|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
14th Meeting (AM)
‘Globalization of Indifference’ No Option, Says Speaker as First Committee Probes
Degree to Which Stalled Progress Symptomatic of Institutional Failings
Thematic Debate on Nuclear Weapons Concludes with Introduction
Of Three Draft Resolutions; Discussion Opens on Disarmament Machinery
The world risked falling into a “globalization of indifference” and must act with one voice to ban all mass destruction weapons, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today at the conclusion of its thematic debate on nuclear weapons, which over the course of four days had been characterized by a mix of frustration and cautious optimism.
The world’s willingness to move forward to eliminate nuclear weapons had never been more evident, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See told the Committee. That said, a very small number of States stood in the way, blocking progress on a problem that “goes on year after year in paralysis and obfuscation”.
A further irony, he said, was the fact that States vociferous in their condemnation of chemical weapons were silent on the continued possession of nuclear weapons. Despite that, the Security Council’s unanimous resolution on destruction of chemical weapons in Syria had “historic importance”. In recent weeks, the world had seen “vivid action” in the long struggle to rid the world of chemical and nuclear weapons, he declared.
The representative of Ireland lauded a “new sense of focus, priority and purpose” in the discourse on nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, he said, certain discussions undermined the message about eliminating nuclear weapons. He asked, for example, if deterrence was not simply another way of describing “mutually assured destruction”. The language of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea regarding deterrence had a “depressingly familiar ring” to it — “it is nuclear-weapon State language reflected back at nuclear-weapon States”.
He said that the re-emergence of “the humanitarian consequences narrative” on nuclear disarmament allowed the international community to go beyond the constraints of traditional treaty discussions, and instead, examine the devastating consequences of a nuclear-weapon detonation for human beings. The New Agenda Coalition was concerned with “progress, not process”, on nuclear disarmament, he said, adding that disarmament forums, which had a very real impact on people’s lives, would be judged according to what they did or did not do.
Not all speakers agreed that humanitarian consideration merited the Committee’s attention. The representative of the Russian Federation cautioned against wasting “time and effort” on such “useless topics”, when even a school child understood the loss of life and civilization that a full-scale nuclear attack would entail. He urged the Committee to “get beyond illusions” and take up what was actually important, namely, establishing international conditions conducive to nuclear disarmament — and not just nuclear disarmament, but disarmament in general — to be enjoyed by all humanity.
The session also marked the beginning of the disarmament machinery debate. Amid a general consensus on the vital role of those institutions, speakers nonetheless expressed frustration at the pace of progress, or lack thereof. Many agreed on the need to strengthen the Conference on Disarmament, offering their perceptions on the causes for the malaise and the prescription for fixing it.
The representative of Cuba said she was concerned by suggestions to sideline the Conference by those who wrongly claimed it was dysfunctional. The delegation did not agree; what it needed was its strengthening, with the adoption of a broad and balanced work programme, starting with nuclear disarmament.
The representative of the United States said the “regrettable state of affairs” was not the fault of the disarmament machinery itself. What was needed was willingness among all States to use the machinery as it was intended and to recognize that its special features were designed to allow States to protect their national interests. The bottom line was that those alternatives were not likely to offer remedies to the challenges confronting the international community.
The ongoing stalemate was “deeply troubling”, said the European Union’s delegate, calling for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty. The disarmament machinery should deliver tangible results based on “strategic synergies and coordination” among the relevant institutions. The First Committee, he added, should concentrate efforts on pertinent and topical issues, rather than maintaining a “formalistic” practice of updating previously adopted resolutions without substantive discussion.
During the meeting, Iran’s representative introduced the resolution entitled “follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conference to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”.
Egypt’s representative introduced two resolutions, the first, on a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and the second, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
Speaking before the cluster on nuclear weapons, Victor Vasiliev, Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities, introduced the report of the Group.
Also speaking during the cluster on nuclear weapons were the representatives of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Israel, Germany, Qatar, Syria, Iran, United Republic of Tanzania and Egypt.
