Collective Security Can Be Assured by Finding Common Ground amid Primacy of National Positions, Members Told at Start of First Committee Session

GA/DIS/3497
7 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 2nd Meeting (AM)

Collective Security Can Be Assured by Finding Common Ground amid Primacy of National Positions, Members Told at Start of First Committee Session

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was urged today at the start of its session to move beyond reaffirming long-term goals to concrete actions, as the absence of a results-based approach hindered the United Nations disarmament machinery and, indeed, the work of the Organization itself.

Addressing the Committee, Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted the effect of that approach on nuclear disarmament, which, she warned, still lacked specific benchmarks.  However, the most alarming headlines of the day were not about the fearsome prospects of nuclear war, but about armed conflicts raging inside States, often involving non-State actors “armed to the teeth” with some of the most lethal small weapons ever developed.

In his opening remarks, the Committee Chair, Courtenay Rattray of Jamaica, said that global peace could reign and collective security could be assured even as Member States asserted the primacy of their respective interests.  He warned, however, of the “dangerous intersection” between the activities of transnational criminal organizations, terrorist groups, State and non-State informal actors and violent extremists that had access to instruments of war, which fuelled instability.

Echoing appeals heard throughout the morning for a more tangible path forward in pursuit of disarmament, Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite traditional calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, concrete steps remained elusive.

Compliance by the nuclear-weapon States with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was imperative, and must not be delayed any further, he said, adding that ensuring non-proliferation while ignoring disarmament was counterproductive and unsustainable.  Nor should non-proliferation policies undermine the inalienable right of States to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes or define their national energy policies.

Indeed, said Mexico’s representative on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, an ever-growing body of research made it clearer than ever that the risk of detonation was greater than had previously been perceived.  There was a growing gap between the increased understanding of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons and the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament, he said, stressing that it was time for the world community to translate words into action.

Underlining the multiple global challenges confronting the global community, the representative of Philippines, on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said while those disarmament efforts were already extremely difficult in “normal times”, that was even truer in times of crisis.  Nonetheless, the international community must not shift its attention away from the immediate task at hand, namely, the total and complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.  That was as relevant today as it was more than four decades ago, he added.

To those who questioned United States support for nuclear disarmament, said its representative, “this is a mistake”.  She reiterated United States firm commitment to the NPT’s article VI and to achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.  The United States was ready, she said, to discuss further nuclear reductions with the Russian Federation, but progress would require a willing partner and a good environment.

The representative of India said his country, as a nuclear-weapon State, was committed to universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament.  India’s nuclear doctrine continued to stress a policy of credible minimum deterrence with a posture of no-first-use and non-use against non-nuclear weapon States.  In that respect, India remained committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing, the delegate said.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, viewed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as the “last and most visible barrier” against nuclear-weapon tests.  Moreover, the Community advocated for multilateral cooperation in non-proliferation, as outlined in Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).

Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, the representative of Egypt said that the goals of disarmament and global security could “never be realized in the presence of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction”, or until those efforts were redirected towards development.  On that note, the Group rejected military doctrines that allowed for the use of nuclear weapons and called for the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

The representative of the European Union delegation welcomed the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and highlighted the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in motivating nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  Towards that end, he said the Treaty’s entry into force and universalization remained top priorities for the Union.

Speaking on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Nigeria expressed the continent’s deep concerns about the illicit trade and circulation of small arms and light weapons, underscoring the grave consequences of their spread and accumulation around the world, particularly in Africa.

The representative of Mexico also spoke in his national capacity.

