International Efforts Crucial to Keeping Weapons of Mass Destruction from Falling into Non-State Actors’ Hands, 1540 Committee Chair Tells Security Council

SC/11665
24 November 2014
7319th Meeting (PM)

International Efforts Crucial to Keeping Weapons of Mass Destruction from Falling into Non-State Actors’ Hands, 1540 Committee Chair Tells Security Council

International efforts to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of non-State actors must be continually strengthened through stepped‑up engagement by Member States, the outgoing head of the Security Council’s subsidiary body on the issued, known as the 1540 Committee, said this afternoon.

“The value of direct interaction with States has once again been demonstrated,” Ambassador Oh Joon of the Republic of Korea, told the Council in the semi-annual briefing on implementation of Council resolution 1540 (2004), which aims to keep access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons away from terrorists and other non-State groups.

Mr. Oh recalled that during its May presidency of the Council, his country had organized a day-long debate marking the tenth anniversary of the resolution (see Press Release SC/11382).  During that meeting, a presidential statement was adopted calling on States to increase their efforts to fulfil their obligations and stressing the need for universal reporting and assistance in national capacity‑building for implementation.

With the additional impetus provided by the May presidential statement, he said, high priority was given in the past six months to encouraging national reporting.  To engage non-reporting States, meetings were held in South Africa, Gabon and Togo, among other locations.  As well, a visit to Malawi resulted in the submission of the first report by that country, reducing the total of non‑reporters to 20.

Visits to China and the United Kingdom in the reporting period provided opportunities to promote understanding of those States’ efforts to implement the resolution and identify effective practices, he said, while national roundtables in Cambodia, Colombia, Grenada, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago helped identify assistance requirements.

Describing a range of regional and subregional events on nuclear, chemical and biological security, he said last month’s regional workshop in Seoul on full implementation of the resolution, organized by his Government and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, engaged representatives of more than 30 countries.

Efforts to enhance dialogue with the private sector on implementation of the resolution continued with last week’s holding of the third event of the related Wiesbaden process, he said.

Facilitating “matchmaking” between assistance requests and offers, he said, remained a priority for the Committee.  As of today, a total of 83 Member States and 13 international organizations had identified points of contact for that purpose.  The Committee would continue to encourage more contacts among those entities as well as among industry, academia and the media.  All would be updated on the Committee’s activities through quarterly newsletters.

Looking ahead, he said the Committee must soon begin work on the comprehensive review of implementation as called for in resolution 1977 (2011).  A plan for conduct of the review would be included in the programme of work to be submitted to the Council by 31 January 2015.

Following Mr. Oh’s briefing, Council members reaffirmed support for the objectives of the resolution and the work of the Committee with some saying it was more relevant than ever.  National implementation efforts were described as well, including legal frameworks and work on export control.  Most delegations spoke of the need for universal participation.  Encouraging reporting from those who had not yet done so, they also welcomed outreach activities of the Committee and, in some cases, described different events that had been organized to that end.   Much importance was placed on assistance for those countries that needed it in implementing the resolution's provisions.  Members also said they looked forward to the upcoming comprehensive review, with the expectation that it would focus on gaps in putting in place the necessary safeguards.

Some countries, while affirming their commitment to implementing resolution 1540 (2004), also stressed the need to concurrently rid the world of all arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons.  It was the only way to ensure that such weapons were not used, as well as kept out of the wrong hands, the representatives of Argentina and Nigeria said.

Also speaking today were the representatives of the United States, France, China, Jordan, Chile, Luxembourg, Chad, Rwanda, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Russian Federation and Australia.

The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 4:17 p.m.

Statements

DAVID PRESSMAN (United States) said the fact that 173 countries had submitted national reports since 2004 testified to the global effort to prevent non-State actors from acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction.  The 1540 Committee had increased the number of country visits and had boosted State report collection.  A compendium had been created, becoming an invaluable resource for best practices in work to prevent non-State actors from acquiring such arms.  The compendium was an evolving document, and he urged others to add to its development.  The Committee had included in the compendium United States national practices for the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), with examples of how it had implemented that text.  However, despite progress, the Committee had failed to meet its goal of updating all implementation matrices by 31 August.  It must prioritize that issue so that it could work from a more comprehensive understanding of implementation.  That also would help establish a baseline for the 2016 comprehensive review, for whose conduct the Committee must develop a plan.

