Deliberative Body Risks Seeing Relevance Eroded, Chair Warns, Urging It to ‘Prove Otherwise’ by Exerting ‘Global Authority’
This year presented an opportunity to break the 14-year-long dearth of consensus outcomes in the United Nations Disarmament Commission, delegates heard today as that body opened its 2014 substantive session, the last of the current triennial cycle.
“It is still possible for 2014 to be a year for the diplomatic bridge-builders of this world to carry the day,” said Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, emphasizing that “the alternative of a new dark age, where origin of fear, mutual suspicion and hatred prove triumphant, must not be an option”. Given the impasse hampering the entire United Nations disarmament machinery, the Commission should be “the first mover”.
Expressing his shock upon having learned that daily global military spending was almost double the Organization’s regular annual budget, he said that was “frustrating” because the scarcity of resources made it difficult to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. “The world is overarmed, but peace is underfunded,” he pointed out.
Vladimir Drobnjak (Croatia), Chair of the Commission, said it had approved 16 recommendations, guidelines and declarations by consensus between 1979 and 1999, but had achieved no concrete result since 1999 despite extensive debates on the two main agenda items: nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; and confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons. The Commission “now stands at risk that its relevance is eroded”, he said, emphasizing that the current session presented “a chance to prove otherwise”. While the Commission was not a decision-making body but a deliberative one, it represented all Member States and its recommendations, though not binding, carried global authority, he stressed.
In the ensuing general debate, delegations from more than 20 countries highlighted national efforts to promote a world free of nuclear weapons and to build confidence in disarmament in relation to conventional weapons. Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated that group’s deep concern over the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament, urging the nuclear-armed States to eliminate their arsenals of weapons and delivery systems. Progress was essential to strengthening international peace and security, he said, stressing that nuclear disarmament should not be conditional on confidence-building measures or other such efforts.
The representative of the United States said that while his delegation was sensitive to concerns about the pace of progress on disarmament, the “path to zero” would require patience and persistence, and would only be accomplished through concrete and progressive steps. Disarmament would not be achieved in a single negotiation, or by setting artificial deadlines, as some had proposed, for a nuclear weapons convention, he stressed.
Ukraine’s representative noted that his country was celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its signing of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as well as the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine had renounced its nuclear arsenal after the cold war, yet the Russian Federation had failed to honour its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum in relation to the situation in Crimea, he pointed out.
The Russian Federation’s representative, pointing out that the current Government of Ukraine had come to power by overthrowing the previous administration, emphasized that the Budapest Memorandum clearly did not apply to conditions resulting from internal political factors. He pointed out that more than 95 per cent of voters in Crimea had opted to join the Russian Federation. Moreover, the Government of the Russian Federation adhered strictly to the Budapest Memorandum’s obligation not to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-weapon State, he added.
Many speakers stressed the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world and called for the early convening of a conference on establishing such a zone in the Middle East, as requested by numerous General Assembly resolutions.
Saudi Arabia’s representative said that Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons was a basic obstacle to the region’s security and stability.
Brazil’s delegate pointed out that only 39 per cent of the global population lived in nuclear-weapon-free zones, and there was no room for complacency.
Also participating in today’s debate were representatives of Costa Rica (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Iran, Senegal, Argentina, Pakistan, Ecuador, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, China, Kuwait, Japan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Colombia.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.
At the outset of the meeting, the Commission adopted its agenda, contained in document A/CN.10/L.72, and elected Bouchaib El Oumni (Morocco) and Isidor Marcel Sene (Senegal), as Vice-Chairs. It also named Peter Winkler (Germany) as Rapporteur.
The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 8 April, to continue its general debate.
The Disarmament Commission met this morning to open its 2014 substantive session, expected to conclude on 25 April.
JAN ELIASSON, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressed that key recommendations and important guidelines in the disarmament arena had emerged from the Commission, and even the cold war had not prevented it from advancing its work. However, the General Assembly was “still moved by anxiety at the general lack of confidence plaguing the world and leading to the burden of increasing armaments and the fear of war”. Those words had not been formulated today, or even recently, but were from the resolution that had established the Commission 62 years ago, he emphasized, adding that the agenda remained the same today.
