Reflecting Deep Chasm in Disarmament Debate, First Committee Speakers Question Progress as Nuclear-Weapon States Defend Deterrence Policies

GA/DIS/3582
16 October 2017
Seventy-second Session, 14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)

Reflecting Deep Chasm in Disarmament Debate, First Committee Speakers Question Progress as Nuclear-Weapon States Defend Deterrence Policies

Delegates of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, United Kingdom, Say Atomic Bombs ‘Vital’ for Regional Security

Reflecting a deep chasm in disarmament and arms control discussions, delegates from nuclear-weapon States today defended deterrence policies while their counterparts from nations free of atomic bombs questioned slow progress in dismantling arsenals, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard as it concluded its debate on nuclear weapons and took up its agenda item on other weapons of mass destruction.

Progress in nuclear disarmament had in fact regressed as older nuclear Powers were engaging in a race to modernize their arsenals and making clear that the use of those weapons remained a real option, said the speaker of the Holy See, echoing the sentiment of several delegates.

Defending the strategic purposes of its arsenals as a nuclear-weapon State, the representative of France said that nuclear deterrence continued to be an essential part of regional strategic stability and national security.  Seeking to challenge the legitimacy of deterrence policies demonstrated a lack of concern for the preservation of strategic balances, she added.

Similarly, the United Kingdom’s delegate stressed that the unpredictable international security environment today meant that his country needed to keep its nuclear deterrence policy.  That nuclear deterrent was vital for the security of the United Kingdom and its allies, he continued, adding that abandoning the nuclear deterrent unilaterally would “not make us safer” and that the United Kingdom would deploy them in only extreme cases of self-defence.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his country supported the total elimination of nuclear weapons, but the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which had been created by the United States, had reached “the touch and go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment”.  Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic rockets “is the…self‑defence measure” against a practical nuclear threat from the United States, he said, adding that “unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the United States is thoroughly eradicated, we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiation table under any circumstances and [we] will never flinch even an inch from the road we have chosen”.

Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s delegate pointed to disarmament achievements that had gone largely unrecognized by those who continued to insist that there had been no or little progress in that area.  Pointing out the Russian Federation and the United States as examples, he said the nuclear arms race had not only halted but had been reversed, as provided for in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Raising another disarmament achievement, Turkey’s delegate was among several speakers to express support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme as an example of effective diplomacy.  He, like his counterparts from several countries, also urged all parties to that agreement to live up to their commitments.

However, Iran’s representative, highlighting that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was a valid international agreement that “cannot be renegotiated or altered”, said the United States’ fulfilment of its own commitments had been “lacklustre and deficient from the beginning”.  To address that, the international community should not allow the United States Administration to continue to mock and undermine the Plan of Action that would in turn erode the non-proliferation regime, he emphasized.

On the issue of other weapons of mass destruction, speakers discussed threats caused by biological and chemical weapons and the need to put in place measures to prevent terrorist groups and non-State actors from obtaining such toxic materials.  Many urged Member States to boost efforts in that regard, including by implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and measures in the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention).

Briefing the First Committee, the President of the eighth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention provided an overview of the outcome of that November 2016 gathering, saying that it had failed to meet most participants’ high expectations despite extensive preparations, the large number of proposals submitted and the record participation.  Due to divergent views, it had been unable to agree on a proposal for a series of intersession meetings.

Still, States parties had agreed on a number of issues, he said.  They included the continuation and improvement of the cooperation and assistance database under article X of the Convention; the renewal of the Biological Weapons Convention sponsorship programme; and the renewal of the Implementation Support Unit mandate.

However, several speakers, including the representatives of Switzerland and Mexico, echoed that disappointment on the disagreements at the Review Conference.  They also underscored that an important opportunity had been missed to address various challenges confronting the Biological Weapons Convention.  Some speakers said the latent threat of biological toxins falling into terrorist groups’ hands was among their concerns.

Nevertheless, a number of other speakers, including the delegate of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, called on Member States to continue to work actively to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.  Some pointed out that the lack of a verification system continued to pose a challenge to the instrument’s optimal effectiveness.

The First Committee also heard the introduction of related draft resolutions.

Participating in the thematic debate on nuclear weapons were representatives of Poland, Peru, Qatar, Zambia, Comoros, Lithuania, Nepal, Sudan, Czech Republic, Ghana, Bulgaria and El Salvador.

Speaking on other weapons of mass destruction were representatives of Sweden (for the Nordic countries), Yemen, Guyana (for the Caribbean Community), Belarus (for the Collective Security Treaty Organization), United States, Australia, India, Paraguay, Turkey, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Bangladesh, Canada, Ecuador, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Poland, Ireland, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Algeria, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Hungary, Myanmar, Oman, Spain, Nepal, Italy and Argentina, as well as the European Union.

Representatives of Syria, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United States, Republic of Korea, Israel, Japan and China spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 17 October, to continue its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard a briefing from the President of the eighth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  It then concluded its thematic debate on nuclear weapons and began a discussion of other weapons of mass destruction.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Nuclear Weapons

DAMIAN PRZENIOSŁO (Poland), associating himself with the Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, said the nuclear disarmament process largely depended on the international security environment.  In that context, he raised concerns about growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the proliferation of sensitive technologies among non‑State actors.  While the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was still crucial to the international security architecture and should remain so, all States must take necessary steps, including that non‑nuclear States must work with nuclear‑weapon States.  The instrument should also be strengthened to advance its commitments and requirements, he said, adding that any action that could weaken it should be avoided.  There were no shortcuts or quick fixes in nuclear disarmament.  Only by addressing related security and humanitarian issues could the international community reach the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.  To move forward on the issue, Member States must not focus on what made them different, but rather on what united them.

ALICE GUITTON (France) said that in the face of the extremely serious threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the international community shared a responsibility to clearly reiterate the authority of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, which provided an irreplaceable defence against proliferation crises.  In that context, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran must continue to be strictly applied.  France was fully compliant with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty, she said, adding that her country had also ceased production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for weapons and dismantled its production facilities.  France had abandoned all its ground‑to‑ground missiles, reduced by one third the number of its nuclear ballistic missile submarines and had halved the total number of its nuclear weapons.

