Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Unimplemented, Becomes ‘Place-Holder’ for States to ‘Insert Disarmament Measures Here’, First Committee Told

GA/DIS/3507
21 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 13th Meeting (AM)

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Unimplemented, Becomes ‘Place-Holder’ for States to ‘Insert Disarmament Measures Here’, First Committee Told

An unimplemented Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was nothing but a “place-holder” for disarmament that told States to “insert effective measures for nuclear disarmament here”, heard members of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today during a thematic debate on nuclear weapons.

The international community’s record of implementing disarmament obligations was so poor, said the representative of Ireland, that questions must be asked about the seriousness of its collective commitment to article VI of that Treaty and the overall goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  No disarmament treaty could possibly function on those terms, she added.

The representative of the Russian Federation, offering his country’s perspective on the road map to nuclear disarmament, said it stood behind the consensus 2010 NPT Action Plan.  Any attempts to undermine the review process with the aim of launching alternative dialogues, without taking into account the opinions of nuclear-weapon States, would be “doomed to failure”.

Despite the “unprecedented” track record of the Russian Federation and United States in reciprocal reductions of strategic arsenals, he said it was no secret to anyone that within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), joint nuclear-sharing missions were still being developed.  Moreover, the non-nuclear members of the alliance were receiving nuclear weapons on their territories and training in launching nuclear strikes on the Russian Federation. 

Speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, the representative of Egypt denounced Israel for not acceding to the NPT and stalling the process of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East.  That country could not “reverse the course of history”, he said, calling any delays on that issue “unjustifiable”, since ridding the region of those weapons was critical.

A zone free of nuclear weapons, said Israel’s representative, must emanate from direct negotiations and consensus-building.  Disturbing realities in the Middle East required a step-by-step approach and such zones could only begin with modest arrangements for confidence and security-building measures.  Israel’s national policy on nuclear matters had always been one of responsibility and restraint, consonant with the underlying goals and principles of non-proliferation, she said.

Shifting to conventional weapons, the Committee heard from several Groups representing a broad contingent as it began its thematic debate on that cluster.

Speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the representative of Guyana said that small arms and light weapons continued to cause irreparable harm to people around the world, and posed a major threat to the safety, security and development of his region.  The transnational nature of the flow of those weapons required a multi-national effort, he said, commending the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty as an important step.

Similarly, the representative of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his Group remained deeply concerned over the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of those weapons and called on all States to ensure that their supply was limited to Governments or entities authorized to use them.  Asserting a “significant imbalance” between the industrialized and Non-Aligned countries, he called for a reduction in conventional weapons by the former group in order to enhance international and peace and security.

Sharing the perspective of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the representative of Mali said that the illicit trade and circulation of small arms and light weapons continued to sustain a number of “theatres of conflict” around the world, exacerbating violence and contributing to civilian displacement.  Those fed terrorism and organized crime, and were the weapons most frequently used in armed conflicts.  Combatting proliferation would only be effective if it was carried out in cooperation synergistically with all concerned. 

During the course of the meeting, delegations introduced draft resolutions on forwarding multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations; a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; the danger of nuclear weapons; the Hague Code of Conduct on missiles; and assistance to states for curbing the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons and collecting them.

Also speaking during the cluster on nuclear weapons were representatives of Turkey, Ecuador, Australia, Peru, Republic of Korea, Finland, Spain, Algeria, Bahrain, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Syria, Morocco, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The representatives of the Russian Federation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan and the Republic of Korea spoke in exercise of the right of reply on the nuclear weapons cluster.

During the discussion on conventional weapons, the representative of Suriname (on behalf of UNASUR) also spoke, as did the representative of the European Union.

 

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 22 October, to continue its thematic debate on conventional weapons.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to conclude its thematic debate on nuclear weapons and begin consideration of conventional weapons.  For more background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3497.

Nuclear Weapons Thematic Debate

BREIFNE O’REILLY (Ireland), associating with the New Agenda Coalition, introduced “L.21” entitled, “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations”.  He said that the international community’s record of implementing disarmament obligations was so poor that questions must soon be asked about the seriousness of its collective commitment to the NPT’s article VI and the overall goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  What the world had was a “place-holder for disarmament”, effectively telling States to “insert effective measures for nuclear disarmament here”.  However, no disarmament treaty could possibly function on those terms.

