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GA/DIS/3555
17 October 2016
Seventy-first Session, 12th & 13th Meetings (AM & PM)

At Strategic Juncture in Disarmament Drive, All States Must Focus on End Goal of Building Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, First Committee Speakers Warn

Pointing to past and potential nuclear catastrophes, several non-nuclear States expressed alarm that the fate of global security remained in the hands of just a clutch of nuclear-weapon and nuclear-armed States, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) concluded its debate on nuclear weapons.

Highlighting the horrors of the aftermath of the atomic bombs that had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the devastating humanitarian effects of nuclear testing that had been carried out in the Pacific islands, the delegate of Venezuela said the two great world Powers continued to possess nuclear warheads with a destruction capability equivalent to many times of that used on Hiroshima.  The survival of the human species could not rely on the relationship between two major Powers, he stressed.

Underscoring the indiscriminate nature of that threat, the representative of Iceland, on behalf of the Nordic countries, said a nuclear detonation respected no boundaries and the impact of a nuclear weapon took no sides.  While those who focused on the humanitarian consequences had many times been accused of living in a fairy tale, he said that given the clear risks of nuclear weapons, there was an even clearer choice between responsibility and irresponsibility.

Many speakers, among them the delegate from China, recognized the special responsibility of States with the largest nuclear arsenals.  For its part, China supported the total elimination of nuclear weapons and adhered to a nuclear strategy of self-defence, its representative said.  China was the only nuclear-weapon State committed not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or in nuclear-weapon-free zones, he said.

Delegates also raised concerns about regional risks.  Turning to specific threats facing the Asia-Pacific region, the delegate from the Republic of Korea said efforts towards building a nuclear-weapon-free world must start on the Korean Peninsula.  “A world without nuclear weapons is only a daydream without the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” he said, calling for swift and resolute action.

He shared the international community’s concern about the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, adding that the best way forward on disarmament was through practical and concrete measures under existing agreements.  Denuclearizing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would not be easy, but unity in action was the sole answer to enhancing collective security, he said.

Voicing similar concerns, the delegate of Singapore called on the international community to refocus its efforts on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  While the Treaty had been termed a “low-hanging fruit”, there was no reason why that low-hanging fruit should not be harvested after 20 long years, he stressed.  Its entry into force would be a small, but important, step to a world without nuclear weapons, he said.

Some nuclear-weapon States had underlined cases of disarmament success.  Moving toward real nuclear disarmament had, in fact, been consistent, though not always smooth, said the representative of the Russian Federation.  Agreements between the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States had built a foundation for others, he said, pointing to tangible results that had been produced and arsenals that had been reduced.  Most importantly, the people of an entire continent had been spared of the real threat of nuclear war, he said.  Any unilateral steps outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including a draft resolution taking forward nuclear disarmament negotiations, were a mistake, he warned.

Indeed, there was no “quick fix” to achieving nuclear disarmament, said the representative of Germany.  While his Government shared the frustration over the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament in recent years, a prohibition treaty could cause damage to the established Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, he said, adding that abandoning the Non-Proliferation Treaty could lead to new insecurities.

The representative of Italy echoed a common thread heard during the debate, saying he was committed to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in a way that was based on the principle of undiminished security for all.  He welcomed arsenal reductions that had been carried out by most nuclear-weapon States and valued the progress that had been achieved by the Russian Federation and the United States in implementing the 2010 Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty).

Yet, fulfilling existing promises had been a stumbling block to advancing disarmament gains.  The delegate of Iran said the main challenge for disarmament was a lack of genuine political will on the part of nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.  As such, the Non-Aligned Movement’s proposal for a comprehensive nuclear weapon convention was the only practical option to steer the disarmament process in the right direction, he said.

The Committee also heard the introduction of related draft resolutions.  In the afternoon, the Committee opened its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction.

Delivering statements during the thematic debates were the representatives of South Africa, Sri Lanka, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Ireland, Bulgaria, Viet Nam, Brazil, Peru, Czech Republic, Myanmar, New Zealand, Egypt, Paraguay, Poland, Australia, Ecuador, Algeria, Romania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Canada, Portugal, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Germany (also for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and the Republic of Korea), Norway (also for the Netherlands), Japan, Guatemala, Morocco, Oman, Spain, Lithuania, Turkey, Cuba, Colombia, Palau, Mongolia, Indonesia (for the Non-Aligned Movement), Nigeria, Barbados (for the Caribbean Community), Belarus (for the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Venezuela (for the Union of South American Nations), Tunisia (for the Arab Group), Sweden (for the Nordic countries), France and Hungary.  Also delivering statements were the representatives of the Holy See and European Union.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United States, Iran, Syria, Republic of Korea, Japan, Egypt and France spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 18 October, to continue its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met to conclude its thematic debate on nuclear weapons and begin discussions on other weapons of mass destruction.  For background, see Press Release GA/DIS/3545 of 3 October.

Thematic Debate on Nuclear Weapons

EINAR GUNNARSSON (Iceland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said the thematic debate was taking place “under the shadow of international tension”, as weapons of mass destruction were being used and one Member State had defied the non-testing norm of nuclear weapons.  As such, it was more important than ever before to find ways to build confidence among nations.  The world was at a critical juncture in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  While broad agreement existed on the overall objective of fully eliminating those weapons, there were clearly divergent views on how to achieve and maintain that goal.

It was, he said, only through their full elimination that the risk of use would be removed.  Such a process would take time and States possessing those weapons must become engaged in negotiating new generations of disarmament agreements.  While States possessing nuclear arsenals shouldered a particular responsibility to advance the disarmament agenda, non-nuclear-weapon States must also contribute.  Verification of nuclear disarmament was one area where a constructive partnership was emerging between nuclear-armed States and those without such weapons.  There were also clear opportunities in other areas, such as non-proliferation, promoting the culture of nuclear security, advancing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, sustaining regional nuclear-weapon-free zones and moving forward on a fissile material treaty, he concluded.

