Unrealistic calls for disarmament distracted from — and ignored — more achievable and sober efforts, a speaker told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, urging members to acknowledge the “hard truth” that the final goal would not be realized overnight or in a single negotiation.
Some had called for “alternate, immediate, wholesale” approaches to nuclear disarmament, but real and lasting results would take sustained effort and commitment, said the United States’ representative, who was among the more than 50 speakers who took the floor during the thematic debate on nuclear weapons.
In his view, a practical, step-by-step approach to disarmament had proven to be the most effective means to reduce nuclear dangers and fulfil the obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with each step building on past ones and providing a foundation for future actions. The temporary inability to make progress in one area did not preclude progress in others.
The United States, he said, shared the interest of all States in extending forever the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons. However, any call to move nuclear disarmament into international humanitarian law circles could only distract from the practical agenda set forth in the 2010 NPT review.
Still, many delegations throughout the day highlighted the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons as a fundamental and global concern. Speaking on behalf of more than 150 countries, New Zealand’s representative said past experience from use and testing of nuclear weapons had amply demonstrated the unacceptable humanitarian consequences caused by their immense, uncontrollable, destructive capability and indiscriminate nature.
Broad participation at conferences on the humanitarian dimension of nuclear weapons was essential, she said, because their catastrophic consequences affected not only Governments, but each and every citizen of today’s interlinked world. Awareness of those appalling consequences must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament. Encouraged that the humanitarian focus was now well-entrenched in the global agenda, she stressed that the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons would never again be used was through their total elimination.
In that vein, the representative of South Africa stressed that as long as nuclear weapons existed, humankind would continue to face that catastrophic threat. Experience demonstrated that the indiscriminate nature of a detonation of those weapons reached “well beyond” national borders, leaving a “trail of death” and destruction in its wake. Those long-term humanitarian, environmental, and socio-economic consequences would last for generations, he said.
Additionally, he said, vast public resources diverted towards nuclear weapons stood in “stark contrast” to the delivery of development assistance in support of the Millennium Development Goals. Costs associated with maintaining nuclear arsenals were roughly more than double the development assistance provided to Africa. That was “neither acceptable nor sustainable” in a world where the basic human needs of billions were not being met.
The representative of India said that increasing restraints on nuclear weapons would reduce the probability of their use and could contribute to their progressive de-legitimization. For discussions to be meaningful, it was important that they be inclusive, involving the participation of all States, including the nuclear Powers. “We cannot simply put old wine into new bottles, or put new clothes on old treaties,” he said.
International consensus, said the representative of Pakistan, had eroded over time, and serious challenges confronted global efforts to regulate, reduce, and prevent the spread of armaments, particularly nuclear weapons. Despite high rhetoric and moralistic assertions, the fact was that nuclear weapons remained integral to strategic doctrines of military alliances.
Only the simultaneous pursuit of disarmament and non-proliferation could erect effective barriers against those risks, he said. Nuclear disarmament would not happen overnight, or even in a lifetime. But the effort to eliminate those weapons “must start now”.
In the course of the debate, speakers expressed frustration at the slow pace of progress, with several regretting, for example, that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had not entered into force and that negotiations had not begun in earnest on a fissile material cut-off treaty. Urgent calls were also made to convene a conference for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
Delegations also introduced drafts on the following topics: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments; the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty; decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons; Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia; reducing nuclear danger; convention prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons; measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction; united action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons; and conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Also speaking today were representatives of Canada (on behalf of Group of Governmental Experts), Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Mexico (on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Switzerland (on behalf of the De-Alerting Group), Australia (joint statement, national capacity), Suriname (on behalf of the Union of South American Nations), Kazakhstan, Mexico (national capacity), France, Cuba, Germany, Columbia, Iraq, Malaysia, Japan (national capacity), Latvia, China, Qatar, Bangladesh, Japan (Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative), Fiji, United Arab Emirates, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Brazil, Thailand, Lithuania, Guatemala, Senegal, Iran, Nigeria (national capacity), Switzerland (national capacity), Romania, Austria, Czech Republic, New Zealand (national capacity), Canada (national capacity), Singapore, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom and Myanmar.
A representative of the European Union delegation also participated.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 21 October, to continue its thematic debates.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met today to begin its thematic discussion on nuclear weapons. For more background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3497.
Elissa Golberg (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Governmental Experts, said that the Group’s first two sessions had been substantive and highly interactive. Although the Group itself would not negotiate a treaty, as Chair she encouraged it to focus its work on the value it could provide to negotiators by undertaking a fact-based and policy-neutral analysis of all aspects of a future treaty. The Group’s format had been particularly conducive to productive debates, she said; its informal nature and the time provided to the experts had allowed for deep and technical discussions. As such, it had complemented and informed the more general discussions on a treaty, which took place in the Conference on Disarmament this year.
During its first session, she said, widespread agreement had emerged that a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and other explosive devices should remain a priority. Experts reaffirmed the Shannon Report and the mandate contained therein. Overall, there were several issues on which the views of most, if not all, were quite similar. Over the course of both sessions, the Group had focused in technical detail on definitions, scope, and verification, agreeing on the institutional structure of such an instrument. There also was broad recognition of a “dynamic correlation” between each, and that no issue could be addressed in isolation from the others.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the group was concerned about the threat to humanity posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and their possible use or threat of use. Efforts aiming at non-proliferation should be parallel to simultaneous efforts towards nuclear disarmament. Nuclear-weapon States must accomplish the total elimination of those weapons in a transparent and verifiable manner, and must cease efforts to upgrade or extend the lives of those weapons. He called for the urgent, early commencement of a comprehensive nuclear weapon convention in the Conference on Disarmament, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 68/32. The Movement was presenting an updated version of its draft resolution this session, which he hoped would garner universal support.
He welcomed the increasing focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and looked forward to the upcoming conference on that topic in Austria in December. Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, negotiations should commence on effective, unconditional, non-discriminatory, irrevocable, and legally binding security assurances for all non-nuclear-weapon States. He strongly rejected the “alleged impediment” for not implementing the agreement reached at the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) on the Middle East and the 1995 resolution that emerged from the 1995 review. He called for their full implementation, in order to avoid any additional possible negative repercussions. The Movement remained ready to work constructively towards a world free of nuclear weapons, but that vision could only be realized if the required political will was demonstrated by all quarters.