He said the Chemical Weapons Convention could not ever have arrived at a point where it had all but eliminated an entire category of vicious, inhumane weapons if it had not set out a framework of clearly defining prohibitions and obligations, a functioning verification system and multilateral decision-making organs to oversee the process.  Likewise, the recent destruction of Syrian chemical weapons could not have been dealt with so resolutely and quickly if the Chemical Weapons Convention contained nothing more than a request for States to pursue negotiations in good faith towards effective chemical weapons destruction.

That raised troubling questions with regard to nuclear weapons, he said. The international community’s apparent willingness to go along with the status quo, which did not envisage nuclear weapon disarmament in the near-, medium- or even long-term future, seemed to suggest that those weapons were somehow more “necessary” or “legitimate” or “justifiable” than chemical or biological weapons.  That was “most certainly” not Ireland’s position, even if some States had wielded chemical weapons as their presumably ultimate deterrent.  Those weapons were now rightly held up as the object of revulsion and as illegitimate weapon of war.  Why then, he asked, was it that nuclear weapons were not seen in the same way.  “Is it more respectable to retain the capacity to kill civilians on a large scale by incineration and radiation than by nerve agents?” he asked.

He said that while the world was told that “conditions were not yet in place” for nuclear disarmament, that was in fact an indirect invitation to proliferate.  Ireland did not accept the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, nor did it accept that nuclear weapons had kept the world safe during the cold war or at any other time since 1945.  While some might ask what the “hidden agenda” was behind the humanitarian consequences initiative, the answer was simple — it was solely and exclusively aimed at fulfilment of the NPT’s obligations.

Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States and supporting the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for the convening of a high-level conference on nuclear disarmament by 2018 at the latest.  The Arab States had actively participated in all nuclear disarmament forums and had all joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), thereby subjecting themselves to the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  However, those steps had not been mirrored by Israel, which was the only State in the region that had not yet to acceded to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State.  Nor had it subjected itself to IAEA safeguards or adhered to the 2010 NPT Action Plan.  Israel “cannot reverse the course of history,” he said, adding that Arab States must stress the urgent need to rid the region of nuclear weapons. Towards that end, turning the Middle East into a nuclear-weapon-free zone was critical.  The delays in holding a conference on that issue were “unjustifiable”, and he urged all parties to assume their responsibilities in that regard.

At the same time, he said, discussions should be pursued on fissile materials with the aim of outlawing them for nuclear weapons use.  That issue, the international community agreed in principle, should be a part of the 2015 NPT Review Conference.  It was time to “get down to business”.  As the First Committee was collectively responsible for helping achieve a nuclear-weapon-free zone in his region, the Arab group would table a resolution on the matter, for which it sought a “no vote” adoption.  The joint report presented by Iraq reflected the Group’s opinion.  In addition, the Group had introduced a resolution on the danger of nuclear weapons, reaffirming the importance of Israel’s accession to the NPT.  It also must agree to IAEA safeguards, which would bolster confidence in the region and be a huge step towards achieving peace there.

EFE CEYLAN (Turkey), speaking in his national capacity, urged State parties to the NPT to reaffirm and uphold their commitment to the fulfilment of the legal and political obligations contained in the three pillars of disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use establishing the regime’s “grand bargain”.  Turkey supported calls for systematic, progressive and irreversible nuclear disarmament.  The establishment of weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zones, including the Middle East, was an important confidence-building measure.  The country stressed the centrality of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), whose entry into force the international community had spent enough time waiting for.  Starting negotiations on the fissile material cut-off treaty would pave the way for parallel advances in other core agenda items of the Conference on Disarmament.  Welcoming statements delivered earlier by New Zealand and Australia on behalf of groups of countries on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, Turkey was satisfied with the growing awareness of the catastrophic consequences of the possible use of such weapons.