MICHIEL COMBRINK (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group, the Non-Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition, said there were signs that some States might be hoping to retain nuclear weapons indefinitely.  “All efforts must be exerted to eliminate the threat posed by nuclear weapons,” he said, noting widespread support for the recommendation that had been made by the Open-ended Working Group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, by which the General Assembly would convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.  Such a treaty may not yield immediate results, but it would mark a significant step towards filling a glaring gap in the international legal architecture pertaining to the legality of nuclear weapons.  The upcoming Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons review cycle would be an opportunity for States parties to close a confidence gap that had resulted from the non-implementation of obligations and commitments.

AHAMED LEBBE SABARULLAH KHAN (Sri Lanka) said the risk of catastrophic consequences would remain as long as nuclear weapons existed.  The danger of nuclear material falling into terrorist hands had added a dangerous dimension to the threat already posed by atomic weapons.  Unfortunately the Conference on Disarmament had not been able to carry out negotiations pursuant to an agreed work programme and the parties at the 2015 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference had failed to reach an agreement on a final document.  “Though the multilateral nuclear disarmament machinery has shown slow progress, the solution to counter challenges of nuclear weapons is within multilateralism itself,” he said, adding that building on previous frameworks would be a positive step forward.  While expressing support for the convening of a conference open to all States in 2017 to move forward negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, it would be imperative that they negotiate in good faith.

MICHAEL BIONTINO (Germany) said that while his Government shared the frustration over the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament in recent years, it did not agree with the recommendation of the Open-ended Working Group to create a legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons.  Such a treaty was no quick fix to achieving nuclear disarmament and could cause damage to the established Non-Proliferation Treaty regime.  Nuclear weapons would only disappear when nuclear-weapon States engaged in the process.  Negotiations of a treaty banning them without involving nuclear-weapon States would not lead to a reduction in worldwide arsenals.  Moreover, an immediate ban of nuclear weapons without a verification mechanism on the production of fissile material risked weakening the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  There was an inherent risk that countries could select joining such a ban while abandoning the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which could lead to new insecurities.  Nuclear disarmament did not take place in a security vacuum.  The overall security situation must be taken into consideration for nuclear disarmament to be effective.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation) said that there was a need to establish the truth about the Russian Federation’s contribution to reducing its nuclear arsenals.  Agreements between the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States had built a foundation for others, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he explained, adding that two classes of weapons had been destroyed as a result.  Most importantly, the people of an entire continent had been spared of the real threat of nuclear war.  Moving toward real nuclear disarmament had been consistent, though not always smooth.  From 2010 to 2015, the number of warheads deployed had decreased by more than 2.5 times.  Practical disarmament was also currently happening, he said, emphasizing his Government’s consistent implementation of its commitments as part of the 2010 Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty).

Delegations asserting the opposite, he said, needed to use facts if they wanted to have a substantive discussion.  Member States needed to act so that joint work fostered peace and security for all States.  He expressed support for negotiations of a fissile material treaty based on a balanced programme of work through the Conference on Disarmament.  The road map that had been laid out following the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference had captured the essence of a true multilateral process.  He condemned attempts to use outside, unilateral steps.  As such, introducing a draft resolution taking forward nuclear disarmament negotiations was mistake, he concluded.

MOUKDAVANH SISOULITH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), endorsing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the deployment of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences and prohibiting their use was imperative.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty remained an essential foundation for the pursuit of disarmament, one that must be implemented in a balanced manner and in good faith.  Further, nuclear-weapon-free zones must be recognized.  Member States must also show the required political will and flexibility to make progress, she said, calling for more efforts from every country to work together for a nuclear-weapon-free world.

HELENA NOLAN (Ireland) said the humanitarian consequences approach and the recent expert presentations to the Open-ended Working Group had served to reinforce the notion of a world free of nuclear weapons.  Given their catastrophic humanitarian consequences, such weapons heightened the stakes and exacerbated tensions.  “A nuclear detonation respects no boundaries and the impacts of a nuclear weapon take no sides,” she said, while expressing concern about the devastating impacts of ongoing explosive weapons use on societies.  “Those of us who focus on the humanitarian consequences have many times been accused of living in a fairy tale,” she stressed, adding that the idea of a limited nuclear exchange was a fantasy since the devastating consequences were a grim reality.  Given those clear risks, there was now a choice between responsibility and irresponsibility.

GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria) said Member States shared a common objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  “What we differ on is the approach,” he said.  A prohibition treaty would be ineffective without the participation of nuclear-weapon States.  Considering the each State’s security environment was key to understanding why there could be no disarmament shortcuts.  While the Non-Proliferation Treaty remained the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime, unity and concerted efforts were needed to implement it, he said, adding that the instrument’s upcoming review cycle presented an opportunity to advance efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.  Bulgaria supported a gradual approach to disarmament that would include such practical steps as overcoming the impasse at the Conference on Disarmament, starting negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and bringing the Test-Ban Treaty into force.

NGUYEN DOAN MINH (Viet Nam) said limited progress had been made in the reduction of nuclear weapons, yet the rest of the disarmament picture was weak.  Thousands of nuclear weapons still existed, many on alert status, while international peace and security was being threatened by the increasing danger of those arms falling into the hands of terrorists.  In a complex and volatile world, his delegation firmly believed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons must be the objective guiding collective actions.  International efforts should include the continued role of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Adequate investments were also needed toward establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.

CARLOS SERGIO SOBRAL DUARTE (Brazil) said the Test-Ban Treaty’s entry into force was still pending and the Member States had not even begun negotiating a fissile material cut-off agreement.  Further, the Conference on Disarmament was moored in controversy and the Disarmament Commission had not been able to fulfil its mandate in the past 17 years.  To change that scenario, fresh and more ambitious approaches were needed.  “By doubling up on their commitment to never acquire nuclear weapons,” he said, “non-nuclear-weapon States will only reinforce their own credentials and the international non-proliferation regime.”  In that regard, the convening of a conference to negotiate a prohibition on nuclear weapons in 2017 would be a meaningful and concrete contribution.  Brazil had always promoted exploring all possible avenues to achieve progress in a flexible and pragmatic manner, he concluded.