JORGE LOMÓNACO(Mexico), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) members (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico), tabled draft resolution entitled, “Towards a nuclear weapon free world: Accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments”. NAC believed that the guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons was their total elimination, and in that connection, it continued to work for the NPT’s universalization. The draft resolution reiterated deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. It called on nuclear-armed States to fulfil their commitment to reduce all types of those weapons, while underlining that non-nuclear-weapon States had a legitimate interest in receiving unequivocal, binding, negative security assurances. The text also urged all States to overcome obstacles within the international disarmament machinery inhibiting efforts to advance nuclear disarmament. Finally, it reaffirmed that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones would enhance global and regional peace and security.
He also emphasized the need to implement the resolution on the Middle East adopted at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the NPT States parties, and highlighted the importance of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear- Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). He called for the Treaty’s universalization, and urged India, Israel and Pakistan to accede to it as non-nuclear-weapon States, promptly and without conditions. Finally, he called for full support of the draft.
DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of 155 countries, said past experience from use and testing of nuclear weapons had amply demonstrated the unacceptable humanitarian consequences caused by the immense, uncontrollable, destructive capability and indiscriminate nature of those weapons. The discussion at the first and second Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons had allowed the world to deepen its collective understanding of those consequences. A key message emerging from experts and international organizations was that no State or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear-weapon detonation or provide adequate assistance to victims.
She said that broad participation at conferences and plans to convene similar such international gatherings, reflected the recognition that the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons were a fundamental and global concern. Such work was essential because their catastrophic consequences affected not only Governments, but each and every citizen of today’s interlinked world. Awareness of those appalling consequences must underpin all approaches and efforts towards nuclear disarmament. Indeed, the humanitarian consequences had been reflected in numerous United Nations resolutions and in multilateral instruments, including reviews of the NPT, she said, adding that expressions of profound concern remained as compelling as ever.
Encouraged that the humanitarian focus was now well-established on the global agenda, she said the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons would never again be used was through their total elimination. All States shared the responsibility to prevent their use and proliferation, and to achieve nuclear disarmament, including by fulfilling the NPT’s objectives and achieving its universality. Welcoming the renewed international community’s resolve to address those issues, she said civil society could play a crucial role side-by-side with Governments.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the Community was proud to be part of the first, densely populated region in the world to have declared itself a nuclear-weapon-free zone, thereby establishing the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL). She urged nuclear-weapon States to withdraw their reservations to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), which had been articulated in “interpretative declarations” issued when they signed the Treaty’s Additional Protocols. Withdrawing those reservations would serve to eliminate the possible use of nuclear weapons in the region, she said. Meanwhile, CARICOM believed that the establishment of such a zone should be replicated in other parts of the world where none currently existed.
She said that it was only through the total elimination of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction that international peace and security could be guaranteed. The consequences of a nuclear detonation, whether accidental or intentional, would be of “catastrophic proportions”. The Community’s member countries, owing to their limited resources, would be ill-equipped to address such a tremendous challenge. Also worrying was the humanitarian impact and long-term consequences of a nuclear detonation. With that, she welcomed the growing global attention to the issue, joining calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons and the elimination of existing arsenals. CARICOM was also concerned over the transit of hazardous nuclear waste through the Caribbean Sea, as an accident would have catastrophic consequences on the health, tourism, economies, and fragile ecological systems in the region.
E.E. IMOHE (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons remained the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use. The world urgently needed to be free of nuclear weapons, including in outer space, as their presence presented an existential threat to the planet and the future survival of humanity. Africa supported the principle of complete nuclear disarmament as the utmost prerequisite for maintaining international peace and security. Africa’s status as nuclear-weapon-free acted as a shield for the continent, and the Group strongly supported the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East. He welcomed the past two international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, convened in Norway and Mexico, and looked forward to the third in Austria. The Group had submitted a resolution on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, and sought delegations’ full support.
URS SCHMID (Switzerland) speaking on behalf of the “De-Alerting Group”, discussed the importance of decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, a process known as “de-alerting”. A significant number of nuclear weapons remained at high levels of alert, which multiplied the risks posed by those weapons and increased the possibility of an erroneous launch. That presented an unacceptable danger to humanity, as it carried with it the possibility of killing millions of people. Awareness of the risks associated with those weapons was crucial to lowering their operational readiness, which was a critical part of disarmament.
De-alerting, he went on, was a prime example of a practical disarmament step, and progress in that area would strengthen the credibility of the NPT. The Group welcomed the progress made in lowering the level of readiness of non-strategic nuclear weapons, which highlighted that de-alerting was possible and that political challenges could be met. Nevertheless, more work was needed. As such, the De-Alerting Group would table the resolution “Decreasing the Operational Readiness of Nuclear Weapons”, with a view to de-alerting all such weapons. He encouraged support for the resolution, adding that there was increasing recognition that decreasing alert levels was an important interim step towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.
JOHN QUINN (Australia) spoke on behalf of Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain. He recalled his concern about the continuing nuclear weapon risks to humanity, saying that the desire for a peaceful future for successive generations underpinned his long-standing advocacy for progress on nuclear disarmament. Stressing the need to spread awareness of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, he acknowledged significant reductions in the number of nuclear weapons worldwide, but regretted that some States continued to produce new nuclear weapons.
Emphasizing the need for all States to urgently fulfil their disarmament commitments, he said that to facilitate major reductions in nuclear arsenals, the global community must address the security and humanitarian dimensions, notably, by mitigating hostility between States and building confidence. He also highlighted practical contributions that could be made to advance non-proliferation and disarmament, such as unblocking the Conference on Disarmament; beginning negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty; and bringing into force the CTBT. The inspection power of the IAEA must also be strengthened.
NICOLE HEW A KEE (Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), supported international efforts towards negotiating a universal and legally binding instrument that prohibited nuclear weapons. The only guarantee against the use or threat of use of those weapons was their total elimination, she said, adding that their very existence diminished the security of all States, including those that possessed them. UNASUR was deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and reiterated its commitment to the NPT and to the balanced implementation of its three pillars. However, the disarmament pillar had suffered from a serious “implementation deficit”, and new and concrete measures were needed in the next Review Conference.
She said that States possessing nuclear weapons should urgently provide unequivocal and legally binding security assurances on their non-use, and should eliminate the role of those weapons in their security policies and military strategies. Countries that had not yet signed or ratified the CTBT should do so as soon as possible as a sign of their political will and commitment to international peace and security. UNASUR, which was proud of the formal proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, felt that the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East would be a significant contribution to the peace process there.
KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan), also speaking on behalf of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, said the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in Central Asia was an important milestone, through which the five signatories had made a significant contribution to strengthening regional and global security, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. He hoped that the security space around the area would continue to expand and that one day the entire planet would be nuclear-weapon-free. He urged all nuclear-armed States to ratify the Treaty’s Protocol, which provided the region with security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.
During the current session, he said his country, on behalf of all five countries, would introduce a draft resolution, “Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia,” reflecting the progress made since the Treaty’s opening for signature in 2006. The text also would reaffirm the signatories’ strong commitment to the effective implementation of disarmament and non-proliferation measures. He hoped the draft would receive Member States’ full support.
IOANNIS VRAILAS, representative of the European Union Delegation, affirmed the group’s full support for all three pillars of the NPT and their implementation. The Union also would continue to promote full implementation of the 2010 Action Plan. Ensuring the implementation of the 64 actions in the Plan was a collective responsibility shared by all NPT States parties, without exception.
In that context, he welcomed the encouraging steps taken by the United States and two European Union member countries, stressing that States with the largest arsenals had a “special responsibility” to reduce them. In line with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), the Union encouraged the Russian Federation and the United States to seek further reductions in their nuclear arsenals. The Union also encouraged them to include non-strategic nuclear weapons in the next round of their bilateral nuclear arms reduction, he said, emphasizing the importance of further confidence-building measures to advance disarmament.
He went on to express the European Union’s strong condemnation of the violation of several commitments by the Russian Federation. He urged it to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on security assurances and in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State. It also condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear test of February 2013, as well as that country’s threat of another. That said, the Union urged that country to refrain from further “provocative actions”.
JORGE LOMÓNACO (Mexico), speaking in his national capacity, said some nuclear-weapon States continued to modernize their arsenals while others continued to increase them. A great number of nuclear weapons were at high operational status and remained at the heart of deterrence strategies. The nuclear-armed States also continued to allocate vast resources to maintain those stockpiles. Many non-nuclear-weapon States also depended on those arsenals, and even hosted nuclear weapons from other countries on their national territory. The threat was clear and ongoing. While nuclear weapons continued to exist, there would always be someone wanting to acquire them. The risk of a detonation, intentional or accidental, and the danger of those weapons’ use by non-state actors, remained an ongoing global threat.
Peace for all should not be sacrificed for the security of a few, he said, encouraging States to reflect on the terrible impact of nuclear weapons on humanity, and to use scientific data to understand those effects. That, he added, should be the basis for all discussions on nuclear weapons. All NPT States parties must meet their obligations, which should include a commitment to reach results and not merely express intention. The possession of a nuclear arsenal was neither legal nor legitimate, and those weapons were not worthy of anything other than being stigmatized. The United Nations had identified those weapons as unacceptable since the first General Assembly resolution. History had shown that there was a need to prohibit the development, storage, possession, transfer, and use of weapons of mass destruction as a necessary step to eliminating them.
D. BALA VENKATESH VARMA (India) said that increasing restraints on nuclear weapons would reduce the probability of their use and could contribute to their progressive de-legitimization. That was an essential step towards their eventual elimination as well as that of chemical and biological weapons. For discussions to be meaningful, it was important that they be inclusive, involving the participation of all States, including the nuclear Powers. In terms of process, such talks should not “harm” the NPT or the established disarmament machinery. “We cannot simply put old wine into new bottles, or put new clothes on old treaties,” he said. Regarding the NPT, he said that his country’s position was well-known and needed no reiteration. There was no question of India joining the Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon State. At the same time, India would make its contribution to strengthening the global non-proliferation regime. As such, it had ratified the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in July.
He went on to introduce a draft resolution on “Reducing Nuclear Danger”, which highlighted the need for a review of nuclear doctrines, and immediate steps to reduce the risk of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons. He also presented a draft resolution on a convention on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, which reflected a belief that a multilateral, universal, and legally binding instrument prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would contribute to their de-legitimization. As in previous years, India would also be tabling a draft resolution entitled “Measures to Prevent Terrorist from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction”, which highlighted the international community’s continued concerns of the risks posed by the terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction as well as sensitive materials and technologies.
ROBERT WOOD (United States) said his country continued to undertake mutually reinforcing steps in pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons; only a balanced approach to maintaining international security would move States closer to the world envisaged by President Barack Obama in Berlin last year. That required both strengthening the global nuclear non-proliferation regime as well as working towards nuclear disarmament. A practical, step-by-step approach to disarmament had proven to be the most effective means to reduce nuclear dangers and fulfil the obligations under the NPT. Some had called for “alternate, immediate, wholesale” approaches to nuclear disarmament. However, real and lasting disarmament would take sustained effort and commitment.
The United States, he continued, did not have a predetermined set of steps to be taken in a specific order. Rather, each step built on past steps and provided a foundation for future actions. The temporary inability to make progress in one area did not preclude progress in others, or prevent the placement of building blocks for a comprehensive approach to disarmament. The United States would pursue every avenue available to lay the groundwork for future efforts, but the “hard truth” was that the final goal of disarmament would not be realized overnight or in a single negotiation. Unrealistic calls for immediate and total disarmament distracted from — and ignored — more achievable and sober efforts.
The United States shared the interest of all States in extending forever the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons, he said. He stressed that any call to move nuclear disarmament into international humanitarian law circles could only distract from the practical agenda set forth in the 2010 NPT review. It was clear that the pragmatic, sustained approach had borne fruit, having achieved major reductions in the number of nuclear weapons and in fissile material stocks and infrastructure. Despite existing tensions, the United States and the Russian Federation continued to successfully implement the New START, which was the most comprehensive nuclear arms-control agreement in more than 20 years. American- and Russian-deployed nuclear weapons were now at their lowest point since the 1950s, and United States’ stockpiles had been reduced by 85 per cent.
Five years ago in Prague, President Obama had called for a treaty to verifiably end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. That was an absolutely essential step for global nuclear disarmament and the next logical multilateral step to cap nuclear arsenals. The United States was actively working to reduce its own holdings of fissile material stocks, which had been permanently removed from its nuclear-weapon programmes. His country also had “down-blended” approximately 140 metric tons of highly enriched uranium. The United States was neither developing new nuclear weapons, nor pursuing any new nuclear missions. Stockpile stewardship and management activities were intended only to sustain existing designs, modernize their safety and facilities. Safety, security, and secure updates had contributed to the significant reduction in his country’s alert posture. The path to a world free from nuclear weapons was a long one, but the international community should not ignore the progress that had been made, he said, adding that the next step was to move further down the path.