FERNANDO LUQUE MARQUEZ (Ecuador), associating with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Non-Aligned Movement said his country’s Constitution, which proclaimed his country as a zone of peace, unequivocally condemned the use of weapons of mass destruction.  That permanent proclamation was expressed through Ecuador’s active participation in the establishment of the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a densely populated area through the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  The expansion of and increase in the number of nuclear-weapon-free zones was an important step forward on a road that should lead to the total elimination of such weapons.  It was unfortunate that the international community had not yet held a conference for the creation of a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons in the Middle East.

The signing of the NPT had three goals, he said, which were to prevent proliferation, allow States to pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the elimination of the arsenals of nuclear-weapon States.  Negotiations on a multilateral treaty should begin.  The mechanisms for agreeing on that universal treaty existed; missing, however, was the political will.  There had been several initiatives over the past years showing that the international community continued to place a high priority on nuclear disarmament.  The horrors of such weapons, which were witnessed by all in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had been enough for the world to declare “enough”.  The international community should take all the necessary steps to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

JOHN QUINN (Australia), speaking in his national capacity, said that reducing the numbers of nuclear weapons was a key requirement for making the world safer.  It was also a key aspect of nuclear transparency, and, along with members of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, his country had argued that transparency about nuclear arsenals was crucial for building confidence.  Including the non-NPT nuclear-armed States in a global move towards nuclear transparency was also important.  Another concern was the development of smaller-battlefield-deployable nuclear weapons, as their use in conflict would likely escalate it to a full-scale-nuclear exchange.  His country welcomed the renewed focus on humanitarian consequences, as well as the continued discussion by the five NPT nuclear-weapon States on their commitments.

“We are collectively following a long and hard road, and there are no shortcuts to achieving our goal of eventual nuclear disarmament,” he said, noting some positive steps towards the entry into force of the CTBT and ripening negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty.  The establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction remained a priority.  Australia also shared the international community’s concerns about the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear programme and welcomed ongoing discussions between Iran and P5+1, as well as the work of the IAEA in Iran.  He also called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear weapon and missile development programmes.

PENA DOIG (Peru), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, introduced a draft resolution reaffirming the importance of the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, aimed at building transparency.  She said the draft resolution was based on a previous text on the matter, but this one reflected the most recent developments.  Additionally, it highlighted efforts to ensure the Code’s universalization and called on States that had not subscribed to the mechanism to do so.  The objective was to ensure the Code’s full implementation and strengthen awareness among States that had not yet subscribed to it.  Peru requested broad support for the draft resolution, as well as the co-sponsorship of States that had subscribed to the Code.

VLADIMIR YERMAKOV (Russian Federation) said that the broad opinions expressed on the nuclear weapons cluster were encouraging in that many delegations had given pride of pace to the NPT.  In May next year, in New York, the whole world would be marking the seventieth anniversary of the victory over the brown-shirted plague of Nazism during the Second World War.  However, some seemed to forget that his country had lost 30 million of its own citizens in that conflict.  With this in mind, the Russian Federation valued peace and strategic stability based on the principles of security for all States, respect for national interests and the upholding of the standards of international law perhaps more than any other State.

Nevertheless, he said his country shared the aspirations of freeing the world from nuclear weapons.  The Russian Federation had gone through unprecedented nuclear disarmament and reductions in arsenals by almost 90 per cent.  That had brought the stock to its minimal sufficient level.  Additionally, his country kept its nuclear weapons exclusively on its own national territory in full safety and security.  It was well aware of who had started the nuclear arms race, and did not intend to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Currently in the field of nuclear disarmament, he noted, the Russian Federation and the United States had an unprecedented track record in reaching agreements through the New START, carrying out major steps in reciprocal reductions of strategic arsenals, even in the most critical situation.  However, it was “odious” to see the military nuclear bloc of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) edging closer to Russian borders.  It was no secret to anyone that within NATO, there was still the development of joint nuclear-sharing missions.  Moreover, the non-nuclear members of the alliance were receiving nuclear weapons on their territories, as well as training in launching nuclear strikes on the Russian Federation.

It would be insane, he said, to think that the Russian Federation would simply close its eyes to all such increasing threats to her national security. For Russia, the nuclear disarmament road map was the consensus outcome document of the NPT Action Plan.  Any attempts to undermine the NPT review process with the aim of launching alternative dialogues, without taking into account the opinions of the nuclear-weapon States, would be doomed to failure.

