Voicing concerns about the erosion of confidence in nuclear disarmament and international security in the Euro‑Atlantic area, First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) delegates today called attention to a United States decision to pull out of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as they concluded a thematic discussion on nuclear weapons.
Statements about a possible exit from the Treaty are regrettable, said Kazakhstan’s representative, calling for the preservation and strict compliance with the provisions of the instrument by all its parties, as it has contributed to the successful destruction of an entire class of nuclear weapons. Further, he urged other countries with missile technology capabilities to join the Treaty.
Spain’s representative joined others in expressing concern about the deteriorating arms control regime in the Euro‑Atlantic area, calling for the extension of the New START Treaty, formally known as the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.
“The international community must now focus on international law to settle disputes and non‑compliance issues,” he said, stressing the need for a strategic security dialogue between nuclear‑weapon States that fosters stable and predictable relations, while reinforcing confidence‑building measures.
Describing the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty as a “landmark agreement”, Finland’s representative emphasized that it played an important role in the international arms control architecture and in European security. In this regard, he expressed worries about the plausible Russian Federation’s violations of the Treaty and regretted the United States decision to withdraw from the agreement.
“We encourage the Russian Federation and the United States to avoid a nuclear arms race,” he said, calling on them to continue their dialogue on strategic stability with a view to extending the New START Treaty.
China’s delegate also urged countries possessing the largest nuclear arsenals to bear their special disarmament responsibilities. “They should earnestly comply with the treaties already concluded on the reduction of nuclear weapons and further drastically and substantively reduce their nuclear arsenals in a verifiable and irreversible manner,” he said, noting that China has adhered to the strategy of self‑defence and kept its nuclear force at the minimal level required by national security.
The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation has concerns about compliance by the United States regarding the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The implementation of the United States decision to withdraw from the instrument would be another short‑sighted and extremely dangerous step for international peace.
Meanwhile, his counterpart from the United States, who spoke in exercise of the right of reply, recalled multiple failed requests over four years for the Russian Federation to return to compliance with the Treaty, adding that “our patience has run very thin”. The United States has been committed to the Treaty and wants to see the Russian Federation return to compliance, he said.
The Committee also began its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction, with delegates spotlighting gains and challenges. The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the bloc recently established a regional network of experts on chemical, biological and radiological materials to share best practices and to make quick contact during crises.
Echoing a common view, Sweden’s delegate, speaking for the Nordic countries, welcomed the completion of chemical weapons destruction in Iraq and Libya, condemned the recent use of such weapons in Salisbury and Amesbury and commended the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. Indonesia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, urged the United States to take every necessary measure to ensure compliance with their “detailed plan for the destruction of chemical weapons remaining after the final extended deadline of 29 April 2012”, in the shortest time possible in order to uphold the instrument’s credibility and integrity.
Also speaking on the topic of nuclear weapons were the representatives of Costa Rica, Nepal, France, Algeria, Austria, Viet Nam, New Zealand, Poland, Indonesia, Norway, Iraq, Turkey, Portugal, Argentina, Netherlands, Venezuela, Australia, Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Sudan, Nigeria, Zambia, Brazil, Myanmar, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Haiti, Hungary, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Senegal, Guyana, Bulgaria, Israel, Eswatini, Philippines, Ukraine, Niger, Trinidad and Tobago and Kyrgyzstan. The United Kingdom spoke for a second time on behalf of five nuclear‑weapon States. Representatives of the Holy See and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also delivered their statements. Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, Syria, Iran and Ukraine.
Delivering statements on the theme of other weapons of mass destruction were the representatives of Egypt (for the League of Arab States), Guyana (for the Caribbean Community) and the United States, as well as the European Union.
The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 23 October, to continue its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this afternoon to continue its thematic debate on nuclear weapons. For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3597 of 8 October.
