Nuclear Weapons Not Used Since 1945, But World 'Cannot Rely on Luck Indefinitely', First Committee Hears, as Speakers Grapple with Profound Implications

GA/DIS/3498
8 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 3rd Meeting (AM)

Nuclear Weapons Not Used Since 1945, But World 'Cannot Rely on Luck Indefinitely', First Committee Hears, as Speakers Grapple with Profound Implications

Although nuclear weapons had not been engaged since 1945, the world “cannot rely on luck indefinitely”, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as it continued its general debate.

The representative of Switzerland, noting that the United Nations had sought to eliminate nuclear weapons since its establishment, said it was everyone’s responsibility to maintain that commitment. 

Despite progress in some fields, he said, highlighting the Arms Trade Treaty, the use of nuclear rhetoric amid global tension and the inclusion of nuclear capabilities as part of military exercises were “worrying” developments.

More than four decades since the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), non-nuclear-weapon States had a right to ask “if not now, when?”, said New Zealand’s representative.

Echoing sentiments expressed by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, she said that despite all that was wrong in the world — armed conflicts, arms races, and the orgy of military spending — disarmament did have a future and would survive for two reasons: it worked, and it was the right thing to do.

Disarmament did not happen in a vacuum, the representative of the Russian Federation said, adding that the future of that process depended to a great extent on the general security environment.  Without the elimination of negative factors, the hopes for advancement towards “nuclear zero” would remain wishful thinking.

That representative also expressed concern about the concept of “prompt global strike”, which was getting closer to the practical implementation phase.  The goal was to immediately neutralize the defence capabilities of any “out-of-favour” country, leaving it without any time or opportunity for an armed response.

France’s representative said that nuclear proliferation was a profound concern, and the European continent, which was thought to be permanently at peace, was once again prey to tensions.  The Ukrainian crisis and the violation of the 1994 Budapest memorandum, adopted in the framework of Ukraine’s accession to the NPT, had a “very negative effect” on international security, he said.

There was a sequence for multilateral action, with the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the launch of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, he said, adding that to make progress, it was essential to better understand each State’s position, minimize divergences and identify possible avenues for compromise.

Sharing the worry of several delegations in the room, the representative of the Republic of Korea pointed out that, despite recent efforts, the possibility of nuclear terrorism remained a grave threat to international peace and security.

Brunei Darussalam’s delegate added that the advancement of other weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical and biological, were readily available in many countries and were now possible alternatives for terrorists.  It was imperative, therefore, for the international community to ensure that counter-measures kept pace with the increasingly sophisticated methods for procuring such weapons.

Also speaking were the representatives of Belarus, Cuba, Israel, Mongolia, Malaysia, Algeria, Libya, Australia, Spain, Denmark and Senegal.

Exercising their right of reply were the representatives of Syria and Israel.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 October, to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate on all related agenda items before it.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3497.

Statements

VALENTIN RYBAKOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, called for the universal adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), saying that, without the participation of all countries, the international community would remain far from reaching the goal of staunching proliferation.  Implementation of the NPT had shown little progress to date, he said, pointing in particular to the lack of implementation of the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan.  Ahead of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the international community must ensure that the outcome was not a “vague compromise” that merely reprinted the 2010 document. Instead, delegates must be courageous and work towards a specific framework.

Despite that, he said, the moratorium on nuclear testing was undoubtedly a step forward; however, it had a voluntary, de facto nature that made for a very fragile mechanism. Instead of relying on voluntary initiatives, the international community must aim for legally binding mechanisms.  With that, he urged the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). To build a world free from nuclear tests, non-participating States must join the Treaty. Without universal participation, the CTBT could not be effective. Non-proliferation and the absence of nuclear tests were steps in the right direction, but were not an end in themselves. The ultimate goal should be the total, irreversible, elimination of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

He noted that Belarus had been the first State in post-Soviet area to have renounced, voluntarily and without any precondition, possession of operational nuclear weapons deployed on its territory. In a similar vein, his country planned to table the traditional resolution on the prohibition of the development and manufacture of new types of weapons of mass destruction.