ANH YOUNG-JIP (Republic of Korea) said that, given the wide gap between the approaches of nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States on ways to rid the world of those weapons, the world community should be practical and realistic, moving away from an “all or nothing” approach.  Taking note of significant progress in the reduction of nuclear arsenals, he said ongoing efforts to enhance transparency and build confidence through “P5” dialogue appeared to have a positive effect.  Much remained to be done, however, including ensuring that the CTBT came into force and that negotiations began on a treaty banning the production of fissile material.  Countering possible nuclear-weapon proliferation to non-State actors and strengthening nuclear security and safety capacity were urgent tasks.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme was a threat to the security of the region and beyond, he said, urging that country to abandon its programme for the sake of economic prosperity.

JANNE TAALAS (Finland), associating with the European Union, said that working towards a world free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction was the responsibility of all nations.  That would require decreased tensions and increased confidence, as well as the robust implementation of the many existing agreements.  To achieve progress in nuclear disarmament, a stronger sense of urgency was needed, he said, welcoming the joint statement presented by New Zealand on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  Eliminating those weapons was the only possible solution, through substantive and constructive engagement with nuclear-weapon States.  On the conference to establish a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East, he noted that some important developments had taken place.  Together with States in the region and the facilitator and conveners of the Helsinki Conference, five informal meetings had been held in Switzerland.  Some progress on the arrangements of the conference had been reached; consensus and political will was now required.  As the host Government, Finland stood prepared to convene the conference on short notice, he added. 

JULIO HERRAIZ (Spain), associating with the European Union, highlighted the importance of the NPT and adherence to its three pillars, which needed to be implemented in a balanced and complementary manner.  It was necessary to develop the 2010 Action Plan, which should be carried out in a realistic fashion.  State sovereignty should not be infringed upon, and there should be a framework of trust to enable the international community to build on commitments made.  All actors must take part in the process.  He urged implementation of the various initiatives recently undertaken by the international community concerning the consequences of nuclear weapons.

Regarding the regional proliferation crisis and Iran, he said Spain supported efforts to reach a diplomatic solution, urging that full advantage be taken of the negotiating process.  He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear programmes in their entirety, and also highlighted the importance of the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  In that light he supported the holding of a conference for such a zone in the Middle East.  Countries should be able to develop their nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in strict compliance with international commitments.  The IAEA had a key role in that in the context of its safeguards and Additional Protocol.  He also highlighted the importance of verification.  Regarding the NPT, he hoped all States would work to make real progress on the goals set in 2010.

Zaina Benhabouche (Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab and African Groups, reaffirmed that nuclear disarmament remained its highest priority.  She was seriously concerned about the danger those weapons posed to humanity.  Algeria supported the Movement’s road map, which called for the urgent commencement of negotiations of a comprehensive convention banning nuclear weapons.  She reiterated Algeria’s commitment to the NPT and underlined that efforts aimed at nuclear non-proliferation should run parallel with efforts towards nuclear disarmament.  At the same time, she reaffirmed the legitimate right of States to produce research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the non-proliferation regime.  She went on to express support for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, pointing to the African Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone Treaty as an example that should be followed. 

FATEMS MANDEEL (Bahrain), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and Arab Group, reaffirmed strong support for dismantling weapons of mass destruction.  Peace, security and stability required the world to eliminate nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, and to stop their production and proliferation.  The United Nations played a key role in that regard, but more discussions were necessary.  A conference should be held on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East as soon as possible.  Bahrain looked forward to an increased exchange of knowledge and technology to further the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  That was part of an effort to ensure that all countries respected the IAEA, and those that had not done so should place their facilities under the Agency’s safeguards.  Iran should fulfil its NPT commitments, and Israel should place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Weapons of mass destruction must not fall into the hands of terrorists, she said, urging all nuclear weapon-producing countries to take precautionary measures.