He said he had been shocked to learn that daily global military spending was double the annual regular budget of the United Nations. That was frustrating because the world faced challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals due to the scarcity of resources. The world was over-armed, but peace was underfunded, he said, noting that global mistrust could be seen in soaring military budgets and in the lack of transparency around the armaments trade. “The challenge we are facing is cyclical, because the very lack of progress in these fields generates additional mistrust and additional mutual suspicions.”
The Commission was a subsidiary body of the General Assembly and had an eminent place with a mandate to rebuild trust among Member States, he continued. That confidence-building could begin today, he urged, citing such positive developments as the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, as well as the innovative initiatives of civil society. Each area of the disarmament had its own difficulties, but progress in one area should go hand in hand with progress in others because they were mutually inclusive.
The ultimate skills needed to tackle those issues were present “in this room” today, he said, stressing that diplomacy and cooperation could create a “win-win” proposition. “It is still possible for 2014 to be a year for the diplomatic bridge-builders of this world to carry the day. The alternative of a new dark age in which “fear, mutual suspicion and hatred prove triumphant, must not be an option”, he said, urging the Commission to become “the first mover”, so that other disarmament bodies would follow its example.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia), Commission Chair, said 2014 marked the end of the triennial cycle and was part of the collective effort to advance global disarmament and arms-control norms that would ultimately strengthen international peace and security. However, it had been 15 years since the Commission had produced any recommendations or confidence-building measures, and both items on its agenda — nuclear disarmament and conventional weapons — had been extensively debated year after year with no concrete result since 1999, in stark contrast to the period 1979-1999, when it had adopted 16 consensus recommendations, guidelines and declarations.
“What is at stake at this juncture is the very credibility of the [United Nations Disarmament Commission],” he emphasized. “The [United Nations Disarmament Commission] now stands at risk that its relevance is eroded. We have a chance to prove otherwise.” The sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly had adopted more than 50 resolutions dealing with disarmament, about a dozen of which concerned nuclear disarmament, and five of which had been adopted without a vote. Some might say it was better to have no recommendations than to produce documents of mediocre value and no new substance, he suggested. There was certainly more than a grain of truth in that, but it was no longer just the paperwork that should be a concern, but the Commission itself, with its relevance in obvious need of renewal, he stressed. While the Commission was not a binding decision-making body, but a deliberative one, its main strength stemmed from the fact that is was composed of all Member States, he pointed out. Its recommendations, therefore, although not binding, carried global authority, he said, suggesting that the Commission consider the possibility of exploring ways in which to use the vast expertise of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Researching.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the grouping’s deep concern over the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament, calling on nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their arsenals, weapons and delivery systems. Progress was essential to strengthening international peace and security, he said, stressing that nuclear disarmament should not be conditional on confidence-building measures or any other disarmament efforts. General Assembly resolution 68/32 and the follow-up to the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament should be the framework, he said, adding that the United Nations High-level International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, to be convened no later than 2018, would provide the global community with an opportunity to review progress and make concrete recommendations to maintain momentum towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
He went on to emphasize the urgent need to move forward on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East. The total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee against their use or threat of use, he said, stressing that improving existing nuclear weapons and developing new types contradicted the multilateral legal obligation of achieving goal of nuclear disarmament. While all States had the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful uses, concerns over weapons proliferation were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements, while related issues should be resolved through political and diplomatic means. Strong and genuine political will was needed to support the multilateral disarmament machinery, he said, pledging the Non-Aligned Movement’s full support for the Commission’s work.
SAUL WEISLEDER (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), emphasized the importance of reinforcing the long-term goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons, calling in that regard for the negotiation and adoption of a universal, legally binding instrument on negative security assurances. The use of, or threat to use, nuclear weapons was a crime against humanity, he said, expressing great concern about the humanitarian impact and long-term global consequences of any accidental or deliberate use. Calling on all nuclear-weapon States to withdraw all reservations to the Protocols of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and to respect the denuclearized status of Latin America and the Caribbean, he expressed regret that delays had stalled the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
Practical confidence-building measures in the field of conventional weapons played an important role in promoting understanding, transparency and cooperation among States, and in enhancing stability and security, he said. Having taken significant steps to implement confidence-building measures, CELAC encouraged other Member States to do likewise. It also supported the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and expected the Arms Trade Treaty to provide an effective response to the non-legal weapons trade. Noting that the Community had welcomed the Declaration of Central America as a mine-free zone, he stressed the importance of cooperation in demining and victim assistance. CELAC regretted that the Commission had been unable to make recommendations in previous cycles, he said, noting that it was important for the body to fulfil its mandate and calling on all delegations to show the necessary political will to move forward.
USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasize that disarmament and proliferation issues were best addressed through multilaterally negotiated, universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory agreements. The African Group called for flexibility, particularly in the positions of nuclear-weapon States, and promised to support constructive actions and concrete proposals, especially with regard to discussions on nuclear disarmament. It also reiterated its support for the Treaty of Pelindaba, which restated the African continent’s status as a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
He went on to underline the significance of General Assembly resolution 68/32, “Follow-up to the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament”, as a fundamental framework in the “onerous pursuit of the noble objective of nuclear disarmament”. Nuclear weapons posed a present and existential threat to humankind, and their use would be in violation of the United Nations Charter and the norms of human civilization, he said, adding that it would be an aggravated crime against humanity. The African Group considered any doctrine justifying such use as unacceptable, and called for deeper efforts to address the threat of nuclear weapons and to achieve the end-goal of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty through their abolition. The total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only absolute guarantee against their use, or the threat to use them.
Paul Seger (Switzerland) described the Arms Trade Treaty’s entry into force as a major milestone, and emphasized that its effective implementation must now be a priority. Concerning nuclear weapons, Switzerland saw the growing gap between the need for progress and actual progress on nuclear disarmament as a major challenge, he said, adding that the international community increasingly recognized that the potential use of these weapons could have devastating consequences, both in the immediate and long terms. It was time to unite around the humanitarian dimension, which was now well-established. The Commission should consider options for improving its working methods and discuss how to it could become more functional, he said. It should also consider focusing on specific issues, rather than generic themes, such as nuclear or conventional disarmament, and further examine the possibility of opening its proceedings to exchanges with academia and civil society.
LEONARDO LUÍS GORGULHO NOGUEIRA FERNANDES (Brazil) said that an effective multilateral disarmament architecture fostered dialogue and built confidence among States, with the Commission being an important pillar. Regrettably, the Commission had not issued any recommendations and the problems causing the delays were political, not procedural. There had been insufficient progress on nuclear disarmament, he said, emphasizing the need for concerted efforts to meet defined benchmarks and timelines for their total elimination. He also regretted that 20 years after the end of the cold war, large sums were still being spent to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons instead of being redirected towards ending poverty. While Brazil supported multilateral and bilateral efforts, only 39 per cent of the global population lived in nuclear-weapon-free zones and there was no room for complacency, he stressed. Confidence-building measures were also needed with regard to conventional weapons, he said, expressing hope that the Commission would be able to agree on recommendations and that its debates would create positive momentum towards disarmament.
KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said that his country had hosted a workshop in March for Central Asian countries as well as regional and international organizations to discuss how the international community could effectively implement Security Council resolution 1540 (2004). To guarantee the physical security of nuclear materials and equipment in order to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism, it was important to establish strong nuclear-weapon-free zones, he emphasized, noting that discussions were under way for the final signing of negative security assurances relating such a zone in Central Asia. To ensure regional security, he said, Kazakhstan would shortly host a nuclear fuel bank under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), convert high-enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium fuel, establish a regional security training centre and strengthen its emergency preparedness, response and mitigation capabilities.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, reaffirmed that nuclear disarmament remained a matter of highest priority and concern, particularly their potential use or threats to use them. Algeria supported substantive progress on multilateral nuclear disarmament, and stressed the need to universalize the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It was vital to ensure compliance in a balanced and comprehensive way, he said, emphasizing his delegation’s attachment to the legitimate right to develop research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the non-proliferation regime. The example of the Pelindaba Treaty and other instruments establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones should also be followed in the Middle East, he added.