VERÓNICA GARCÍA GUTIÉRREZ (Costa Rica) said that as one of the countries that supports moving towards universal nuclear disarmament, inaction is not an option. “The maintenance of status quo exposes us daily to increasingly dangerous situations of international insecurity,” she said, voicing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This ban contributes to the strengthening of non‑proliferation and nuclear disarmament and an understanding that these warheads are unacceptable, by establishing a global standard that stigmatizes them. More than a year after its adoption, the Treaty has 69 signatures and 19 ratifications, she said, noting that Costa Rica ratified it in July and urging other nations to follow suit. Instead of seeking the destruction of the thousands of warheads in existence, each year billions of dollars are spent to modernize them, increasing nuclear threats. Costa Rica opposes the modernization of nuclear bombs, the extension of their useful life and their development, as these are inconsistent with the objective of creating a world free of nuclear weapons.
NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), recalling that the United Nations was established after the first use of atomic bombs, emphasized that the use or threat of use of these weapons is not only immoral, but illegal, constituting a crime against humanity and violating international law. Universal peace and security can only be achieved by time‑bound disarmament and States possessing such weapons must reduce their arsenals in a transparent, irreversible manner that ensures their total elimination. Moreover, nuclear weapons are not a deterrent and should not have any place in the security doctrine of any State. While Nepal supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, it also supports the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination as per the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Calling for security assurances by nuclear‑weapon States against the threat of use or use of atomic bombs against nuclear‑weapon‑free States, he said resources used for these warheads could be redirected to help achieve many of the goals and targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and improve the life of all humanity.
YANN HWANG (France) said that only a reduction of global tensions, respect for international law, dialogue and cooperation can help the international community fulfil its disarmament and arms control ambitions. He welcomed encouraging developments on the Korean Peninsula while cautioning that such progress should not conceal the violations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s non‑proliferation regime. Meanwhile, France continues to firmly support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action contained in the Iran nuclear agreement, calling on all parties to continue to commit to its full implementation. Reaffirming France’s responsibility as a nuclear‑weapon State, he advocated for a progressive and pragmatic approach based on undiminished security for all. While France shares the goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, Member States must work to recreate conditions that enable progress in the strategic security environment. That is why France opposes the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as disarmament cannot be decreed, it must be built with nuclear‑weapon States through a constructive and respectful dialogue. Calling for the preservation of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he said that to preserve Euro‑Atlantic security, the United States and the Russian Federation must avoid any unilateral initiatives and discuss the instrument’s future during upcoming bilateral talks.
MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said nuclear disarmament is a priority for the international community, calling for unconditional compliance with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and urging States to sign and ratify the instrument if they have not yet done so. It is important to conclude a treaty on negative security assurances in favour of non‑nuclear‑weapon States. His delegation also calls for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty and supports the outcome of the intergovernmental expert group on fissile material cut‑off treaty. Non‑proliferation is the cornerstone of efforts to eliminate nuclear bombs. Algeria also supports an expert group on nuclear disarmament verification and hopes that it reaches consensus, he said. Algeria is one of the first African States to join the African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba).
ELISABETH TICHY-FISCBERGER (Austria) cautioned against the deteriorating international security environment, including the erosion of confidence between and among States and the development of technology that can make weapons even more dangerous. Her delegation will table a draft resolution on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, she said, calling for support and co‑sponsorship. Detailing the benefits of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, she said that the Secretary‑General described it as a historic instrument. It closed the legal gap, bringing nuclear disarmament on par with that of other weapons of mass destruction by unconditionally outlawing them. The Treaty also strengthens the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and global norms against nuclear testing. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is swiftly progressing, faster than any other weapons of mass destruction treaties, but further practical measures are needed. She called for the extension of the 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), recalling that even at the height of the cold war, nuclear disarmament measures had been introduced.
