Non-Nuclear-Weapon States Urge New Global Order, while Nuclear-Armed Countries Defend Need for ‘Safe and Effective’ Arsenals, in First Committee Debate

GA/DIS/3522
12 October 2015
Seventieth Session, 4th Meeting (PM)

Non-Nuclear-Weapon States Urge New Global Order, while Nuclear-Armed Countries Defend Need for ‘Safe and Effective’ Arsenals, in First Committee Debate

Armed conflict had caused the world to become fragmented and left it “shaken to the core” as the system of global security became diluted, and international relations turned to “mutual alienation and mistrust”, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today during its general debate.

Seventy years ago, when nuclear weapons were first used, humankind had “looked into the abyss”, and seen that the threshold of complete annihilation existed, the representative of Belarus said.  He urged Member States not to forget that, and emphasized the need to re-establish balance in international relations.  Security was indivisible, and multilateral instruments were the only viable way to ensure a code of behaviour for all.

It was easy to make declarations rather than fulfil them, he said.  Belarus had experienced two world wars, which was why it had given up nuclear weapons unconditionally 20 years ago and joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  It had also consistently spoken about banning new weapons of mass destruction.

The representative of the United States said that in contrast to his country’s own “full spectrum approach”, proposals such as a nuclear-weapons ban or convention could not succeed because they failed to recognise the need to develop the verification capabilities and build the security conditions needed to advance disarmament.  Instead, they risked creating an unstable security environment where misperceptions or miscalculations could escalate crises with unintended and unforeseen consequences, not excluding the possible use of a nuclear weapon.

By steadily reducing the role and number of nuclear weapons in a way that advanced strategic stability, he said, the United States fostered the conditions for further progress.  “The numbers tell the real story,” he said, noting that the United States had reduced its total stockpile of active and inactive nuclear warheads by 85 per cent from its cold-war peak.  Nuclear deterrence and nuclear disarmament were complementary.  So long as such weapons existed, the United States would maintain a safe and effective arsenal to deter any adversary and guarantee the defence of its allies.

In a similar vein, India’s representative said that the goal of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons could be achieved by a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework that was global and non-discriminatory.  All States’ possessors could contribute to building trust by reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines.  Greater restraint on the contemplated use of those weapons was not only an essential first step, but a necessary one in the current complex international environment.

Algeria’s representative said that with the inability of the international community to achieve a positive outcome at the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, it had “lost a precious opportunity and created doubt over the credibility of the whole system”.  He called for the urgent commencement of negotiations on a comprehensive convention banning nuclear weapons.   He also reiterated the need to conclude a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances for all non-nuclear-weapon States. 

Similarly, Senegal’s representative said that although the reshuffling of power on the global stage posed challenges to the world’s disarmament, those should not be used as a pretext to stall progress.  It had become all the more necessary to make significant strides in disarmament and non-proliferation.  Recent successes had shown that multilateralism was more than ever the way to achieve concrete results.  While he welcomed the recent Iranian agreement as a new stride in non-proliferation efforts, it did not however settle the issue of convening a conference to free the Middle East of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons.

The world was now facing challenges to the commitments it made 70 years ago, from armed drones to autonomous weapons to cyber space and outer space activities, Lebanon’s representative said.  The international community should not forget the values upon which those original commitments were made.  Human rights and international humanitarian law should remain as the guiding principles, and universality and inclusiveness should be the framework to regulate any action.

The Republic of Korea’s representative regretted the fact that 70 years after the first General Assembly resolution, the vision of a world without nuclear weapons remained elusive and urged a stronger political impetus to overcome the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and begin negotiations on a fissile material ban without delay.  The international community must step up measures to address the new proliferation threats involving non-State actors, including terrorists.  The catastrophic consequences that would result from deadly weapons falling into their hands were hard to imagine, and it was more urgent than ever to prevent that “black swan of our age”.