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI ( Iran) said that, as the Commission met amid the momentum created by the General Assembly’s first high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament, powerful and deep-rooted demands for disarmament were clear. The Commission had a special responsibility to advance disarmament, yet several countries had unfortunately prevented the adoption of a concrete set of guidelines on the way forward. Limited reduction on a bilateral or unilateral basis, and the decommissioning of nuclear weapons fell far short of real and effective steps for their total elimination, he said. Noting that all States had the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he emphasized the importance of establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, and of compelling Israel to participate in a conference on the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.
Abdou Salam Diallo (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the need to step up efforts and generate the political will to formulate a strong response during the current cycle, which was due to end this year. A constructive exchange of views would put the Commission in a position to make recommendations to the General Assembly. Noting that conventional weapons were a destabilizing factor in the Sahel region, he welcomed the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, saying his country had launched the process of ratifying the instrument. Turning to nuclear disarmament, he emphasized the need for stronger political will to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to universalize NPT and its provisions, to ensure the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to conclude a legally binding framework on fissile materials. Nuclear Powers must reduce their arsenals and guarantee no use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear States, he said, emphasizing also the right of States to peaceful use of nuclear technology under IAEA supervision.
YURIY SERGEYEV (Ukraine) said his country was celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its signing of NPT and the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine had renounced its nuclear arsenal after the cold war in the spirit of nuclear disarmament, he recalled. Yet the Russian Federation had failed to honour its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum, he said, citing the situation in Crimea. He called on all States to reaffirm their commitment to recognize Ukraine’s territorial integrity and invited all delegations to participate in the round table on States relinquishing nuclear weapons, to be held at United Nations Headquarters on 28 April, in preparation for the upcoming conference on non-proliferation.
MICHAEL AHO ( United States) said his country’s policy was to achieve peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons. The United States was sensitive to concerns over the pace of progress on disarmament, but the path to zero would require patience and persistence, and the goal would only be achieved through concrete and progressive steps. Disarmament would not be achieved in a single negotiation, or by setting artificial deadlines, as some had proposed, for a nuclear weapons convention. The United States could not stress strongly enough that it well understood the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and it had devoted the time, hard work and considerable resources in a decades-long endeavour to reduce and ultimately eliminate, nuclear weapons. Through the promotion of regional and global security and stability, effective non-proliferation would help to create the international conditions necessary to achieve the ultimate goal of disarmament. It would also provide a framework for promoting the broadest possible cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy for the benefit of all humankind, he said. As for non-compliance, States should be held accountable for violations, he added.
MARIA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said the deliberations ahead must identify measures to move forward towards peace and security. Confidence-building measures were needed, alongside transparency and cooperation. It would only be through dialogue that the Commission would overcome its decade-long deadlock, she said, emphasizing that constructive and pragmatic approaches were needed in order to achieve positive results during the current session.
MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan) said that threats, including the use of weapons of mass destruction, had loomed large on the global horizon, yet consensus on the disarmament agenda remained elusive. For more than a decade, Pakistan had been working for a global consensus on disarmament issues, and it was imperative that the Commission provide fresh impetus for that challenging task. The building of consensus must be based on the rights of all States to security at all levels, he said, calling for negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States. The international legal regime must be strengthened to prevent the militarization of outer space and a fissile material treaty should be negotiated. Pakistan would maintain its adherence to a policy of credible minimum deterrence, he said, cautioning that the induction of a ballistic missile defence system in South Asia would be an “escalatory and destabilizing step”. He called on the international community to “reverse discrimination” and grant his country full access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador), associating himself with CELAC and the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that his country was the only one with a national constitution that enshrined the rights of nature, declaring the right of human beings to live in harmony with the environment. In that regard, Ecuador condemned the existence of nuclear weapons, he said, urging nuclear Powers to fulfil their obligations. There was need for a legally binding treaty on nuclear weapons, and for nuclear-weapon-free zones in regions that did not have them. A conference on establishing such a zone in the Middle East should take place as soon as possible, he emphasized, recalling that it should have been held in 2012. On confidence-building in the field of conventional arms, he said that South American States were promoting such measures as the information exchange and notification of military activities. Those efforts were gaining force each day, adding that he expected the Commission to reach a consensus outcome on both nuclear disarmament and conventional weapons.
HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) said he was heartened by the growing interest of Member States in a humanitarian approach to the consequences of nuclear weapons, and congratulated Mexico for successfully hosting the Second International Conference on Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons on 13-14 February. Nuclear-weapon-free zones would contribute significantly to global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives, and Malaysia looked forward to the conclusion of negotiations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the five nuclear-weapon States on the protocol to the Bangkok Treaty of 1995. It also supported confidence-building measures relating to conventional weapons at all levels, he said, expressing hope that the Commission would have a results-oriented session.
PAIK JI-AH (Republic of Korea) said the Commission was at a critical juncture and a failure this year could threaten its raison d’être. For the next three weeks, delegations should focus more on common denominators than differences. While the outcomes might not satisfy all Member States, an incremental agreement would be better than none at all, she emphasized. She said that her delegation looked forward to the early entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty. As for nuclear proliferation, she warned that while there had been positive trends, including the talks between the P5+1 and Iran, the nuclear issue concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a grave and continuing threat to the Korean peninsula. The Republic of Korea was committed to the peninsula’s peaceful denuclearization, in close cooperation with the international community, she said, urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to stop its provocations and abandon all nuclear weapons and programmes. In closing, she expressed hope that the Commission would emerge from its prolonged impasse and once again play a unique role in disarmament.
ZHANG JUNAN (China) said that his country had a responsible, transparent nuclear programme and had helped to build the international nuclear security system while upholding regional and global peace and stability. It had exercised utmost restraint in developing nuclear weapons and had adhered to principles, including the “no first use” policy and negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States. China had also participated in the NPT Review Conference. In the interest of a nuclear-weapon-free future, the development of missile defence systems should be halted. A long-term plan should be set in motion with the aim of completely eliminating nuclear weapons, he said, noting that China supported the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. Recalling the agreement reached in the P5+1 talks with Iran, he said China had set forth proposals to move the process forward. As for conventional arms control, confidence-building measures were helpful and China had passed legislation and taken other steps to address the illegal arms trade, he said, expressing hope that the Commission would make positive progress on those and other relevant issues during the present session.
ABDULAZIZ ALAJMI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of multilateral diplomacy, in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter. Member States should create a new situation by adopting the recommendations of the current session. On non-proliferation, he said the 2010 NPT Review Conference called for the convening of a conference on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, but the region was far from achieving that goal. He also highlighted questions of non-intervention, peaceful settlement of disputes, territorial integrity, the right to self-determination and other Charter principles, expressing hope that the Commission could find sufficient political will to develop consensus recommendations this year.
KAZUYOSHI UMEMOTO (Japan) said that both the Commission, the leading deliberative body and the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, had failed to fulfil their mandates. The lack of yet another substantive outcome in the Commission would call its raison d’être into serious question, he said. The recent launches of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were another challenge to international disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, he said, describing them as clear violations of Security Council resolutions. As the only country ever to have suffered nuclear bombing, Japan understood the catastrophic humanitarian consequences, he said, emphasizing that such clear understanding should underpin all efforts at nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Member States must confront two significant challenges in the coming months — early entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and curbing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, he stressed.
NAIF BIN BANDAR AL-SUDAIRY (Saudi Arabia) said that establishing a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East, as called for by numerous General Assembly resolutions, was a chief concern. Peace and security could not be achieved through the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons was a fundamental obstacle to regional security and stability. Real peace must be based on trust and sincere intentions among States, he emphasized. He went on to express hope that the talks between Iran and the P5+1 would continue on a positive track, keeping in mind the right of all States to develop peaceful nuclear energy programmes. As Chair of the Commission’s working group on the elimination and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia would do its utmost to issue a new document that hopefully would provide a reasonable basis for adoption in the coming days.
ALEXANDER PANKIN (Russian Federation) called on all States to move gradually forward on the way to creating the conditions for the strategic goal of a world without nuclear weapons. However, the reduction and limitation of nuclear weapons could not be managed without proper regard for all factors that could negatively affect strategic stability, including the unilateral and unlimited build-up by the United States of a global anti-missile defence system, the lack of any progress towards ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the unwillingness of the United States to renounce the possibility of placing weapons in outer space and the build-up of quantitative and qualitative imbalances in the area of conventional weapons.