FRANCISCO TENYA HASEGAWA (Peru) said his Government’s foreign policy had always promoted international security, including helping to establish the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, that regional instrument was a source of pride for member States and had set an example for the rest of the world.  Peru was committed to the full implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and supported States’ rights to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Given recent events in Asia, he said the Test-Ban Treaty was increasingly relevant.  He expressed support for the Open-ended Working Group and its recommendation to hold a conference in 2017 to adopt a legally binding instrument to eliminate nuclear weapons.  The current situation was unacceptable, he said, adding that all necessary measures were needed to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.

MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic) said her country remained committed to the objective of achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons.  Recognizing the increasing calls to convene a conference to negotiate an instrument to prohibit such weapons, she said a legal ban so negotiated would in no way guarantee the elimination of existing arsenals.  An effective disarmament strategy, rooted in the Non-Proliferation Treaty and taking security and humanitarian considerations into account, should recognize that eliminating nuclear weapons was a long-term process that could only succeed by engaging nuclear-weapon States in constructive and open-minded dialogue.  Disappointed with the continuing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, she called for the international community to search for creative solutions enabling States to begin negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  She reminded delegates that her country had hosted a meeting at which United States President Barack Obama had set out a vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world, consequently termed the Prague Agenda, and noted that Prague would also be hosting the sixth Prague Agenda conference in December 2016.

HTIN LYNN (Myanmar), introducing a draft resolution titled “Nuclear disarmament”, said the text called for interim and practical steps to be taken by nuclear-weapon States alongside multilateral actions in different fora.  Those steps included stopping the improvement, development and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems and carrying out effective disarmament measures.  The draft text also included calls for de-alerting and deactivating such weapons, agreeing on a legally binding instrument and commencing negotiations on a treaty that would ban the production of fissile materials and on a nuclear weapon convention in the Conference on Disarmament.

KIM IN-CHUL (Republic of Korea) said efforts towards building a nuclear-weapon-free world must start from the Korean Peninsula.  “A world without nuclear weapons is only a daydream without the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” he said, calling for swift and resolute action.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would never be recognized as a nuclear-weapon State and must abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  It must also cease all related activities pursuant to relevant Security Council resolutions.  The international community must make it clear to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that, by continuing its nuclear and missile programmes, it would only face tougher sanctions and further diplomatic isolation, which would eventually lead to its self-destruction.  He shared the international community’s concern about the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, adding that the best way forward on disarmament was through practical and concrete measures under existing agreements.  Denuclearizing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would not be easy, but unity in action was the sole answer to enhancing collective security.

DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) recalled that at the 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, nuclear-weapon States had committed themselves to accomplish the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Since 2010, however, a number of Treaty outcomes, including that undertaking, had not been delivered as promised.  Further, nuclear-weapon States had not advanced any vision, framing or plausible road map for a world free of such weapons.  As a member of the New Agenda Coalition, New Zealand accepted that non-nuclear-weapon States must step up and play a fuller part in moving forward with a rules-based framework for the Article VI promises.  New Zealand had joined as a co-sponsor of the resolution carrying forward the Open-ended Working Group’s recommendation to convene a 2017 conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.  She expressed hope that others would not simply criticize the new process for what it might not do, but would join together in doing everything possible to ensure that efforts strengthened the Treaty regime and contributed to global peace and security.

TAREK MAHFOUZ (Egypt), endorsing the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said the threat nuclear weapons posed to humanity demonstrated that their total elimination was the only guarantee against their use or threat of use.  However, achieving that goal depended on nuclear-weapon States implementing Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He underlined the importance of timely negotiations, as proposed by the Open-ended Working Group, on a prohibition treaty.  Extending the Non-Proliferation Treaty did not mean that nuclear-weapon States could keep their arms indefinitely.  Freeing the Middle East of nuclear weapons was a foreign policy priority for Egypt, he said, noting Israel’s possession of such weapons and calling for a conference to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.  Such a conference might be the last opportunity to save the credibility of the non-proliferation regime, he said.

ENRIQUE CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) called the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons a crime against humanity and a violation of international law, international humanitarian law and the United Nations Charter.  Nuclear-weapon States were encouraged to withdraw their interpretive declarations of the protocols of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  He supported the establishment of nuclear-free zones, including in the Middle East, and called for existing zones to be respected.  With regard to disarmament, he said States had an obligation to conclude negotiations in good faith, underscoring the role that women could play in the process.  He expressed support for convening a conference in 2017 on a prohibition treaty and a high-level meeting no later than 2018 on ways to eliminate nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

Mr. PRZENIOSLO (Poland) said any discussions related to nuclear disarmament must be inclusive, pragmatic and respectful to the security objectives and commitments of all States.  In 2015, Poland had actively participated in the Open-ended Working Group meeting in Geneva with a view to contributing to the multilateral negotiations.  However, Poland had not supported the final report since it had contained recommendations supporting a treaty banning nuclear weapons.  Having expressed this many times during those negotiations, he emphasized that such a treaty, in current circumstances, would be ineffective.  “It will neither eliminate nuclear weapons nor contribute to the safer world,” he said.  “On the contrary, it will have serious negative consequences for regional and global security.”  In that regard, the best proposal for moving forward was to take a progressive approach.

BENSON LIM (Singapore), endorsing ASEAN, said that, in September, his Government had hosted Exercise Deep Sabre, its third multinational proliferation security initiative exercise.  Under an enhanced memorandum of understanding with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the third country training programme, Singapore would work jointly with the Agency to support nuclear-related capacity building throughout Asia and the Pacific.  Pointing out that the Test-Ban Treaty had been termed a “low-hanging fruit” by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s Executive Secretary, he said “there is no reason why this low-hanging fruit should not be harvested after twenty long years.”  Its entry into force would be a small, but important, step to a world without nuclear weapons.  For its part, Singapore was committed to Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok, and was working toward the collective signing and ratification of its Protocol.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said the most critical task in the world was to eliminate the threat of nuclear genocide, noting that it had been 70 years since the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Moreover, on many Pacific islands, the humanitarian effects of nuclear tests that had been carried out by colonial powers had been devastating.  Despite those humanitarian horrors, the two great world Powers continued to hold nuclear warheads with a destruction capability equivalent to many times of that used in the bombs that had been dropped on Hiroshima.  The survival of the human species could not rely on the relationship between two major Powers, he said.  Efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament using a step-by-step approach had not brought closer the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world, he said, adding that such initiatives had only served to block progress.