JEAN-HUGUES SIMON-MICHEL (France) said the international community’s priority was to consolidate the NPT, in line with the 2010 Action Plan. Along with its “P5” partners, France was making every effort to work in that direction. It had signed the Protocol on the Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and intended to ratify it before the end of the year. France also was continuing its work on transparency and strengthening confidence. At a national level, it had an exemplary record in the field of nuclear disarmament, including the complete and unilateral and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear-test site and its plutonium and uranium production facilities.
He said the nuclear non-proliferation crisis remained the most pressing concern, as an obvious hindrance to the continuation of efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament. No progress had been seen with regard to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which had threatened to conduct a fourth nuclear test and had launched numerous ballistic missiles. With regard to the Iranian nuclear crisis, there were only two months until the expiration of the Geneva Agreement, and time was now of the essence. An accord could still be reached, and France, within the “Group of Six”, remained determined and committed to negotiations. Iran needed to make the necessary decisions to prove the exclusively peaceful purposes of its nuclear programme.
France had never participated in an arms race of any kind, he noted, adding that it applied the principle of “strict efficiency”, while maintain its arsenal at the lowest possible level compatible with the strategic context. The French deterrence in no way contravened international law and was strictly defensive in nature. It was also exclusively meant to protect France’s vital interests in “extreme” self-defence circumstances.
YADIRA LEDESMA (Cuba) welcomed the international support for the International Day against Nuclear Tests, noting that only 69 years after the use of the atomic bomb had it been possible to establish such a Day. On nuclear-weapon-free zones, she said that Cuba belonged to a community that was a pioneer in establishing a zone of peace at the Second Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Havana. As a member of both the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, Cuba would be working towards a broad convention to eliminate all nuclear weapons. In that regard, the Movement would be presenting a follow up resolution that she hoped would enjoy broad support.
She reaffirmed the inalienable right of all State parties to the NPT to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and thanked the IAEA for safeguards that ensured the safe use of that energy. Nevertheless, Cuba demanded that nuclear-weapon States meet their obligation to eliminate their nuclear stockpiles, and eliminate the use of those weapons in their security doctrines and strategies. Cuba supported a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and believed there was no reason why the call made at the 2010 NPT Review Conference should not be heeded. Nor had the nuclear Powers heeded article VI of the NPT on negotiating an international treaty towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. Concrete, binding, and irreversible steps must be taken in that regard, she stressed, adding that the Non-Aligned Movement had put forth a viable proposal for a gradual drawdown towards that goal.
MICHAEL BIONTINO (Germany), associating with the European Union, said that his country was a staunch supporter of complete nuclear disarmament. Nuclear arsenals had been dramatically reduced and START was being implemented. Despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, new talks should be given a chance as they offered a venue for each side to raise concerns regarding strategic stability. “Global Zero”, however, could only be achieved by improving the security environment and enhancing confidence between partners. Similarly, regarding the humanitarian consequences of nuclear-weapon detonation, progress depended on the security dimension. Although the risk of nuclear war was much lower today than during the cold war, the risk of terrorist acquisition of nuclear devices had considerably increased. That was why it was so important to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and nuclear security. Germany called for the entry into force of the CTBT, and for immediate negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material. He concluded that strong political will by all NPT States parties would achieve global zero — there were no shortcuts — and his country was committed to remain engaged in that process.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ (Colombia) said his country was a party to the NPT and a member of a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Universalization of the NPT was absolutely necessary, he said, stressing that all States that had not done so should sign on as non-nuclear-weapon States. He backed all efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, and said it was essential to have effective compliance with the instruments already in force for nuclear security. All “Annex 2” countries to the CTBT should ratify as soon as possible to allow its speedy entry into force.
He expressed his country’s commitment to nuclear security, noting that it had signed the amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which broadened the spectrum of the Convention regarding the transport of nuclear material and nuclear facilities within States. The Treaty of Tlatelolco, had created the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a densely populated area, and he supported the establishment of such zones in all regions. With that in mind, he urged the convening of a conference to address the matter of establishing a zone free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons in the Middle East.
OTHMAN AL JUHAISHI (Iraq), endorsing statements by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, reminded the international community that effective measures must be taken towards a nuclear-weapon-free world. The total elimination of those weapons was the only way to eliminate their threat or use. Towards that end, there was a need for a binding, unconditional agreement to assure non-nuclear weapon States that those weapons would not be used against them. Establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was very important, he said, deploring the delay in holding a conference on that topic. He urged that it be held as soon as possible, in line with the 2010 NPT Action Plan and Review Conference. To maintain the credibility of the NPT, the world community must step up its efforts to hold that meeting.
The CTBT, to which Iraq was party, was an important instrument that promoted nuclear disarmament, and he urged the eight remaining States needed for its entry into force to ratify it. That, he stressed, was critical as nuclear terrorism could undermine international peace and security. The increasing number of terrorist groups required regional coordination, and measures to ensure they did not get their hands on nuclear weapons. On that issue, Iraq urged all Member States to implement Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).
HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) introduced a draft resolution entitled, “Follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons” (document A/C.1/69/L.23). On 8 July 1996, the International Court of Justice had recognized, for the first time in history, that the threat or use of nuclear weapons was generally contrary to the rules of international law as applicable to armed conflict, particularly the principles and rules of humanitarian law. That opinion constituted a significant milestone in international efforts aimed at nuclear disarmament, by lending a moral argument for their total elimination.
TOSHIO SANO (Japan) said that, as the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, Japan had firmly committed to strive for the realization of a world without nuclear weapons. The tragedy caused by nuclear weapons must never again be repeated. His delegation believed in a building-blocks approach, which had gained the international community’s gradual support. As part of those ongoing efforts, Japan had submitted a draft resolution entitled “United action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” which provided standard-setting on a wide range of issues related to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
While welcoming the unilateral and bilateral reductions of nuclear warheads taken by some nuclear-weapon States, he said those should evolve to multilateral negotiations. While the five nuclear-weapon States carried out their tasks, the non-State parties to the NPT should not remain on the sidelines. He urged those States to accede to the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon States, and encouraged them to immediately start reducing their arsenals and eventually eliminate them. The CTBT was another indispensable component towards a world free of nuclear weapons, and it should be brought into force as soon as possible. His delegation was encouraged that China had started sending data to the International Data Centre in Vienna. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing nuclear and missile development was of grave concern, and he urged that country to abandon all nuclear weapons and related programmes.
He placed great emphasis on the significance of spreading awareness of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons across borders and generations. That should underpin all efforts to succeed in non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament for a more secure world.
