Discourse Shifts in First Committee from Cold War ‘Balance of Terror’ Logic against Nuclear Weapon Use to Catastrophic Humanitarian Impacts

21 October 2013
GA/DIS/3483

Discourse Shifts in First Committee from Cold War ‘Balance of Terror’ Logic against Nuclear Weapon Use to Catastrophic Humanitarian Impacts

21 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/DIS/3483
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

First Committee

12th & 13th Meetings (AM & PM)

Discourse Shifts in First Committee from Cold War ‘Balance of Terror’ Logic

 

Against Nuclear Weapon Use to Catastrophic Humanitarian Impacts

 

Speakers Say Promises of Nuclear-Weapon-Free

World ‘Empty’ Unless Elimination Supplants Risk Mitigation

No State or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation or provide adequate assistance to victims, the representative of New Zealand told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, in a joint statement on behalf of 124 Member States and the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Past experience from the use and testing of nuclear weapons, she declared, had amply demonstrated the unacceptable humanitarian consequences caused by their indiscriminate nature and immense, uncontrollable destructive capability.

Those appalling consequences had been evident from the moment of those weapons’ first use, and from that moment had motivated humanity’s aspirations for a world free of nuclear threat, she said.  As early as 1955, the world’s most eminent nuclear physicists had said that nuclear weapons threatened the continued existence of mankind, and a war of that kind could put an end to the human race.

Yet, she said, while those expressions of profound concern remained as compelling as ever, the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons had not been at the core of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation deliberations for many years.  It was encouraging, therefore, that the humanitarian focus was now well established on the global agenda.

The delegate from the Solomon Islands also expressed concern that there were “gaps” in the mechanisms to address the catastrophic humanitarian, genetic, social and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons.  He pointed out that even peaceful nuclear use carried impact in the event of deliberate or inadvertent disaster, which the countries in his region did not have the capability to respond to.  Nuclear weapons were a “security threat enhancer”, and global military postures made non-nuclear-weapon States nervous, he declared.

Switzerland’s representative said that nuclear weapons should be stigmatized and put on equal footing with other mass destruction weapons which were already subjected to comprehensive bans.  Likewise, the Philippines’ representative said his delegation had lent a hand to efforts aimed at criminalizing nuclear weapons possession and had strongly pushed for their inclusion on the list of prohibited weapons with the International Criminal Court.

India’s representative said the international community could not accept the logic that a few nations had the right to pursue their security while threatening the survival of mankind.  It was not only those who lived by the “nuclear sword” who, by design or default, would one day perish from it, but all of humanity.

Although nuclear weapons were now an integral part of India’s security policy as a feature of its credible minimum deterrence — nor was there any question of India joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State — India’s support for a global non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament was not diminished.  With that, he called for meaningful dialogue among all nuclear-weapon States to build trust, in an effort to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines.

The representative, during the thematic debate on Cluster 1 on nuclear weapons, introduced two draft resolutions, on Reducing Nuclear Danger (document A/C.1/68/L.20) and on a Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons (document A/C.1/68/L.21).

Nigeria’s representative introduced a draft resolution entitled Africa Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba (document A/C.1/68/L.46).

Also speaking during Cluster 1 were the representatives of Algeria, Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Philippines, Malaysia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Romania, Senegal, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

During a panel discussion on Disarmament Machinery, the following officials make statements:  Patricia O’Brien ( Ireland), President of the Conference on Disarmament; Christopher Grima, Chair of the United Nations Disarmament Commission; Desmond Bowen, Chair, Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; and Theresa Hitchens, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR).  Krzysztof Paturej, Chair of the Third Session of the Conference of States Parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, delivered introductory remarks via videoconference to the informal panel on other weapons of mass destruction.

The representatives of Syria, Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 October, to continue its thematic debates.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic debate segment and hear the introduction of draft resolutions and decisions across the spectrum of agenda items before it.

