament policy.  He looked with great interest at the commitment of the United States and the Russian Federation to progressively reduce their inventory, noting that the nuclear arsenals of those two countries amounted to 90 per cent of the total worldwide.  He was certain that their leaderships would encourage other nuclear-armed States to follow suit.

San Marino, he said, applauded the joint efforts of Russia and the United States to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria.  The deadly use of such devastating arms against civilians was profoundly shocking, and proliferation of such weapons was of great concern.  He applauded the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty as a giant step that would save innumerable lives and reduce human suffering tremendously.  It was of paramount importance for the General Assembly, the Security Council and the United Nations Secretariat to increase their action to dismantle nuclear arsenals and other weapons of mass destruction.

KAHA IMNADZE ( Georgia) said that preventing the risk of nuclear terrorism and improving security by providing safe storage facilities for radioactive materials remained a top priority for his country.  Georgia had joined the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and strongly supported consolidating efforts to combat illicit acquisition, transfer or use of nuclear or radioactive substances.  His country also shared the common approach of the international community regarding the problem of illicit trade in conventional arms.  Their uncontrolled dissemination and excessive accumulation was a serious threat to international peace and security.  Due to the well-known security situation in Georgia, it was important to create an effective legally binding mechanism aimed at curbing the illegal arms flow.  In that light, the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty was an historic diplomatic achievement.

He said that 20 per cent of his country remained under illegal military occupation by the Russian Federation, which posed a serious threat to security and the well-being of Georgia’s citizens.  The Russian Federation’s military build-up had intensified exponentially in the aftermath of the 2008 invasion, in flagrant violation of international law.  As long as international mechanisms were absent from occupied territories, there were no guarantees that dangerous weapons systems would not be transferred to terrorist or criminal groups.  Referring to recent examples of “borderization” in connection with Georgia’s relations with “its northern neighbour”, he said that those had resulted in incidents of intimidation and acts of violence against local residents.  An “ongoing process of occupation” divided families and communities, depriving them of their fundamental rights and freedoms.  Aside from being seized with ideas to address non-proliferation and disarmament, the First Committee should also address critical issues related to international, regional and national security, he said. 

FEDERICO VILLACORTA NOVAL, speaking on behalf of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), said that 46 years had passed since Latin American and Caribbean States had signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco, committing themselves to the denuclearization of the region.  The region had complied with the nuclear non-proliferation norm.  But that was not enough; it was necessary to move towards abolition of nuclear weapons, he said, underscoring the importance for nuclear-weapon States to eliminate those weapons from their military doctrines and security policies.

The OPANAL welcomed the General Assembly High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, he said, noting that within the framework of that meeting, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States’ Presidency Pro Tempore had reiterated his region’s conviction of the need for a universal and legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons.  In that regard, he welcomed a number of developments that would “take forward” multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.  This year had been one in which “the colours of the rainbow began to mark the horizon of a world without nuclear weapons”.  He looked forward to living in a world free of nuclear weapons, as it had been before 1945.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to the statement made by the Georgian delegation, said those remarks had once again seemed to be disconnected from reality.  The Russian military presence in the two southern States of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was a result of an agreement between those republics and the Russian Federation for security assistance to maintain peace and security in the region.  Those measures in South Ossetia and Abkhazia were included for the construction of the borders of those two independent States, both of which had the full right to carry out control of their territory.  The matter of a “border regime” was the exclusive mandate of the authority of those two States, and the Russian border control guards were carrying out only those tasks delegated to them by the joint efforts of border control.  The purpose was to reduce the number of incidents of “mindless violations” of the border by local residents of both sides, and eradicate those factors that led to increasing tension in the border region.  After the border control was instituted, such incidents had been greatly reduced, as was seen by the European Union monitoring. Unfortunately, there was a view in the West that “that argument should not be made”.  The author of such statements continued to make those fallacious remarks about the border operations.

The representative of the Georgia said there was an apparent discrepancy with regard to statements made by the Russian Federation as well as by the Russian high leadership, because that country had been preparing for “the scenario” long before the August war.  That, along with operations conducted before 2008, was proof.  To avoid a “natural bias”, one must reference the independent fact-finding mission headed by Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, which referenced “the fact of what had happened years ago”.  As for what was happening currently, the European Union monitoring mission was still denied access to the other side of the barbed wire and of the occupation line.  Georgia had cooperated with all international bodies, but blockages were created for the United Nations monitoring mission of 2009 and the consequences were being faced today.  Georgia spared no effort in its capacity to normalize its relations with the Russian Federation, based on the negotiating principles of international law, and had offered to sign an agreement for the non-use of force.  His country was working towards a durable, peaceful solution, but in the interim, it needed to work to alleviate the human suffering caused by putting barbed wire across a village.  According to the dictionary definition of occupation, the Russian Federation was occupying those two territories and could not just call them independent States.  Both parties should work to address the humanitarian problem confronting the populations there on both sides of the border.

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