OSCAR LE Ó N GONZ Á LEZ (Cuba), supporting the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, urged the start of negotiations on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their production, stockpiling, transfer, and threat of use, and to stipulate their destruction. An international, high-level conference on the matter should be held no later than 2018, aimed at eliminating those weapons in the shortest possible timeframe. Cuba was proud to belong to the first densely populated area in the world to have declared itself nuclear-weapon free, through the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

He said the only guarantee for the non-use of nuclear weapons was their full elimination and prohibition under strict international control. For that reason, it was unacceptable that deterrence remained the bedrock of military doctrines. Nuclear Powers continued to develop their arsenals via vertical proliferation, which was not highlighted enough by the international community. There remained a great distance between rhetoric and good intentions, as well as between commitments and the steps States were willing to take. A treaty should be concluded without delay to protect non-nuclear weapon States from the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons against them. It was also deeply unfortunate that a conference, as agreed, to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East had not yet been held. The zone’s establishment would be a monumental step forward in the peace process in that region. He reiterated the call for concrete steps towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, adding that multilateral efforts were the only way to achieve that.

EYAL PROPPER, Deputy Head of the Division for Strategic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, said that the Middle East lacked mechanisms to foster dialogue and greater understanding between regional players. Because of the refusal of some countries to recognize Israel, there were no processes that could contribute to building confidence, de-escalation of tensions and conflict resolution. He lamented the lack of forums for direct communication between the States of the region, able to address core security issues and encourage the attainment of solutions. The Middle East had distinguished itself by blatant violations and a lack of respect for formal treaty obligations. Within the context of the NPT, four out of five violations had occurred to date in his region, notably in Iran, Syria, Libya and Iraq. Dialogue was essential to achieve peace and security in the region, and urged a “pragmatic and realistic approach”.

Israel, for its part, had reiterated its willingness to participate in a sixth round of consultations, convened by the Finnish Under-Secretary, to discuss the conditions necessary for establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, he said. Regretfully, however, there was a “significant conceptual gap” between regional States on fundamental security concepts. While Israel had sought a consensus-based approach, its neighbours had yet to adopt the same pragmatism. In their efforts to impose such a zone, Arab countries refused to engage Israel directly and establish a path towards convening a conference in Helsinki.

He went on to state that Iran remained the “cardinal threat” to the region’s security. In its unrelenting pursuit of developing nuclear-weapon capability and advancing its regional ambitions, the country supported terrorist organizations with the supply of weapons, financing and training. He warned that the election of the “so-called moderates” in Iran and the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) should not lead the international community to underestimate the threat still posed by Iran. That country participated in processes such as the “E3+3” talks to alleviate pressures and “buy more time” for development of its military programme, he alleged. There was still no clear indication of the country’s intention to curb its nuclear capabilities, as demanded by several Security Council resolutions.

MIKHAIL ULYANOV (Russian Federation) said that the elimination of the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, remained one of the international community’s key priorities. The Russian Federation was actively working in that direction by taking concrete steps to limit and reduce nuclear arsenals. Over the past 25 years, those stocks had been reduced “manifold”, and under the new START treaty, his country had set out a goal to reach the agreed aggregate levels of warheads, delivery means and launchers by early 2018, which was achievable. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) of 1987, between the Russian Federation and the United States, also remained in effect. However, Russia’s “American partners” had committed “gross and massive” violations of that instrument’s obligations. He hoped, as a result of the dialogue on those issues, that the United States would return to full compliance with that important accord.

Disarmament did not happen in a vacuum, he said, as the future of that process depended to a great extent on the general security environment. Without the elimination of negative factors, the hopes for advancement towards “nuclear zero” would remain wishful thinking. His delegation had growing concerns about the concept of “prompt global strike”, which was getting closer to the practical implementation phase. The goal was to immediately neutralize the defence capabilities of any “out of favour” country, leaving it without any time or opportunity for an armed response. Such research efforts were even riskier when undertaken in the context of the policy towards establishing one’s exclusiveness and overwhelming military supremacy.

Regarding “nuclear sharing” among the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries, in which non-nuclear members of the alliance accepted nuclear weapons on their territory and participated in the planning of their use, he said that was incompatible, with either the letter or spirit of the NPT. That Treaty’s article I prohibited the transfer of nuclear weapons to any recipient whatsoever, directly or indirectly. He called on NATO members to bring their policy into compliance with their obligations.