Also participating in the debate were the representatives of Ecuador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Saudi Arabia, Poland, Ghana, Thailand, Georgia, Costa Rica, Turkey, Spain, Nigeria and Japan.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 13 October, to continue its general debate.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its general debate. Please see Press Release GA/DIS/3521.

Statements

DIEGO MOREJON (Ecuador), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that at the group’s summit in January 2014, the region was formally declared a “zone of peace”.  Today, he reaffirmed the need for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  The development of new types of nuclear weapons and their modernization was inconsistent with the aim of disarmament.  CELAC was committed to a multilateral process towards a legal document prohibiting nuclear weapons as proposed at the Vienna conference in 2014, as well as compliance with the NPT’s article VI.  The Community was seriously concerned over the humanitarian impact of those weapons, and commended the various meetings held to discuss, among other things, the risk of accidental weapon detonation.  CELAC maintained its firm stance on achieving the NPT’s three pillars “without discrimination or double standards”.  He was disappointed at the lack of consensus at the recent Review Conference, however, the draft final outcome document had not met its expectations. Rather, it represented a step backwards from previous reviews.

He also regretted the failure to implement the NPT Review Conference agreement reached in 2010, including holding an international conference for establishing a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  That lack of agreement on the matter at the 2015 Review Conference was similarly disappointing.  On small arms and light weapons, he stressed the urgent need to combat their illicit trade, which exacerbated violence and raised the death toll.  He hoped that the Arms Trade Treaty, the first legally binding instrument of its kind, would help prevent armed conflicts and international law violations.  At the same time, that Treaty should be applied in a balanced manner, and he called on all States to ensure its implementation in line with United Nations Charter.  He voiced appreciation for Mexico’s having convened the Treaty’s first conference.

He  welcomed the Maputo+15 aimed at strengthening the Mine-Ban Convention as well as international efforts to reduce the suffering caused by cluster munitions, in clear violation of international law.  CELAC also underscored that the total elimination of chemical and biological weapons was a priority, asserting that “they must not be used regardless of who uses them”. Finally, he welcomed the opportunities offered by information and communications technologies, but stated they should be used to promote universal access to information, condemning espionage and universal monitoring by private and public actors and any action directed against CELAC member States.

VENKATESH VARMA (India) said that the goal of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons could be achieved by a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework that was global and non-discriminatory.  All States’ possessors could contribute 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.  Increasing restraints on the contemplated use of those weapons was not only an essential first step because it would enhance strategic trust globally, but also a necessary one in the current complex international environment.

He cited the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions as worthy examples of global non-discriminatory treaties for the complete elimination of the respective categories of weapons of mass destruction.  India had fulfilled its obligations on stockpile destruction under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Timely destruction of those stockpiles by other States parties was critical for upholding the treaty’s credibility and integrity.  India shared the widespread interest among the States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention to strengthen its effectiveness and improve its implementation through a protocol negotiated for that purpose.  As a major space-faring nation, India had a vital developmental and security interest in space, and supported strengthening the global legal regime to protect and preserve its peaceful access for all.

FRANK A. ROSE (United States) said his nation was committed to seeking the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, and, to achieve that goal, was pursuing a full-spectrum, pragmatic approach.  By steadily reducing the role and number of nuclear weapons in a way that advanced strategic stability, the United States fostered the conditions and opportunities for further progress.  The numbers told the real story of his country’s success: the United States had reduced its total stockpile of active and inactive nuclear warheads by 85 per cent from its cold-war peak, from 31,225 in 1967 to 4,717 as of 30 September, 2014.  That process and the wider regime of nuclear non-proliferation had always underpinned the United States’ deep understanding of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use.

Even as the steady implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, proceeded, he said, President Barack Obama had made clear his willingness to seek further reductions of up to one-third below the Treaty’s levels.  But progress in that direction required a willing partner and a strategic environment conducive to further reductions.  In contrast to the United States’ full-spectrum approach, proposals such as a nuclear-weapons ban or convention could not succeed because they failed to recognise the need to develop the verification capabilities and build the security conditions necessary to advance the disarmament.  Instead, they risked creating a very unstable security environment where misperceptions or miscalculations could escalate crises with unintended and unforeseen consequences, not excluding the possible use of a nuclear weapon.