During the cluster on disarmament machinery, the representatives of Indonesia, Bahrain, Suriname, Egypt and Lithuania also spoke.
The right of reply was exercised by the representatives of the Republic of Korea and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 23 October, to continue its thematic debates.
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.
VICTOR VASILIEV, Chair, Group of Governmental Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities, stated that the Group’s report was the result of a study by 15 experts, as well as the inputs of many other States and international organizations. The study reflected growing dependence on uses of space and a dramatic increase in the number of actors in outer space activities. There were more than 1,000 satellites in orbit and more States were becoming spacefaring nations. Acknowledging existing instruments dealing with transparency and confidence-building on outer space, he said that further voluntary, non-legally binding measures were needed, as well as stronger coordination among participants in outer space activities. Summarizing the conclusions of the report, he stressed again that the proposals were practical, implementable and did not undermine State sovereignty.
Cluster on Nuclear Weapons
KIM JU SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that nuclear weapons were the principle threat to human existence. The world recalled the memory of the disaster caused by the United States 70 years ago, and today, there was an increase in the number of active nuclear weapons to a level sufficient to destroy the world many times over. The nuclear threat, begun by the United States during the Korean War, had become even more direct, through the installation of nuclear weapons in the Republic of Korea. Every year, military exercises had taken place on a massive scale against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the United States had flouted his country’s right to launch a satellite for peaceful purposes. During the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on disarmament, the initiative adopted by the Non‑Aligned Movement had underscored once again that nuclear disarmament was an undertaking for the whole international community. It was high time to take action, and as the largest user and possessor of nuclear weapons, the United States should be the first to do so. Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula could be achieved. The nuclear threat from the United States still remained, but his country, with the utmost patience, continued to control the situation.
EITAN LEVON ( Israel) stated that the Middle East was undergoing “significant and historic changes”, and the current turmoil in the Arab world was a clear demonstration of the fragility and instability in that region. Indeed, several alarming proliferation developments had taken place there in recent years, including the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against its own civilians. That country also was under investigation for its “clandestine pursuit” of nuclear weapons, a practice of deceit that reflected compliance challenges in the region. Perhaps more alarming was Iran’s nuclear programme; that country was determined to acquire nuclear weapons.
He said that his country’s approach in the field of security and arms control had always been pragmatic and realistic, as well as rooted in the security concerns of regional members. Israel’s vision underlined lasting peaceful relations, reconciliation, good neighbourliness, open borders and trust. Those were “key milestones” in the endeavour to create a verifiable zone free of weapons of mass destruction. That said, experience had proven that such a zone could only emanate from within a region. Disturbing realities in the Middle East meant that the process was “inherently an incremental one”. It was regrettable that no direct regional security dialogue currently existed, nor any regional forum in which to hold such a dialogue. Highlighting confidence-building initiatives undertaken by his country, he expressed hope that his Arab neighbours would support a direct dialogue with Israel, based on consensus among all parties.