Turning to the “chemical demilitarization” in Syria, he said that had been one of the major achievements in the area of weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation and disarmament. Syrian authorities had eliminated chemical arsenals under unprecedentedly difficult conditions and were in full compliance with their obligations. Thus, the so-called “Syrian chemical dossier” was no longer an urgent matter, and should be considered under regular procedures of the Organisation of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

OH JOON, Republic of Korea, said that the CTBT’s entry into force and negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty remained the two most urgent tasks to be tackled together by the international community. His country urged the remaining eight “Annex 2” States, whose ratification was required for the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’s entry into force, to do so without delay. He also reiterated his country’s long-standing call for the commencement of negotiations on a fissile material ban in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament, and was hopeful that the Group of Governmental Experts could pave the way forward.

He said that, despite recent efforts, the possibility of nuclear terrorism remained a grave threat to international peace and security. Building upon the landmark Washington and Seoul Summits, the 2014 Hague Nuclear Security Summit was a crucial step forward in global efforts to prevent such activities. As the host of the 2012 Summit, his country would continue to work with others in establishing a robust and enduring nuclear security architecture.  The United Nations had an important role to play, he said, stressing that Member States should step up their efforts to achieve the full and universal implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), which aimed to prevent the transfer of mass destruction weapons to terrorists. 

Another serious threat to international peace and security was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes, he said, noting that the “DPRK” was the only country in the twenty-first century that had conducted nuclear tests.  Further development of its nuclear capabilities continued, and the “DPRK” was now threatening a new form of nuclear testing. Already, the international community had condemned the ballistic missiles it had launched this year as clear violations of Security Council resolutions. As such, the world must send a clear and united message to that country that, under no circumstances, could it become a nuclear-weapon State and that subsequent tests by the country would be met with serious consequences.

JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France) expressed “immense satisfaction” that the Arms Trade Treaty had now passed the necessary threshold for entry into force at the end of this year.  Crises continued around the world, and, in some cases, were breaking out anew, such as in the Middle East, Central African Republic, Libya and Iraq.  The effects of those conflicts were felt even in Europe, and were a reminder that “we live in the real world” and that the approach to disarmament and arms control should be realistic.  Nuclear proliferation remained a central concern, and the European continent, which was thought to be permanently at peace, was once again prey to tensions.  The Ukrainian crisis and the violation of the 1994 Budapest memorandum, adopted in the framework of Ukraine’s accession to the NPT, had a “very negative effect” on international security.

Yet, despite the degradation of the international strategic context, disarmament and arms control had made progress in 2014, he said.  In addition to the Arms Trade Treaty, there was also the success of the Maputo review conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, and pragmatic solutions had been proposed to address the problem of space debris.  However, nuclear-weapon States needed to “be equal to their commitments”, and France was aware of its responsibilities in that respect.  The road map agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference constituted a common approach that committed all States parties to a “step-by-step” approach.  There was a sequence for multilateral action, with the entry into force of the CTBT and the launch of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  To make progress, it was essential to better understand each State’s position, minimize divergences and identify possible avenues for compromise.  France’s aim remained, more than ever, to move on to the next stage and begin negotiations; debates held this year at the Conference on Disarmament were moving things in that direction. The step-by-step approach was the only realistic path and would allow determined pursuit of a safer world.

OD OCH (Mongolia) agreed with previous speakers that the NPT was the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and an “essential part of the global security regime” overall.  Mongolia joined the call on all States parties to “spare no effort” in achieving the Treaty’s universality.  The full and effective implementation of all provisions was required to preserve its relevance, effectiveness and credibility.  As a strong advocate of nuclear-weapon-free zones, Mongolia was concerned about the lack of implementation of the 1995 Middle East resolution, but was hopeful that international efforts would yield progress in establishing such a zone in the Middle East.

He went on to state that Mongolia — recognizing the Conference on Disarmament as the single, multilateral, negotiating body on disarmament — was hopeful, as its co-chair in 2015, that the necessary political will would be created to ensure the commencement of substantive work.  Looking ahead, innovative approaches must be explored to make possible the resumption of meaningful disarmament negotiations.  On the CTBT, Mongolia stressed the importance of maintaining a moratorium on all types of nuclear weapon tests; however, unless the Treaty was legally binding, it would remain fragile.  It was for that reason Mongolia joined the Joint Ministerial Statement on the CTBT to speed up ratifications.

The potential spread of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means constituted a threat to international peace and security, he said, adding that, as a result, Mongolia has been undertaking efforts to promote the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by joining all major international frameworks and abiding by its obligation under relevant agreements.