Disarmament must factor into humanitarian as well as security concerns, he said.  Despite what some people thought, nuclear deterrence and nuclear disarmament were actually complementary.  Nuclear deterrence sought to constrain threats as countries worked to reduce nuclear weapons and shore-up efforts to prevent further proliferation.  Both ultimately sought to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.  That was why President Obama had made it clear in Prague that even as the United States worked towards the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, so long as such weapons existed, his country would maintain a safe, secure, effective arsenal to deter any adversary and guarantee the defence of its allies.  The United States’ reason for not having joined consensus at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference had to do with language concerning the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, because while it supported that worthy goal, it could not impose such a zone without the consent of the involved States.

More dialogue was needed, he said, and the United States had launched, along with the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification, which was an exciting new endeavour that brought together 27 States, nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon possessors, committed to exploring the tools and technologies needed to effectively verify future nuclear disarmament agreements.

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), associating with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Middle East was defying international and regional efforts to become a zone free from nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, owing to Israel’s rejection of that endeavour.  He also regretted the failure of the 2015 NPT Review Conference to have agreed on an outcome document, further disrupting efforts to establish such a zone.  However, he hoped that the agreement reached on Iran’s nuclear programme would strengthen security and stability in the region and reassure countries of Iran’s commitment to good neighbourliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.  He also reaffirmed the right of States to obtain nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Stressing the importance of addressing the illicit trafficking in small and light arms, he said the United Nations programme on that matter formed a basis on which to build.  Saudi Arabia had adopted policies to promote and strengthen confidence-building and cooperation mechanisms to confront the crisis at all levels.  Of particular importance to his delegation were the efforts by the Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) to control and prevent the provision of support to non-State actors that attempted to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery means.  He stressed that the resolution must be implemented, and the need for international cooperation to strengthen information security and safeguard national interests on the Internet.

BOGUSⱢAW WINID (Poland), associating with the European Union, said that as the security situation had deteriorated in several regions, Member States needed to reaffirm their respect for the United Nations, international law and the commitment to implement their obligations.  Of particular importance was renewed support for their nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament commitments, especially due to the failure of the 2015 NPT Review Conference to have reached an agreement.  Poland believed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran would strengthen the NPT.  The country, meanwhile, condemned the “clear violation” of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the illegal annexation of Crimea, which were in clear breach of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and specific commitments under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.

He said Poland was equally concerned about challenges to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Any use of those weapons was a violation of international law, a war crime and a crime against humanity.  Reports of their repeated use in Syria added urgency to the calls for the universal application of the disarmament commitments stemming from that Convention.  He expected the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism to clarify those reports.  As in previous years, Poland would introduce a draft on the Convention’s implementation. 

Poland, he noted, had served as President of last year’s meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which had provided a unique forum to gather diplomatic, legal and military expertise and to address emerging issues, such as lethal autonomous weapon systems.  Poland also remained committed to ensure further progress in implementation of the Mine-Ban Convention, and it expected gains in the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty through accession by “players” with the biggest share in the global arms market.

MARTHA A.A. POBEE (Ghana), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that this year marked the seventieth anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose repercussions were still felt today.  Ghana shared the view that the NPT remained critical for nuclear disarmament and that its strengths lay in its universality, legal commitment and safeguards.  However, the Treaty had inherent shortcomings and faced significant challenges in holding nuclear-weapon States to their legal obligations.  Failure to meet interim objectives under the “step-by-step” agenda was of concern.