MICHAEL BIONTINO (Germany), associating himself with the European Union and the statement by Australia on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear-weapon use, said that while nuclear arsenals had been reduced dramatically over the last two decades, there was no reason for complacency. He welcomed the United States’ proposal to start a new round of talks with the Russian Federation, which should also include strategic and sub-strategic, deployed and non-deployed nuclear weapons. Nuclear-weapon States had issued negative security assurances to all States in compliance with their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the role of nuclear weapons had been reduced in many security doctrines, such as those of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
He said, however, that the risk of terrorist acquisition of nuclear weapons or nuclear devices had increased, which was one reason why it was so important to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. Disarmament and non-proliferation were two sides of the same coin, and it was crucial, therefore, to redouble efforts to implement the 2010 NPT Action Plan. The best path towards “global zero” was to pursue realistic, verifiable, irreversible steps. He called for the immediate commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning fissile material and the entry unto force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
GHANIM AL-KUWARI ( Qatar), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the recent high-level meeting on disarmament was evidence of the increased importance placed on those issues. Qatar underscored the value of expediting the implementation of commitments by Member States. Despite his country’s optimism, a setback had occurred when NPT States parties had failed to organize a meeting on creating a Middle East zone free of mass destruction weapons. It had not been convened, owing to the refusal of one State. That conference should be convened “as soon as possible”, as such a zone was crucial. Questioning the extent to which the international community was able to create a world free of nuclear weapons, he stressed the need for all 44 so-called “Annex II” States to the CTBT and for universality of the NPT.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed support for the global goal of creating an international community that neither used force or threatened to do so, either with nuclear or conventional weapons. The full elimination of nuclear weapons was the only way to prevent their use or threat of use. In the forefront of world challenges was the proliferation risk, either vertical or horizontal, of mass destruction weapons, in particular, nuclear weapons. That was exacerbated when States threatened their use to achieve their own political ends. After more than four decades after the NPT’s adoption, it was necessary for the nuclear-weapon States to apply article VI and seriously work to free the world of that threat. Israel must join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State party, in line with all the other States in the region, and submit its nuclear sites to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection and safeguards. Israel was not a party to any of the treaties or conventions guarding against the proliferation of biological or chemical weapons, he added.
He said that France had provided a reactor to produce uranium in the Israeli city of Dimona, and at the start of the 1960s, additional States had assisted that programme. Since then, Israel had adopted a policy of nuclear ambiguity. Meanwhile, the Dimona reactor produced more than 840 kilograms of uranium for military purposes, which was enough for 200 nuclear warheads. Israel was also mining for minerals in the Negev, in Palestinian territory. Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear technician, had told the press about Israel’s nuclear weapons in the 1980s, and he was not the only one to have publicly stated that Israel had a very developed nuclear programme. Still, some closed their eyes to that programme, which was known to all, and in a blatant manner applied double standards, acting as if Israel was above the law. That ran contrary to the United Nations Charter.
In the First Committee this year, many States had stressed the importance of serious adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which would entail launching a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, he said. That was a signal to Israel and its supporters that its policy of nuclear ambiguity was not ambiguous, but clear to all. All States that were protecting that nuclear ambiguity must realize that their support was “useless”. They must bring pressure to bear on Israel to join the NPT and submit its sites to IAEA supervision. That was the only way to ensure the creation of a zone in the region free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, he said.
MOSTAFA SHISHECHIHA ( Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that nuclear weapons threatened the very survival of human civilization. The posturing of nuclear-armed States, along with NATO’s strategy, was clearly established non-compliance and must be abandoned. That extended to the modernization of nuclear weapons as well and the construction of new nuclear-weapon facilities, which undermined the NPT’s objective and purpose, relevance, integrity and credibility. Such non-compliance must end. He was also gravely concerned by violations of article I, as hundreds of nuclear weapons were deployed in European territories by nuclear-weapon States. He pointed, for example, to States “like Canada”, which displayed a hypocritical and inconsistent nuclear position.
He said that nuclear non-proliferation derived its legitimacy from the larger initiative of nuclear disarmament and was credible only when there were acceptable parallels achieved on nuclear disarmament. That needed to go beyond mere decommissioning of nuclear weapons or reducing their number, rather than preserving their higher destructive power. He supported genuine non-proliferation concerns, however, the international community must not equate peaceful nuclear energy with the development of nuclear weapons. Islamic teachings obliged Iran not to pursue a nuclear weapons programme, and those “inhuman” weapons did not and would never bring security. Accordingly, nuclear weapons had no place in Iran’s security doctrine. All of its nuclear activities were, and always had been, peaceful, and Iran was cooperating with the IAEA, even beyond its legal obligations.
His delegation also introduced the resolution entitled “follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conference to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”, based on General Assembly resolution 66/28, with only technical updates.