Syria’s representative spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., 8 October, to continue its debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to begin its annual general debate, scheduled to run through 15 October, on all disarmament and international security agenda items entrusted to it, for which it had before it the following reports:  A/69/135, A/69/135/Add.1, A/69/112, A/69/112/Add.1, A/69/130 (Part I) and A/69/130 (Part I)/Add.1, A/69/124, A/69/124/Add.1, A/69/123, A/69/151, A/69/113, A/69/113/Add.1, A/69/132, A/69/140, A/69/173, A/69/172, A/69/172/Add.1, A/69/114, A/69/114/Add.1, A/69/115, A/69/152, A/69/118, A/69/118/Add.1, A/69/131, A/69/131/Add.1, A/69/138, A/69/138/Add.1, A/69/154, A/69/154/Add.1, A/69/116, A/69/139, A/69/134, A/69/168, A/69/127, A/69/136, A/69/133, A/69/361, A/69/176, A/69/208, A/69/27, A/69/42, A/69/169 and A/69/137.

Opening Remarks

COURTENAY RATTRAY of Jamaica, Committee Chair, expressed his wish that members approach the agenda with a sincere desire to create conditions within which “global peace can reign and our collective security can be assured”.  Even as they asserted the primacy of their respective interests, the tradition would continue of engaging with each other in an atmosphere of respect.  It was an important juncture in history, he stated, one in which the world benefited from commercial relations from technological advances, and yet was confronted by emerging weapons technologies that posed risks to international peace and security.

At the same time, he highlighted the “dangerous intersection” between the activities of transnational criminal organizations, terrorist groups, State and non-State informal actors and violent extremists which had access to instruments of war.  Those fuelled instability and harmed civilians, particularly women and children.  On that note, the Chairman said he was mindful of the responsibility of the Committee to help to create an international framework within which deadly weapons of war could either be completely eliminated or placed within regulatory constraints that ensured they were not misused.  He would do his utmost to ensure that the conduct of the deliberations did justice to those important issues.

ANGELA KANE, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that disarmament had long been the world’s collective agenda.  However, there was a secondary theme that characterized the United Nations work, namely, disagreements over the means by which to achieve such goals.  In the face of those disagreements, Member States had proposed different ways to revitalize the disarmament machinery, which could produce concrete and substantive results, as evidenced by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention), and the Arms Trade Treaty.  Those who believed that progress in arms control was impossible in times of ongoing disputes needed only to recall the number of treaties in those fields that were concluded precisely during unsettled times.

Perhaps, she continued, progress would be made this year in the impasse characterizing the disarmament machinery.  The collective mission was to focus on disarmament itself and not on results-based disarmament measures, which only derailed efforts.  Those measures, she added, were valuable in their close connection to the First Committee’s mandate.  The Committee must not simply reaffirm, as it did each year, its long-term goals, but must maintain a process for ensuring the implementation of existing commitments through concrete actions.  That was especially true with regard to nuclear disarmament, which continued to lack specific benchmarks.  The absence of a results-based approach hindered the effectiveness of the machinery.  Disarmament and non-proliferation had an important impact on the wider goals of the United Nations, she added.

Reducing military expenditures allowed for a diversion of funds towards human needs and the advancement of humanitarian goals, she said.  The most alarming headlines of the day did not deal with the fearsome prospects of nuclear war, but instead told of armed conflicts raging inside States, often involving non-State actors armed to the teeth with some of the most lethal small weapons ever developed, including tanks, mortars and other equipment, which they did not manufacture themselves.  That was the context in which the Committee would commence its substantive work in 2014.  If the Committee recognized that flexibility was not weakness and if it could build mutual trust and confidence, it would have an opportunity to move forward towards achieving its goals.

Statements

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the disarmament and international security environment remained at an impasse.  Regardless of long-standing calls for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, concrete steps remained elusive.  The Movement reaffirmed its principle positions on nuclear disarmament and stressed that efforts aimed at nuclear non-proliferation should be done in parallel.  Some nuclear-weapon States justified the use or threat of use of those weapons, but that could not be justified on any grounds.  Compliance by the nuclear-weapon States with their obligations under the NPT was imperative and must not be delayed further.

The Movement, he noted, would introduce during the current session an updated version of General Assembly resolution 68/32 on follow-up to the high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament.  The group had also initiated a “Day”, to be observed on 26 September, in observance of the elimination of nuclear weapons.  He reiterated deep concern over that “greatest threat to peace” — the retention of those weapons, as enshrined in the doctrines of nuclear-weapon States and that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  Those texts set out rationales for the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  He welcomed the growing focus on the humanitarian consequence of those weapons, and reaffirmed that only the total elimination of nuclear weapons would guarantee their non-use.