French views on nuclear deterrence, she said, were strictly in defensive terms and were rooted in an awareness of the risks and challenges which France and its allies faced.  To that end, nuclear deterrence continued to be an essential part of regional strategic stability and national security.  Seeking to challenge the legitimacy of nuclear deterrence policies demonstrated a lack of concern for the preservation of strategic balances.  The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had demonstrated that worrying discrepancy, partly because neither nuclear‑weapon States nor possessors, nor the vast majority of non‑nuclear‑weapon States, whose security depends on nuclear deterrence, were involved in negotiations.  The new instrument also carried many risks from both a legal and institutional standpoint and threatened the current non‑proliferation regime.

MIKHAIL ULYANOV (Russian Federation) expressed support for the goal of building a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.  Having contributed for 30 years toward that aim, the Russian Federation had, among other things, ensured a six-fold decrease in strategic offensive arms and a fourfold drop in the number of non‑strategic nuclear weapons.  For the Russian Federation and the United States, the nuclear arms race had not only halted but had been reversed, as provided for in article VI of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  However, those achievements had surprisingly gone unnoticed by those who continued to insist that there had been no or little progress in that area.

For its part, the Russian Federation had repeatedly reaffirmed its readiness to launch a substantive dialogue on further nuclear weapon reductions, he said.  Nevertheless, the deteriorating geopolitical situation must be considered alongside growing challenges and threats that were affecting the disarmament process.  Calling for a multilateral dialogue engaging all States that possessed military nuclear capabilities, he said that while the Russian Federation understood the views of those who stood for the immediate abandonment of nuclear weapons, the way they had chosen to impose a nuclear weapons ban had been counterproductive from a disarmament standpoint.  Further, the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons under current circumstances had been clearly premature.  A constructive and results‑oriented dialogue on issues of nuclear disarmament was possible only if each party noted security considerations and strictly abided by the rule of consensus.

KIM IN RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said Pyongyang supported the total elimination of nuclear weapons, but as long as the United States rejected the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, his country could not accede to that instrument.  “It is well known to the whole world that the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula was created by the United States’ hostile policy and nuclear threat against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” he said.  The situation on the Korean Peninsula had reached “the touch and go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment”.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic rockets “is the…self‑defence measure” against a practical nuclear threat from the United States.  “Unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the United States is thoroughly eradicated,” he said, “we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiation table under any circumstances and [we] will never flinch even an inch from the road we have chosen.”

He emphasized that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had, in 2017, passed the final gate of completing its nuclear force, thus becoming a full‑fledged nuclear Power with the means to deliver atomic and hydrogen bombs.  “The entire United States mainland is within its firing range,” he said, adding that if the United States dared to invade the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s territory, it would not escape severe punishment in any part of the world.  Pyongyang had no intention to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against any other country, as long as they did not take part in United States military actions against it.  As a responsible nuclear‑weapon State, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would contribute to ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the region.

ENRI PRIETO (Peru) said more than half of the world’s population lived in countries that possessed nuclear weapons, continued to develop and modernize their arsenals, and implemented a doctrine of deterrence in their security policies.  To address that, Peru urged all Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  He also condemned the nuclear tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and demanded immediate cessation of its weapons programme.  For its part, Peru had signed the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and believed that it would complement the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.

AHMAD MOHAMED AL-THANI (Qatar), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed a great concern about nuclear weapon proliferation in the Middle East.  The objective of complete nuclear disarmament could not be realized without the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in that region.  Recognizing the importance of nuclear disarmament efforts, Qatar upheld its legal commitments with international agreements like the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Test‑Ban Treaty, and had supported international initiatives to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons and avoid humanitarian consequences.  Equally important was States’ rights to the peaceful use of nuclear energy that abided by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

MATTHEW ROWLAND (United Kingdom) said the unpredictable international security environment today meant that his country needed to keep its nuclear deterrence policy.  With countries such as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea actively looking to build their nuclear arsenals, the nuclear deterrent was not just vital for the United Kingdom’s security but for its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies.  Abandoning the nuclear deterrent unilaterally would “not make us safer,” he said, adding that the United Kingdom would deploy them in only extreme cases of self‑defence.

Nevertheless, the United Kingdom was committed to a world without nuclear weapons, he said.  Further, it was committed to retaining the minimum amount of nuclear material in order to create a credible deterrent, and had reduced its operational warheads.  Concerning negative security assurances, he reassured the Committee that the United Kingdom was a responsible nuclear‑weapon State.  Expressing strong support for nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, he said such designated areas enhanced regional security.  At the same time, the United Kingdom was determined to work with partners around the world to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and build trust and confidence between States.  However, the international community must create an environment in which nuclear‑weapon States felt safe to relinquish such weapons.

ERICK MWEWA (Zambia) said the establishment of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones was critical in building confidence among States.  Expressing commitment to general and complete disarmament, he said the end goal of nuclear disarmament should be the total elimination of those arms.  He then called for transparency and the effective implementation of the disarmament and non‑proliferation regimes.  At the same time, he expressed Zambia’s support for the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under IAEA safeguards.  Highlighting Zambia’s compliance with relevant protocols and resolutions in the fight against terrorism, he said it had implemented a number of measures to help prevent such actors from acquiring nuclear materials.

KADIM OUSSEIN (Comoros) said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons constituted a historic breakthrough towards the total elimination of those arms.  The new instrument also supplemented the existing non‑proliferation regime, and established an effective norm for the categorical rejection of nuclear weapons as a legitimate instrument of war.  The development, modernization and testing of nuclear weapons were a menace to international security and contravened the non‑proliferation regime.  In addition, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represented a triumph of diplomacy and dialogue among States and a vision of international peace and security, he said, adding that Comoros would vote in favour of the draft resolution taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations.

Mr. BAKANAUSKAS (Lithuania) condemned the repeated illegal acts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which posed a direct threat to international security and challenged the authority of the international disarmament and non‑proliferation architecture.  He called for a tenacious international response exercising all diplomatic measures available.  The Non‑Proliferation Treaty remained the foundation of global nuclear non‑proliferation, and Lithuania was committed to its three pillars:  disarmament, non‑proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  The shared goal of a world without nuclear weapons could only be achieved through shared actions by both nuclear‑weapon States and non‑nuclear‑weapon States.