KSENIJA JARANOVA (Latvia), associating with the European Union, supported bilateral and multilateral efforts that complemented and advanced the goals of the NPT. However, Latvia was reluctant to create parallel working formats, which might duplicate work. The goals of the 2010 NPT Action Plan were still relevant and could only be achieved through comprehensive implementation. States should agree to continue work on implementation after the 2015 Review Conference, and pursue efforts to increase transparency and build confidence. Ukraine’s transfer of the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal to the Russian Federation, and accession to the NPT, complemented by the Budapest Memorandum, was seen as the biggest achievements for the NPT. It was deeply worrying that one party had violated the memorandum and called into question the credibility of the NPT and that of other agreements. In view of the grave and horrendous humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons’ use, the world could not afford a fragmented approach in the run-up to the NPT Review Conference.
WU HAITAO (China) advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons. His country was always committed to a nuclear strategy of self-defence; it had never threatened any other country with its nuclear weapons, nor had it ever provided a nuclear umbrella for any other country or deployed nuclear weapons on another territory. No-first-use of those weapons could lower their threat, reduce the risks of nuclear war and prevent their proliferation. China had always honoured its commitments and would not be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and in any circumstance. It was the only nuclear-weapon State to have made and honoured that commitment.
China, he went on, supported the purposes and principles of the CTBT and it had strictly abided by its commitments to a moratorium on nuclear tests. Moreover, it was preparing for the Treaty’s national implementation. His country stood for concluding a verifiable fissile material cut-off treaty as early as possible in the Conference on Disarmament, in accordance with the Shannon Report. China actively carried out research on nuclear arms control verification technologies, and had made important progress in that regard. China was of the view that nuclear transparency should be guided by a principle of “undiminished security for all”, and relevant measures should be adopted by countries on a voluntary basis, in line with their national situation and taking into account their specific security conditions.
ALI RASHID AL-MUHANNADI (Qatar), associating with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and the failure to arrive at a programme of work. His country was also concerned about the lack of progress in disarmament, and looked forward to a minimum set of objectives that would advance progress in that area. Despite the commitments to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, the conference on that topic had not convened due to the failing of a “primary party”. In view of that, Qatar questioned whether the region was ready to build such a zone and whether there was a serious will to divert resources spent on nuclear weapons for development.
He urged the eight “Annex 2” countries that had not yet done so to ratify the CTBT, stating that it was particularly important, given the current situation in the Middle East and the risk that terrorists in the region could gain access to those weapons. For its part, Qatar had established laws to prevent nuclear weapons smuggling as well as a National Committee dedicated to this purpose. At the same time, he stressed the rights of NPT States parties to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
FARUK HOSSAIN (Bangladesh), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that nuclear technology had long been recognized as capable of both tremendous benefits and tremendous destruction. Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were closely interlinked. As long as there remained weapons of mass destruction in the hands of some States, no matter who they were, there remained a motivation for others to acquire them. The risk of their use, either by accident or by design, posed grave danger, especially given the possibility of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. Therefore, disarmament and non-proliferation must be pursued with equal importance and urgency.
Negative security assurances, he stressed, were vital to furthering non-proliferation objectives, in that they discouraged non-nuclear-weapon States from opting for those weapons. Establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones in all parts of the world was also of great importance. The CTBT was a critical instrument and an essential step, and, therefore, its urgent and unconditional signature and ratification would be a great step forward. The agenda for dealing with nuclear weapons had evolved widely in recent years, with the added dimensions of preventing non-State actors from acquiring them and their humanitarian consequences. Bangladesh supported both of those additions to the agenda.
TOSHIO SANO (Japan), speaking on behalf of the countries of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, cited the testimonies of atomic bomb survivors during the group’s trip this year to Hiroshima, as further propelling its commitment to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. With that, he reaffirmed that the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of those weapons was their total elimination.
He said that despite the positive impact of unilateral and bilateral reductions, those measures do not replace multilateral negotiations towards the ultimate elimination of all types of nuclear weapons. Reductions should be accompanied by steps towards reducing the role and significance of nuclear weapons in security strategies and military doctrines. Increasing the transparency of information about nuclear forces was another issue of importance to the Initiative, as, without it, nuclear disarmament could not be verified.
Recognizing the serious threat of nuclear terrorism, he affirmed the group’s commitment to strengthening nuclear security; also, he condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, which undermined the NPT and posed a great threat to global peace and stability.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, said the group was committed to finding durable solutions so that nuclear weapons would never be used again. For half a century, more than 315 nuclear tests had been carried out in neighbouring countries, covering the region with radioactive fallout. This year marked 60 years since the largest nuclear test was conducted in Fiji, with the incident leaving many in the region suffering from long-term effects, including higher rates of cancer. In some affected areas, the environment and food sources remained highly contaminated. With this history in mind, he welcomed the renewed focus on the humanitarian impact of the use and testing of nuclear weapons.
As long as weapons of mass destruction existed, he said, they would be used again. The CBTB treaty and the regional nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties had brought the world a step closer to the non-proliferation treaty’s two core objectives. Finally, he said that nuclear armed states must take all measures to reduce the risk of an accidental launch, and to make sure that such weapons did not fall into the hands of terrorist groups.
JAMAL JAMA AHMED ABDULLA AL MUSHARAKH (United Arab Emirates), associating with the Arab Group, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, said that disarmament and non-proliferation were two essential methods for the achievement of international peace and security. The accession to all instruments for those processes was of particular importance, especially the NPT. The United Arab Emirates had become a party to it in 1995, and had acceded to the CTBT and other related instruments. He expressed concern over the lack of progress towards achieving a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. As for its own peaceful use of nuclear energy, the United Arab Emirates had built its first nuclear reactor in 2012 and another in 2013, and began construction of a third last month. His country was committed to working with the IAEA with regard to those facilities.
HENK COR VAN DER KWAST (Netherlands), associating with the European Union, said his country remained committed to a world without nuclear weapons, and did not agree that the international strategic situation was a reason to stop nuclear disarmament. The security dimension and the humanitarian consequences underpinned his country’s efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. The Netherlands would be voting in favour of the resolution on decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapon system. He added that the entry into force by the CTBT and a treaty banning the production of fissile material for military purposes were essential multilateral elements. Acknowledging the importance of the Conference on Disarmament, he deplored the lack of negotiations. He, meanwhile, underscored that the five nuclear-weapon States commit to accelerate progress on the steps leading to nuclear disarmament. He welcomed the implementation of the New START by the United States and the Russian Federation. He supported negotiations between “E3+3” Governments and Iran about the latter’s nuclear programme, and welcomed the progress.