VINICIO MATI (Italy) said the Non-Proliferation Treaty remained the only realistic legal framework to attain a nuclear-weapon-free world and the overarching norm upon which all nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation measures were based.  Concern for the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons underpinned his Government’s efforts for progress on nuclear disarmament.  Italy was committed to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in a way that promoted international stability and was based on the principle of undiminished security for all.  He welcomed nuclear arsenal reductions carried out by most nuclear-weapon States and valued the progress that had been achieved to date by the Russian Federation and the United States in implementing the New START Treaty.

JOHN QUINN (Australia) said he regretted to say that the final report of the Open-ended Working Group had not reached a consensus.  A treaty that would ban nuclear weapons would be ineffective and could be potentially dangerous, he said, adding that such an instrument risked undermining the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Proceeding with such a treaty without the participation of States that possess nuclear weapons, or without due regard for the international security environment, would not help to create the conditions for major further reductions in arsenals.  The goal of a peaceful and secure world free of nuclear weapons was not a quick or easy task.  It would take sustained, practical and incremental steps.  For its part, Australia would continue to push hard for the practical steps and political will needed to bring about a nuclear-weapon-free world.

FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), said 2016 would be remembered as a turning point in disarmament.  Negotiations for a prohibition treaty would be unconditionally open to all countries, including nuclear-weapon States and their allies, unlike other similar processes.  Such a treaty would not make nuclear weapons disappear immediately, but would create a situation, as was the case with weapons of mass destruction, in which a legal foundation would be laid and standards established.  A prohibition treaty would not weaken, but strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He rejected assumptions of some States that said they needed nuclear weapons for their security.  If they were necessary for a few States, then they would be necessary for all.  Nuclear weapons were a source of permanent insecurity.  Some nuclear-weapon States were bothered that their efforts to reduce their arsenals had not been recognized, but those arsenals were being modernized with no effort to eliminate them.  Work on disarmament would need to continue more intensively following the entry into force of a treaty banning nuclear weapons, he said, citing the importance of negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty and a timeline for destruction of nuclear weapons.

SEYED MOHAMMAD ALI ROBATJAZI (Iran), endorsing the Non-Aligned Movement, said that after more than 40 years, there had been no hope for establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East due to the stubborn objections of the Israeli regime, which must be compelled to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon party, without condition or delay.  The main challenge for disarmament was a lack of genuine political will on the part of nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their Article VI obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  However, demands for the total elimination of nuclear weapons were still being pursued with determination.  Such initiatives as the 2017 conference proposed by the Open-ended Working Group and a high-level United Nations conference in 2018 were promisingly and not based on the failed and old-fashioned step-by-step approach.  The Non-Aligned Movement’s proposal for a comprehensive nuclear weapon convention was the only practical option to steer the disarmament process in the right direction.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria) said no real progress had been made in the area of nuclear disarmament, yet the complete elimination of nuclear weapons was still the ultimate goal.  Welcoming the Open-ended Working Group’s recommendation, he expressed support for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.  Equally important was achieving negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon States.  As a country that had suffered from the spread of weapons, Algeria respected all its commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said, urging all countries to accede to the instrument in order to bolster international peace and security.  He affirmed the inalienable right of each country to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Expressing support for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world, he condemned obstacles that were hampering the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.  That constituted a real threat to stability of the world and the region, he warned.

LAURA-BIANCA COMANESCU (Romania) said respecting the current disarmament instruments was the only way to achieve long-term results.  With the Non-Proliferation Treaty being the cornerstone of the disarmament regime, she said there was no other option, noting that her Government was against any instrument that would undermine it.  As such, Romania’s priority was to preserve the Non-Proliferation Treaty and work toward its universalization.  The international community shared a responsibility to work towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.  For its part, Romania supported all initiatives that contributed to confidence building, were inclusive and considered the security concerns of all.  Only by addressing security and humanitarian concerns could the world reach its goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, she said.

RI IN IL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), referring to military exercises on and around the Korean Peninsula, said the United States was driving the situation to an explosive level.  So long as the United States continued its nuclear threats and arbitrary actions, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would bolster its self-defensive nuclear deterrent in quality and quantity, further consolidating its strategic status as a nuclear Power.  His country’s nuclear deterrent was not a threat to any non-nuclear-weapon States that did not take part in an act of aggression or attack against it.  Nor, he added, did it constitute any threat to nuclear-weapon-free zones.  As a responsible nuclear-weapon State, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would engage actively in global efforts to realize disarmament goals.

ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) said frustration over the pace of disarmament had spawned divergent approaches.  That risked undermining the foundation of trust and compromise needed for further action.  Canada was concerned that the Open-ended Working Group’s principal recommendation would widen divisions.  Without the participation of nuclear-weapon States, a prohibition treaty would only give the illusion of progress.  She encouraged support for a resolution on a fissile material cut-off treaty and welcomed Security Council resolution 2310 (2016), which would give impetus to the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty.  However, international peace and security had been compromised by the growing pace of nuclear testing and missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she said, condemning those actions.  She expressed support for the crucial role of the IAEA in Iran and urged all Member States to make extrabudgetary contributions to the Agency to ensure it had the resources needed to carry out its mandate.