PHILIPPE BERTOUX (France) said the majority of States had transcribed the provisions of resolution 1540 (2004) into their internal laws, while most international and regional organizations had adopted strategies to implement that text.  Indeed, the resolution played an important role in preventing nuclear, radiological and other weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists.  He expressed concern at crises in Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Syria, saying that, on the Iran situation, new ideas presented in Vienna should be examined.  The 2013 interim accord should be extended, thus opening the possibility for a more permanent solution.  As for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he raised the possibility of imposing more sanctions, urging that international and operational cooperation, including against illegal traditional weapons exports which financed that country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, be strengthened.  A resolution approved by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on preventing the acquisition of radioactive sources would allow for more negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on radiological security.

SUN LEI (China) said the global fight against proliferation faced the new challenge of non-State entities working to acquire weapons of mass destruction.  States should enhance regulation, working to control such arms at their source by tackling root causes and addressing, in a balanced manner, questions of security and development.  Resolution 1540 (2004) was important in terms of denying access by non-State entities to weapons of mass destruction.  Lately, the Committee had been productive in enhancing international cooperation and promoting assistance.  He supported such efforts, in line with the Committee’s mandate, in collecting implementation reports, compiling implementation practices and promoting cooperation.  The Chair had led a delegation to China, during which “rich exchanges” had been conducted, helping to deepen China’s cooperation with the Committee and its Group of Experts.

DINA KAWAR (Jordan), citing achievements, said the Committee had held an open debate in May, which had led to the adoption of a presidential statement.  As well, it had conducted several State visits.  The increased strength of terrorist groups — and their financing sources — had made their use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons a real danger, she said, underscoring States’ responsibility to fully comply with resolution 1540 (2004).  For its part, Jordan had adopted a number of deterrent national laws and had implemented national controls to monitor exports and prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery mechanisms.  Last month, her Government had submitted its third national report, covering the 2006-2014 period, and now looked forward to preparing for the 2016 nuclear summit.  She encouraged States and international organizations that had provided technical and other assistance to continue providing that support.  The Committee should list Australia as an assistance provider, she said, urging it also to consider creating a fifth working group to prepare for the comprehensive review.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), thanking the Committee for its work, stressed that there still existed a strong need to implement resolution 1540 (2004), particularly given the existence of material that could be made into dangerous weapons in conflict areas.  He also described his country’s work on such implementation and its continuing commitment to that end.  Highlighting the need to improve export controls, he reported that his country had conducted several trainings on that matter.  In order to close gaps in related international efforts, the comprehensive review would be an important endeavour, he stated.

SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg) said she also agreed on the continued threat of non-State actors acquiring dangerous weapons and the importance of regular national reporting on efforts to prevent it.  The resolution would only be effective with universal participation.  Outreach activities were essential for that effort and to reduce even further the number of non-reporting States.  She encouraged the Committee to continue to prioritize matching those countries that needed assistance with those that could provide it.  Recognizing the key role of civil society and the private sector, she said any new initiative in that area would be welcome.  Her country was strengthening export control mechanisms and remained committed to full implementation of the resolution.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina), supporting efforts to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction, nevertheless stressed the sovereign right of countries to safely develop nuclear and chemical technologies.  In that light, she said her country supported non-proliferation and disarmament efforts, as well as the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  However, international cooperation was needed to allow for equal implementation of all States.  Her country was partnering within a South-South focus on provision of training and other needs.  As long as there were arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, however, the threat would remain.  No country should produce them, and those that possessed them should eliminate them.  It was the only way to ensure that such weapons did not fall into the wrong hands and were not used.

USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), noting the capacity gaps that existed in many countries, welcomed the efforts of the Committee to match implementation assistance to their needs.  He said he looked forward to discussion of that issue in the upcoming Comprehensive Review.  In addition to implementing resolution 1540 (2004), he encouraged all States who possessed dangerous weapons to commit themselves to the elimination of their arsenals and, in that way, ensure that no one was able use them.  “This Council should not have two different standards — one for States with nuclear weapons and another for all others,” he said.

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad), noting achievements, highlighted the three special meetings held in Africa for States that had not yet submitted their first report, as well as 59 awareness-raising activities around the world.  He reiterated Chad’s commitment to implement resolution 1540 (2004), calling on the Committee to focus on States that had yet to submit their reports, 16 of which were in Africa.  He underscored his country’s full support of the Committee and said he looked forward to the comprehensive review of the resolution’s implementation.

OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE (Rwanda) commended the Committee for its work to ensure that non-State entities did not acquire or use chemical or biological weapons.  He also recalled its goal of achieving universal reporting and noted the priority given to encouraging States that had not submitted their first reports to do so.  Rwanda had submitted its national implementation report in 2011 and would continue to ensure its implementation within its borders, helping to identify effective practices and lessons learned.  Citing capacity gaps among States in addressing proliferation, he welcomed the Committee’s work to ensure the effectiveness of matchmaking between assistance requests and offers.  Such matchmaking and the national points of contact network would help increase the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  He urged the Counter-Terrorism Committee, the Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities, and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate to put in place a strategy, calling for universal denuclearization.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITÉ (Lithuania) said her country had been a dedicated supporter of resolution 1540 (2004) since its adoption, having submitted its initial report in 2004, as well as providing regular updates, most recently in November 2013.  It had finalized a 1540 matrix aimed at further enhancing national implementation.  Through its Nuclear Security Centre of Excellence, Lithuania aimed to increase the capacities of national and regional experts to counter nuclear smuggling and to improve its national security culture.  The Group of Experts should continue to conduct country visits and participate in non‑proliferation events.  Further, the Committee should expand its base of assistance providers, especially in the field of export controls, which should be open to all such providers that expressed a wish to contribute to the resolution’s implementation.  In addition, it should compile effective practices vis-à-vis cooperation with industry, civil society, academia and the private sector.

MICHAEL TATHAM (United Kingdom) said the international community must prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State entities by focusing more on implementation and best practices in tackling proliferation risks.  The submission in 2014 of initial reports of several countries, including Malawi, Lesotho and South Sudan, had reduced the number of non‑reporting States to 20.  Noting that resolution 1540 (2004) had among the highest compliance reporting rates, he urged States that had not done so to submit their reports without delay.  In addition, information that the Group of Experts intended to provide on country matrices would be an invaluable contribution.  For its part, the United Kingdom continued to promote best practices, having hosted the Committee for its first visit.  His Government looked forward to its report and urged other States to similarly engage that body.  The United Kingdom also had co‑organized an event to mark the tenth anniversary of resolution 1540 (2004).

ALEXANDER A. PANKIN (Russian Federation), thanking the Committee for its work, said one of the major challenges was full implementation by all countries, in relation to all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological.  Delivery of technical assistance to States was therefore a key priority, as was eliciting reporting from those countries that had not yet done so.  He pledged his country’s further cooperation on those challenges, affirming that the work of the Committee was as relevant as ever.

GARY QUINLAN (Australia), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, urged States to implement resolution 1540 (2004), seek assistance when needed, and strengthen regional and international cooperation to starve proliferators of items, expertise and finance.  The comprehensive review and the forward strategy would be vital to accelerating implementation.  The Committee must always strive to enhance its productivity and effectiveness.  With that in mind, it was vital to improve the links between resolution 1540 (2004) and other Council committees, instruments and multilateral non-proliferation and export control regimes.  Increasing outreach to industry and the private sector was also crucial.  Australia’s experience in implementing an industry code of practice for chemical precursors had reinforced that the private sector could be a valuable partner in countering proliferation.  It was important to assist developing countries in implementing the resolution’s obligations.  As such, the Council should provide more coordinated support across non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and sanctions obligations.

For information media. Not an official record.