Panel Discussion on Disarmament Machinery

PATRICIA O’BRIEN ( Ireland), President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that during 2013 there were particularly intensive efforts by successive Conference presidents to agree on a programme of work that would enable the Conference to get back to the task envisioned for it in the General Assembly first special session devoted to disarmament in 1978.  However, as noted in its report, the Conference had not succeeded in adopting a programme of work during its 2013 session.  It had, however, decided to establish an informal working group to draft a programme that was “robust in substance and progressive over time in implementation”.  The Conference had also held discussions on the core issues on its agenda, as well as the important topic of the realization of the Conference’s role.

While it was the responsibility of States’ representatives to negotiate multilateral instruments, she said, that task was significantly aided by expertise from non-State partners, which shared the common goal of advancing disarmament.  Looking forward to 2014, there were grounds for optimism, however, in order for that optimism to be translated into positive results, each Conference member would need to explore all avenues and “think outside the box”, in order to formulate a programme of work that allowed the Conference to resume its substantive work.

CHRISTOPHER GRIMA, Chair of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, stated that at the body’s substantive session in April, the second in its three-year cycle, the working groups reported constructive discussions, and the Commission could be “moderately satisfied”.  Much work lay ahead, but by “setting the stage” for its third and final year of deliberations on an agreed agenda, the Commission had done what it was expected to do.  Its role was dual:  both to deliberate and to adopt recommendations.  Its deliberative function was important, since it was a useful vehicle through which better understanding of the various commissions could be aired.  Plus, given its universal character, the Commission could serve as a “laboratory of ideas, a sounding board for initiatives and a clearing house to take forward proposals in other disarmament fora”.

However, he said, without adjustments to the manner in which it conducted business, the Commission would be “hard-pressed” to fulfil the part of its mandate concerning setting out agreed recommendations.  It would benefit from a more targeted agenda, and a proposal from Norway merited closer examination.  He drew attention to draft resolution (document A/C.1/68.L.5), which recommended the continued consideration of substantive items during the Commission’s 2014 session.

DESMOND BOWEN, Chair, Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, said that the Board’s 10 new members of the 15 had led to a welcome process of renewal, augmented by the shift in regional balance that resulted.  However challenges persisted and the Board continued to recommend an increase in the funding from the United Nations regular budget.  Regarding nuclear-weapon-free zones and emerging technologies, he said that the zones needed a platform for more interaction with those that supported them.  New zones were needed, while nuclear-weapon States should sign up to their protocols. Also, nuclear-weapon possessor States should think about their formal relationship to the nuclear-weapon-free zones.  There might be an opportunity for the Secretary-General to take a role in a preparatory meeting for the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

He said that the Board was struck by the inadequate understanding of the challenging and complicated topic of emerging technologies and the bearing those had on technology had security, and on the opportunities for disarmament and arms control action.  The Board was very conscious of the benefits of emerging technologies, but also of the vast dangers associated with it.  The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) struggled to make ends meet, but nonetheless delivered high-quality products.  It certainly needed better administrative and financial support.  However, the current proposal would not create a better UNIDIR, because it did not adequately articulate or expose potential risks.  It was difficult to avoid the conclusion that, in the long term, the current proposal would cause fundamental changes to UNIDIR’s mission, and in that area, there was “no scope for ambiguity”.

THERESA HITCHENS, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), stated that the past year had been “blessed with opportunities”, but at the same, “beset by serious challenges”.  Through various initiatives, the Institute had sought to expand substantive cooperation with fellow members of the United Nations family, the academic and scientific world, and civil society.  Among those was a flagship UNIDIR project supporting the Inter-Agency Working Group on Disarmament, Development and Reintegration, which was an excellent example of the Institute’s role as a “force multiplier” among agencies.  That was a strength of the Institute’s model of operations, she added.

She said that, despite continued support, for which she expressed gratitude to Member States, the financial environment had taken a toll on the Institute and its functioning.  That had resulted in operational concerns, as UNIDIR struggled to fulfil its mandate with most of its funding tied to specific projects underwritten by a handful of donors.  Nonetheless, despite those and other challenges, UNIDIR was determined to do its part for the cause of disarmament, non-proliferation and peace and security.