Efforts to prevent the placement of assault weapon systems in outer space were among the most important elements of strategic stability, he said, noting that his country would introduce a draft resolution on that issue. Transparency and confidence-building measures in relation to outer space activities was becoming increasingly important, and the General Assembly had unanimously adopted a related resolution during its sixty-eighth session. On conventional weapons, he said the Russian Federation would aim to establish a control regime in Europe, in order to ensure balance with the modern reality, as well as unconditional observance by all States of agreed confidence-building and security measures.
Turning to what the representative of Ukraine had earlier called the Russian Federation’s violations of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, he pointed out that the current Government of that country had come to power by overthrowing the previous administration. The provisions of the Budapest Memorandum clearly did not apply to conditions occurring due to internal political factors, he emphasized, pointing out that more than 95 per cent of voters in Crimea had voted to join his country. For its part, the Russian Federation had behaved in strict compliance with its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum, including during the Maidan clashes in Kyiv, which could not be said about some Western Powers. As for statements to the effect that the Russian Federation was undermining nuclear disarmament, he stressed that the obligation not to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-weapon State was an important element of the Budapest Memorandum and a principle that the Russian Federation had followed strictly.
RI TONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the country which that had dropped the most powerful weapon on two major cities and which was modernizing its nuclear stockpiles based its actions on a policy of global strength and hegemony. It was hypocritical and deceptive for that country to hide its modernization programmes. The grave situation on the Korean peninsula demonstrated the alarming and hostile policy of the United States, he said, adding that it should stop nuclear “blackmail” against his country. This year, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had attempted to open dialogue, ease tensions and bolster relations with the Republic of Korea, yet the United States had, among other things, chosen to ignore those actions, announcing that it would not change its policies and would continue its military exercises in the region. The escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula originated and was masterminded by the United States, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would, as a result, take measures to strengthen its ability to defend itself, he stressed, expressing hope that the Commission would pay close attention to the matter during the session. Efforts for denuclearization would continue, but they would depend on an end to the nuclear threat against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
María Emma Mejía Vélez (Colombia) said Latin America and the Caribbean had been the first nuclear-weapon-free zone, through the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and Colombia supported the establishment of such zones in other regions around the world. Colombia was concerned about the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors and had drawn up an action plan to move ahead in that area. She went on to emphasize that conventional weapons were responsible for the greatest number of fatalities in the world, noting that illegal arms trafficking also fuelled organized crime. Welcoming the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, she expressed satisfaction that 118 States had signed it.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said in response to statements by his counterparts from Japan and the Republic of Korea that his Government did not wish to allow external nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and yet every year, tensions escalated as more nuclear weapons and bombers were brought into the area. On the issue of rocket and missile launches, he said that on 23 March, the Republic of Korea had launched ballistic missiles with a 500-kilometre range, keeping it secret for days. He said it was a double-standard that the United States remained silent about that launch, yet it had taken the issue of his own country’s launch to the Security Council.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that Security Council resolutions clearly stipulated that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should not launch any missiles. The Republic of Korea’s missile test had been conducted under guidelines, he said, adding that it was designed to enhance readiness and the United Nations had been informed in advance. Still, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea annually issued statements against tests by the Republic of Korea, he said, emphasizing that his country had no nuclear weapons while pointing out that, under relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2094 (2013), the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was obliged to abandon all nuclear weapons as well as its existing nuclear programme.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea noted that nuclear weapons had been brought onto the Korean peninsula during the 1950s, and there were currently more than 1,000 in the area. Concerning the resolution just cited, the text had been driven and manipulated by the United States, which had never mentioned Israel’s nuclear weapons, he said. In 2013, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched a satellite in an open and transparent manner, he said, recalling that it had even sent invitations to international media organizations.
The representative of the Republic of Korea emphasized that the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy required that countries operate within IAEA guidelines. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to violate Security Council resolutions by conducting launches, including satellites, and its representative had categorically rejected the relevant resolutions, in contravention of the United Nations Charter.