BENNO LAGGNER (Switzerland) said that preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and achieving a world free of those weapons must remain the objective of steadfast pursuit by the international community.  The United Nations had sought their elimination since the Organization’s establishment, and it was everyone’s responsibility to maintain that commitment. His delegation was deeply concerned by the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, the lack of decisive change in nuclear doctrines and the qualitative development of those weapons.  The use of nuclear rhetoric amid international tension and the inclusion of nuclear capabilities as part of military exercises, as well as questions on the future of the INF Treaty, were all worrying developments and a reminder that, although nuclear weapons had not been engaged since 1945, the world “cannot rely on luck indefinitely”.

He said that conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons had clearly demonstrated that the explosion of a single such weapon would have catastrophic consequences.  All States should take part in those summits, because nuclear weapons affected all.  He sought greater efforts to further implementation of the 2010 NPT Action Plan, and dossiers as essential as the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  Regarding the conflict in Syria, he welcomed efforts made to guarantee the neutralization of chemical weapons stockpiles; however, he remained extremely concerned about the interim conclusions of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) fact-finding mission that toxic chemicals had been used repeatedly in Syria.

While mass destruction weapons required immediate attention, he said in closing, conventional weapons still claimed numerous victims each year.  As such, the rapid entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty was crucial.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), said that greater public awareness was required on the issue of nuclear disarmament, with more attention paid to the calls of civil society.  “Fresh perspectives and innovative approaches” should be considered by expanding the number of stakeholders in the disarmament discourse.  That could provide opportunities for achieving the desired changes.  Government representatives must live up to their commitments.  For its part, Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons, as embodied in the NPT.  On that note, he emphasized the urgent need to convene a conference on a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

On the Conference on Disarmament, he said that the priorities must be rationalized in that consideration of one issue should not be a precondition for proceeding on another.  Nor should members be fixated on the consensus rule.  Instead, efforts should focus on constructive proposals for improving the Conference’s working methods.  As its president in 2014, Malaysia would present the report and the draft resolution to the First Committee during the cluster on disarmament machinery.  While the Conference worked to overcome its impasse, Malaysia remained convinced that a convention on nuclear weapons was long overdue.  In 2007, his country, together with Costa Rica, had submitted a model nuclear weapons convention to the General Assembly, which set out legal, technical and political elements for rendering the world nuclear-weapon-free.  As such, his country stood ready to work with other Member States on the model convention, or on any other proposal that would bring the world closer to that goal.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group, African Union and Non-Aligned Movement, said that effective steps and substantive progress in the area of disarmament remained elusive.  Nuclear disarmament was Algeria’s highest priority, out of concern for the dangers those weapons posed to humanity.  His country was committed to the NPT as the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, but it must be universalized.  Nuclear-weapon States had the primary responsibility to achieve nuclear disarmament, and he called for effective implementation of General Assembly resolution 68/32, including the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use and to provide for their destruction.

Noting that a majority of NPT States parties had chosen to use atomic energy for exclusively civilian applications in line with the Treaty’s article IV, he said that, for many developing countries, nuclear energy represented a strategic choice for their economic development and energy security needs.  Accordingly, Algeria reaffirmed the legitimate right to develop, research and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  He noted that his country had been among the first to sign the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, or Pelindaba Treaty, but he regretted that a conference to create such a zone in the Middle East had not yet been held.  With regard to the Conference on Disarmament, he said the continuing impasse was a result of a lack of political will.  To address that deadlock, he urged the convening of a fourth special session of the General Assembly.

On conventional weapons, he said that the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons continued to threaten the peace and stability of many countries and regions.  That illicit trade, particularly in North Africa and the Sahel region, involved the supply of arms to terrorist groups and organized crime networks.  Thus, the United Nations Programme of Action and the International Tracing Instrument were more than ever of the utmost relevance.

IBRAHIM O. A. DABBASHI (Libya) said that his country sought the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and believed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only guarantee that they would not be used in the future.  In 2003, Libya had renounced its programme on nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, and had also pledged to eliminate chemical weapons by 2015.  Libya was hopeful that other States would follow in its footsteps and urged, in particular, nuclear-weapon States to honour the NPT.