CRISTIAN ISTRATE (Romania), Chair-designate of the Main Committee II of the 2015 Review Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Conference, stated that at the second session held in Geneva in April, had signalled that many States parties still had high expectations for the nuclear disarmament pillar.  Concerns were raised, however, about various issues, including continued reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines, high-alert levels, lack of transparency and reporting standards, and lack of time frames for nuclear disarmament.  The third session was an opportunity to assess progress in implementing the 2010 Action Plan.  It was expected that the issue of the establishment of a Middle East zone free from nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction was going to be one of the most problematic points.  But a widely recognized view during the second Preparatory Committee meeting was that “as long as we don’t go backwards, hiccups and delays can always be overcome”.

The second Preparatory Committee, he continue, also had pioneered a new format for enhanced interaction between States parties and civil society.  The role of non-governmental organizations and think-tanks in raising awareness on the topics and their ability to shape public agenda was very important.  Despite serious challenges, NPT remained at the heart of the global non-proliferation regime and an essential instrument for collective security.  It was “crystal clear” that the review process would be strengthened if the States parties deepened their solidarity on the Treaty’s fundamental purposes and demonstrated flexibility and compromise on the means to achieve their goals.

Statements

DJAMEL MOKTEFI ( Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that until all nuclear weapons were eliminated, a legally binding, universal and unconditional instrument on security assurances was needed.  He stressed the importance of NPT and said that any selective approach to that treaty was likely to empty it of its substance.  The balance of its three pillars, namely disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy, must be preserved.  A majority of States had chosen to use atomic energy for exclusively civilian applications, which was a strategic economic choice and supported energy security.  He was concerned by the slow progress in implementing the 2010 NPT Action Plan, and he called on States parties to do so, and for nuclear weapon States to comply with their special obligations.  He was also concerned by the lack of progress in implementing the 13 steps associated with of the Treaty’s article VI.

He said that the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was an integral part of the 2010 Action Plan, and the Conference to establish that zone should be held without delay.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) must also achieve universal adherence, and in that regard, he associated his delegation with the Final Declaration of the CTBT so-called “Article XIV Conference” on facilitating its entry into force.  On other matters, he welcomed the convening of the Oslo Conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, underlined the importance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mandate, and expressed Algeria’s commitment to preventing terrorists and non-State actors from acquiring weapons-grade nuclear materials.

WALTER DIAMANA (Solomon Islands), associating himself with New Zealand and other like-minded countries, stated that his was a peace-loving nation and part of a nuclear-weapon-free zone, under the 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga.  Solomon Islands was passionate on the issue, since three United Nations members with “absolute powers” had tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific until 1996.  Populations continued to suffer health effects, and the tests also had contaminated the environment.  The cost to current and future generations was not known, since those responsible had not compiled medical or environmental data, he added.

Welcoming various international nuclear frameworks, he nevertheless noted with concern gaps in those mechanisms to address the catastrophic humanitarian, genetic, social, and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons.  Even peaceful nuclear use carried impact in the event of deliberate or inadvertent disaster, which the countries in his region did not have the capability to respond to.  Nuclear weapons were a “security threat enhancer”, and global military postures made non-nuclear-weapon States nervous.

DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand), associating with the New Agenda Coalition, stated that the Coalition’s resolution, building on previous years, emphasised the need for progress in fulfilling the 2010 NPT Action Plan, as well as calling for further steps on nuclear disarmament.  Cautioning that “some of us are content to debate the nature of steps” rather than the path those steps take, she was pleased that nonetheless the recent disarmament discussion had not been “unduly distracted” by issues of process.  The Open-ended Working Group as well as the conference hosted by Norway in the past year were welcome developments.