BHARAT RAJ PAUDYAL (Nepal), emphasizing the humanitarian and environmental consequences of a nuclear weapon detonation, said his country hoped that the high‑level conference on nuclear disarmament, to be convened by the General Assembly in 2018, would provide new direction towards disarmament achievements.  As host of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, Nepal underlined the need to speed up regional disarmament deliberations under the Kathmandu process [which included activities encouraging regional and subregional dialogue for enhancement of openness, transparency and confidence‑building, as well as promotion of disarmament and security through organization of regional meetings].  There was also an urgent need for a universal, unconditional, non‑discriminatory and legally binding instrument whereby nuclear‑weapon States would assure non‑nuclear‑weapon States that they would not be subjected to the use or threat of use of such arms under any circumstances.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, Arab Group and African Group, expressed deep concern that nuclear‑weapon States were not fulfilling their obligations.  In that regard, he hoped those States would demonstrate genuine political will to do so.  He regretted to note the failure to adopt an outcome document on the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, which had largely been due to the intransigence of Israel and its refusal to submit its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, he said.  He then urged all States that had not yet done so to ratify the African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).  He also reaffirmed States’ rights to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Turning to the International Criminal Court, he said Sudan believed it was a political tool used by States to push forward their interests, noting that the same countries that called for its establishment had been those that had rejected banning nuclear weapons.

MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic) said every effort must be made to preserve and strengthen the authority and integrity of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Affirming the important role IAEA played, she highlighted the Czech Republic’s active participation in the peaceful uses initiative under its auspices.  Concerning the Test‑Ban Treaty, she reaffirmed support for the process leading to its early entry into force because its value had been clearly demonstrated amid recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which she urged to refrain from such destabilizing activities.  While the Czech Republic remained fully committed to the objective of a world without nuclear weapons, it believed that sustainable disarmament must consider the international security environment.  She expressed support for a progressive approach of incremental, practical and effective steps to advance disarmament through parallel measures.  Seeking to ban nuclear weapons would not be effective, nor would it reduce nuclear arsenals or enhance international peace and stability.

Mr. ERCAN (Turkey), associating himself with the Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, urged all stakeholders to strengthen the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and support actions that would lead to its universalization.  Turkey would not support any action that undermined the instrument, he said, expressing concerns that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had eroded it along with the Test‑Ban Treaty.  For that reason, Turkey had not signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Turkey was ready to work for rebuilding dialogue to ensure progress on nuclear disarmament.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing activities, he called on that State to fulfil its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, and facilitate a diplomatic solution to the crisis.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was an example of effective diplomacy, he said, emphasizing that all parties “must live up to their commitments”.

Mr. OKAITEYE (Ghana), associating himself with the African Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, welcomed the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was a significant response to the growing awareness about the risks and catastrophic humanitarian consequences nuclear weapon use posed.  The new instrument complemented the existing non‑proliferation and disarmament architecture.  Therefore, it was unnecessary for nuclear‑weapon States to undermine it with “their misperceptions and less positive criticism”, he said.  Indeed, “no multilateral instrument could be said to be entirely perfect, not even the Non‑Proliferation Treaty”.  For its part, Ghana remained committed to fulfilling its obligations to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Test‑Ban Treaty.

LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), reiterating her commitment to a nuclear‑weapon‑free world, condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent testing activities.  She called for a united approach that engaged all States, particularly nuclear‑weapon States.  While frustration with the slow progress in nuclear disarmament was understandable, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons did not speed that process, nor would it contribute to achieving the goal of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.  Only a progressive approach would eventually lead the international community to achieving that objective.  Article VI of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty was the only framework to advance nuclear disarmament.  The Test‑Ban Treaty was also a building block for the progressive approach.  Bulgaria called on those who had not yet ratified the instrument to do so.  Emphasizing the historic significance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she called on all parties to continue to strictly abide by its terms.

SERGIO MANRIQUE TREJO BLANCO (El Salvador) said his country had been among the first to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and believed the prohibition of those arms was needed to achieve peace and security.  Such weapons did not assure anybody’s security, he said, adding that their risk remained in their existence.  He expressed concern about the recent weapon tests on the Korean Peninsula, which had endangered the lives of millions of people.  Meanwhile, he urged Annex 2 countries to ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty as soon as possible to bring it into force.  Nuclear weapons were a danger to the survival of humankind, he reiterated, calling on nuclear‑weapon States to adopt measures to reduce the operational state of their atomic bombs and decrease stockpiles.  El Salvador rejected the investment of great amounts of money in the improvement of nuclear weapons, he said, adding that those resources should be invested in reducing poverty and health efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that with regard to the United States’ new policy vis‑à‑vis the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, there was no relevance or credibility to the claim about Iran’s non‑compliance.  The unilateral claim to change provisional restrictions into permanent measures ran counter to the Plan of Action and to the inalienable rights of States under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The United States fulfilment of its own commitments had been “lacklustre and deficient from the beginning” and under the current administration, it had violated provisions in the Plan of Action, which was a valid international agreement that “cannot be renegotiated or altered”, he emphasized.  Further, the Plan of Action was not a bilateral agreement that could be annulled by unilateral action, he added, saying that “Iran would not be the first to withdraw from it”.

He highlighted that the IAEA was the sole authority to verify Iran’s commitment to the Plan of Action.  Citing the statement made by the IAEA Director General on 13 October, he said the nuclear‑related commitments undertaken by Iran under the Plan of Action were being implemented.  In addition, Iran was now provisionally implementing the additional protocol to its comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which was a powerful verification tool.  The international community should not allow the United States’ Administration to continue to mock and undermine the Plan of Action that would in turn erode the non‑proliferation regime.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that for several years, hopeful signs of progress towards both nuclear and general disarmament had been dimmed, in spite of achievements through international treaties and conventions banning different classes of weapons.  Progress in nuclear disarmament had in fact regressed as older nuclear Powers were engaging in a race to modernize their arsenals and making clear that the use of those weapons remained a real option.  Other States were simultaneously pursuing nuclear programmes, threatening the viability of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty itself, he pointed out, adding that concerns over missile development in some countries today should awaken the world to the dangers of a global missile race.  The Holy See was dismayed by the deep chasm separating commitments from actions in the field of disarmament and arms control.