Libya welcomed the adoption of General Assembly resolution 68/32 on nuclear disarmament and believed that implementation of all of its provisions would make it effective towards achieving the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Non-adherence to existing instruments was a threat to international peace, he said, noting that Libya favoured a convention on nuclear weapons as that could pave the way for a nuclear-weapon free zone in the Middle East. Pending that, however, the international community must put pressure on Israel as the only country in the region that was not a party to the NPT. He went on to stress the importance of the universality of the CTBT, which could help achieve the “noble goal” of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Libya respected the right of NPT States parties to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, adding, however, that a balance must be maintained with the important commitments outlined in the Treaty. Libya also supported nuclear-weapon-free zones in all four corners of the world and called on all parties to redouble their efforts to implement the outcomes of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. He stressed that there was a vital need to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament, which had an important role to play as a negotiating platform in nuclear disarmament. On conventional weapons, Libya had signed the Arms Trade Treaty to help prevent the infiltration of those weapons in civil conflicts around the world.

DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) said that implementing the Arms Trade Treaty would prove key to reaping the human security and development outcomes expected to flow from it.  All could be heartened by the Treaty’s success story, which, thanks to civil society’s ongoing support and attentive eye, would continue to go from strength to strength.  Less heartening, however, was the lack of progress on the First Committee’s key item, namely, nuclear disarmament.  Not all United Nations Member States based their approaches to nuclear weapons issues on the NPT, but an overwhelming number of States did so, in steadfast support of that Treaty as the cornerstone of their disarmament and non-proliferation policies.  Yet, unfinished business remained.  More than four decades since the NPT entered into force, non-nuclear-weapon States had a right to ask: “if not now, when?”

She stressed the need for human security, rather than war strategies, to be at the core of the international community’s deliberations on nuclear weapons issues.  Wishing to draw from the optimism of the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, she echoed the sentiment that, despite all that was wrong in the world — armed conflicts, arms races, and the orgy of military spending — disarmament did have a future and would survive for two reasons: it worked, and it was the right thing to do.

SHARMAN STONE, (Australia), said that the past year had seen important progress in the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Convention. Citing the tragic impact on civilians of cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines, Australia urged adherence to international norms established by those Conventions and welcomed the recent United States’ announcement of further changes to more closely align the country’s activities “outside the Korean peninsula” with the key requirements of the Mine Ban Convention.

In order to remove the threat of nuclear war, it was incumbent upon all to diminish the utility of those weapons, she said, adding that the starting point of the disarmament process must be the inclusion of nuclear-armed States.  Some, including the United States and Russian Federation, have made considerable reductions in their nuclear arsenals, and yet, with more than 16,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of nine States, “much more needs to be done”. There could be no short-cuts to create the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons, and to that end, Australia and fellow members of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) proposed practical steps to contribute to greater nuclear transparency and further reductions. It welcomed the recent report regarding the NPT, but sought more detail and transparency in those documents.

Another priority of Australia was the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, she said, noting that, last month, her country had co-hosted a ministerial meeting, which committed to a strong statement of support for the Treaty’s prompt entry into force. Along with Mexico and New Zealand, Australia would present the annual CTBT resolution during this year’s First Committee session, and she invited broad support to reinforce the need to maintain a testing moratorium.

MARIA VICTORIA GONZÁLEZ ROMÁN (Spain), associating with the European Union, said that in the past few years the international community had made several achievements in two important areas of disarmament, the nuclear and conventional weapons realms.  Progress was still needed in other areas, however, including in the Conference on Disarmament and the inability to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  Still, the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty was a milestone in the field of international relations, and the control of arms exports was now linked to human rights and the need to maintain peace, stability and international security.

The comprehensive development of the NPT entailed progress in the compliance with article VI, she said, welcoming the bilateral agreements between the United States and the Russian Federation to reduce their strategic nuclear weapons.  The CTBT would surely be another fundamental component in the disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, when it entered into force.  She called on States that had not yet signed or ratified the Treaty, in particular Annex 2 States, to do so as soon as possible.  She highlighted the importance for compliance by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with Security Council resolutions, and urged it to negotiate in good faith an agreement that would banish the nuclear threat from the Korean peninsula.  She supported efforts under way to reach a diplomatic solution in the case of Iran, and welcomed the collaboration that had characterized the negotiations which began last November.  Finally, she underscored the importance of strengthening security in the face of possible biological threats, be they natural, accidental or criminal.