She said that growing support for the humanitarian initiative in the context of nuclear disarmament reflected an impetus to focus on human- rather than State-centric security.  That was a kind of “tectonic shift” in twenty-first century thinking in which citizens, not State apparatus, would be put first.  The humanitarian approach put priority where it should be, she said, taking nothing away from existing processes.  New Zealand was co-sponsoring a resolution on the Test-Ban Treaty, which was a priority, as was the reduction of the operational readiness of nuclear weapons, and she was pleased to align herself with the “de-alerting group”.  She emphasised the importance of existing international law and international humanitarian law on the pathway to disarmament.

BASSIRON SENE ( Senegal) said that development and manufacture of nuclear weapons drained a good portion of global gross national product that would be better used to improve living conditions for the world’s people.  Calling the concept of nuclear deterrence a “low note”, he nevertheless acknowledged efforts by some Member States to reduce their nuclear stockpiles, but stressed that full elimination should be the end goal.  He called on Member States to sign and ratify both NPT and CTBT, and stressed his country’s belief that the First Committee could breathe new life into multilateral negotiations.  To that end, the Conference on Disarmament should remain the unique multilateral negotiating body for disarmament.  Among other measures that had Senegal’s support were negative security assurances, which would improve trust between States.  Concluding, he asked:  “Has it not yet become clear that possession of nuclear weapons is more inconvenient for humanity than it is convenient for those who possess them?”

PETER WOOLCOTT ( Australia) said that achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons would require sustained, high-level political will by all countries.  The entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty would be one concrete step towards nuclear disarmament, and it was for that reason that Australia would again present its annual resolution on that Treaty.  The resolution stressed the vital importance and urgency of the Treaty’s entry into force and, pending that, urged all States not to carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions.

He welcomed the continuing discussions by the five NPT nuclear-weapon States on their commitments, particularly the proposal by United States President Barack Obama on 19 June in Berlin to negotiate further reductions.  Nuclear-weapon States should engage constructively to build the necessary trust to further reduce their arsenals, and those which had not yet engaged in nuclear disarmament efforts, should reduce and eventually eliminate their nuclear weapons.  While banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons was not an end in itself, it was a vital step towards irreversible nuclear disarmament.  Negotiating a treaty to that effect was “long overdue”, and meanwhile, there should be a moratorium on the producing of that material for nuclear weapons.

He said it was “somewhat daunting” to think that the international community was a mere one and a half years away from the 2015 NPT Review Conference, and that the last NPT Preparatory Committee meeting in that cycle was only six months away.  All NPT States parties must redouble their efforts to fully implement the 2010 NPT Action Plan, including convening a Conference on the creation of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  He expressed concern over nuclear activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and in Iran, adding that Iran must translate recent statements pledging cooperation and transparency into action and address international concerns about its nuclear programme by complying with decisions of the Security Council and IAEA.

ABIODUN RICHARDS ADEJOLA (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the de-alerting group, as well as the statement by New Zealand, stressed the relevance and importance of calling on nuclear-weapon States to decrease the operational readiness of their nuclear weapons.  On behalf of the African Group, he introduced the draft resolution entitled “Africa Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty,” also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba (document A/C.1/68/L.46).  The significance of such zones lay, not just in the fact that they banned the production and possession of nuclear weapons within their member States, but that they also prohibited the stationing of those weapons in their territories, which was highly significant.

He said that while nuclear-weapon States had clung to their stockpiles, a new phase in the nuclear arms race was evolving with more States acquiring the capacity to develop nuclear weapons.  Reductions in the arsenals of the nuclear-armed States were merely cosmetic measures, as the remaining stockpiles continued to endanger humankind.  It was for that reason that Nigeria welcomed the CTBT and urged those countries that had yet to sign or ratify it to do so without delay.  Additionally, there was the threat of nuclear materials falling into the hands of non-State actors, including terrorist groups.  He therefore welcomed the role of the IAEA in monitoring and inspecting nuclear facilities and urged concerned countries to ensure strict observance of the Agency’s safeguards.