She said that her country subscribed to the Humanitarian Pledge issued on 9 December 2014 at the conclusion of the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.  The Member States that had endorsed that pledge should not let the momentum generated in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna lag in view of the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapon detonations.  She urged continued dialogue on that matter and the beginning of a diplomatic process that could lead to negotiations on a legally binding instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons.  A fissile material cut-off treaty was a sine qua non to a world free of nuclear weapons, and Ghana welcomed the consensus report of the Governmental Group of Experts on such an instrument.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said his country attached the utmost importance to general and complete disarmament, and expressed its serious concern over the danger to humanity posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and of their possible use or threat of use.  In that regard, he deeply regretted the absence of a positive outcome at the 2015 NPT Review Conference, adding that the international community had “lost a precious opportunity and created doubt over the credibility of the whole system”.  His delegation called for an effective implementation of General Assembly resolution 68/32, including the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a comprehensive convention banning nuclear weapons.  He also urged the Assembly to convene, no later than 2018, a United Nations conference to review progress made on that matter.

He reiterated the importance of universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in order to allow its entry into force.  He welcomed the ratification by Angola in 2015, which brought the number of States parties to 164 out of 183 signatory States.  Algeria’s territory had been the ground of nuclear tests in the early 1960s, and his country, therefore, fully understood the trials and consequences of such tests.  He also reiterated the need to conclude a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances for all non-nuclear weapon States.  He welcomed the recent conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States), and stressed that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones not only built confidence, but was also a concrete step towards the total elimination of those weapons.

ALIAKSANDR CHASNOUSKI (Belarus) stated that the system of international security had become diluted, and the world had become fragmented and “shaken to the core” by armed conflict.  The typical trade in international relations had turned into “mutual alienation and mistrust”.  Seventy years ago, when nuclear weapons were first used, humankind had “looked into the abyss” and seen that the threshold of complete annihilation existed.  That must not be forgotten.  He stressed the need to re-establish balance in the international order, noting that it was easier to make declarations than to fulfil them.  Belarus had experienced two world wars, which was why it had given up nuclear weapons unconditionally 20 years ago and joined the NPT.  It had also consistently supported a ban on new weapons of mass destruction.

Under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), he said, Belarus’s destruction of weapons represented 10 per cent of weapons destroyed.  In September 2003, Belarus had joined the Mine-Ban Convention and destroyed its arsenal, which had been the world’s seventh largest.  International security was indivisible, and multilateral instruments were the only viable way to ensuring a code of behaviour for all participants.  He called for the full ratification of the CTBT, NPT and meaningful work in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament.

S.E.M. GORGUI CISS (Senegal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the reshuffling of power on the global stage challenged disarmament, and should not be used as a pretext to stall progress.  It had become all the more necessary to make significant strides in disarmament and non-proliferation.  He called for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty, including to avoid diversion of those weapons to illicit markets.  He was pleased by the adoption of Security Council resolution 2220 (2015) on strengthening cooperation in combatting the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, but said it must ensure that the concerns of African States on such transfers to non-State actors were properly addressed.

He welcomed the recent Iranian agreement, which was a great stride in non-proliferation efforts.  However, it did not settle the issue of the Middle East conference to declare the region a nuclear-weapon-free zone, which was yet to be held.  Recent successes had shown that multilateralism was more than ever the way to achieve concrete results.  The ultimate goal was to rid the world of nuclear weapons, which could only come about through complete disarmament.  He reiterated the  request of the Non-Aligned Movement countries to convene a conference for a treaty banning those weapons, and he called on all nuclear-armed States to lend their support to that proposal.  Negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty were another important pillar of disarmament, however despite some progress, those were also at an impasse.  He urged all delegations to show flexibility and political will throughout the First Committee session.

CHAYAPAN BAMRUNGPHONG (Thailand), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the 2015 NPT Review Conference had been a “palpable setback”, especially for the prospects of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East.  The only appropriate response was for the international community to redouble its efforts.  He was encouraged by recent positive developments, namely the steadily growing support for the Humanitarian Initiative on the consequences of nuclear weapons and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran.  In support of the Humanitarian Initiative, Thailand had recently hosted a regional round table, which had included discussions on the prospect of a ban treaty.