He stressed that ensuring non-proliferation while ignoring disarmament was counterproductive and unsustainable.  Additionally, non-proliferation policies should not undermine the inalienable right of States to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, and in that, their sovereign right to define their own national energy policies.  The primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament rested with individual States, and any multilateral norms or guidelines should be pursued within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  He demanded that Israel renounce any possession of nuclear weapons, and that it accede to the NPT and place all nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.  He expressed “profound disappointment” that the conference establishing in the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, due to be held in 2012, had still not taken place.

He stressed the significance of achieving universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, including by all nuclear-weapon States.  Regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention, he called on possessor States to ensure the complete destruction of their remaining programmes within the final extended deadline.  The absence of a verification system for the Biological Weapons Convention continued to challenge its effectiveness.  Concerning all disarmament measures, the exercise of political will by all States was necessary to achieving concrete results.  With political courage and collective action, the Committee could contribute tangibly towards a more secure world.

JORGE LOMONACO TONDA (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said it was very evident to the group that as long as nuclear weapons existed, the possibility of a detonation remained.  The only guarantee against that occurrence was the complete elimination of those weapons.  The conference held in his country earlier this year deepened the coalition’s understanding of the long-term and global effects of nuclear weapons, and an ever-growing body of research made it clearer than ever that the risk of detonation was far greater than had previously been perceived.  The coalition welcomed the announcement by Austria to convene a third such conference later this year, he said.

The desire for progress on nuclear disarmament had heightened public opinion around the world about the threat of those weapons, he said, stressing it was “high time” for the international community to translate words into action.  There was a growing gap between the increased understanding of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons and the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament.  Despite some optimism, the coalition was disappointed at the absence of a conference on a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.  On that issue, it was imperative to implement the resolution adopted at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.  He added that, in a world where the basic needs of billions were not being met, the growth in nuclear weapons expenditures was “unacceptable and unsustainable”.  He urged Governments to direct those much-needed resources towards socioeconomic development.

The reports presented by the nuclear-weapon States to the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, he said, revealed a continued reliance by those States on nuclear weapons.  There had been no further reductions in the global stockpile, or any significant doctrinal changes that would provide evidence of concrete nuclear disarmament progress to which the nuclear-weapon States recommitted in 2010.  While the Movement welcomes the increased transparency of some nuclear-weapon States, the primary goal of their reports should have been to measure progress.  The coalition looked forward to implementation by those States of their nuclear commitments in a manner that enabled NPT States parties to regularly monitor progress and recommend a detailed reporting format that would enhance confidence and trust.  To kick-start the process towards implementation of action 5 of the 2010 NPT Action Plan, the coalition had presented a working paper to the Preparatory Committee’s third session, debate on which must inform the next steps.  A successful outcome next year would require more than a simple rollover of the 2010 Action Plan.

JACEK BYLICA, representative of the European Union delegation, welcomed the coming entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, which represented a major success for effective multilateralism.  That treaty would significantly contribute to international peace and security by establishing robust and effective common global standards for the regulation of the international conventional weapons trade.  Once it entered force, the Treaty’s effective implementation and universalization would be essential for its success and relevance.  All European Union countries were signatories, and so far, 23 of them had ratified, with the remaining ratifications expected shortly.

He said the CTBT was crucial to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and its entry into force and universalization remained top priorities for the European Union.  Pending its entry into force, all States, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, should abide by a moratorium on nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosion, and to refrain from any action that would defeat the Treaty’s object and purpose.  He strongly condemned the violation of several commitments by the Russian Federation to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty under the Budapest memorandum of 1994, which concerned security assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon State.