Briefing

GYÖRGY MOLNÁR (Hungary), President of the eighth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, provided a snapshot of recent developments.  The Biological Weapons Convention, being a vital part of the international disarmament machinery, had played a central role in the international community’s efforts to prevent the misuse of biology for hostile purposes.  Since its entry into force in 1975, biological weapons had essentially disappeared from military inventories, security concepts and military doctrines.  At the same time, no one would openly question the grave illegitimacy of biological weapons as a means of warfare today.  There was no time for complacency, he continued, not least because there was evidence that non‑State actors and terrorist groups were trying to acquire and use them.  While advances in science and technology promised many great benefits for public health and sustainable development, those same advances had also lowered the barriers for developing biological weapons.  Consequently, the threat was real and was not one that should be ignored.

Turning to the eighth Review Conference, which had been held in November 2016, he said the work of the Preparatory Committee, which had convened in April and August 2016, had enabled a substantive discussion among States parties.  The comprehensive exchange of views during the preparatory process had resulted in many ambitious and innovative proposals and had led to high expectations among States parties for the eighth Review Conference.  States parties had submitted 83 working papers, almost triple the number that had been submitted to the Review Conference in 2011.  At the end of the eighth Review Conference, he had circulated a proposal for an intersessional programme for the period from 2017 to 2020, which envisaged 15 days of meetings per year with a five‑day meeting of States parties and four open‑ended working group meetings.

Despite intensive informal consultations on the proposal, no consensus had been reached because of States parties’ fundamentally different positions, he said.  As such, States parties were only able to agree to hold one annual meeting of States parties per year for a maximum of five days.  States parties also agreed on the continuation and improvement of the cooperation and assistance database under article X; the renewal of the Biological Weapons Convention sponsorship programme; and the renewal of the Implementation Support Unit mandate.  In light of the extensive preparations, the large number of proposals submitted and the record participation, the outcome of the eighth Review Conference did not meet the high expectations of most States parties.  However, consensus had been maintained and the final decision kept open a window of opportunity for agreement to be reached during the meeting of States parties in December.

Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

DANNY RAHDIANSYAH (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the difficult and complex situation in the field of disarmament and international security.  The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction was the only comprehensive multilateral treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, providing for a verification system and promoting the use of chemicals for peaceful purposes.

He said Non‑Aligned Movement States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention called for the promotion of international cooperation in the field of chemical activities for purposes not prohibited under the Convention without any discrimination and restriction.  Moreover, Non‑Aligned Movement States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention believed the instrument represented an important component of the international legal architecture related to weapons of mass destruction.  However, they also recognized that the lack of a verification system continued to pose a challenge to the effectiveness of the Convention.  Calling on all Member States to support international efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, he cautioned against the continuing practice of the Security Council to use its authority to define the legislative requirements for Member States in implementing its decisions.  In that regard, the issue of the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non‑State actors should be addressed in an inclusive, non‑discriminatory manner by the General Assembly.

JERZY MAKAROWSKI (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, welcomed the completed destruction of declared chemical weapons in the Russian Federation, noting that several Nordic countries had been members of a global partnership supporting that country in completing its important treaty obligation.  Turning to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq, he recalled incidents of sarin use in 2017, noting that the weaponized chemical was supposed to have been removed from the country in 2014.  The Nordic countries continued to harbour great concern that Syria still possessed chemical weapons, which could be used or fall into the hands of terrorist groups, he said, calling for Syria to disclose all requested information.

On the Biological Weapons Convention, he expressed disappointment with the lack of a substantive outcome at the instrument’s eighth Review Conference.  The Nordic countries’ engagement continued, including within the framework of the Secretary‑General’s investigatory mechanism, Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and the Global Health Security Agenda.  They supported efforts to bolster the operational readiness of the Secretary‑General’s investigative mechanism through trained experts and networks of forensic laboratories in coordination with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and were helping countries upgrade their capacities to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreaks in accordance with international health regulations and the one health principle.

MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said tangible measures must be taken to free the Middle East from weapons of mass destruction.  Expressing support for the conventions governing biological and chemical weapons, he emphasized that Israel’s accession to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty would continue to strengthen that instrument, build confidence and promote international peace and security.  Expressing support for the establishment of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones around the world, he said the Arab Group would co‑sponsor all traditional resolutions that focused on creating such a designated area in the Middle East.  He then called on States to engage in negotiations to establish such a zone, voicing hope for Israel’s positive involvement.

RUDOLPH MICHAEL TEN-POW (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), underscored the importance of international cooperation in ensuring full compliance with Chemical Weapons Convention obligations.  As such, he expressed appreciation toward Spain and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for facilitating training for technical experts from Latin America and the Caribbean on how to respond to incidents involving chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals.  As small island developing States with unique security challenges, CARICOM members welcomed initiatives aimed at enhancing their capacity to confront such challenges.  Regarding the Biological Weapons Convention, he noted that rapid advances in life sciences and the globalization of biotechnology presented both challenges and opportunities for the instrument’s implementation.  Such developments also highlighted the need for member States to consistently collaborate in fulfilling its obligations.

He went on to express deep concern about the increasing threat posed to international peace and security by terrorists and other non‑State actors and, in particular, the danger posed by their possession of any weapon of mass destruction.  The porous borders of CARICOM member States made it relatively easy for undesirable individuals and resources to enter their territories.  In that context, one could not ignore the nexus between poverty, privation and marginalization on the one hand and radicalization on the other.  Against that backdrop, CARICOM had collaborated with the United Nations on the elaboration of a Caribbean Community counter‑terrorism strategy to strengthen the region’s response to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

ARTSIOM TOZIK (Belarus), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said international efforts must centre on the strict compliance with obligations regarding the non‑proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  In that vein, States must to do more and actively join efforts to prohibit the development, production, use and transport of weapons of mass destruction.  Other efforts included States focusing on domestic legislation and export controls.  In addition, he called on all stakeholders to strengthen international legal mechanisms to prevent the proliferation of that class of weapon.

SABRINA DALLAFIOR MATTER (Switzerland) said despite OPCW success and efforts over the past two decades, the use of chemical weapons by State and non‑State actors had continued.  The international community must take resolute action to ensure accountability and bring those responsible to justice.  Not reacting to violations put at stake the norm against the use of chemical weapons, she said.  The OPCW had proven its indispensable value in building a world free of chemical weapons.  The organisation must have the resources needed to ensure that the use of toxic chemicals for hostile purposes never re‑emerged.  Turning to biological weapons, she said meeting and safeguarding the international norm against the weaponization of diseases was of crucial importance for future generations and required additional efforts.  An important opportunity was missed in last year’s Review Conference to address various challenges confronting the Convention.  In particular, she brought attention to rapid scientific and technological developments, calling for adequate time and resources to be allocated to this question to identify relevant developments and consider their implications.