BRIEFNE O’REILLY ( Ireland), associating himself with the European Union and the New Agenda Coalition ( Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa), said that, after decades of being “regrettably blurred”, there had been a “new sense of focus, priority and purpose” in the discourse on nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, certain discussions undermined the message about eliminating nuclear weapons. He asked, for example, if deterrence was not simply another way of describing “mutually assured destruction”. The language of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea regarding deterrence had a “depressingly familiar ring” to it — “it is nuclear-weapon State language reflected back at nuclear-weapon States”.
Revulsion at chemical weapons use in Syria was correct, he said, adding that very clear international message had not been reconciled with a similarly clear message on nuclear weapons, which differed only from chemical weapons in that they were more indiscriminate and more devastating. The re-emergence of the “humanitarian consequences narrative” on nuclear disarmament allowed the international community to go beyond the constraints of traditional treaty discussions, and instead, examine the devastating consequences of a nuclear-weapon detonation for human beings. The New Agenda Coalition was concerned with “progress, not process”, on nuclear disarmament. Disarmament forums, which had a very real impact on people’s lives, would be judged according to what they did or did not do, he concluded.
edward v. Masalla (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for nuclear disarmament, and added that the only assurance against use of those weapons or threat of use was their total eradication. He highlighted several disarmament and non-proliferation instruments to which his country was party, underscoring, in particular, its commitment to the NPT. He called on States parties to comply with their obligations and adhere to the Treaty’s three main pillars. Nuclear-weapon-free zones were a valuable initiative and his country supported the call for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. Reluctance by nuclear-weapon States to offer negative security assurances was regrettable, and he called on those States to agree to a legally binding instrument. Only through the fulfilment of those and other obligations could the world be saved from the danger of another nuclear catastrophe.
VLADIMIR Yermakov ( Russian Federation) said that the First Committee had already heard many interesting national statements, in which a broad spectrum of views had been presented. Support for the NPT was encouraging, and implementation of its three pillars was of utmost importance. In the middle of the twentieth century, his country, then the “ USSR”, had been involved in an unimaginably large, full-scale arms race. The possession of nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s had saved the country from nuclear elimination or destruction and allowed for the threat of nuclear conflict to be turned into a cold war based on the principle of peaceful nuclear coexistence. The end of the cold war gave rise to hope regarding the building of a world free of nuclear weapons on the basis of new democratic principles of equitable and undiminished security for all. Russia courageously had undertaken a hitherto unseen path regarding nuclear missile disarmament, in a relatively short timeframe, and dozens of times had reduced its nuclear missile stockpiles, cutting its arsenal to the minimally sufficient levels.
He stressed that the Russian Federation had no intention of repeating the mistakes of the past, nor would it be dragged into new arms races. However, today’s reality was such that, with the end of the cold war, the world hardly had become a safer place, and actually, the situation was “probably to the contrary”. For today’s world, it was more characteristic to see ambiguous strategic ability as well as turbulence or turmoil. The foundation of traditional institutions in the area of international security was “rocked”. Double standards were applied, and, at times, forceful actions were undertaken at the United Nations that ran counter to Security Council decisions. In those instances, international law was trampled upon and the very basis of inter-State relations was ignored.
A number of countries even tried to rewrite the “very bloody history” of the Second World War, he said. However, the international community remembered that the “ USSR”, itself, had borne the burden of that terrible war, having lost 30 million lives. That would never be forgotten. Similarly, it was also universally recalled against whom the first and hopefully last nuclear attack was levied, in 1945. He, thus, proposed that all interested parties not “waste efforts and time” on such “useless topics” as the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. Children in schools already understood that any full-scale nuclear attack would mean the loss of human life and human civilization. It was necessary to get beyond illusions and take up what was actually important, namely, establishing international conditions conducive to nuclear disarmament — and not just nuclear disarmament, but disarmament in general — to be enjoyed by all humanity.