The European Union, he noted, had condemned in the strongest possible terms the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear test of February 2013, as well as that country’s threat of another test.  It had urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from further provocative actions.  It also supported the ongoing diplomatic efforts, led by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to seek a diplomatic solution with Iran on the country’s nuclear issue.  He welcomed the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the “E3+3”, the framework for cooperation between Iran and the IAEA, and that country’s continued implementation of measures under the joint action plan.

He said the Union stood united in condemning in the strongest terms all use of chemical weapons in Syria, which constituted an international law violation, a war crime, and a crime against humanity.  There could be no impunity, and perpetrators of the attacks must be held accountable.  The international community had cooperated effectively over the past year to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, but work remained.  Syria must ensure the complete and irreversible dismantlement of its chemical weapons programme, including production facilities.

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said it fully supported implementation of the resolution on the follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly, including the call for negotiations on the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons.  It underscored the “absolute validity” of multilateral diplomacy in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and international security, restating that there were no substitutes for that approach in addressing global disarmament issues in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

Africa, she went on, supported the principle of complete nuclear disarmament, as the prerequisite for maintaining international peace and security.  She recalled the entry into force of the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), which reaffirmed the continent’s status as nuclear-weapon- free, thereby preventing the stationing of nuclear explosive devices on the territory and prohibiting those weapons’ tests.  In that context, the African Group strongly supported the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and was deeply concerned that the commitments made at the 2010 NPT Review Conference in that regard had not been implemented.  Continued delay also ran contrary to the spirit of the 1995 NPT resolution on the Middle East, she noted, urging Israel’s accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear party to bring all its nuclear facilities under IAEA comprehensive safeguards.

Regarding the Test-Ban Treaty, the African Group, she said, stressed the importance of its universal adherence and noted the special responsibilities in that regard of the nuclear-weapon States.  Upon its entry into force, the CTBT would assist in halting the future development or proliferation of nuclear weapons.  As such, the Group encouraged the remaining “Annex II” States as well as those yet to accede to the NPT, to sign and ratify the CTBT without further delay.  Describing the NPT as the “cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation”, the Group reiterated the need for all States to abide by the spirit of the Treaty and to work towards fulfilling its three pillars:  nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  She also raised the continent’s deep concerns about the illicit trade and circulation of small arms and light weapons.  Their accumulation and spread around the world, particularly in Africa, continued to emphasize the need for the balanced, full and effective implementation of the second Review Conference of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.  The Group welcomed the convening of the Fifth Biennial Meeting of States this year and stressed that international cooperation and assistance was essential to the Action Programme’s full implementation.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the goals of disarmament and global security could never be realized in the presence of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, or until those efforts were redirected towards development.  The Group rejected military doctrines that allowed for the use of nuclear weapons, and called for the universality of the NPT.  It also continued to call for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and mass destruction weapons in the Middle East.  However, Israel refused to adhere to the NPT or subject its nuclear systems to the IAEA, remaining the only State in the region to refrain from doing so.  The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was a pillar of the NPT and was no less important than the others.  However, he was disappointed at the delay, since 2012, of a conference to create such a zone, owing to Israel’s refusal to submit to the will of the international community.

Reiterating the importance of the Conference on Disarmament, he said the Arab Group was concerned at the impasse, which, it felt, was not a result of Conference shortcomings, but of the absence of political will.  The Group also believed that outer space must be used for peaceful purposes and that its militarization must be restricted.  The current international legal instruments that dealt with that matter were insufficient and he thus called for the establishment of a committee within the Conference on Disarmament to deal with that issue and produce a multilateral agreement.  On conventional weapons, he urged solidarity in review conferences aimed at implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action.  The international community must not slacken in its ambitions, but must abide by the rules and principles of international peace and security to achieve progress in all disarmament issues.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), speaking on behalf ASEAN, said the member States were unwavering in their commitment to ridding the world of nuclear weapons.  Yet 40 years into the collective efforts towards realizing that goal, the global stockpiles remained at alarmingly high levels.  The Association strongly supported substantive and robust discussions on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, with the aim of providing a comprehensive understanding of the catastrophic effects of those weapons, both on human beings and the environment.  He welcomed the conferences on the humanitarian impact of those weapons held in Oslo and Nayarit, and looked forward to a more substantive outcome in the upcoming meeting in Vienna.