As the depository State of the South-East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, Thailand, together with the other ASEAN countries, would continue to encourage the signing and ratification of the Treaty’s Protocol, he said.  National implementation of existing non-proliferation obligations remained a priority.  Thailand was constantly developing its capacity to implement Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), particularly by enhancing inter-agency coordination mechanisms, improving laws and regulations and exploring avenues for outreach.  Also vital were the universalization and implementation of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions. 

OH JOON (Republic of Korea) said that 70 years after the first General Assembly resolution, the vision of a world without nuclear weapons remained elusive.  The global non-proliferation architecture had gaps and loopholes and was faced with both old and new challenges.  The nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remained the gravest challenge to the global non-proliferation regime, and continued reports of chemical weapons use in Syria were also deeply disturbing.  The threat of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction was becoming increasingly real.  Additionally, cyberspace and outer space were demanding new sets of rules to ensure their security.

It was disappointing that this year’s NPT Review Conference had been unable to build on the momentum created at the 2010 Review Conference, he said.  Regarding the test-ban Treaty, he called on the eight States whose ratification was required for its entry into force to show leadership by being the first to take action.  A stronger political impetus was needed to overcome the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament and to begin negotiations on a fissile material ban without delay.  The international community must step up measures to address the new proliferation threats involving non-State actors, including terrorists.  The catastrophic consequences that would result from deadly weapons falling into their hands were hard to imagine, and it was more urgent than ever to prevent that “black swan of our age”.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) said that security assurances provided to Ukraine under the Budapest Moratorium in connection with its accession to the NPT had been “ignored” and one of the guarantor States had itself openly challenged Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty.  That development threatened to have “far-reaching negative implications” on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  In August 2008, the Russian Federation had launched a “full-scale military aggression” against Georgia, which had resulted in the illegal military occupation of 20 per cent of its territory and the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Georgians.

Turning to nuclear disarmament, he said that the NPT was the key element for progress and it was crucial that all States implement the 2010 Action Plan.  He welcomed the comprehensive settlement of the Iranian nuclear programme, which proved that hard work and political will could provide a constructive solution.  Georgia appreciated the United States’ initiative on nuclear security.  On chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons and materials, Georgia, Morocco and the Philippines had created a United Nations group of friends on risk mitigation and security governance.  It would soon circulate a concept paper to all Member States and convene its first meeting by the end of the year.  Large amounts of conventional armaments had been accumulated in Georgia’s occupied regions in violation of international law and the Russian Federation’s commitments, including under the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.  He called on that country to withdraw its illegally deployed occupation forces from Georgia.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA (Costa Rica), associating with CELAC, said that while the Arms Trade Treaty had entered into force in record time, in December 2014, and had held its first Conference of States Parties, there were still too many serious violations of the Treaty’s objectives.  Those were being experienced first-hand by the civilian populations of the Middle East and Africa – the very people whose suffering the Treaty aimed to prevent.  Stressing that the express prohibitions of the Treaty were “not suggestions” but obligations, he said that irresponsible transfers of arms to conflict zones should be stopped immediately.  In that vein, he called on the main exporters and importers of conventional weapons to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay.  He was also concerned about the use of armed drones to carry out targeted killings outside conflict zones.  The capacity of those weapons was leading Governments to reinterpret fundamental international human rights and humanitarian principles, and urgent action was required to better understand the subject and address its implications.

His delegation, he said, regretted that the 2015 NPT Review Conference had been unable to adopt its outcome document.  It was clear that “we cannot leave the task of disarmament exclusively in the hands of nuclear-weapon States”, as they had demonstrated no interest in relinquishing them.  The world had already achieved the prohibition of biological and chemical weapons, and the same could be done with nuclear arms, as their use would be an even greater violation of international law.  “It is time to seek results,” he said.  Costa Rica, as a demilitarized nation, was no stranger to the legitimate security and defence concerns of other countries, but it questioned excessive military spending, which had impeded development and driven conflict.  He compared the annual expenditure on nuclear weapons — estimated at $105 billion — to that of the United Nations Office for Disarmament, at only $12 million.