CRISTINA MARIA CERQUEIRA PUCARINHO (Portugal) said the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons should remind Member States of the importance of remaining steadfast in realizing a world free of those arms.  In that regard, it was essential to preserve the integrity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  At the same time, Portugal was gravely concerned by the growing challenges facing non-proliferation efforts.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to pursue a nuclear programme in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions, posing grave threats to regional and international peace and security.  It was meaningful that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was the only country that had conducted nuclear tests in the twenty-first century, which clearly underscored the urgent need to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

GUMA FARES (Libya) said the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons could not be guaranteed unless such weapons were completely eliminated.  Toward that end, countries such as Libya had abandoned their weapons.  Libya had engaged in safeguard negotiations and continued to work with the IAEA in order to use its installations for peaceful purposes.  It looked forward to working with partners in the development of nuclear energy toward productive uses, such as electricity and water desalination.  He commended the work of the Open-ended Working Group, welcoming the outcome decision to convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate an instrument to ban nuclear weapons.  For its part, Libya had contributed to efforts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Any delay would have a serious impact on global nuclear disarmament efforts, he said.

FU CONG (China) expressed support for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Adhering to a strategy of self-defence, China was the only nuclear-weapon State committed not to use those arms against non-nuclear-weapon States or in nuclear-weapon-free zones.  China would never engage in a nuclear arms race and it would keep its arsenal at a minimal level.  China supported the Test-Ban Treaty and negotiations leading to a fissile material cut-off convention, but was opposed to any attempt to initiate negotiations outside the Conference on Disarmament.  Universal security should be the guiding principle of the disarmament process.  He called for a step-by-step and incremental approach, emphasizing that the complete elimination of nuclear weapons could not be achieved overnight.  Nuclear-weapon States should publicly pledge that they would not retain nuclear weapons indefinitely, he said, emphasizing also the special responsibility of those States with the largest nuclear arsenals.

MAJID MOHAMMED AL MUTAWA (United Arab Emirates), endorsing the Arab Group, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, said priority must be given to the full implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The United Arab Emirates continued to support constructive efforts aimed at achieving a zone free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  Urging States to refrain from nuclear testing, he expressed deep concern regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s development of nuclear and ballistic capacities.  He hoped Iran would continue its commitment to the nuclear agreement reached with the five plus one group, known as the “P5+1”, and called on that country to fully cooperate with the IAEA, stop developing its ballistic missile programme and work on building confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

KNUT LANGELAND (Norway), speaking also for the Netherlands, said a nuclear-weapon-free world would require adopting a legally binding instrument that should be based on the balanced, mutual, irreversible and verifiable elimination of those arms, supported by both nuclear-weapon possessors and non-nuclear-weapon States alike.  Despite disagreements on the timing, sequencing and modalities for such a framework, work must continue, in the context of Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, towards further progress on disarmament, thus creating conditions to allow the start of negotiations on prohibiting nuclear weapons.  On that basis, the Netherlands and Norway together with other countries, had tabled a resolution working for multilateral verification of disarmament.  To achieve a world without nuclear weapons, multilateral verification tools would be needed at some point.  Work on that should begin now, he said.

TOSHIO SANO (Japan) said a world free of nuclear weapons should be pursued in accordance with a progressive approach.  With the Non-Proliferation Treaty review cycle beginning in 2017, efforts should be redoubled to maintain and strengthen the non-proliferation regime.  In that regard, Japan had submitted a draft resolution titled “United Action with Renewed Determination towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons,” which hopefully all Member States would support.  He underlined the importance of compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and encouraged the five nuclear-weapon States to take a lead in disarmament efforts.  He called upon the Russian Federation and the United States to resume negotiations as soon as possible, and for all nuclear-weapon States to take even small steps on a voluntary basis towards disarmament.  His Government condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the strongest terms for its nuclear testing and ballistic missile launches, he said, adding that Japan would coordinate closely with others on a new Security Council resolution containing additional sanctions.

HAMOOD SALIM ABDULLAH AL TOWAIYA (Oman), endorsing the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said that, in times of crisis, nuclear disarmament became a difficult task.  Strengthening the non-proliferation regime meant strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said, calling on Israel to accede to that instrument and to put its nuclear installations under IAEA control.  Oman had no weapons of mass destruction nor did it produce them.  Highlighting the link between disarmament and development, he called on all countries to honour their disarmament commitments and hoped that the Committee’s work would enable States to achieve the aspirations of all people to live in peace, security and stability.

JULIO HERRÁIZ (Spain) said that, one year on, his Government was pleased with the application of the Iran nuclear agreement.  He congratulated the IAEA for completing the difficult task of verification and Iran for complying with its commitments.  Spain energetically condemned the two ballistic missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, acts that were in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions.  He called on that country to respect those resolutions and to return to implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty fully as a non-nuclear-weapon State.  While acknowledging the New START Treaty, he said other States with nuclear weapons had an enormous responsibility to bear as well.  Spain regretted to note the lack of consensus in the Open-ended Working Group and the absence of agreement on convening a conference about establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

ROSITA ŠORYTĖ (Lithuania) said her Government was strongly committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Its three pillars should be promoted to further enhance its credibility and all obligations assumed under the Treaty must be fully implemented.  Stressing the importance of confidence-building and verification measures, she said collective efforts must be driven by the understanding of the catastrophic results of their potential use.  Negotiations must take into account the current security situation.  A legal ban initiative was counterproductive and could potentially result in damaging consequences for international security, she said, noting that persistent, practical work was the only way forward.  Entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty and the successful negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty were also essential to advance disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

BERNA KASNAKLI (Turkey) said banning nuclear weapons without the participation of States possessing them would not eventually result in their elimination.  All stakeholders must refrain from any action that could undermine the integrity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty or create an alternative to its full implementation and universalization.  Turkey reaffirmed its commitment to a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and expected the full and transparent implementation of the Iranian nuclear agreement, under IAEA supervision.  Security of nuclear and radiological materials was a key priority for Turkey, she said, emphasizing the need to strengthen and universalize the IAEA’s verification authority.  Turkey remained deeply concerned by possible humanitarian catastrophes resulting from the intentional or accidental detonation of nuclear weapons, she said, adding that the time was right to start negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, which would pave the way for parallel advances in the Commission on Disarmament’s other core agenda items.