BENNO LAGGNER ( Switzerland) emphasised the increasing importance of “the humanitarian dimension of the nuclear disarmament debate”.  Fact-based discussions were welcome, and Switzerland would reinforce the taboo associated with nuclear weapons.  The humanitarian dimension could advance discussion on how to put nuclear weapons on an equal footing with other mass destruction weapons, which were already subjected to comprehensive bans.  The use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the strong international response, provided an opportunity, including to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Switzerland had high hopes for the “P5 process”, but he cautioned that it was important that all nuclear-weapon-possessor States make tangible progress.  Highlighting the importance of compliance with and support for the disarmament instruments and institutions, he stressed again the “growing resonance of the humanitarian focus”.  Switzerland associated with the de-alerting group, and, in that connection, with New Zealand’s statement.

MATTHIEU KIMMELL ( Canada) said that his country had grown increasingly concerned with several “blatant and distressing” countries failing to comply with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.  Iran’s programme could only be seen as a continued effort to acquire nuclear-weapon capabilities, which undermined global and regional stability and contravened obligations placed on it by the Security Council and IAEA.  “Iran has obfuscated, delayed, and refused to answer critical questions about its nuclear programme,” and while he noted this weeks “P5+1” talks in Geneva, actions speak louder than words and Iran must do more to demonstrate that it was prepared to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.  The crisis had persisted for far too long, and the international community must continue to seek a means to end that “dangerous impasse”.

He also noted a “rise in North Korea’s irresponsibly provocative actions and belligerent rhetoric.  Its evident pride in announcing its nuclear test in the Conference on Disarmament in February had demonstrated its lack of respect for international norms and institutions.  Canada was committed to full sanctions implementation by Member States to discourage additional nuclear or ballistic missile tests.  It unreservedly called on Iran and North Korea to abide by relevant Security Council resolutions, and on those countries, as well as Syria, to fully cooperate with the IAEA and the international community to address outstanding questions about their nuclear activities.  “It is imperative that these countries return to full compliance with all relevant non-proliferation obligations immediately.”  He stressed, too, that work must continue to build the regimes and instruments critical to advancing the non-proliferation priorities.

EDUARDO JOSE A. DE VEGA (Philippines), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country was deeply concerned over the lack of progress in the field of nuclear disarmament.  The road to a nuclear weapon-free world was long and perilous.  The Philippines had lent a hand to efforts aimed at criminalizing the nuclear weapons possession and had strongly pushed for their inclusion on the list of prohibited weapons with the International Criminal Court.  For the nuclear-weapon States, it was imperative that progress be made on actions 3, 5 and 21 in the 2010 NPT Action Plan, and he called on those States to set specific timelines for the destruction of their nuclear weapons and delivery systems in a verifiable and irreversible manner.

Voicing support for nuclear-weapon-free zones, he expressed particular concern over the danger posed by tactical nuclear weapons which, given their small size, could fall into the hands of non-State actors.  Discussions on nuclear weapons must not focus on traditional national security concepts, but on the effects of those weapons on humanity.  The humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons must guide the international community’s deliberations and motivate efforts to outlaw and eliminate them.  He associated with the joint statement to be delivered by New Zealand on that issue.  The path to achieving the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world would be through a nuclear weapons convention that declared nuclear weapons, their use and their possession, illegal.

ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI( Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Union of South American Nations stated that his country was deeply concerned by the threat to humanity caused by the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, and he called on nuclear-weapon States to eliminate those weapons from their military doctrines.  Furthermore, he highlighted the need for a legally binding instrument on security guarantees.  Welcoming “staunch expressions of support” at the recent high-level disarmament meeting, he reaffirmed Venezuela’s endorsement of several initiatives, particularly a complete ban on all types of nuclear-weapon tests.  He called on Annex II States to sign and ratify CTBT as soon as possible, as those States were “indispensable” to the Treaty’s success.  His country had served on IAEA Board of Governors for the past two years and would continue to support that institution.

RAJA REZA BIN RAJA ZAIB SHAH(Malaysia), introducing the draft resolution entitled, “Follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons” (document A/C.1/68/L.26), recalled that, following a request by the General Assembly in 1994, the court in

July 1996 unanimously declared that “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”.