CLAUDIA YURIRIA GARCÍA GUIZA (Mexico) said the use of chemical weapons continued and the threat of the use of biological weapons remained latent.  However, the resolve of States parties had made it possible to establish the highest verification standards for weapons of mass destruction.  Regretting to note the results of eighth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, she called on the international community to continue to work actively to strengthen the instrument, including with respect to verification.  In light of technological progress, efforts must be amplified to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction by non‑State actors, she said, adding that coordinated action must be strengthened.  Complacency was not an option, she said, calling for the universalization of relevant instruments of the international disarmament and non‑proliferation regime and underlining the need to achieve the total eradication of the most dangerous types of weapons that had ever been created.

JUDIT KÖRÖMI, European Union, said proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remained a grave threat to international peace and security.  The use of chemical weapons by anyone, State or non‑State actor, anywhere, and under any circumstances would be abhorrent and should be rigorously condemned.  The European Union, as a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, recalled that the Government of Syria had obligated itself not to possess, develop or use chemical weapons.  However, the latest OPCW reports had been unable to confirm that its chemical weapons programme was complete and accurate.  In that vein, she urged the Syrian Government to extend full cooperation to the OPCW and ensure the international community that its chemical weapons programme had been destroyed in a complete and irreversible manner.

For its part, the European Union continued to support activities in all areas of the Chemical Weapons Convention, including national implementation, assistance and protection, she said.  She called on States not yet party to the Convention — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Israel and South Sudan — to join the instrument.  The European Union remained committed to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, and highlighted related project activities that were becoming a key vehicle in promoting universal adherence to the instrument and in advancing national implementation around the world.

ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) said the Chemical Weapons Convention remained under assault through the continued use of chemical weapons by State and non‑State actors.  Those responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria must be held accountable, as should the perpetrators of the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been killed in Malaysia with VX, a deadly nerve agent.  However, the international community must do more to ensure the integrity and viability of the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said.  Actions should include collectively condemning the use of chemical weapons by any State or non‑State actor and holding those responsible to account.

Meanwhile, the Biological Weapons Convention was the most important tool in preventing the use of disease as a weapon of war.  Unfortunately, States Parties had squandered the opportunity to boost the Convention’s effectiveness when they had failed at the eighth Review Conference to adopt a stronger intersessional programme.  However, States Parties had been tasked to reach an agreement on a work programme at its December meeting, he said, expressing hope that the Meeting of States Parties would provide a more focused oversight of science and technology, national implementation, capacity‑building, preparedness and response to the outbreaks of disease.

VANESSA WOOD (Australia) said the ongoing use of chemical weapons in Syria was the greatest challenge to OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention, adding that to prevent impunity for those crimes, the Security Council must renew the OPCW‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism’s mandate.  To meet new threats in the field of weapons of mass destruction, international policies must be adjusted and to that end, the Australia Group had brought together 42 countries working to harmonize export controls to prevent rogue States and terrorist groups from obtaining ingredients to build chemical and biological weapons.  The Biological Weapons Convention underpinned international norms, and Australia would work to strengthen it at the upcoming meeting of States parties.  All Member States were urged to fulfil their obligations under Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), as it remained central to efforts at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups and non-State actors.

AMANDEEP SINGH GILL (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the conventions governing biological and chemical weapons were worthy examples of non-discriminatory treaties and their success could be a model for the future of elimination of nuclear weapons.  Advances in biotechnology, genetic engineering and life sciences increased the danger of the proliferation and hostile use of biological warfare agents that could fall into the hands of non-State actors or terrorist groups, adding a new dimension of danger.  Expressing disappointment that the Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference had not achieved a result commensurate with the challenge, he said there was a clear desire to move forward.  On the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said its non-discriminatory principles had helped rid the world almost completely of its existing chemical weapon stockpile.  However, the world could not rest on its laurels, he said, noting that the discovery of new toxic molecules, advancements in deployment and dissemination techniques and the emergence of non-State actors using such arms called for greater vigilance and a renewal of efforts, he said, introducing a draft resolution on measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay), noting that the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction had been enshrined in the Constitution, urged all States to refrain from any action that ran counter to the conventions covering biological and chemical weapons.  Paraguay supported the prohibition of such arms and supported the efforts of fact-finding mechanisms dispatched to find perpetrators who had used them.  In that context, he stressed the importance of international cooperation in obtaining detection equipment and training security personnel in rapid response in cases of biological and chemical emergencies.  Citing the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate’s recent visit to Paraguay, he anticipated its assistance in implementing mechanisms to prevent weapons of mass destruction from reaching non-State actors.

RAUF ALP DENKTAS (Turkey) said the use of chemical weapons by State and non-State actors alike constituted a crime against humanity, a violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and an affront to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which required parties to chemically disarm by destroying stockpiles and production facilities.  In Syria, OPCW had stated that it had been unable to verify the regime’s declarations and that there had been gaps, inconsistences and discrepancies.  Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, he said his country did not possess any such arms and had actively supported efforts for the universalization of the instrument.  He expressed dissatisfaction about the eighth Review Conference’s outcome and looked forward to the forthcoming meeting of States parties in December as an opportunity to strengthen the Convention.

ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) rejected the development and use of any weapon of mass destruction by any actor under any circumstance.  Highlighting OPCW initiatives, she said the destruction of all categories of chemical weapons must occur as soon as possible, which would present the greatest contribution to ensure that those weapons would never be used.  She also welcomed the complete destruction of its chemical stockpiles as declared by the Russian Federation.  The only truly effective and sustainable way to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention was by means of adoption of a legally binding protocol which would include verification mechanisms.  The full, effective and non–discriminatory implementation of article X of the Convention represented an urgent and mandatory task for Cuba.

BASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said against a backdrop of regional tensions and instability, his country had acceded to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which remained a bedrock for international security.  However, Israel was the only State that had continued to undermine the region’s efforts to rid itself of nuclear weapons, he said, calling on it to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the conventions covering biological and chemical weapons.  Condemning the use of weapons of mass destruction by any party, he expressed support for efforts in implementing Security Council resolution 1540 (2004).  Meanwhile, he reiterated the call to convene a conference with a view to establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Highlighting the inconsistencies of the position of nuclear-weapon States when they said the security environment was not conducive for disarmament, he called for a progressive approach to reducing arsenals.  Values and principles were indivisible, with the security of some States being just as important as others, he said, emphasizing that nuclear-weapon States should call for disarmament the same way they had called for non-proliferation.