SAMEH ABOUL-ENEIN ( Egypt), associating himself with the African and Arab Groups, and the statement by the New Agenda Coalition, said that this year, discussions on nuclear weapons had taken place against a backdrop of “rising interest”. Highlighting some recent initiatives, he noted in particular the “coherent” proposal put forward by the Non-Aligned Movement following the recent high-level disarmament meeting. The Movement had called for, among others, the multilateral negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention. Egypt had worked vigorously as a working group member, stressing in particular the importance of a legally binding disarmament framework, which was timebound and enforceable.
He said that the postponement of the planned conference to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East a “flagrant violation” of the 2010 NPT Plan of Action. He reiterated his support for such a zone and noted that one initiative in that regard involved States of the region’s accession to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, among other instruments, which would receive Egypt’s full support. He introduced two resolutions, the first, on a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and the second, on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. He summarized technical updates to the texts. Egypt would work tirelessly towards disarmament and non-proliferation.
FRANCIS CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, stated that the Committee was meeting at a moment of extraordinary opportunity. In recent weeks, the world had seen “vivid action” in the long struggle to rid the world of chemical and nuclear weapons. The Security Council’s unanimous resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons had historic importance, but as the Secretary-General had noted, “a red light for one form of weapons did not mean a green light for others”. The world’s willingness to move forward to eliminate nuclear weapons had never been more evident. That said, a very small number of States stood in the way, blocking progress on a problem that “goes on year after year in paralysis and obfuscation”. It was ironic, too, that States vociferous in their condemnation of chemical weapons were silent on the continued possession of nuclear weapons. He called on the international community to, among other things, “act with one voice” to ban all mass destruction weapons. The world had never been so interconnected, and falling into a “globalization of indifference” could not be risked. Peace was an edifice in continual construction, which lay its foundations in trust and dialogue, not force.
Cluster on Disarmament Machinery
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern at the continuing erosion of multilateralism in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. With that, he stressed the importance of multilateral disarmament machinery. Enhancing its effectiveness was a shared objective, and he reiterated the call that the Conference on Disarmament agree on a balanced and comprehensive programme of work, stressing that all States must demonstrate the necessary political will to enable that body to fulfil its mandate. The Movement stood ready to engage constructively in that regard.
He reaffirmed the importance the Charter attached to the principle of equality among States and equitable geographic distribution, which must apply to members of governmental expert groups. He urged the Secretary-General to take concrete action to ensure a more balanced membership of those groups. That would contribute to the effectiveness and participatory nature of their work.
HAMAD FAREED AHMAD HASAN (Bahrain), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that the agreed multilateral framework provided the sole sustainable means to address issues of disarmament and international security. He called on all Member States to renew their obligations and stressed the importance of the role of the United Nations in that regard. The Group reaffirmed the importance of the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission and the First Committee. The current stalemate on the Conference was due, not to a deficiency in the Conference, but to a lack of political will on the part of the main member countries. He reaffirmed once again the importance of the Conference as the sole multilateral negotiating disarmament framework, and said it must be enabled to assume its role. He hoped that the informal working group would open the way to work as soon as possible.
He said that the Disarmament Commission should be a source of inspiration for new ideas and initiatives, but achieving its goal also required political will on the part of all Member States. The Group reiterated that legal obligations and multilateral frameworks could only assume their roles in full with adequate political will. That would turn obligations into tangible reality.
KITTY SWEEB (Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations, expressed serious concern that, for the past 15 years, the Member States of the Conference on Disarmament had failed to agree on a programme of work. She urged all Conference members to show greater political will to overcome that prolonged stalemate with the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive and balanced work programme and to start substantive work. She noted with concern the possibility of an arms race in outer space and reaffirmed the importance of negotiating a legally binding instrument in that field. The Union of South American Nations was willing to advance negotiations on a multilateral and non-discriminatory treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons. She highlighted the work of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) as an autonomous institute designed to undertake independent research and recognized the importance generally of greater interaction and participation of civil society.