He said that the advisory opinion had remained a resolute and authoritative legal call for nuclear disarmament and was reflected in the draft resolution.  The opinion was consistent with the solemn obligation of NPT States parties, but was also a universal declaration.  The resolution also called once again upon all States to fulfil that obligation by conducting and successfully concluding negotiations towards the conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention.  The existence of that legal obligation constituted a clear basis for immediate follow-up actions by the international community to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

DAVID ČERVENKA(Czech Republic), associating himself with the European Union, said that the 2010 NPT Action Plan was “consensual” and should not be deviated from in any way.  Likewise, the authority and integrity of the Treaty itself should be preserved and strengthened.  As an advocate for the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the Czech Republic was committed to its responsible use.  Noting IAEA’s findings of “excellent corporate practices” at his country’s two nuclear power plants, he said it was unacceptable for countries to ignore those approved and recognized international standards.  Such behaviour endangered stability and slowed nuclear disarmament.  Negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament were a priority, as was the need for the Conference to accept new Member States.  The launch of the Nuclear Security Summit was a “wise step”, he said, noting that the Czech Republic had already removed its entire stock of highly enriched uranium from its territory.  The Summit contributed to maintaining security, as well as preventing non-State actors from acquiring nuclear materials, he said.

JAMAL JAMA AHMED ABDULLA AL MUSHARAKH( United Arab Emirates), associating with the League of Arab States and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, despite progress on nuclear disarmament, there was still a need to maximize international efforts to ensure the accession of all States to all international instruments on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Moreover, all facilities must be placed under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.  The international community must take seriously its responsibilities towards nuclear disarmament and resume negotiations, including on a fissile material cut-off treaty, in the Conference on Disarmament.  In light of the threats posed by nuclear tests, he emphasized the importance of the entry into force of CTBT.  His country was disappointed that the anticipated 2012 conference on establishing a zone in the Middle East free from mass destruction weapons had not yet been held.  The international community must uphold its nuclear disarmament responsibilities, he said, adding that his country had demonstrated its commitment to that process and had participated in various multilateral negotiations and forums to establish a world free of nuclear weapons.

YOO YEONCHUL ( Republic of Korea) welcomed efforts by nuclear-weapon States to enhance transparency through regular convening of their “P5” meeting.  Also encouraging had been President Obama’s remarks in Berlin last June that the United States would seek further reductions in consultation with the Russian Federation.  Every ratification of the CTBT brought it one step closer towards its entry into force.  Starting negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty was another urgent and long-overdue task, and he called on the Conference on Disarmament members to show more flexibility and political will to enable negotiations to begin at the earliest possible date.

He said that an effective and robust export control regime also played an important role in preventing nuclear proliferation.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme posed a grave challenge to the international non-proliferation regime and the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and beyond.  The Security Council had reaffirmed through its resolutions that the international community would not tolerate that country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  That country must realize it could not have the status of a nuclear-weapon State in accordance of NPT and that it must listen to the calls of the international community to comply with its obligations under the Security Council and the 19 September Joint Statement of the six-party talks.

VENKATESH VARMA (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, echoed the words of Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi in saying that the international community could not accept the logic that a few nations had the right to pursue their security while threatening the survival of mankind.  It was not only those who lived by the nuclear sword who, by design or default, would one day perish from it.  All humanity would perish.  Although nuclear weapons were now an integral part of India’s security policy as a feature of its credible minimum deterrence, India’s support for a global non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament was not diminished.  Nuclear disarmament could be achieved through a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed global and non-discriminatory multilateral framework.

He called for a meaningful dialogue among all nuclear-weapon States to build trust and confidence, and to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines.  To build political will to move towards a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament, India recommended reducing nuclear risks and the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines and exercising restraint on use, eventually leading to a universal convention prohibiting nuclear weapons.  However, India’s position on NPT was well-known, and there was no question of India joining the Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State.