He reaffirmed the Association States’ commitment to preserve Southeast Asia as a zone free of both nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction.  Those States underlined the importance of peace, security and stability in the Korean Peninsula, and supported all efforts to achieve its denuclearization, including by creating a conducive environment for the early resumption of the six-party talks.  The Association was concerned at the recent rise of violence committed by terrorist and extremist organizations, he said, adding that with the persistent threat of global terrorism, it was more vital than ever to ensure that extremist movements did not gain access to weapons of mass destruction.

With only six months left before the next NPT Review Conference, he was concerned that the international community had fallen behind in its commitments agreed at the 2010 Conference, such as by failing to convene a conference on the Middle East.  He called for the full implementation of the 64-point Action Plan, and the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.  Recognizing the central role of the IAEA in nuclear non-proliferation and the promotion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the Association had agreed to explore ways to formalize relations between itself and the Agency.  It was often said that disarmament efforts were already extremely difficult in “normal times”; that was even truer in times of crisis.  The world community must not allow the multiple global crises it now faced to shift attention and focus away from the immediate task at hand, which was the total and complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. That job was as relevant today was it was more than four decades ago.

EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf CARICOM and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Community remained firm in its conviction that the Arms Trade Treaty could contribute significantly to reducing the suffering of people around the world, particularly women and children living under the devastating impact of conventional weapons’ unregulated trade.  The Caribbean Community, after the European Union, was the regional grouping with the most Arms Trade Treaty ratifications.  Trinidad and Tobago had put forth a bid to host the Treaty secretariat headquarters, which would be a significant development as the illicit small arms and light weapons trade had disproportionately affected the region.  It would also reinforce the principle of equitable geographic distribution in the hosting of major global institutions.

On nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he said that CARICOM was proud to be the first densely populated region in the world to have declared itself a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  It advocated for multilateral cooperation in non-proliferation and the promotion of international cooperation for peaceful purposes, as contemplated in Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  The Community also encouraged the States to honour their NPT obligations.  It viewed the CTBT as a complementary instrument as it provided the “last and most visible barrier” against nuclear-weapon tests.  In that connection, it urged ratification by the remaining Annex 2 countries to enable the Treaty’s early entry into force.

He said that any discourse on the topic, however, would be incomplete without discussing the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, which was embodied in the outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.  The Caribbean Community welcomes the growing global attention to that matter, including the upcoming meeting to be held in December this year in Austria, which would be another opportunity for Governments and civil society to deliberate measures geared towards banning nuclear weapons.  The Caribbean Community had hosted a regional meeting in August in Jamaica aimed at advancing the discourse on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

JORGE LOMONACO TONDA (Mexico), speaking in his national capacity, expressed strong support for the deadline of 2025 for the elimination of landmines.  He noted the convergence of positions within the international community and encouraged Members to build on that momentum towards achieving that objective.  Successful international cooperation in that regard could serve as an example for progress on other issues on the disarmament agenda.  He applauded the Arms Trade Treaty as an unprecedented milestone that demonstrated the collective will to establish a legal framework of responsibility.  The Arms Trade Treaty would also lay the groundwork for dealing with similar issues being tackled by the Committee, he said, noting his country’s role as host in 2015 of the first Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, stating that this forum would help promote responsible trade in weapons and the prevention of their illegal use.

It was unacceptable that there were 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world, he said, adding that it was wrong for nuclear-weapon States to believe that their national security was more important than the security of the entire planet.  Complacency in certain areas had entrenched the Conference of Disarmament in a state of paralysis, he said, stressing the urgency of measuring the effects of nuclear weapons in modern society, and not in cold-war paradigms.  In addition, it was important to consider the social and development implications of a nuclear detonation.  He commended the increasing awareness of the issue, but at the same time, stressed that nuclear weapons should not be used by any actor, under any circumstances.  That should be considered a war crime, he said, adding that since they remained the only weapons of mass destruction that had not been outlawed, “we must leverage the First Committee” to finds points of convergence in that area.