YASAR HALIT CEVIK (Turkey) said that although his country was ready to discuss the practical steps needed to strengthen the NPT, he reminded all stakeholders no action should be taken to undermine its integrity.  The primary responsibility under the NPT with regard to nuclear disarmament lay with the nuclear-weapon States, and he called on those outside that regime to join it.  The IAEA safeguards system was the fundamental tool in global non-proliferation efforts, and he recognized the need for the further strengthening and universalizing of the Agency’s verification authority.  He welcomed the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme and reaffirmed Turkey’s strong desire that it be implemented in good faith so as to reassure the “neighbourhood” against proliferation concerns.

Turkey was concerned that the 1995 resolution to establish a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction was yet to be implemented, he said, since such a step would be an important confidence-building measure.  The cessation of all nuclear-weapon tests was indispensable to achieving both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and, in that regard, he stressed the importance of the CTBT.  Turkey was part of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative along with 11 other countries, which was proving to be a true “middle Powers” initiative to promote the implementation of the consensus outcomes of the 2010 Review Conference.  Regretting the additional chemical weapons attacks in Syria, he supported the activities of the Declaration Assessment Team and the OPCW.

JUAN IGNACIO MORRO VILLACIAN (Spain), associating with the European Union, expressed pleasure over the agreement in Vienna concerning Iran, and congratulated all parties that had made it possible.  The NPT was the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime, and it was disappointing that the Review Conference in May had not been able to reach consensus on an outcome document.  It also had not been possible to convene a conference on a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  Spain reaffirmed its support of the 1995 resolution and the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and encouraged all parties to strive for consensus to hold the conference on the issue.

Calling for the universality of the NPT, he emphasised the need to comply with its article VI and stressed, in particular, the responsibility of those States with larger arsenals.  He also urged the prompt entry into force of the CTBT, adopted almost 20 years ago, calling on those countries who had not yet signed that Treaty, especially the Annex II States, to sign and ratify it.  He drew attention to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), which was an important tool to prevent non-State agents from accessing mass destruction weapons.  As chair of its review committee, Spain sought to “breathe new life” into the process.  On chemical weapons, he welcomed progress made in the destruction of arsenals and chemical facilities in Syria and hoped for a complete and urgent dismantling.

MAYA DAGHER (Lebanon) said that international peace and security would not be sustainable unless disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction were set as a priority on the global agenda.  Her country deeply regretted the failure of the NPT Review Conference last May to have reached consensus, and reminded delegations that Israel was the only non-party to that Treaty in the Middle East; it continued to threaten peace and security by amassing nuclear weapons and refusing to place its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.  While reaffirming the right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, Lebanon believed that the goals and commitments enshrined in the NPT remained pertinent as ever.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki still stood as painful witness of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, she said.  The world needed no additional proof, nor could it afford another catastrophic use or misuse of nuclear weapons.  Her country had joined more than 119 others in supporting the Humanitarian Pledge, and looked forward to a universal commitment on the engagements initiated in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna.  The world now faced challenges to the commitments it had made 70 years ago, from armed drones to autonomous weapons to cyberspace and outer space activities.  The international community should not forget the values upon which those original commitments were made.  Human rights and international humanitarian law should remain the guiding principles, and universality and inclusiveness should be the framework to regulate any action.

BARRY O’SULLIVAN (Australia) commiserated with the people of Turkey over the recent attacks.  He said that while the shared goal of a world of peace, security and prosperity might seem distant, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme was grounds for “cautious optimism”.  Australia applauded the efforts involved and supported the role of the IAEA.  It welcomed the report of the Group of Governmental Experts to explore aspects of a treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons, urging States to move forward on such negotiations, including within and on the margins of the Conference on Disarmament.  “Adopting the moral high ground” on nuclear weapons was not enough, and a treaty banning them would not lead nuclear-weapon States to give up their arsenals.  Although the NPT Review Conference had been unable to produce consensus, previous final documents, especially the 2010 Action Plan, remained valid.