KIM JU SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said it was clear the international community desired comprehensive and complete nuclear disarmament.  In that regard, the “posture” of some nuclear-weapon States of denying and delaying ran counter to the broad desire for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Further, the lack of progress in the Conference for Disarmament was due to adherence by some nuclear-armed States to “one-sided” proliferation efforts.  That double standard clearly demonstrated the real purpose of the non-proliferation regime; that loud clamouring by those States, he said, which was to misuse the non-proliferation instruments for attacking sovereign countries.  Under the guise of non-proliferation, those countries were “persistently clinging” to hostile policies and manoeuvres aimed at overthrowing regimes and crushing countries that were “out of taste”.

He said that nuclear modernization pursued by nuclear Powers was entering a “dangerous stage” of a pre-emptive nuclear attack.  In particular, the world’s top nuclear Power was engaging in nuclear “blackmail”, conducting nuclear-war exercises against a dignified United Nations Member State.  In that context, a comprehensive international convention banning nuclear blackmail and the complete destruction of nuclear weapons were vital.  The total elimination of nuclear weapons and global denuclearization was his country’s consistent position.  Turning to Japan, he highlighted the recent Stockholm Agreement, which clearly stated the responsibilities of both parties.  Its implementation would depend on the attitude of Japan, he added.

Boštjan Jerman (Slovenia), associating with the European Union, said his country was a staunch supporter of effective multilateralism.  A world free of nuclear weapons should not be just a vision, but rather a concrete goal and final objective of the international community’s efforts.  The NPT should remain the framework for those efforts, and his delegation believed that a positive outcome of the next Review Conference was feasible.  Negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament should be a first priority, and he called on Conference members to begin those negotiations as soon as possible.  Regarding the recent initiative on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, the Conferences held in Mexico and Norway had broadened Slovenia’s understanding of that phenomenon.

Bashar Ja’afarI (Syria) condemned the fact that the 2012 conference for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East had not taken place, and called for the meeting to be convened by the end of the year.  At the same time, he urged the international community to exert pressure on Israel to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State and subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards.  He denounced the protection that Israel continued to enjoy, stressing that the country was not a party to the NPT or other important treaties.  Previously, France had provided a uranium reactor to Israel as well as missiles, and other States had contributed to Israel’s nuclear programme, which continued to develop as certain States refused to recognize it as a threat.

He went on to affirm the inalienable right of States to acquire and develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under IAEA control.  To prove that the country was against the use of chemical weapons, Syria had adhered to the obligations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and successfully honoured its commitments, despite challenging conditions.

ISMAIL CHEKKORI (Morocco), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as the African and Arab Groups, stressed that nuclear weapons were not a guarantee of security.  That, he said, resided in dialogue and partnership, which, in turn, would foster sustainable development.  Nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction that had not been subjected to global prohibition, he said, adding that his country was hopeful that the Vienna conference would reinvigorate that process.  Morocco subscribed to New Zealand’s statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and believed that implementation of the outcomes of the NPT Review Conference in 2010 was of “vital importance”.  Despite efforts made, the international community remained a long away from a process that would lead to a world free of nuclear weapons.  Efforts must be stepped up to ensure the success of the May 2015 NPT Review Conference, and its universal ratification was crucial, as that would strengthen the non-proliferation regime and pave the way for a nuclear-weapon-free world.

RAMADHAN M. MWINYI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and African Group, said that in order to achieve the purpose of the NPT, the IAEA must retain its vital role, including in encouraging the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Also crucial was the creation of an environment conducive to nuclear cooperation.  He called on that Agency to ensure that education on nuclear technology was equally provided to all Member States, in good faith without discrimination, and urged countries with nuclear arsenals to comply with NPT provisions.  He commended the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, as invaluable contributions to international peace and security, and joined calls for such a zone in the Middle East. He regretted that nuclear-weapon States were reluctant to offer negative security assurances, and called on those States to offer a legally-binding agreement to that end.

Alifeleti Soakai (Palau), associating with the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said his country had a particular interest in advancing nuclear disarmament as it had experienced first-hand the devastating impact of nuclear arms.  In that regard, Palau stood in solidarity with the Marshall Islands in its legal proceedings before the International Court of Justice to compel nuclear-armed States to fulfil their legal obligation to disarm.  The time had come for a new diplomatic process to negotiate a legally-binding instrument that prohibited, not only the use of threat of use of nuclear weapons, but also their production, deployment, transfer and stockpiling.  By banning nuclear weapons, the international community would devalue and stigmatize them, a necessary first step towards their complete elimination, he said.