ANDRAS KOS, representative of the European Union Delegation, expressed the Union’s strong support for effective multilateralism and held that the elements of the United Nations Disarmament machinery were “mutually reinforcing”. New threats to international security, now more than ever, required properly functioning disarmament machinery. Deliberative and negotiating bodies established under the auspices of the General Assembly’s first special session devoted to disarmament should be improved in order to achieve results in line with agreed mandates. The First Committee should concentrate its efforts on the most pertinent and topical issues, rather than maintaining a “formalistic” practice of updating previously adopted resolutions. Each year, resolutions were adopted without substantive discussion.
Responsibility for maintaining the effectiveness and relevance of the Committee, he went on, fell to all Member States. Welcoming the “substantive and active” debate in the Disarmament Commission, he said that overall participation in that body, nonetheless, was “regrettably low”. Likewise, the ongoing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, which had a crucial role, was deeply troubling. Immediate commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty was a priority, he added. The disarmament machinery should deliver tangible results based on “strategic synergies and coordination” among the relevant institutions.
AMR ALJOWAILY ( Egypt), associating himself with Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, reiterated support for the United Nations disarmament machinery. The solution to the situation in the Conference on Disarmament lay in addressing all the issues on its agenda through an integrated approach that included negotiations on nuclear disarmament, negative security assurances, a treaty to ban fissile material and the prevention of an outer space arms race. Egypt had contributed to efforts to revitalize the Conference, by tabling draft decision CD1933/Rev.1, which provided a base on which subsequent efforts should be pursued. Regrettably, that had not been adopted. He welcomed any collective action by Member States to revitalize the Conference, as long as those efforts did not affect the rules of procedure and that nuclear disarmament remained the top priority.
He called on the Conference to shoulder its responsibility to launch negotiations on a convention that prohibited the use, development and possession of nuclear weapons. Revitalizing that body was an important dimension to reinvigorating the United Nations disarmament machinery as a whole, as similar efforts were needed to revitalize the Disarmament Commission, as the sole deliberative body within the United Nations multilateral disarmament machinery. Efforts should also be made to diversify the disarmament machinery’s experts and consultants to ensure that more were utilized from the developing world.
CHRISTOPHER BUCK ( United States) said that the current regrettable state of affairs was not the fault of the United Nations disarmament machinery itself. Modest adjustments to the machinery and established practice might be helpful, and some interesting ideas had been put forward, however those alone did not offer a panacea. What was needed was a willingness among all States to use the machinery as it was intended and to recognize that its special features were designed to allow States to protect their national interests. He rejected circumventing existing machinery in ways that did not provide a fail-safe environment or offer a way forward. The bottom line was that those alternatives were not likely to offer remedies to the challenges confronting the international community.
He said, however, that there had been many successes, including the Arms Trade Treaty and the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The Change Management Plan contained in document A/68/485 was an important initiative that could promote the overarching goals of greater efficiency, streamline operations, reduce costs and improve transparency within the United Nations system. It was incumbent on Member States to work with the United Nations to ensure that those objectives were in the overall plan. He also welcomed the proposed changes regarding library services and was interested to learn more about how that proposal would generate meaningful long-term savings.
ARTURAS GAILIUNAS ( Lithuania), associating himself with the European Union, said that a multilateral approach to non-proliferation and disarmament was essential for developing and maintaining fundamental international norms. Being a firm supporter of effective multilateralism, Lithuania supported the Conference on Disarmament, the Disarmament Commission, the Advisory Board, UNIDIR, the First Committee and relevant international treaties and regimes. He regretted that, despite clear calls by the General Assembly, the Conference on Disarmament had not been able to break the long-standing impasse and commence substantive work during its 2013 session. Since the successful negotiations in 1996, other conventions had been negotiated outside the Conference, thus undermining the Conference’s authority. That made the adoption of a programme of work more urgent than ever.