He introduced the draft resolution on “Reducing Nuclear Danger” (document A/C.1/68/L20), which highlights the need for a review of nuclear doctrines and immediate steps to reduce the risk of unintentional or accidental use of those weapons.  He also introduced the resolution on a “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons” (document A/C.1/68/L.21), which reflected the belief that a multilateral, universal and legally binding instrument prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would contribute to the process of the step-by-step de-legitimization of those weapons.  It would also create a favourable climate for negotiations on an agreement to ban them.

DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand), delivering a joint statement on behalf of 124 Member States and the Holy See, said that past experience from the use and testing of nuclear weapons had amply demonstrated the unacceptable humanitarian consequences caused by the immense, uncontrollable destructive capability and indiscriminate nature of those weapons.  At the Oslo Conference, a key message from experts and international organizations had been that no State or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear-weapon detonation or provide adequate assistance to victims.  The broad participation at that Conference had reflected the recognition that the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons were a fundamental and global concern.

She said that work to bring those concerns to the fore was essential, because the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons affected, not only Governments, but each and every citizen of the interconnected world.  Such consequences had deep implications for human survival, for the environment, for socio-economic development, for economies, and for the health of future generations.  For those reasons, awareness of those consequences must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament.  The idea as not new; the appalling consequences had been evident from the moment those weapons were first used.  And, from that moment, the consequences had motivated humanity’s aspirations for a world free of that threat, as reflected in numerous United Nations resolutions, including the first one passed by the General Assembly, in 1946, and later, in multilateral instruments, including NPT.

The world’s most eminent nuclear physicists had observed as early as 1955 that nuclear weapons threatened the continued existence of mankind and that a war of that kind could quite possibly put an end to the human race, she said.  Those expressions of profound concern remained as compelling as ever, but despite that, the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons had not been at the core of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation deliberations for many years.  She was encouraged, therefore, that the humanitarian focus was now well-established on the global agenda.  It was in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons were never used again, through their total elimination.  She welcomed the new resolve of the international community, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and international humanitarian organizations, to address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  In raising awareness, civil society had a role to play, side-by-side with Governments, as the international community fulfilled its responsibilities.

VOLKAN OSKIPER ( Turkey) said that NPT, while it did not function “as effectively as desired”, was a centrepiece in the field of nuclear disarmament, its success impacted by the extent to which nuclear-weapon States fulfilled their commitments.  It was unfortunate that some countries still remained outside that regime.  Turning to IAEA, he said that States in compliance with their safeguards obligations should have “unhindered access” to civilian nuclear technology.  Underscoring the importance of the Test-Ban Treaty, he cautioned that, while moratoriums were important confidence-building measures, on the issue of nuclear testing, legally binding treaties were indispensable.  Highlighting other nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation initiatives and developments, he noted in particular his country’s regret at the postponement of a conference on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Turkey maintained that was a “missed deadline” rather than a “lost opportunity”.

PETER WOOLCOTT (Australia), delivering a joint statement on behalf of 17 States, welcomed the statement delivered by New Zealand on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons.  Both the immediate as well as long-term impacts of a nuclear-weapon detonation were of clear concern, as agreed by all NPT States parties in the 2010 Review Conference final document.  Achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons required high-level political will by all countries, but expectations fell most heavily on nuclear-armed States.  Banning nuclear weapons would not by itself guarantee their elimination, without substantive and constructive engagement with nuclear-weapon-possessor States.  Preventing the vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons to achieve nuclear disarmament required States to work together.  He encouraged the active participation of all States in all relevant forums, with a focus on practical and effective measures, to contribute to the mutually reinforcing goals of disarmament and non-proliferation.

JEREMIAH N MAMABOLO ( South Africa), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and New Agenda Coalition, said NPT’s three pillars were central to the balance and effectiveness of its regime, and each required equal attention.  The outcome document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference had reiterated the obligations of nuclear-weapon States under the Treaty’s article VI. The impact of any nuclear weapon detonation would “be with us for generations”, and South Africa was pleased to join the growing number of States concerned by the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of such an act.  The “shift in discourse” from national security to a humanitarian focus was welcome, he added.  The costs associated with the maintenance of nuclear arsenals were roughly double the development assistance provided to Africa.  That was unacceptable in a world where the basic human needs of billions were not being met.  Indeed, continued development of new categories of nuclear weapons was a clear indication that some countries aspired to the indefinite retention of those weapons, contrary to their legal obligations.  Nuclear weapons had no place in today’s security environment, and humanitarian imperatives underpinned the need for their complete elimination.