MICHAL SEHAYEK-SOROKA (Israel) said her national policy in the nuclear domain had always been one of responsibility and restraint, and was consonant with the underlying goals and principles of non-proliferation, including those expressed in the NPT.  Unfortunately, it had been clearly demonstrated in the Middle East in recent years that NPT did not provide a guarantee that those non-proliferation principles would be implemented and adhered to, nor address the unique security challenges of the region.  The Treaty had certainly not prevented substantial violations of its obligations by several Middle East member States, and had not sufficiently remedied those violations once they were discovered.

She said that NPT membership was not a goal in itself, and that of critical importance was for the treaty to be respected by those countries that had joined it.  Calls for universal adherence to the NPT must be judged against the Middle East’s region-specific characteristics and particularly the fact that the vast majority of members of the Arab Group continued to refuse to recognize Israel as a sovereign State.  When Syria joined the NPT, it specifically stated that its accession did not imply recognition of Israel.  In that context, it was clear that Israel must give due consideration to the fact that four out of five cases of violation of the NPT took place in the Middle East, namely Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria.  The fourth was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Israel’s approach to regional security and arms control was rooted in its belief that all security concerns of regional members should be taken into account, she said.  A zone free of nuclear weapons could only emanate from within a region through direct negotiations and consensus-building.  The disturbing realities in the Middle East mandated a practical, step-by-step approach, and could only begin with modest arrangements for confidence and security-building measures to build necessary trust.  Regrettably, no regional security dialogue existed at present in the Middle East, nor was there a forum to develop confidence-building measures and defuse tensions.  Israel had expressed its commitment to sincere and open dialogue, and regretted the Arab Group’s decision to choose a path of confrontation rather than reconciliation.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Russian Federation said the bare-faced accusations levelled at Russia did not contain an ounce of truth.  Concerning the theme of the commitments of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 with regard to security guarantees to Ukraine following its accession to the NPT, he advised those taking that line to familiarize themselves with the text of that document.  A key provision was a negative assurance not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear-weapon State.  Regarding Crimea, he said that the loss by Ukraine of its territorial integrity was not a result of foreign interference.  Rather, it was an internal political crisis.  That could in no way be conflated with the Budapest Memorandum.  In Budapest, at the same time as the memorandum, a joint statement had been adopted by the Russian Federation, the United States and Ukraine to confirm the significance of commitments within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to combat the growth of aggressive nationalism and chauvinism.  It was that joint statement that Ukraine violated by long abetting extremely aggressive ultra-nationalism.

Even the European Parliament in 2010, he went on, had adopted a resolution on Ukraine, saying that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic groups in Ukraine were contradictory to the fundamental values of the European Union.  After the coup and violent overthrow of the lawfully elected President of Ukraine, it was those forces that came to power in Kyiv in 2014.  With their ultra-nationalism, they shattered the unity of Ukraine and drove a whole region “out of its constitution”.  In Crimea, 97 per cent of voters wanted the independence of Crimea from Ukraine, and to return to the Russian Federation.  In, 1994, Russia had not assumed any commitment to coerce any part of Ukraine to remain in its constitution without the will of the local population.  The Budapest Memorandum did not extend to the consequences of internal social political processes.

Crimea’s reunification with the Russian Federation, through a direct national referendum, had taken place without a shot being fired, he said.  However, he was greatly troubled by the current Powers in Kyiv and their sponsors in the European Union and the United States, which had not learned any lessons from the past.  During the coup, those enacting it were killing law enforcement officers and setting fire to civic buildings in Kyiv - and those actions were called a struggle for democracy.  Yet when the citizens in the southeast of Ukraine wanted independence, they were labeled separatists and even terrorists.  The new Powers in Kyiv beset the civilian population with regular troops including air force, tanks, heavy artillery and ballistic missiles, which were especially striking in their cruelty.  There had been mass killings of civilians including women, children, the elderly and invalids, and there had been violence, looting and destruction of infrastructures, including maternity wards, schools and old peoples’ homes, with places being literally razed to the ground.