DINH NHO HUNG (Viet Nam) said the continued existence of nuclear weapons and other emerging risks remain of serious concern amid rising global tensions. Viet Nam welcomes the Secretary‑General’s new disarmament agenda to move towards the elimination of nuclear weapons and prevent the emergence of new and destabilizing strategic armaments. He welcomed recent positive developments on the Korean Peninsula towards helping to build a nuclear‑free region, which would lay the foundation for peace, stability, cooperation and development. He expressed support for the early entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty, calling on annex 2 States to consider joining the instrument to further strengthen the test‑ban regime. Welcoming the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he called on all States to join it with a view to building a safer world for future generations.
DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand), recalling that some believe the international context is getting even less favourable to disarmament undertakings, said security conditions must not be allowed to prevent progress on disarmament. If this were the case, the Non‑Proliferation Treaty would lose its vibrancy and the certainty of its obligations and the rules‑based system would be diminished. Contrary to the belief of some States, supporters of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons do not view the instrument as a “silver-bullet”. More accurately, it is the current “silver lining” to the current state of affairs. New Zealand has been upfront in acknowledging this, she said, noting that the Treaty was adopted by a vote, not by consensus. The Treaty is also a legal advance on the status quo. Citing the conclusions of a recent report, she said objections to the Treaty mask the profound disagreement over the presence of nuclear weapons and the legitimacy of nuclear deterrence policies.
YERZHAN KUATBEKOV (Kazakhstan) said his country voluntarily relinquished its nuclear arsenal, shut down the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and remains a staunch supporter of the global process of nuclear disarmament. He pointed out examples of how the disarmament and non‑proliferation regimes have been significantly strengthened during the end of the cold war, including by the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START I Treaty), the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Anti‑Ballistic Missile Systems (Anti‑Ballistic Missile Treaty) and the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Kazakhstan supports the preservation and strict compliance with the provisions of the latter instrument by all its parties, as it has contributed to the successful destruction of an entire class of nuclear weapons. Statements about a possible exit from the Treaty are regrettable. As a confidence‑building measure, he urged other countries with missile technology capabilities to join it.
DAMIAN PRZENIOSŁO (Poland), associating himself with the European Union and the Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, said that despite positive developments, Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes still pose a threat to international security and stability. In addition, the wider international community must encourage Iran to fulfill its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Welcoming progress on the New START Treaty, he hoped to see further disarmament measures taken after 2021. Calling on the Russian Federation to address concerns regarding its compliance with the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he said “we deplore that trust in negative security assurances has been damaged by the breach of the Budapest Memorandum” [Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons]. On other matters, he said the Test‑Ban Treaty’s entry into force remains a top priority and that negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty remain critical.
ROLLIANSYAH SOEMIRAT (Indonesia) said her country is an ardent supporter of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and believes it could significantly contribute to the effort to break the ongoing stalemate in related multilateral disarmament negotiations. Together with partner countries, Indonesia proposed a new draft resolution on the early entry into force of this Treaty. However, this should not be interpreted as its diminishing commitment to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. On the contrary, Indonesia is a faithful party to the Treaty, which is the cornerstone of efforts for global nuclear non‑proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of atomic energy. To a country that renounced its nuclear option, the issue of negative security assurance is also important.
KJETIL JONNEVALD HALVORSEN (Norway) said the main responsibility for progress on nuclear disarmament lies with nuclear‑weapon States. However, non‑nuclear‑weapon States cannot simply walk away from their responsibilities. Describing verification of nuclear disarmament as a key building block for progress, he said negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty should include the question of the inclusion of stocks. Turning the Test‑Ban Treaty into a legally binding instrument remains an urgent task, he said, calling on all States that have not yet done so to ratify that instrument. Underscoring the key role of IAEA, he said it must have the means to carry out its nuclear security mandate. Norway encourages more Member States to commit themselves to minimizing and eliminating the use of highly enriched uranium in civilian applications.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq) said the Non‑Proliferation Treaty is imbalanced, as nuclear‑weapon States are not fulfilling their commitments to article 6. All States have a duty to uphold their responsibilities with a view to the total elimination of such weapons. Meanwhile, nuclear terrorism is the gravest threat facing international security, he said, noting that greater measures are needed to prevent dangerous material from falling into the hands of terrorist groups. Nuclear weapons must be eliminated to rid the world of that threat. Calling for the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, he said Israel must accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and put its facilities under IAEA safeguards and voiced support for the Arab Group’s resolution requesting the Secretary‑General to call for a conference in 2019 to negotiate the establishment of such a zone. He highlighted the importance of the Test‑Ban Treaty as an instrument on the path towards development. Affirming that Iraq has effectively combated terrorism, the Government now seeks, with IAEA assistance, to reduce the risks of the proliferation of toxic material.