Enlarging the Conference’s membership, he said, should be addressed without delay, as that was in line with that body’s rules. Lithuania added its voice to other countries calling for the appointment of a special rapporteur on expanding the membership. General Assembly resolution 65/87 reiterated that UNIDIR should continue to conduct independent research on issues of disarmament and security and provide the international community with a high degree of expertise. Lithuania valued the Institute’s activities and underlined the importance of its autonomy.
YADIRA LEDESMA HERNANDEZ ( Cuba) said that each and every disarmament organ played a fundamental role. It was important to make tangible progress, she said, attaching utmost priority to attaining nuclear disarmament. In that, she said that a multilateral framework was the only sustainable method by which to address disarmament and international security matters. She also stressed the importance of the Disarmament Commission, which allowed for detailed discussions of the most relevant topics. Her delegation was pleased that it had been able to agree on a substantive agenda for fulfilling its three year cycle of work. The Conference on Disarmament played a unique role, and she was concerned by suggestions to sideline it by those who wrongly claimed it was a dysfunctional. Cuba did not agree; what it needed was strengthening, with adoption of a broad and balanced work programme, starting with nuclear disarmament.
She said that the Non-Aligned Movement would be submitting a new initiative to make 26 September a Day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The draft to table would also put forward a new approach regarding the urgent need to promptly launch disarmament negotiations. The proposal would include three topics, namely, nuclear disarmament, a treaty to ban fissile material and negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States. All of those issues, according to the resolution, would be enshrined in a comprehensive convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s delegate had claimed that the North faced a nuclear threat. However, he wished to recall “several objective facts” pointing to the reality that it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that threatened the South and the United States. On 7 March, the North had threatened the United States with a nuclear strike on its soil, and, prior to that, had produced and disseminated a bizarre propaganda video on YouTube, which showed New York City in flames. It had also stated, via different media, that it had entered a state of war. In April, it had threatened foreign nationals in the Republic of Korea that the Korean peninsula was on the verge of nuclear war. From those facts alone, it was quite clear who was truly responsible for creating and escalating tensions in the region. The United States and Republic of Korea’s joint exercises were purely defensive in nature and had been conducted in decades past. Those ensured peace and stability in the region, against the threat cause by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. There were no nuclear weapons in the Republic of Korea’s territory, which was unchanged in its observance of the 1992 Joint Decision towards denuclearization, to which the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was also a party.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that he had listened to the “absurd” comments made by the representative of the Republic of Korea. He knew from the outset that that delegation would comment on the military exercise it undertook every year. The United States and Republic of Korea military aircraft, as well as naval vessels, had been navigating in the waters off the Korean peninsula, demonstrating that they had exceeded the limits. They were seeking to provoke a war against his country. He rejected the representative’s comments, and said he had let the Government of South Korea know that they should act “prudently and cautiously”, as well as understand who was chiefly to blame for the threat on the peninsula.
The representative of the Republic of Korea replied that if there was no threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, then there would be no joint Republic of Korea-United States military exercise. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea exercised its right of reply as a member of the United Nations. A member, not only had that right, but also the duty to abide by the Charter as well as relevant Security Council resolutions. The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should carry out those obligations before exercising his right of reply. Furthermore, Article IV of the Charter restricted United Nations membership to “peace-loving States”. The Charter was not an “a la carte menu”; the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not accept one part and reject another. It should return as soon as possible to the NPT and adhere to IAEA safeguard agreements in order to achieve denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Then and only then could its representative discuss this issue.
The delegate from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that it was a really bad habit to raise issues that had nothing to do with the right of reply just exercised. The Republic of Korea had raised those issues on different occasions, and he had not clearly understood what the delegate from the South was saying, just as he did not understand what the representative had meant to express with his commentary. One thing was sure, namely that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea totally rejected — although it was hard to understand — the commentary just made by the Republic of Korea. Second, he had several times made his position really clear regarding the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. The delegate from the South had “better learn how to say”, and they should behave “in a position to actually mention” the nuclear issue to its originator country. That was the United States, and not the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
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