MARITZA CHAN (Costa Rica), associating with the statement by New Zealand on behalf of more than 155 States on the devastating humanitarian consequences from nuclear-weapon use, stressed the immediate need to eliminate those weapons as the best way to prevent their intentional or accidental use. Costa Rica and Malaysia had summited a proposal for a model nuclear weapons convention to previous NPT Review Conferences, which could be negotiated either as a whole or be achieved through a package of agreements. A legal prohibition on the use, possession, stockpiling, and development of nuclear weapons could be pursued now, even if the nuclear-armed States were unwilling to participate in the negotiations. The CTBT must enter into force, and concrete progress was needed towards a fissile material ban.
She said that, while small steps had been made towards reducing the global stockpiles of nuclear weapons, progress had been insufficient. Costa Rica totally rejected the modernization of existing programmes and development of new types of nuclear weapons as inconsistent with existing international obligations. She urged nuclear-armed States to immediately decrease the operational readiness of those weapons. A strong supporter of NPT, Costa Rica considered it unfortunate that it had been plagued with challenges. In closing, she said the humanitarian paradigm must drive efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) introduced the draft resolution, entitled “Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas”, also on behalf of New Zealand. Highlighting its key elements, he said the text reaffirmed the conviction of the important role of such zones in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and in moving towards the goal of the total elimination of those weapons. The resolution welcomed the cooperation between States parties and signatories to establish those treaties, as well as the nuclear-weapon-free status of Mongolia, and noted with satisfaction that all existing treaties were now in force. The resolution also called on all relevant States to sign and ratify their protocols and welcomed steps towards the establishment of other such zones, on the basis of arrangements arrived at between the concerned States. Moreover, the text encouraged efforts towards the convening of the third Conference of States parties and signatories on nuclear-weapons-free zones.
CHAYAPAN BAMRUNGPHONG (Thailand), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said there was no reasonable objection to nuclear disarmament, which should be treated as substantively interrelated with non-proliferation. He stressed the need to raise awareness in all sectors of Government and society, and promote their participation on issues of nuclear safety, security, and safeguards. The right to peaceful use of atomic energy must be protected, as nuclear power was not only about destruction but also about development. Nuclear-weapon-free zones were as essential to nuclear disarmament as they were to regional and global peace and security, he said. He expressed hope that the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone would be realized as early as possible. Heartened by the momentum created by global conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, Thailand stressed the need to explore concrete measures such as a legal instrument to comprehensively ban those weapons, with clear and implementable timetables.
NIDA YAKUBONĖ (Lithuania), associating with the European Union, said it was essential to maintain an inclusive approach and avoid fragmentation in the quest for a world without nuclear weapons. The process should consist of a solid framework of mutually reinforcing and complementary treaties, institutions and commitments; it must as inclusive as possible and involve State possessors. The international community had several, multilateral building blocks; yet, there was an urgent need for further steps in that direction. Lithuania called for the entry into force of the CTBT and the conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty. As a non-nuclear weapon State, it considered confidence-building measures to be an essential part of the nuclear arms control regime, and it remained committed to ensuring the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Although that regime and the IAEA verification system had prevented the significant spread of nuclear weapons, they had not completely stopped their proliferation. By illegally occupying Ukraine, the Russian federation had violated its obligations under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the United Nations Charter. Those violations had serious ramifications on the NPT, and Lithuania strongly condemned them.
JOHANN KELLERMAN (South Africa), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group and the New Agenda Coalition, said that, as long as nuclear weapons existed, humankind would continue to face the threat of catastrophe. Experience, he stressed, demonstrated that the immense, uncontrollable capability, and indiscriminate nature of a detonation of those weapons reached “well beyond” national borders, leaving a “trail of death” and destruction in its wake. This impact, including the long-term humanitarian, environmental, and socio-economic consequences, would last for generations, he said. Vast public resources diverted towards nuclear weapons stood in “stark contrast” to the delivery of development assistance in support of the Millennium Development Goals. In fact, the costs associated with maintaining nuclear arsenals was roughly more than double the development assistance provided to Africa. That state of affairs was “neither acceptable nor sustainable” in a world where the basic human needs of billions were not being met.
YASAR AMMAR (Pakistan) said that serious challenges confronted global efforts to regulate, reduce, and prevent the spread of armaments, particularly nuclear weapons. Consensus had broken down over time. Despite reductions in existing nuclear arsenals, nuclear disarmament remained an outstanding objective on the international security agenda. The erosion of international consensus could be seen in the opposition by most nuclear-weapon States to a nuclear disarmament convention, the non-entry into force of the CTBT, and continued reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines. Only the simultaneous pursuit of disarmament and non-proliferation could erect effective barriers against those risks. Yet, despite high rhetoric and moralistic assertions, the fact was that nuclear weapons remained integral to strategic doctrines of military alliances.
He said that Pakistan recognized that nuclear disarmament would not happen overnight, or even in a lifetime. But the effort to eliminate those weapons “must start now”. The United Nations Charter obliged all States to not use or threaten to use force, and the time was ripe to negotiate negative security assurances at the Conference on Disarmament. In pursuit of those assurances, Pakistan would be presenting the traditional draft resolution entitled, “Conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons,” on behalf of 19 co-sponsors.
MARÍA SOLEDAD URRUELA ARENALES (Guatemala) said that consensus could not be a synonym for the lowest common denominator. She was not willing to let the nuclear-weapon States determine when nuclear disarmament would happen, but rather the international community must pursue that initiative multilaterally. Weapons of mass destruction indiscriminately affected civilians, with devastating effects that would continue “for a generation”. Nuclear weapons could cause the destruction of the planet and the human race, and were against the principles of the United Nations Charter. Given the risk they presented, it was “incomprehensible” that those weapons had not yet been banned, and did not enjoy a legally binding instrument, as was seen with other weapons of mass destruction.
She urged the international community to mitigate the risk and danger of those weapons, insisting on a moratorium on nuclear tests until CTBT entered into force. Guatemala was proud to be a member of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which was an example and an inspiration to others to conclude nuclear-weapon-free zones. The Treaty members must continue to ensure that the region did not suffer the risk of a nuclear threat. With that, she called for a withdrawal of all interpretive statements of that Treaty, and regretted that there had not yet been a conference for such a zone in the Middle East.