ELIF ÇALIŞKAN (Turkey) said the 2020 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and its preparatory process is an opportunity to protect and strengthen the instrument. Moving forward, progress needs to be made on the 2010 Non‑Proliferation Treaty action plan and the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East. Turkey does not support any initiative that undermines the integrity of the Treaty or creates an alternative to its full implementation. Efforts towards the goal of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world should be realistic and include nuclear‑weapon States. Meanwhile, she called for the universalization of the Test‑Ban Treaty, as well as the commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty. Highlighting the importance of IAEA in international nuclear cooperation, she said the Agency is a vital component of the non‑proliferation regime and a confidence‑building mechanism. In addition, its safeguards provide credible assurances that States are honouring their international obligations. She went on to express support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, calling it “one of the foremost achievements of multilateral diplomacy”.
JOSÉ ATAÍDE AMARAL (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, said working towards a world free of nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction is “a moral imperative”. Sharing other delegations’ concerns that a lack of progress led to the 2017 adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he emphasized that a step‑by‑step approach is ideal. In that regard, he urged the United States and the Russian Federation to preserve the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the New START Treaty. Pointing out that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of the global regime for non‑proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful use of atomic energy, he expressed hope that the ongoing review process will be successful, in particular the 2020 Review Conference. There are some signs of hope, including developments on the Korean Peninsula, he said, adding that Portugal seeks a new resolve by the international community.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), noting that his Government has prioritized nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation, said his country has an active nuclear programme for peaceful use of atomic energy. As verification under IAEA safeguards is essential, Brazil and Argentina initiated a mutual inspection project. Noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone of the global regime, he underlined the importance of the 2020 Review Conference. For its part, Argentina has presided over a related regional meeting. Calling for the necessary political commitment by nuclear‑weapon States to advance disarmament goals, he said Argentina voted in favour of the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, while emphasizing the essential significance of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.
ROBBERT GABRIELSE (Netherlands), associating himself with the European Union and the Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, noted positive and negative developments in global politics, including progress on the Korean Peninsula and the United States withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He also regretted to note the intention of the United States to leave the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Despite the likeliness that the Russian Federation has been in violation of some provisions, the Treaty remains of great importance to global security and the arms control regime. The Russian Federation must address compliance concerns in a transparent manner. Turning to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he said “we need to start thinking ahead and what we want” from the instrument over the next 5, 10 and 50 years. More can be done in the field of improving communication lines, personnel training, sharing information and increasing decision time to minimize the risk of nuclear weapons use. The Test‑Ban Treaty has lost none of its relevance, he continued, adding that a fissile material cut‑off treaty is ripe for negotiations as well.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela) said the lack of confidence and persistent instability in the world is negatively affecting global security. Noting that the risks of nuclear weapon use are increasing, he warned that any such use would lead to the annihilation of the human race. Nuclear‑weapon States cannot continue to expose humanity to its potential extinction. Indeed, nuclear weapons are a crime against humanity and no security doctrine can justify the mass killing of human beings or the destruction of the planet. Such doctrines attempt to legitimize the use of such weapons. Venezuela deplores the United States decision, against the spirit of dialogue and cooperation, to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This unprecedented agreement is a contribution to multilateral diplomacy towards the cause of disarmament. Welcoming the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he called on countries that have not yet ratified it to do so, especially nuclear‑weapon States. He went on to express support for the Arab Group’s proposal to convene a conference to negotiate a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East.