RODOLFO BENÍTEZ VERSON (Cuba) said the international community could not remain passive given the danger of nuclear weapons to the survival of mankind.  The detonation of such weapons would have disastrous effects on the planet.  Programmes to modernize those weapons should cease immediately.  Some were trying to preserve the status quo, justifying possessing nuclear weapons, and postponing the elimination of such weapons.  With the failure of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the international community had lost another opportunity.  Still, significant results had been achieved, including a recommendation to convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a ban treaty.  The prohibition of nuclear weapons was fully justified as their use would be a violation of international law and a crime against humanity, he said.

JUAN CAMILO DÍAZ REINA (Colombia) said that legally binding instruments were key in providing a road map to advance disarmament goals.  Colombia, as a State party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  Substantive progress must be made on current instruments, such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the rapid entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty.  At the same time, it was important to adopt measures towards the elimination of nuclear weapons within a defined timeframe.  Condemning the nuclear tests that had been carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he called them clear violations of Security Council resolutions.  The escalation of events on the Korean Peninsula was a threat to peace and stability, both regionally and internationally.  In that context, he urged for full compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions, particularly resolution 2270 (2016).

CALEB OTTO (Palau) called the total elimination of nuclear weapons a humanitarian imperative of the highest order.  It was unacceptable that they had not already been outlawed.  Nuclear test explosions in the Pacific had made a profound impact on the region’s fragile ecology and the physical, mental and psychosocial health and well-being of its people.  Cancers, chronic diseases and congenital abnormalities continued as a result of radioactive fallout, while entire atolls remained unsafe for habitation, farming or fishing.  Those who supported the prohibition of nuclear weapons understood the challenges in realizing that goal, but they also understood that it would be foolish to believe that such weapons could continue to exist for decades to come and would never be used again.  The first round of negotiations on a prohibition treaty in 2017 would be a historic moment.

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia) introduced, on behalf of several countries, a draft resolution titled “Mongolia’s international security and nuclear-weapon-free status” (document A/C.1/71/L.20).  He recalled that Mongolia, in 1992, had declared its territory a single-State nuclear-weapon-free zone and that the five nuclear-weapon States had in 2012 pledged to respect that status.   The current draft text was based on previous resolutions, with some technical and factual updates.  Mongolia hoped other delegations would join as sponsors and that the text would be adopted without a vote.

TRIYONO WIBOWO (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said the evidence and findings that had been presented at three Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons should be a catalyst for all States to renew their commitment to the full implementation of their Article VI obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Slow progress on disarmament was disheartening.  Concerned with the security doctrines of some States that still relied on nuclear weapons, he failed to see how modernization programmes would fit with the disarmament commitments of nuclear-weapon States.  Indonesia rejected the notion that a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons would undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Rather, a prohibition treaty would most certainly strengthen the Treaty and contribute positively to disarmament.

Mr. LANGELAND (Norway), speaking in his national capacity, noted a motion adopted in Parliament by consensus on 26 April that requested the Government to actively work for the elimination of nuclear weapons and to take a long-term perspective vis-à-vis a legally binding framework in that regard.  Despite differences on ways to achieve that goal, there should be common ground on practical and effective measures to move closer to that objective.  Verification was one area of convergence, he said, inviting all countries to support a draft text that aimed at increasing multilateral knowledge and awareness of verification within a United Nations framework and in an inclusive manner.

ABEL ADELAKUN AYOKO (Nigeria), on behalf of the African Group, introduced the draft resolution titled “African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty”.  Welcoming the overwhelming support for the resolution in past sessions, he requested continued support for the current draft.  The draft resolution once again emphasized Africa’s strong commitment to maintaining the continent’s status as a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  The significance of such zones entailed a ban on the production and possession of nuclear weapons within a territory and prohibited the stationing of such weapons within those zones.  In that regard, he highlighted the setback on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and called on all stakeholders and States within that region to work towards its success.

CHRISTINE ROOPNARINE (Trinidad and Tobago) said the overwhelming annual expenditure in nuclear weapons was increasing, mainly to finance costly modernization programmes.  That was more reminiscent of an arms race than disarmament.  Meanwhile, other steps towards achieving disarmament had failed to materialize.  The Test-Ban Treaty had not yet entered into force and the Conference on Disarmament had been paralyzed for many years.  The continued lack of progress in disarmament was an affront to the principle of multilateralism, she said, reminding delegates that there was an unequivocal obligation by nuclear-weapon States party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to disarm.

SIMON KASSAS, of the Holy See, recalled that Pope Pius XII had called for the prohibition of nuclear war in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Today, the Holy See echoed calls for humanity to be freed from the spectre of nuclear war.  The possession of nuclear weapons was morally reprehensible and an insult to the entire United Nations.  Lasting peace could not be guaranteed by maintaining such a balance of terror.  The Committee must seriously pursue the recommendation of the Open-ended Working Group for the General Assembly to hold a conference in 2017 to negotiate a prohibition treaty leading to their total elimination.  The Holy See continued to call for the rapid entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty and, in that regard, welcomed the adoption of Security Council resolution 2310 (2016).  States that had yet to sign or ratify the Treaty had no reason not to do so, he said, highlighting that non-proliferation and disarmament negotiations should be accompanied by discussions on conventional weapons, in the spirit of Article VII of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Thematic Debate on Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

ANGGI SAZIKA JENIE (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted with satisfaction the effective operation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.  All possessor State parties were urged to ensure compliance with the detailed plan for the destruction of chemical weapons still remaining after the final extended destruction deadline of 29 April 2012.  With regard to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, the lack of a verification system continued to pose a challenge.  Non-Aligned Movement States parties to the latter convention called for the resumption of multilateral negotiations to conclude a legally binding protocol to strengthen the instrument’s provisions and urged the party that had been rejecting such negotiations to reconsider its policy.

The Non-Aligned Movement, she said, called upon all Member States to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.  She also urged States to strengthen national measures in that regard.  Turning to Security Council resolutions 1540 (2004), 1673 (2006), 1810 (2008) and 1977 (2011) regarding areas covered by multilateral treaties on weapons of mass destruction, she cautioned against the Council’s continuing practice of using its authority to define legislative requirements for Member States in implementing its decisions.  The issue of the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors should be addressed by the General Assembly, taking into account the views of all Member States.