ROSE E. GOTTEMOELLER (United States) said that safety and security for generations to come could only be achieved by continuing the committed and serious work to reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.  That was what motivated and guided her country’s policy and was the sentiment behind President Barack Obama’s 2009 speech in Prague.  Today’s challenges should be viewed as a potent reminder that the work at hand was more important than ever.  First and foremost, the international community must provide unyielding support for the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime, the NPT.  It was a priority of her country to achieve a successful “RevCon” in 2015.

Some questioned United States support for nuclear disarmament, she said. This was a mistake.  Her country remained firmly committed to the NPT’s article VI and to achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.  The United States had made clear its readiness to discuss further nuclear reductions with the Russian Federation, but progress required a willing partner and a good environment.  The United States would continue to make it clear that arms control regimes and their corresponding nuclear reductions had served the world well for more than 40 years.  The United States and the Russian Federation had special responsibilities to protect and preserve those regimes, as those countries still possessed over 90 per cent of the global nuclear stockpile.

Now was the time to move forward and not fall back on postures reminiscent of the cold war, she said.  Despite challenges, the United States and the Russian Federation continued to implement the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms successfully.  When implementation was complete, deployed nuclear weapons would be at their lowest levels since the 1950s.  That translated to an 85 per cent reduction of the United States nuclear stockpile from its cold-war peak, which represented indisputable progress.  As further reductions were considered, the focus should be on responsible measures that could be trusted and verified.

“There is no way to skip to the end and forego the hard work of preparing for the technical and political disarmament challenge that lie ahead,” she said.  Verification would become increasingly complex at lower numbers of nuclear weapons, while requirements of effectiveness would increase.  Every nation should be devoting ample time and energy to addressing that challenge right now.  Patience and persistence was needed from all parties, both among and beyond the “P5”.  As the 2015 NPT Review Conference approached, the United States would focus its efforts on legally binding assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in the context of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty protocols, and on ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme was exclusively peaceful.  The United States was eager to launch negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, which, she said, was a vital and necessary step in multilateral nuclear disarmament.

D.B. VENKATESH VARMA (India) said that, as a nuclear-weapon State, his country’s commitment to universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament remained undiminished.  That goal could be achieved through a step by step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework that was global and non-discriminatory.  All States possessing nuclear weapons could make a contribution by engaging in a meaningful dialogue to build trust and confidence, and by reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines.  In the current circumstances, the role of such steps in enhancing strategic trust globally could not be overestimated.

As a responsible nuclear Power, India’s nuclear doctrine continued to stress a policy of credible minimum deterrence with a posture of no-first-use and non-use against non-nuclear-weapon States, he said, noting the country’s continued commitment to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.  In July, his country had ratified the IAEA Additional Protocol, which it had signed in 2009, and had contributed to international efforts to advancing global non-proliferation goals and objectives.  As a major space-faring nation, India had vital developmental and security interests in space and supported strengthening the international legal regime to preserve it for peaceful uses.  As in previous years, India would be tabling three draft resolutions, namely “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons”, “Reducing Nuclear Danger”, and “Measures to Prevent Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction”.  It would also introduce a draft decision on the “Role of Science and Technology in the context of International Security and Disarmament”, he added.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Syria said that year after year and session after session, the European Union repeated the same baseless allegations by highlighting Syria’s so-called non-compliance with the IAEA and an alleged nuclear programme.  However, the European Union, by presenting those claims, was turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the only nuclear weapons programme in the Middle East, namely, that of Israel.  He reiterated his condemnation of the use of chemical weapons, and stressed that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) possessed those weapons and was using them — a fact his country had been repeating since 2012 and which it had warned the United Nations Secretary-General and the Security Council about.  Those accusing Syria did not realize that his country had fulfilled its obligations despite the prevailing difficult situation.  Many United Nations officials talked about Syria’s cooperation and completion of its unprecedented work within the framework of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

For information media. Not an official record.