He said that Australia, deeply concerned about reports of chemical weapons use in Syria and Iraq, welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2235 (2015). On outer space, Australia placed a premium on practical steps to protect every nation’s access to the space environment, and confidence-building measures, such as those contained in the draft International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, were important contributions to space security, including in addressing the pressing issue of space debris.

HUSSEIN ABDULLAHI (Nigeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, spoke of the of the dangers and effects of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, observing that “from Africa to the Middle East, the unprecedented carnage and bloodshed visited on innocent populations by mindless terrorists and insurgents have left cities and communities emptied, destroyed or deserted”.  Nigeria had signed and ratified the Arms Trade Treaty.  It welcomed the convening of the first conference of States parties to the Treaty in Cancun and, as President of the second conference in 2016, would work with Mexico and other delegations to highlight the measures so far taken to ensure robust implementation.

He highlighted the slow pace of progress towards nuclear disarmament and the lack of progress by nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.  Nigeria strongly supported the call for a complete ban on all nuclear weapons, the only weapon of mass destruction not prohibited by an international legal instrument.  It also stressed the need for a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances for all non-nuclear-weapon States.  On behalf of the African Group, Nigeria would submit three resolutions for which it sought support from all delegations: African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, United Nationals Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, and the Prohibition of the Dumping of Radioactive Waste.

TOSHIO SANO (Japan) said that the NPT regime faced serious challenges, and the international community must now use those challenges as an opportunity to further advance nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  The lack of substantial progress in nuclear disarmament had bred frustration and distrust among non-nuclear-weapon States.  Consequently, Japan strongly urged nuclear-weapon States to take voluntary disarmament measures, despite the lack of agreement during the last NPT review.  Japan also underscored the importance of improving transparency in the nuclear forces of those States, including through the provision of more frequent and detailed reporting during the next NPT review cycle.  Nuclear-armed States should reduce all types of nuclear weapons and eventually “multilateralize” reduction negotiations.

 

He urged the member States of the Conference on Disarmament, after a 20-year stalemate, to commence their substantive work and demonstrate a commitment to revitalize that body.  Japan strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and missile development programmes, saying they posed a serious threat to the region and the entire international community, and violated relevant Security Council resolutions as well as the 2005 Joint Statement of the six-party talks.  He urged that country to “refrain from any further provocative action”.  The agreement on Iran, he said could contribute to reinforcing the international non-proliferation regime and he hoped for its steadfast implementation.  Japan welcomed the “nearly completed” destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, and urged all parties to cooperate fully with the OPCW-UN joint investigation.  He welcomed the Arms Trade Treaty’s entry into force, calling it an epoch-making achievement in the history of conventional arms control.  It also strengthened the rule of law and human security, and built confidence among States parties.

Right of Reply

The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the statements made by the Republic of Korea and Japan were “preposterous”.  Regarding the reference made to the Iranian nuclear deal, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s own position was completely different.  North Korea was a nuclear-weapon State, both in reality and in declaration, and was not interested in a dialogue to make it freeze or dismantle its nuclear weapons.  Its nuclear deterrence was not a bargaining chip, but rather a means to defend its sovereignty.  It was therefore illogical to compare Iran’s nuclear agreement with the situation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  In January, his country had put forth a proposal that if the United States and the Republic of Korea suspended their joint defence exercises, then the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would suspend its nuclear tests.  However, the United States and Republic of Korea had turned down that proposal, which showed that the United States was not interested in nuclear tests, but rather in the “Americanization” of the entire Korean peninsula.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the United States had taken the first step to undermine the strategic stability in the world by leaving the treaty on missile defence in 2002.  The United States had said several times that the global missile defence system was not aimed at Russia, but had refused to offer a guarantee.  In spite of that, the Russian Federation had still taken unprecedented steps in reducing its nuclear arsenal by signing the latest agreement on further reductions and restrictions.  Regarding the alleged violations by the Russian Federation of its obligations under the INF treaty (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty), the representative of the United States unequivocally and without providing any clear objective and reliable data, criticized Russia of non-compliance with a treaty that was very important for international security.  Once again, the United States had “kind of framed the issue upside down”.