KEITH HAMILTON LLEWELLYN MARSHALL (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the very existence and development of countries in his region depended on a safe and secure world.  As such, he was concerned by any threats, real or perceived, against its stability, including by weapons of mass destruction.  CARICOM countries did not possess such weapons, nor did they produce them, he said.  The use of such weapons was unjustifiable, as it led to severe harm and devastation and diverted valuable resources from important development work.  For those reasons, no country could be indifferent to that threat.

Moreover, other threats existed, he continued.  Reports of the use of chemical weapons by State and non-State actors were stark reminders that the international community needed to do more to completely eliminate weapons of mass destruction.  At the same time, the international community must remain cognizant of the threat of improvised explosive devices, which had continued to spread, in terms of their use and development.

VITALY MACKAY (Belarus) speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said Member States were convinced of the great importance of preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, a fight that was a priority for the international community as a whole.  However, progress was only possible with the coordinated actions and measures taken by States and international organizations.  In that regard, he advocated for a comprehensive approach that ramped up the Chemical Weapons Convention, Non-Proliferation Treaty and Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).

He welcomed the upcoming national review of resolution 1540 (2004).  Member States of the Collective Security Treaty Organization were open to further work with the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) and other international organizations when necessary, he said, praising innovative approaches, including regional courses and partner reviews in the implementation of the resolution.  For its part, the Collective Security Treaty Organization was interested in strengthening international efforts against weapons of mass destruction with all interested parties, he said.

HENRY ALFREDO SUÁREZ MORENO (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of UNASUR, said the use of chemical weapons in all their forms was a war crime and a crime against humanity.  The issue needed to be addressed in the light of international law, in an impartial and transparent manner.  Expressing deep concern over the use of chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria, he reaffirmed the importance of stronger national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, in accordance with General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.  Chemical-weapon-possessing countries were called upon to fulfil their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and destroy their arsenals within the agreed timeframe.  He also called upon all States with chemical weapons to eliminate them and join the Convention without conditions.

He said the application of the Chemical Weapons Convention should not hamper the economic or technological development of States parties and international cooperation in the field of chemical activities for purposes not prohibited under the instrument.  UNASUR member States appreciated international cooperation and assistance provided by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, which had helped to promote a safer environment in the region.  UNASUR welcomed the upcoming review conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in Geneva in November and shared, with many other States, the idea that effective international action against biological threats needed to be universal, legally binding and non-discriminatory.  UNASUR supported the prompt resumption of negotiations on a protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention that would establish an effective verification regime aimed at the Convention’s universal implementation.

RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, endorsed the Non-Aligned Movement, saying the Group had undertaken a great role in all efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction with a view to eliminating such arms in the Middle East.  He underlined the need for Israel to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear party, adding that currently Israel was the only State in the region that had not adhered to any of the three treaties dealing with weapons of mass destruction.  That in itself posed a threat to international peace and security, he said.

He said the failure of the 2015 Review Conference to reach consensus would reflect negatively on the continuation of the current stalemate over efforts to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction.  Claims that Israel could justify nuclear weapons because of the existence of other weapons of mass destruction in the region were baseless.  More efforts were needed to strengthen the universality of instruments that would lead to a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  The Arab Group was committed to serious negotiations on such a zone and it looked forward to positive engagement from Israel and others.  He reminded the international community of its responsibility to make efforts towards establishing such a zone, which would revive credibility in the global disarmament regime.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, of the European Union, said the international community could not remain silent when facing challenges by the use of chemical weapons.  Welcoming the complete destruction of such weapons by Syria, the European Union found the gaps and discrepancies in that county’s declaration unacceptable.  Expressing concern about the two cases of chlorine attacks by the Government of Syria and an incident sulphur mustard gas use by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), she stressed that those responsible must be held accountable.  “The recent events have reminded us of the importance of universal adherence to relevant treaties and conventions, in particular in the Middle East,” she said, expressing support for the creation of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the region.  In that regard, she believed that maintaining a dialogue and building confidence among all stakeholders was the only sustainable way forward.

Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), she said, remained a central pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture.  New projects under that scheme could be implemented from early 2017 onwards, taking into account the outcome of the resolution’s comprehensive review.  Describing the proliferation of ballistic missiles and the continuation of missile tests as a matter of grave concern, she urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to halt its launches and fully comply with its international obligations.  Furthermore, she underscored the need to examine further multilateral steps to be taken to prevent the threat of missile proliferation and to promote disarmament efforts.  Among other things, the European Union promoted international export control regimes.

MAGNUS HELLGREN (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, expressed deep concern with the continued gaps, inconsistencies and ambiguities in the chemical weapons declarations that the Syrian regime had submitted in 2013 as reported by the OPCW assessment team.  The Nordic countries had supported that team and the Joint Investigative Mechanism financially and also in the form of analytical services.  Denmark and Norway had contributed vessels in the removal of chemical weapons from Syria, some of which had been destroyed in Finland.  Denmark had assumed the leading role in removing Libya’s remaining chemical weapons.  Finland had provided funding to the OPCW and a chemical weapons protection team aboard the Danish vessel.

On biological weapons, he said, the upcoming review conference should encourage international cooperation in life sciences, national health systems and the addressing of global health threats.  The Nordic Prime Ministers and United States President Barack Obama had made a joint pledge recently to help to strengthen worldwide capacities to implement international health regulations of the World Health Organization (WHO).  The Nordic countries supported assistance projects toward capacity building in that area, combining global security priorities with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goal 3 on healthy lives and well-being.  Expressing serious concern with the risk of biological and chemical weapons falling into the hands of non-State actors, he welcomed the ongoing comprehensive review of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  Noting their review of the Russian Federation’s proposal for a new convention on biological and chemical terrorism, he emphasized the importance of realizing the full potential of existing international instruments, such as the conventions on biological and chemical weapons, and called for their universalization and full implementation.