IBRAHIMA SORY SYLLA (Senegal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, reaffirmed their attachment to a world free from nuclear weapons. That issue required the attention of the entire international community. That threat was heightened, as those weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. As a result, their complete elimination was the only assurance that they would never be used. Despite the lack of consensus in the NPT Preparatory Committee, he urged the 2015 NPT Review Conference parties to negotiate in good faith. While nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation were two distinct goals, efforts must go hand-in-hand with an irreversible timetable. He reminded the international community that declaring good intentions would not rid the world of those weapons. It was up to all to harness the political will to achieve the necessary results.
SEYED MOHAMMAD ALI ROBATJAZI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the continued non-compliance of nuclear-weapon States with their legal NPT obligations on nuclear disarmament, had undermined the object and purpose of that Treaty. Nuclear weapons were not built to be kept in storage. The military doctrines of certain nuclear-weapon States, as well as of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), justified the use of such inhumane weapons under certain circumstances. Ongoing plans for modernizing existing nuclear weapons, and spending billions of dollars to build new nuclear-weapon facilities, under the pretext of preserving the safety and reliability of those weapons, ran counter to the unequivocal undertaking of nuclear-armed States to proceed with disarmament.
It was a source of great concern, he continued, that hundreds of nuclear weapons and their delivery means continued to be deployed in the territories of certain non-nuclear-weapon States of the European Union, in violation of article I of the NPT. Further, the possession of nuclear weapons by the infamous Israeli regime, coupled with its systematic practice of occupying territories of other nations and committing aggression, terrorism, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the region, remained the greatest source of insecurity and instability for the NPT States parties in the region.
CHUKA C. UDEDIBIA (Nigeria) associated with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group, as well as with the joint statements by New Zealand, Switzerland, and Japan. On behalf of the African Group, he introduced the draft resolution entitled, “African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty”, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba. He called for universal support of the text, which emphasized Africa’s strong commitment to maintaining the zone. The Nigerian delegation saw such zones as a credible means of promoting nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Their significance lay not only in the fact that they banned nuclear weapons in a region, but also in that they prohibited the stationing of those weapons in States parties’ territories. He noted the “initial setback” on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, and called on all stakeholders to work towards its success.
Mr. SCHMID (Switzerland), in his national capacity, said that compelling new arguments had emerged which underlined the urgency and importance for comprehensive progress in disarmament, non-proliferation, and nuclear security. The humanitarian narrative underscored the need to revitalize the disarmament machinery and to strengthen existing processes. In the NPT context, the humanitarian dimension had accentuated the strong expectations that outstanding disarmament obligations would be implemented. It had also sparked a discussion on how to more systematically advance the implementation of NPT article VI, including through additional global norms. A successful outcome of the 2015 NPT Review Conference must generate clear, forward movement for nuclear disarmament.
SIMONA MIRELA MICULESCU (Romania), associating with the European Union, strongly backed all initiatives aimed at supporting the Conference on Disarmament to fulfil its mandate and begin negotiations on its agenda items, particularly on a fissile material cut-off treaty. The “world outside these walls” was paying increased attention to the nuclear disarmament process, she noted, adding it was the international community’s common duty to relentlessly continue efforts to fully implement the NPT. At the same time, Romania was looking forward to further reductions in nuclear arsenals, and welcomed the willingness of the United States to continue to work on that issue. As a non-nuclear-weapon State, Romania supported the right of States to benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, so long as non-proliferation, safety, and security conditions were met. She highlighted Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), which Romania had co-sponsored, saying she was encouraged by the steady progress by Member States to enact national measures to implement its provisions.
THOMAS HAJNOCZI (Austria), associating with the European Union and the joint statement by New Zealand, said that the humanitarian imperative underlay all efforts in disarmament and non-proliferation. Better awareness of the consequences of a nuclear detonation, as well as a better understanding of the risks associated with the existence of nuclear weapons, would build momentum for achieving nuclear disarmament. The Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons would take place on 8 and 9 December and provide for a facts-based discussion on a wide range of short- and long-term consequences of nuclear-weapon explosions. It would also put emphasis on nuclear-weapon testing, discuss the range of human and technical factors that could lead to a nuclear-weapon explosion, as well as the response capabilities and challenges of the international system in that event.
While he welcomed the steps taken by nuclear-weapon States in nuclear disarmament and arms control as important unilateral and bilateral progress, he said that they were not enough. Survivors of nuclear tests were a reminder of the imperative to renew the world community’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, for the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons.
VERONIKA STROMSIKOVA (Czech Republic), associating with the European Union, expressed support for universal adherence to the NPT and full compliance with its obligations. Even the most turbulent political and social unrest did not dismiss or diminish States’ responsibility to secure all nuclear and radioactive material on their territories. The international community must preserve and strengthen the integrity of the NPT, she said, noting several breaches of international commitments. Citing the annexing of Crimea, she said the Russian Federation had acted in “flagrant” breach of its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum, and endangered the integrity of the non-proliferation regime. Another blatant challenge to that regime was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear test of February 2013, which threatened security both in the region and around the globe.
Ms. HIGGIE (New Zealand) stressed the specific obligation upon the international community to comply with international humanitarian law. She acknowledged the need to “operationalize” the same elemental notions of humanity, which had, in previous decades, led the international community to expressly ban other types of weapons of mass destruction. At the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the New Agenda Coalition, of which New Zealand was a member, had put forward a working paper (WP 18), outlining a set of options for the effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament, as stipulated in the Treaty’s article VI. New Zealand remained keen to continue the conversation initiated in that paper. She also referenced her country’s joint statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons on behalf of more than 125 countries, which conveyed deep concern at the catastrophic consequences of those weapons.
MUZAMMIL MEHDI (Canada) said all States possessing nuclear weapons must demonstrate maximum discipline to reassure the global community that they were committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. The NPT, despite its shortcomings, was the most widely adhered to instrument on non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament in history, and could not be allowed to fail. An essential element of ensuring the success of the 2015 Review Conference would be to prevent States from seeking nuclear-weapon capabilities, and ensure that those who violated their non-proliferation obligations were held to account.
He said his country was deeply concerned by persistent failure of State compliance with their treaty obligations. He cited the cases of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Russian Federation’s military intervention in Ukraine and violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum was also deeply worrying, he said; he urged Moscow to resolve concerns regarding its compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Stressing the value of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, Canada also sought the prompt entry into force of the CTBT. It was committed to working with like-minded States, organizations, and initiatives to address the grave security challenge posed by nuclear terrorism.