MICHEL BIONTINO (Germany) said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action must be fully implementation by all parties, as preserving the agreement was in the national security interests of all.  While the international community worked to do so, Germany shared concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile programme and regional activities that affected European security interests.  On other weapons of mass destruction, he said the Biological Weapons Convention held a special place in the international arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.  Efforts towards its complete universalization must go hand in hand with further progress in the implementation process, which must be accompanied by an adequate and effective intersessional work programme.  Regretting to note that the eighth Review Conference had been unproductive in that regard, he said States bore a responsibility for increasing confidence in compliance through sound national implementation, transparency and constructive cooperation at national and international levels.

FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his country’s adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention and expressed deep appreciation for OPCW initiatives.  Commending the Russian Federation’s full destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal, he welcomed progress made by Libya on the destruction of its remaining stockpiles.  Bangladesh appreciated efforts that had been made at the Biological Weapons Convention’s eighth Review Conference and hoped for a decisive and consensual outcome on the intersessional process during the lead up to the next Review Conference.  He underscored the importance of the full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of article X of the Convention through enhanced international cooperation.

ROSEMARY MCCARNEY (Canada) said 2017 had been tarnished by the use of chemical weapons, in Syria, Iraq and Malaysia.  Condemning the use of such weaponry, she demanded that those responsible to be held accountable.  Canada’s contribution underscored its commitment to OPCW.  Further, she demanded that Syria declared the real dimension of its chemical weapons programme.  It was critical that States parties should remove all ambiguity and destroy chemical weapon stockpiles.  Their commitment to eliminate those arms should “go beyond speeches”, she emphasized, noting that Canada had contributed $13 million to efforts aimed at eliminating chemical weapons and strengthen disarmament initiatives.

FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said instruments governing biological and chemical weapons were key pillars of the international disarmament architecture.  In that regard, he called on States that had not yet done so to accede to those conventions.  For its part, Ecuador welcomed the destruction of the Russian Federation’s declared chemical weapon arsenal, which was a milestone.  He regretted to note the inability to reach agreement at the outcome of the Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference, as that would have strengthened the instrument’s implementation capabilities.  Meanwhile, he encouraged boosting international cooperation to prevent terrorist groups from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.  Expressing support for OPCW efforts, he called on all States to refrain from politicizing issues so that the Organisation could carry out its important mandate.

ALICE GUITTON (France), warning that the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea represented the gravest nuclear proliferation crisis of the twenty-first century, Pyongyang’s unjustifiable and illegal acts called for a firm response to preserve the non-proliferation regime and the rule of law.  Chemical weapons also continued to be used in Syria and Iraq, he said, noting that the Joint Investigation Mechanism had concluded that the Syrian security and armed forces had been responsible for three chlorine attacks and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) had been responsible for a mustard gas attack.  Major uncertainties also remained as to the persistence of the Syrian chemical programme.  Successive OPCW reports had pointed to the fact that the technical secretariat had still not been able to confirm that Syria’s declaration on its programme had been complete and complied with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

NOBUSHIGE TAKAMIZAWA (Japan) said the use of chemical weapons in Syria posed a serious challenge to the global norms of prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.  In that regard, Japan fully supported the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Joint Investigative Mechanism.  It was important to identify those responsible and bring them to justice, he said.  It was essential to accelerate the implementation of national measures, which served as a fundamental tool for preventing the re-emergence and proliferation of chemical weapons.  The increased threat posed by non-State actors including terrorists, was becoming a key issue and the international community must prevent chemical weapons and toxic chemicals from falling into the wrong hands.  At the same time, it was important to redouble efforts towards the universalization of the Convention on Chemical Weapons, he said.  Japan had invested a significant amount of resources to fulfil its obligations to destroy abandoned chemical weapons in China.  Despite various challenges and uncertainties, the project had been making consistent progress, he said.

The representative of Indonesia said the realization of the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention hinged on the commitment of States parties to implement all its provisions.  While significant progress had been made by possessor States, all States parties should fulfil their obligations without further delay.  The universalization of the instrument would significantly lower the risk of proliferation and the use of chemical weapons by both State and non-State actors.  Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, he expressed concern that the eighth Review Conference had failed to produce a substantive outcome.  In addition, the absence of a verification regime remained a source of concern, he said, calling for the development of such a mechanism within the Biological Weapons Convention’s framework.

KARIN KUNJARA NA AYUDHYA (Thailand), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said preventing the proliferation of chemical weapons required the international community’s concerted efforts and unwavering commitment.  For its part, Thailand recognized its fundamental responsibilities and was committed to fulfilling its obligations to the conventions covering biological and chemical weapons.  Inspection and verification were essential for the effective and transparent implementation of such instruments.  In particular, Thailand deemed verification as critical to the realization of the goals set out in the Biological Weapons Convention.  Accountability was also needed with regard to the management of such harmful materials, he added.

WANG CHANG (China) said his country continued to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention and attached great importance to enhancing the visibility of the instrument.  Pointing out that large quantities of chemical weapons that Japan had abandoned in China were still posing a threat, he said destroying those arms was in line with the core objective of the Convention.  On the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, China had opposed the use of such arms, which affected peace and stability in the region and the world.  Turning to the matter of biosecurity challenges, he emphasized that the threat of biological weapons, bioterrorism and epidemic communicable diseases were interlinked, with the Biological Weapons Convention being an important platform for maintaining international security and strengthening global biosecurity governance.

MARCIN KAWALOWSKI (Poland), pledging a commitment to a chemical-weapon-free world, pointed out that while progress had been made over the last 20 years, risks and challenges persisted, threatening the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the credibility of OPCW.  Poland supported the OPCW fact finding mission and the Joint Investigative Mechanism to identify those who were involved in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  In that context, he introduced a draft resolution on implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention and said his delegation had already held consultations on the text.