All of that was happening in the territory of a major and potentially resource-rich European State that had been violently dragged under the control of NATO and the European Union, he said.  It was evident that those war crimes against humanity, and the effective genocide against the population in the southeast of Ukraine, was still being “played down” in the countries of the so-called Western democracies and described as outside the bounds of international humanitarian law.  It was as if the vaccine against brown-shirted plague of Nazism given during the Second World War was wearing off in some States, and it was sad that that Nazi nightmare was coming to the surface, even in the First Committee.  For those supporting the coup in Ukraine, it was just a bargaining chip in its geopolitical strategy.  For Russia, on the other hand, Ukraine was the closest and dearest, and part of its own culture and history. People living there had close family ties in Russia, and that must be borne in mind. Ukraine was close to Russia’s heart.

Exercising his right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said it could not accept the assertions made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Republic of Korea had been threatened many times by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, whose statements contradicted those made in other forums.  That country had carried out three nuclear tests and continued provocations this year, he said, adding that “the facts speak for themselves”.  It was that country that had escalated tensions in the region.

Also exercising his right of reply, the representative of Japan responded to the statement of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to urge it, once again, to fully comply with its international commitments on related issues.

The representative from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the former United States Secretary of Defence wrote in his memoir that he had informed the South Korean authorities in 2011 on the use “nukes” as a contingency against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  That same American Defence Secretary had said he received a report from the commander in the Republic of Korea that a war scenario with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea included the use of nuclear weapons.  That was but another example of the “nuclear-grade” threat against his country by the United States.

The United States, he went on, had employed a policy of nuclear blackmail since the 1950s, when that country’s “brigandish” nuclear threat had been put into practice.  Those realities proved that the United States’ nuclear blackmail was aimed at aggression and had entered a phase of practical strike, going beyond threat.  He called on the representative of the Republic of Korea to ask himself when it came to a nation, “what was dignity and what was shame”.

Speaking in exercise of a second right of reply, the representative of the Republic of Korea said he would not respond to such baseless accusations, but wished to remind those present that the international community supported the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005, which clearly stated that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was obliged to abandon all nuclear weapons and programmes, including uranium enrichment.

Also speaking in a second right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said he wished to clarify that his country had never recognized those so-called resolutions, which the representative from the Republic of Korea kept “sticking with”.  The security situation on the Korean peninsula was a result of the nuclear blackmail of the United States.  As long as that continued, it would be hard to expect peace and security there.  The Republic of Korea should not worry about the nuclear deterrence of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but about the placement of nuclear materials on their own soil, which could push the peninsula to disaster.  Directing an “old Korean proverb” at the delegate from the Republic of Korea, he said, “that was the pot calling the kettle black”.

Conventional Weapons Thematic Debate

KAMAPRADIPTA ISNOMO (Indonesia), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed the sovereign right of States to acquire, manufacture, export, import and retain conventional arms and their parts and components for self-defence and security.  At the same time, the Movement was concerned about unilateral coercive measures, and emphasized that no “undue restriction” should be placed on the transfer of small arms and light weapons.  It also remained deeply concerned over the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of those weapons and called on all States to ensure that their supply was limited to Governments or entities authorized to use them.  Recognizing the “significant imbalance” between the industrialized and Non-Aligned countries, he called for a reduction in conventional weapons by industrialized States, with a view to enhancing international and peace and security.

In anticipation of the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, the Movement, he continued, called for its balanced, transparent and objective implementation, while reaffirming the inherent right of each State to security and collective self-defence.  The Movement also called on all States in the position to do so to provide the necessary assistance to landmine clearance operations, including resources, and the social and economic rehabilitation of victims.  The Movement also expressed solidarity with the cluster munitions-affected countries, calling for the necessary assistance to clear such weapons.