LOUIS RIQUET (France) said the issue of other weapons of mass destruction was extremely important.  Ballistic missiles launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were unacceptable and destabilizing.  On the use of chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria, he said OPCW had attributed two of the attacks to the Syrian authorities and a third to Da’esh.  Doubts remained about the Government of Syria’s declaration on its chemical weapons programme to the OPCW.  Only a political transition could reunite Syrians and build sustainable peace, he stressed.  The issue of weapons of mass destruction delivery systems was also central, and he welcomed the accession of India to two important instruments in that regard.  On biological weapons, he said that at a meeting of experts in August 2015, France and India had jointly submitted a proposal aimed at establishing a database of assistance offers.  France had also proposed creating a voluntary peer-review mechanism aimed at enabling a collective and participatory evaluation of the Biological Weapons Convention’s implementation by each State party.

ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) said that 2015 had seen positive developments regarding Libya’s chemical weapons, yet disturbing revelations had been reported about Syria’s chemical weapon programme and use.  While the Syrian chemical weapon programme had almost been completely dismantled, that accomplishment had been overshadowed by Syria’s continued chemical weapon use.  In that regard, he called upon the Syrian regime to disclose the extent of its programme, to comply with the Convention and Security Council resolution 2218 (2015).  Furthermore, he noted that the Joint Investigative Mechanism had attributed responsibility for at least two chlorine attacks to the Government of Syria’s armed forces and for one attack with sulphur mustard to Da’esh.  Expressing concern about those findings, he stressed that the perpetrators must be held accountable and brought to justice.  Turning to biological weapons, he noted that the eighth Review Conference would offer an opportunity to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, yet the lack of universality of that instrument remained a challenge.

GYÖRGY MOLNÁR (Hungary) introduced a draft resolution on the Biological Weapons Convention.  The draft text had been submitted after extensive, open-ended informal consultations, he said.  In addition to the technical changes, including the welcoming of an increase in the number of States parties to the Convention, the draft recognized that States parties had established an innovative preparatory process for the Review Conference to consider both substantial and procedural issues.  The draft also reintroduced updated language from resolution 66/65, which had been adopted prior to the seventh Review Conference, and urged States parties to work together to achieve a consensus outcome of the eighth, which would be held in Geneva in November.  Hungary wished to remain the sole sponsor of the draft resolution, he said, adding that its goal was to have the resolution approved by consensus.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, totally rejecting comments made by the delegates of the Republic of Korea and Japan as absurd and nonsensical, said they were distorted truths.  The United States had initially created nuclear weapons and used them on an innocent civilian population in Japan, making it strange that the Republic of Korea was supporting the United States in increasing that threat.  The United States was modernizing all its nuclear weapons and had turned the Republic of Korea into a nuclear outpost for attacking the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The representative of the United States said efforts by some parties to exclude the views of certain countries in the context of achieving a conference to negotiate a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East were counterproductive.  Responding to the delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that country was thoroughly isolated, remained the primary threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and needed to stop the dangerous behaviour while taking steps towards fulfilling its international obligations.

The representative of Iran said the United Arab Emirates and some of its partners had attempted to impede the Iran nuclear programme deal to no avail and were expressing their frustration over its success.  On remarks made by the representative of France, he said ballistic missiles that had been designed to deliver nuclear warheads constituted a threat to international peace and security, pointing to that country’s such missiles as an example.  By raising baseless concerns about Iran, the delegate of France would not divert attention away from the risk that the French nuclear arsenal posed, he said, calling on that country to comply with its legal obligation under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The representative of Syria said the Joint Investigative Mechanism report was not a definitive report.  The French regime had participated in supplying terrorist groups in Syria with weapons and chemical agents.  Rather than exporting technology, Europe was exporting terrorists to Syria via Turkey.  The European Union representative’s appeal for universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention had been weak, as it had not included Israel.

 

The representative of the Republic of Korea said the delegation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was repeating the same absurd arguments.  The military exercises referred to were routine, transparent and defensive in nature.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had been notified that they would take place, he said, urging that country to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes forever.

The representative of Japan said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had simply tried to justify its nuclear and ballistic missile programme by passing responsibility on to other States.  Instead, that country should refrain from further provocations and abide by Security Council resolutions and the conclusions of the Six-Party Talks.

The representative of Egypt said the view of his counterpart from the United States was ironic, given that it had unilaterally and illegitimately decided to indefinitely suspend the Helsinki conference on convening a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.  The failure of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference should not be an obstacle, he added, recalling a number of practical steps that were contained in the Arab working paper that had been adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement in 2015 aimed at establishing such a zone.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the United States, Republic of Korea and Japan had attempted to spread false rumours.  His country was currently a nuclear-weapon State, whether the United States approved or acknowledged that fact or not.  Japan had nuclear ambitions, having accumulated weapons-grade uranium and plutonium and having developed nuclear-weapon technologies.  It was ready to make nuclear weapons in a week, he said, adding the Republic of Korea had been a “nuclear outpost” for more than six decades.

The representative of France said his country did not feed terrorism, but had been a victim of terrorism.  The Syrian authorities had been found to be responsible for the use of chemical weapons in at least two cases.  Responding to the delegate from Iran, he said that France was acting in accordance to its international commitments and obligations.

The representative of the United States denounced efforts to exclude the views of a country in the Middle East region in addressing questions of weapons of mass destruction vis-à-vis convening a conference on establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in that region.  Meanwhile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea needed to ask itself why it had been condemned for its nuclear activities.

The representative of Japan said the IAEA had thoroughly inspected his country’s activities related to nuclear materials and had concluded that all such materials held by Japan were peaceful.

The representative of Syria said the representative of France had tried to avoid speaking of the responsibilities of the regime he represented, particularly in the provision of arms to terrorist groups.  In fact, those in high positions in France had declared that jihadists in Syria did “good work”, he said.

The representative of Iran said France was not complying with nuclear disarmament obligations, in particular under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Nuclear disarmament could not simply be achieved with words and France needed to abide by its commitments in practice.

For information media. Not an official record.