MICHAEL GAFFEY (Ireland), voicing support for OPCW initiatives, condemned the use of chemical weapons by the armed forces and non-State actors in Syria.  He then stressed the importance of full compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and its declaration and verification regime.  The development and use of chemical weapons went against the very principle of peace that the United Nations had been founded upon.  The widespread condemnation of those who breached their Convention obligations must be matched by action, he said, and those responsible for those war crimes must be referred to the International Criminal Court to face appropriate consequences.  Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, he expressed regret at the outcome of the eighth Review Conference.  In an interconnected world, multilateral tools and regimes were critically important, he said, particularly as work in non-proliferation was also about addressing a weapon’s means of delivery.

MATTHEW ROWLAND (United Kingdom) noted that, despite near universal condemnation, chemical weapons attacks in Syria had not ceased, with the repeated use of the nerve agent sarin.  The United Kingdom condemned any use of such weapons, expressing regret that the Security Council had not been able to take action in response to recent findings and noting that a resolution condemning the attacks had been vetoed by the Russian Federation and China.  “Accountability for these crimes still eludes us,” he stressed.  OPCW had confirmed earlier in October that there continued to be “serious gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies” in Syria’s Chemical Weapons Convention declaration, he noted, adding that after four years, Syria had still failed to offer full cooperation with OPCW.  The use of sulphur mustard by ISIL (Da'esh) was similarly abhorrent.  Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, he noted that the eighth Review Conference had been unable to achieve consensus on a substantive programme of work for the intersessional period, calling on all States parties to redouble efforts to promote and secure agreement on a future process.

FARUKH AMIL (Pakistan) said the conventions on biological and chemical weapons were two important pillars of the international security architecture.  Both had made significant contributions to the goal of general and complete disarmament by prohibiting two entire categories of weapons of mass destruction.  Pakistan had prioritized the universalization of the Biological Weapons Convention and the balanced implementation of all its articles, including article X.  However, the most sustainable method of strengthening the instrument was through multilateral negotiations aimed at concluding a legally binding protocol that also addressed verification and the implementation of all articles.  Pakistan was also fully committed to the Chemical Weapons Convention and condemned the use of such weapons under any circumstances.  His Government attached high priority to provisions of the Convention relating to international cooperation and assistance as well as the peaceful uses of chemical technology.

MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction was an urgent priority.  The universalization of existing instruments was of utmost importance if the international community was to preserve peace and security.  He commended the Russian Federation for destroying its chemical weapons stockpile ahead of schedule and condemned the use of weapons of mass destruction under any circumstances.  On the Biological Weapons Convention, he stressed the importance of fully implementing all the provisions and called on countries to devise a legally-binding instrument that would address an effective verification mechanism.  Raising other concerns included efforts to prevent the emergence of new weapons of mass destruction.  While he welcomed the creation of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, which strengthened disarmament objectives, he expressed concern that such a zone had not yet been created in the Middle East and no specific progress had been made in that regard.

NIELS HANJE (Netherlands), aligning himself with the European Union, said that to resolve persistent issues in regard to Syrian chemical weapons, Syria must show evidence that it had fully declared the entire programme and that it had been completely and irreversibly dismantled.  The international community must also react firmly, now that Syria’s use of chemical weapons had been confirmed, and he called on the Security Council to respond decisively to that violation of international law and the Council’s own resolution.  He also called for firm language in the resolution on the implementation of the Chemical Warfare Convention.  Reports on the possible use of sarin in March showed the urgent need to renew the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s mandate to identify the perpetrators of confirmed use of chemical weapons.  In addition, he urged the States that remained outside the Convention to accede without delay.  Also underlining the importance of the Biological Weapons Convention, he called for promotion of universal adherence, incorporation of technical developments and other ways to strengthen the instrument.  All relevant organizations must increase cooperation on both biological weapons and epidemic outbreaks, he stressed.

KIM IN-CHUL (Republic of Korea) said it was a remarkable achievement that about 95 per cent of all chemical weapons declared by States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention had been destroyed.  However, the use of chemical weapons in Syria was a grave issue that must be addressed urgently, he said, urging the Joint Investigative Mechanism to conduct a thorough investigation and bring perpetrators to justice.  Preventing the acquisition and use of chemical weapons by non-State actors should be a top priority for OPCW.  Noting his country supported efforts towards full universalization of the Chemical Weapons Convention, he pointed out that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and three other countries remained outside that instrument.  He also voiced his support for reinforcing the Biological Weapons Convention, underscoring the importance of strong confidence-building measures, sufficient capacity-building and assistance, and consideration of the impact of relevant technological developments.

GYÖRGY MOLNÁR (Hungary) introduced the draft resolution on the Biological Weapons Convention, noting that this year’s text highlighted the importance of the financial issues.  He noted that his country wished to remain the sole sponsor of the resolution, with a goal to have the resolution approved by consensus.

Mr. PYE SOE AWNG (Myanmar) said the Biological Weapons Convention was an important instrument in the international legal architecture.  As a State party to it, he reiterated the importance of its universalization, and he asked States to sign and ratify it.  The Convention on Chemical Weapons should be achieved by full implementation.  Myanmar had ratified the Convention and had developed its National Action Plan.  Chemical and biological weapons were inhumane and any use posed a threat to human civilization.

HAMOOD SALIM ABDULLAH AL TOWAIYA (Oman), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continued to be a concern for most countries, with nuclear weapons no longer the sole issue.  Any significant progress made on weapons of mass destruction hinged on addressing regional and global bones of contention.  At the same time, the lack of sincere determination to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction technologies could lead to access by non‑State actors one day.  Indeed, acquisition of all types of weapons of mass destruction by non‑State actors was one of the biggest threats to international peace and security.  Meanwhile, countries in the Middle East continued to experience frustration as a result of the failure to establish the region as a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone.  His Government recognized the critical importance of all treaties on weapons of mass destruction and efforts toward their elimination.  History had proved that conventions on armament control were not attributed to existing confidence, but rather a tool to build missing confidence, he said.

JULIO HERRAÍZ ESPAÑA (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said the Chemical Weapons Convention was a major disarmament achievement.  However, the use of chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq was a continued challenge.  Of great concern were the conclusions of the Joint Investigative Mechanism report which had placed responsibility on the Syrian Armed Forces and ISIL (Da'esh), a flagrant violation of international law.  The priority of the international community should be to prevent access to biological material by terrorist groups.  He commended Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and called on all States to develop tools and instruments to prevent nuclear material falling into the hands of non‑State agents and terrorists.  While his Government regretted the outcome of the eighth Review Conference, Spain would continue to work to improve the situation and was fully committed to the Biological Weapons Convention, he said.