THOMAS HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating with the European Union, warned that a nuclear weapons detonation could happen at any time, be it intentional or accidental.  As the risk of proliferation increased, so did the risk of their use.  The inability of any State or international body to adequately assist with the humanitarian emergency a nuclear weapon detonation would cause raised serious questions concerning the responsibility of States to protect their citizens.  Efforts so far to eliminate nuclear weapons had been “too modest in ambition and too limited in success”.

Characterising as a “remarkable initiative” the work of the Open-ended Working Group to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, he said it proved that substantive work that was constructive, open and inclusive could be carried out in that field.  Such initiatives should multiply within the broader multilateral disarmament environment, he added, encouraging States, United Nations entities, international organisations and civil society to build upon the work of the Group. It was a “collective responsibility” to keep nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation high on the political agenda, and to fully utilise established international institutions and instruments in that context.

FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ( Ecuador), associating himself with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his Constitution recognised nature’s rights.  Nature was not an object, but an active subject, and one which “closed the circle” of a relationship with human beings.  Furthermore, the Constitution proclaimed his country a zone of peace.  The use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons was a crime against nature and against humanity.  For Ecuador, the extension and addition of nuclear-weapon-free zones was a path towards total elimination of those weapons.  Nuclear-weapon States had done “little if anything” to destroy their stockpiles.  Non-nuclear-weapon States, on the contrary, had done their part according to the NPT.  Nuclear-weapon States should guarantee never to use those weapons against their non-nuclear counterparts.  The mechanism to establish negative security assurances existed, but the political will was missing.  The horrific effects of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki should lead all States to say “enough is enough, never again”.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Syria called it a “bad, old joke” that a few countries “fell asleep” with regard to Israel.  They only saw three States that did not comply with IAEA, but their radar went out when it came to Israel.  It was time for them to be more logical and transparent in their approach to nuclear threats in general and in the Middle East in particular.  They should drop their double standards pertaining to non- proliferation.  Pointing fingers while ignoring reality was “outdated and archaic”.

Syria, he continued, should not be at the centre of those countries’ statements.  It had never been a threat to regional or international peace and security, and the calls for waging war in Syria threatened to undermine the United Nations.  Next, he said, Syria would be blamed for climate change and global warming.  It was time to work for international interests, he added.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the repeated boring and provocative remarks made by the representative of the Republic of Korea.  The reality of the situation on the Korean peninsula was the reckless behaviour of the United States, including the sailing of the USS George Washington in the area.  Now was the time for the Republic of Korea to act with reason and reflect on the cost of its confrontational moves, as well as to learn where the nuclear threat was actually coming from, he said.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said that, under the relevant Security Council resolution, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had an obligation to abandon all its nuclear weapons and programmes.  The Security Council had also made clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would not gain from developing its nuclear programme and continuing its provocative acts.  He highlighted several such acts, and noted their investigation as well as the findings, which had been endorsed by the Security Council.  He demanded that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea refrain from further provocation.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was putting enormous resources into its nuclear programmes despite the suffering of   its people.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the representative of the Republic of Korea had not understood what he had said previously.  Before blaming his country regarding the nuclear issue, the Republic of Korea should learn about the origin of that issue in the region.  The representative should also be brave enough to “say what has to be said to their master”, or ask others for help.  The Republic of Korea and the United States were the real perpetrators of nuclear threats against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said.

The representative of the Republic of Korea responded that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had a habit of blaming others for its illicit activities and provocations.  Tensions in the region had their roots in that country’s missile launches and testing.  Deterrence was provided in the framework of the alliance between his country and the United States, and was defensive in nature.

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