The Russian Federation, he went on, was the one that had expressed serious concerns about the “UAVs” and “MK41” vertical launch systems, which, due to their characteristics, fell within the scope of the INF treaty.  Those concerns remained unaddressed, or rather, they had been addressed and had received replies in the form of groundless insinuations.  That, from Russia’s point of view, was not justified in any way.  If what was wanted was a serious discussion to set aside all the differences between the United States and the Russian Federation related to that Treaty, he asked that it be discussed in a business-like way, rather than making populist statements and “playing to the gallery”.

The Georgian delegation, he said, had made claims and strong statements against the Russian Federation.  First of all, the units of the Russian armed forces that were in the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were there on the basis of bilateral agreements between Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  Those units were ensuring the peace and security of the two States and the security of their borders, and Russia’s presence there could not be put into question because it was fully in compliance with international law.

Also speaking in exercise of reply, the representative of Syria reiterated his country’s condemnation of the use of chemical weapons against its people and soldiers.  The current Turkish regime had shifted from its policy of zero problems to 100 per cent problems.  It was continuing its practice of training and arming foreign fighters and sending them to Syria, where they committed horrific crimes.  The representative of Turkey had made false and baseless allegations against Syria in an attempt to protect terrorist groups using chemical weapons provided by his regime.  He did not pay attention to the use of such horrific weapons by ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), since his regime was in an “unholy alliance” with those organizations.  On 22 May, media footage had shown Turkish inspectors on a truck, opening boxes marked “fragile”, in which dozens of mortar shells, grenade launchers, and other weapons, all meant for fighters in Syria, had been found.  Weapons sent into Syria from Turkey included chemical weapons; that needed to be stopped before they reached other countries.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said, regarding the claim that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had nuclear-weapon status, the international community had made clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not have nuclear-weapon status under any circumstances.  That was clearly stated in relevant Security Council resolutions, including 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009).  She advised the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to wake up from that delusion.  Pyongyang had to realize that a nuclear arsenal could not guarantee security.

Also, the joint exercises by the United States and Republic of Korea had been conducted annually for several decades in response to the threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and were purely defensive, carried out in a transparent manner with advance notification to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Citing examples of the persistent military threat from the north, she said that the facts spoke for themselves.  Security Council resolutions 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013) and 2094 (2013) had made it clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not entitled to any launch using ballistic missile technology.  Those launches were serious violations of the resolutions, even if they were characterized as satellite or space launches.  They demonstrated that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had no intention of abiding by international norms.

The representative of Japan said the international community must be reminded that it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who continued its nuclear and missile programmes in violation of Security Council resolutions and the Joint Statement of the six-party talks.  It was imperative that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea take concrete actions to return to compliance with its IAEA safeguard agreements.  There had been no changes in Japan’s basic posture for the past 70 years, and it would continue to adhere to be a peace-loving nation.

The representative of Georgia said that the Geneva international discussions were an important format.  The country would try to make good use of its negotiating frameworks to address all security and humanitarian issues, including reciprocation by the Russian Federation to Georgia’s unilateral pledge of non-use of force and the return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their places of origin.  Georgia believed in all formats, including the United Nations, Security Council, and the First Committee, to address all security challenges.

He highlighted the Russian Federation’s illegal actions against Georgia, saying that it maintained thousands of troops and assault weapons without the consent of the Georgian Government and in violation of the Georgian Constitution.  That was the same Russian regime that had carried out ethnic cleansing and other mass atrocities against the largely Georgian population throughout the 1990s and the 2000s.  The illegal military occupation was in flagrant violation of dozens of agreements and the August 2012 ceasefire agreement.  The presence of Russian troops in the occupied territories threatened the security of all neighbouring countries, the region, wider Europe and well beyond.  He called again for the Russian Federation to withdraw its occupying forces from Georgia without delay.

For information media. Not an official record.