SURENDRA THAPA (Nepal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that as a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, his country had been careful in regulating the cross-border movement of chemical goods.  It had also enacted legal and policy reforms to support the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) regarding the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  He called for greater international cooperation to help those countries that lacked the capacity to comply with disarmament-related treaties and resolutions or to fulfil their periodic reporting obligations.

VINICIO MATI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed the successful removal of all chemical weapons precursors from Libya, in an operation coordinated by OPCW, and urged Syria to extend full cooperation with the Organisation to resolve all outstanding issues.  He reiterated his country’s strong condemnation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches as clear Security Council resolution violations.  The international community should continue to ensure that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remained a success story, he said, and he welcomed IAEA confirmation of Iran’s continued compliance.  As Facilitator, his country was committed to helping the smooth implementation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) voiced support for the full implementation of the Convention on Chemical Weapons, observing that it was one of the few universal treaties.  Calling on the chemical‑weapon States to comply with the Convention and destroy their arsenals, she commended the Russian Federation for destroying its chemical weapons.  The use of chemical weapons was a crime against mankind and should be avoided by completely eliminating those weapons.  Condemning the use of such weapons in Syria, Iraq and Malaysia, she affirmed her country’s commitment to support the international cooperation activities, including support for development of capacities of other national authorities in their region, training and joint bilateral projects.  Many people had been trained in Buenos Aires by OPCW, which also had established advanced courses for assistance and protection there.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Israel must accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and subject its nuclear programmes and facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Israel had rejected acceding to any instrument prohibiting weapons of mass destruction, whether chemical or biological, and possessed nuclear weapons, having threatened to use them more than once and most recently in 1973.  Wondering why Israel possessed missiles with a 5,000‑kilometre range and what States it intended to target, he said the Israeli military programme had advanced with support from a number of countries, including some permanent members of the Security Council.

The representative of Iran said that if Israel, which was the Middle East region’s only non‑party to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, truly believed in that instrument, it should immediately eliminate its nuclear weapon arsenal, join as a non‑nuclear‑weapon party and place all its relevant activities and facilities under IAEA safeguards.  All of Israel’s statements were meant to shift attention from the real threat, which was their nuclear weapon programme.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected derogatory remarks that had been made by his counterparts from France, Poland, Turkey, United Kingdom and others.  He urged France and the United Kingdom to dismantle their own nuclear arsenals and enter the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as non‑nuclear States.

The representative of the United States said all exercises that had been carried out with the Republic of Korea had been planned, transparent and in line with the legitimate right of self‑defence.  Noting that the international community’s condemnation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had grown progressively stronger, he said the United States would never recognize the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a nuclear State.

The representative of Republic of Korea urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to come to the negotiating table.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s provocations were a breach of international law.

The representative of Israel said Syria had committed war crimes against its people including by using chemical weapons.  Meanwhile, Iran was the biggest State sponsor of terrorism throughout the world, spreading extremism, threatening its neighbours and destabilizing the Middle East.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the United States, whose nuclear doctrine was based on the use of those arms, had offered its “nuclear umbrella” to its allies.  However, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was not under any such umbrella.  With the United States having threatened his country with nuclear weapons for decades, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had no choice but to protect itself with its own nuclear deterrence doctrine.

The representative of Syria said that when Israel’s position was weak, it resorted to distorting facts.  Israel had tried to avoid facing accountability for its violations and was providing munition, technology and toxic chemicals to armed terrorist groups.  Syria had referred related information to the Security Council about Israel transferring chemical materials to terrorists in Syria, he said, emphasizing that Israel must be held accountable for such actions.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to allegations made by delegates of France, Ireland and Italy, said those countries should know that his country’s nuclear deterrent reliably guaranteed his country’s sovereignty and guarded it against hostile forces.  If the French thought that nuclear weapons were so dangerous to international peace and security, it should dismantle its own nuclear arsenals.  To countries calling for Pyongyang’s accession to international treaties, he stressed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s lack of participation was an issue of sovereignty.

The representative of Japan, responding to his counterpart from China, confirmed that efforts to the complete the elimination of abandoned arms was based on a destruction plan.  While China played an important role in the prevention of accidents, Japan had also taken measures to raise awareness.  Japan would deal with incidents related to abandoned chemical weapons in a prompt manner, he asserted.

The representative of Syria condemned all weapons of mass destruction, including chemical arms, noting that his country had met all its obligations to the Chemical Weapons Convention and had made significant and unprecedented progress in putting an end to its chemical weapons programme in record time.  However, terrorist groups were receiving toxic chemical materials and using them against civilians and military personnel in Syria with the support of Member States.  The representative of the United States had never mentioned the fact that his own country had used chemical and toxic weapons in Viet Nam, Iraq and a number of other countries.  The United States should heed the conclusions of the Joint Investigative Mechanism report and not impose its own opinion on the international community.  Noting that Turkey had violated the Chemical Weapons Convention by providing toxic materials to Da'esh and other terrorist groups, he called upon the Turkish regime to submit information regarding the illegal transfer of chemical weapons to Syria in violation of Security Council resolutions.

The representative of China said the Japanese invading China had used chemical weapons that had caused more than 200,000 casualties, while cruel and inhumane chemical weapon tests had been carried out on Chinese captives and civilians.  Despite progress in destroying some of the abandoned chemical weapons, only 12.3 per cent had been eliminated by Japan, which had, at the time of war, buried more than 2 million chemical weapons.  Japan should now provide information of where those weapons were buried.  In addition, Japan had failed to meet the target for the destruction of all abandoned weapons by the end of 2016, he said.

The representative of the United States said the Syrian regime had “no credibility”, killed its own people and supported terrorism.

The representative of Turkey denied allegations his counterpart from Syria had made.  Turkey respected its legal obligations.

The representative of Syria said the French regime was providing terrorist groups with ammunition, intelligence and chemical and toxic weapons.  Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s intelligence agency had taken part in the spread of weapons of mass destruction in Syria.  Opposing hypocritical statements, he said Canada and other States had criticized Syria while not calling on Israel to join the Chemical Weapons Convention only proved its hypocrisy.

The representative of Japan reaffirmed that his country would provide all resources to destroy abandoned chemical weapons, in cooperation with China and in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

For information media. Not an official record.