El Hadji Alhousseini Traoré (Mali), speaking in his national capacity and associating with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, recalled the need to strengthen multilateralism so that the international community could move forward its effort in disarmament and non–proliferation.  He deplored the erosion of multilateralism, but also pointed to recent successes.  The Arms Trade Treaty would soon enter into force, and this December, the international community would hold a conference in Vienna on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

Speaking on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he introduced a draft resolution on “assistance to states for curbing the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons and collecting them”, or, “L.4”.  That illicit trade and circulation continued to sustain a number of theatres of conflict around the world, exacerbating violence and contributing to civilian displacement.  They fed terrorism and organized crime, and were the weapons most frequently used in armed conflicts.  Combatting their proliferation and illicit trade would only be effective if it was carried out synergistically in cooperation with all concerned.  He recognized the support given by the European Union to ECOWAS, including the allocation of €5.56 million to fight the circulation of those illicit weapons.

GEORGE WILFRED TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the unregulated trade of illicit small arms continued to cause irreparable harm to people around the world, fuelling crime, conflict and humanitarian law violations.  The transnational nature of the flow of those weapons required a multi-national effort; in the Caribbean region, the illicit trade posed a major threat to its safety, security and development.  In that regard, the Community commended the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, which was an important step to curb the flow of light arms, he said, stressing that the Treaty was expected to make a significant difference in people’s lives in the Caribbean.  CARICOM was proud to have played a leading role in that Treaty’s success and confirmed that all 14 Member States had already signed it.  One of its members, Trinidad and Tobago, had also offered to host the Treaty’s secretariat, which had CARICOM’s full support.

He said CARICOM welcomed the adoption of the outcome document of the small arms and light weapons Programme of Action’s review, which contained capacity-building measures for States to implement the Programme.  As implementation remained uneven across regions, the international community must ensure the instrument’s effective and broad implementation.  CARICOM supported exploring ways in which the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action could be complementary.  The Community fully supported the Maputo+15 action plan on the prohibition of anti-personnel land mines, and urged full implementation of the Mine-Ban convention.

MICHIEL RAAFENBERG (Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Member States of UNASUR, recognized the contribution made by the United Nations Programme of Action in preventing the illicit trade in small arms by providing a comprehensive, multidimensional response to the problem.  However, UNASUR reiterated that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons “in all its aspects” must include ammunition and explosives.  The working group on firearms and ammunition, established in 2001, had become a useful tool for the coordination of the positions of member and associated States of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR).  UNASUR expressed its support of Colombia, South Africa, and Japan for the introduction of the draft resolution on the illicit small arms and light weapons trade, as it addressed issues related to the unregulated trade in conventional arms.  The Arms Trade Treaty contributed to the prevention of armed conflict and international law violations, and the Union urged its transparent implementation.

He reiterated UNASUR’s support for the international community’s efforts to regulate cluster munitions and also reaffirmed the need to eliminate anti-personnel mines.  The UNASUR attached importance to the international cooperation and assistance framework of the Mine-Ban Convention and welcomed the documents adopted at the third review conference.  The Heads of State of UNASUR decided to strengthen South America as a zone of peace, committing to mutual confidence in security and defence.  They also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the cooperation and fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.

IOANNIS VRAILAS, representative of the European Union Delegation, welcoming the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty in December, said it would significantly contribute to international peace and security.  Recognizing that the Treaty’s effective implementation and universalization would be essential for its success and relevance, the Union had adopted an ambitious and tangible implementation support programme for countries in need, with overall funding of €6.4 million.  It also considered the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons to be a key universal tool in addressing the challenges posed by the illicit trade and excessive accumulation of such weapons at the national, regional and global levels.  The Union would continue to call for theinclusion of ammunition as part of a comprehensive approach to controlling those weapons, he said, reiterating his commitment to promoting the Mine-Ban Convention.

The European Union, he continued, had consistently supported international efforts addressing the humanitarian, socio-economic and security impact of conventional weapons and halting their indiscriminate use.  Expressing support for the humanitarian goal of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, he voiced deep concern about reports of alleged use of such munitions against civilian populations in Syria and called upon all concerned to refrain from such use.  There were similarly worrying reports concerning South Sudan and Ukraine.  With a view to strengthening international humanitarian law, the European Union remained firmly committed to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its Protocols, and stressed the need for its universalization.  He highlighted the strong linkage with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which provided a wider framework to address comprehensively the needs of survivors.

For information media. Not an official record.