TAN WEIMING (Singapore) said the 2015 NPT Review Conference would be taking place against a backdrop of growing global instability, with broad gaps remaining on key issues. All stakeholders must consider how to further progress on the three pillars of the treaty, he said. For its part, Singapore acknowledged that nuclear disarmament was a long-term aspiration. While the P5 consultations on disarmament were a positive step, he encouraged the United States and the Russian Federation to commence discussions on reducing their nuclear arsenals. Nuclear-weapon States that fell outside the NPT should be involved in disarmament discussions to preserve the legitimacy and universalization of the Treaty. His country urged all to act, including to work on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, to sign and ratify the CTBT and to make progress on the fissile material cut-off treaty. He encouraged the nuclear-weapon States to participate in discussions on the humanitarian aspect. Risks of the proliferation of nuclear technology must also be addressed through enhancing nuclear security systems and implementing key international instruments, he added. In closing, he reaffirmed the right of sovereign States to the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology.
HALVOR SÆTRE (Norway) said there had been limited progress in the implementation of nuclear disarmament actions set out in the 2010 non-proliferation Action Plan. A humanitarian perspective had led to a renewed interest in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he said, also drawing attention to the risks and consequences of continued collective inaction. In that regard, Norway remained a staunch supporter of bilateral disarmament measures, such as the New START, which was vital to reducing existing nuclear weapon arsenals. Underlining that a world free of nuclear weapons required a credible non-proliferation regime, his country hoped for additional steps to bring the CTBT into force. Concluding, he urged Iran to settle issues related to its nuclear programme, and strongly condemned the nuclear and missile tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
SAAD ABDULLAH N. AL SAAD (Saudi Arabia) said a lack of credibility of international instruments posed a challenge to international peace and security. Despite the universality of the non-proliferation treaty and the conviction that it was the cornerstone of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, multilateral efforts did not meet expectations. It was necessary to find ways and means of serious negotiations. The Middle East had witnessed challenges that required concerted efforts to prevent a degeneration of the current situation. Genuine partnership at the international level was urgently needed, as no country could face such challenges alone. Security safeguards within the non-proliferation regime and the situation in the Middle East were intertwined, he said. He added that, as long as Israel refused to place its nuclear programme under IAEA inspection, tensions would continue. Supporting the establishment of a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, he said Israel was behind the postponement of the conference on that matter. The international community bore responsibility for convening the conference as soon as possible, he said in closing.
ÁLVARO MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), associating with the European Union, said striving for a world without nuclear weapons required tireless determination and concrete, consistent, and sustainable action. While acknowledging progress made, Portugal recognized that much remained to be done. The catastrophic consequences for humanity that would result from the accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons called for resolute, urgent, and appropriate action, he said. He added that non-proliferation and disarmament were mutually reinforcing processes, which should be resolutely pursued in a balanced manner. The right of States to develop civil nuclear capabilities must be accompanied by strict adherence to relevant international agreements and commitments, in a transparent and responsible manner. It was urgent to ensure the entry into force of the CTBT, and the commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.
ULF LINDELL (Sweden), associating with the European Union and New Zealand, said the new security challenges, such as the acquisition by non-State actors of nuclear weapons, required new security approaches. Progress on the three pillars of the NPT was of the essence. Although nuclear-weapon States committed to eliminating their nuclear arsenal without preconditions, he noted the re-emerging of preconditions in current disarmament discussions. He welcomed the decrease of nuclear weapons, but said the work was far from being completed. Of particular concern were the renewed efforts by nuclear-weapon States to modernize their nuclear arsenal. He commended proposals to disarm further, and added that other building blocks were needed: the start of negotiations on a fissile material ban; the entry into force of the CTBT; the increased transparency of nuclear arsenals; and the strengthening of nuclear-weapon-free zones.
He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to full compliance with its NPT safeguards obligations. He also regretted that Iran had failed to abide by relevant Security Council resolutions. Sweden supported the efforts by China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and United States to seek a diplomatic solution. He urged all States to accede to the NPT and encouraged them to develop transparency and confidence-building measures. Sweden welcomed the nuclear security summits, and was actively engaged in that process. The country would continue its nuclear security cooperation with Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
MATTHEW ROWLAND (United Kingdom) said the best way to achieve a nuclear-free world was through a gradual, step-by-step approach. While his country was deeply concerned at the humanitarian consequences that could result from the use of nuclear weapons, it did not share the view that nuclear weapons were inherently unacceptable. He pointed out that those weapons had helped guarantee the security of his country and its allies for decades. “Frustration rarely makes for sound action,” he noted, adding that there were “no quick fixes” to nuclear disarmament. The right political and security conditions for those States without nuclear weapons were not in place for them to feel no need to acquire them. Similarly, the right conditions were not present for nuclear-weapon States to no longer feel the need to keep them. Tackling proliferation challenges would contribute to creating those conditions, he said, adding that each Member State could play its part. The United Kingdom nuclear disarmament record was strong, with reductions of its own nuclear forces by more than 50 per cent since the height of Cold War. By the mid-2020s, the country would have reduced its nuclear forces to no more than 120 operationally available warheads, and a total stockpile of no more than 180 warheads.
KYAW TIN (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of 47 delegations, introduced the draft resolution entitled “Nuclear disarmament” (A/69/C.1/L.31). The draft resolution would have the General Assembly urge the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament, leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons within a specific timeframe. The draft text would also have the Assembly call upon all nuclear-weapon States to take the 13 practical steps for nuclear disarmament and the 22-point Action Plan on Nuclear Disarmament, contained in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. The Assembly would, by the draft text, call on nuclear-weapon States to provide effective assurances to all non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Securing an early agreement on a universal, unconditional, irrevocable, and legally-binding instrument on Negative Security Assurances (NSA), was extremely important to all non-nuclear-weapon States, he noted.
The draft resolution would also have the Assembly encourage Member States to continue their endeavours for establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, including in the Middle East. The draft text also would have it welcome the establishment of 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, along with a General Assembly Plenary Meeting. The draft also took note of several upcoming meetings, including the Oslo and Nayarit conferences, as well as the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons to be held in Vienna.
Right of reply
The representative of France, speaking in exercise of right of reply, recalled that his country had been among the first to ratify the NPT. France dismantled, in an irreversible manner, its nuclear test sites in French Polynesia and had provided exemplary transparency. He recalled that the IAEA had published a report confirming France’s compliance on the matter, and underscored that his country was very conscious of its obligations under both the NPT and the CTBT. France was not making any new nuclear weapons and had maintained its capabilities at the lowest level. He specified that in the last 20 years, France had eliminated half of its nuclear warheads, and reduced its submarine and aerial capabilities by a third. It had also dismantled its fissile material production facility, making France an example in the field of disarmament.