SUSANNE RUMOHR HAEKKERUP (Denmark) was encouraged by the upcoming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, but said that was only the beginning. More work was needed on its implementation, including addressing questions regarding the regulation of transport between so-called “third party” countries, and how to convince major arms sellers to sign, ratify and implement the text.  There was no room for complacency, as the uncontrolled and illegal arms trade destabilized countries and entire regions; that was at the root of intolerable human suffering. The tragic developments in East Ukraine, Syria and Iran had underlined the need to control the small arms and lights weapons proliferation.

As one of the world’s leading shipping nations, Denmark felt a “special responsibility” in the issues of arms transport, which remained largely unregulated globally.  It was, thus, critical to ensure a level playing field and not put companies that are “doing the right thing” at a disadvantage. Denmark looked forward to the Conference of State Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty next year as a model for effective and pragmatic international cooperation.

This year, coordinated efforts had brought important progress in areas of non-proliferation and the reduction of the threat of weapons of mass destruction, she said, noting the unprecedented global efforts towards the full elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons and production facilities. Denmark played a key role by providing vessels for the maritime operation charged with transporting chemical weapons from Syria for overseas neutralization and destruction. In that context, her country was deeply disturbed by recent reports about the continued use of chemical agents in Syria and fully supported efforts by the OPCW and others to shed light on the facts.

DATO ABDUL GHAFAR ISMAIL (Brunei Darussalam), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of nuclear non-proliferation at both regional and global levels.  At the regional level, his country was a State party to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, or Bangkok Treaty, and at the global level, had ratified the CTBT. Furthermore, his country had become the 162nd member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which signified its commitment to support nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology and energy.

He expressed deep concern over the advancement of other weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical and biological, which were readily available in many countries. It was alarming that those were now possible alternatives for terrorists. It was imperative, therefore, for the international community to ensure that counter-measures kept pace with the increasingly sophisticated methods for procuring such weapons. He reiterated his country’s full commitment for the non-proliferation of all types of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons and their delivery systems, and would continue to support international cooperation, peaceful settlement of disputes, dialogue and confidence-building measures.

FODE SECK (Senegal) said nuclear disarmament negotiations were mired in an “unprecedented paralysis”, pointing to the lack of consensus by the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference as an example.  Another stumbling block for nuclear disarmament was the lack of progress towards establishing the framework for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Senegal supported the complete elimination of those weapons as the only way to ensure peace.  The “constant threat to humanity” they posed made it imperative for any State that had not yet signed the NPT or CTBT to do so without delay.  He reiterated the role of the Conference for Disarmament as a unique, multilateral, negotiating body, and urged the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

Concerning chemical weapons, he urged States that had not yet signed that Convention to do so as soon as possible.  Regarding the NPT, he underscored the inalienable right of States parties to engage in nuclear energy research and production for peaceful means, as long as those activities were under the IAEA’s control.  On conventional weapons, Senegal welcomed the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, but called for a balanced approach to implementation that would protect the rights of all, and not just those of the nuclear-armed States.  He called for greater control of small arms and light weapons, which had devastating effects on developing countries, particularly in Africa.

On the issue of cluster munitions, he called for the universalisation of that Convention and encouraged other States to ratify it ahead of the First Review Conference in Croatia in September 2015.  With the support of the international community and the National Anti-Mine Action Centre, Senegal continued efforts to rid the country of landmines, he noted.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s delegate said that the “representative of the French regime” had made baseless allegations against his country, when it was France that had introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East and even tested them on human beings. French terrorists were committing the most heinous crimes against civilians in Syria, which France did not address. Syria genuinely sought a Syrian-based solution to ongoing problems. However, France did not acknowledge the recent use of chemical weapons by ISIS, which showed that terrorist groups possessed such capabilities. That posed a threat to Syria, the region, and the whole world.

He said his country had met its commitments with the OPCW, and he could not understand the “flagrant audacity” with which the Israeli representative had talked about weapons in the Middle East, when Israel was the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the region.

The representative of Israel said that to say the Syrian Government had not been fully open about its chemical weapons programme would be “the understatement of the century”. The international community had discovered chemical weapons facilities that the Assad regime had failed to declare, and he joined others in continuing to put pressure on the Syrian regime to fully reveal that programme.

For information media. Not an official record.