SALLY MANSFIELD (Australia) said the extension of the New START Treaty is a crucial objective, adding that Washington and Moscow should resist allowing differences to divert them from that goal. Current security trends reinforce Australia’s conviction that a progressive approach is the most sustainable and realistic way to move forward on nuclear disarmament. A crucial challenge is to build trust and cooperation between nuclear‑weapon and non‑nuclear‑weapon States. Member States must also strengthen the implementation of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, which has delivered in many important aspects. Welcoming significant efforts at dialogue about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme, her Government anticipated yielding positive and concrete results. She went on to call for the strengthening of the norm against nuclear testing through the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty, encouraging States to support a related draft resolution tabled by Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.
CHOI WON-SEOK (Republic of Korea) said his delegation described a progressive approach as fitting the political reality and the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of nuclear non‑proliferation and an essential foundation in the pursuit of disarmament. His delegation supported an early start of negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty and urged all States, including annex 2 States, to sign and ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty, if they have not yet done so. Nuclear disarmament verification is a key area for enhancing transparency and building confidence. For its part, the Republic of Korea hosted a meeting of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification in Seoul in July and has taken a range of steps towards discussing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a subject high on the agenda at summit‑level meetings in 2018. Noting that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea confirmed and reaffirmed its commitment to a complete denuclearization, he said “such commitment was accompanied by a series of ‘for the first time’ actions that were unthinkable a year ago”. Denuclearization and the establishment of permanent peace on the Peninsula will have a far‑reaching impact on the global nuclear disarmament efforts, he said, noting that the Republic of Korea will continue to work with the international community as it navigates “this uncharted course”.
ARISOA LALA RAZAFITRIMO (Madagascar), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, highlighted the importance of the peaceful use of atomic energy under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. For its part, Madagascar established a science and technology institution that covers energy, health care, agriculture and the economy. As a developing country, it joins long‑standing repeated calls for the transfer of technology from developed countries, she said, noting a visit in 2017 by the African Division of IAEA for technical cooperation. Noting the devastating consequences of nuclear bombs, Madagascar joined efforts in the 1970s to establish a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Indian Ocean. However, the international community has reached an impasse, she said, urging States to boost efforts to shield the world from nuclear risks. Modernizing weapons is a difficult endeavour to manage, she said, urging States to end such programmes.
JARMO VIINANEN (Finland) said the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is a landmark agreement that abolished a whole category of weapons in Europe. It is also an important part of the international arms control architecture and has a significant role for European security. Expressing worries about the plausible Russian violations of the Treaty and failure at finding a solution to compliance allegations, he regretted to note the United States decision to withdraw from the agreement. “We encourage the Russian Federation and the United States to avoid a nuclear arms race and to continue their dialogue on strategic stability with a view to extending the New START Treaty and to achieving further reductions in nuclear arsenals,” he said.
OMER AHMED MOHAMED AHMED (Sudan) said nuclear disarmament is the only guarantee such weapons would not be used. Diplomatic efforts and multilateralism are important to enhance the commitment of Member States to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and ingrain the concept of criminalizing nuclear weapons. Nuclear‑weapon States must eliminate their stockpiles to avert disastrous consequences to mankind. Sudan supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and looks forward to ratifying it soon. International peace and security cannot be achieved based on a doctrine of nuclear deterrence. As such, Sudan supports the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East. However, he expressed concern at the lack of progress on the issue, which threatens security in the region and beyond. In that regard, his Government supports a resolution that calls on the Secretary‑General to invite partners in the region to negotiate the creation of such a zone. He also underlined the right of States to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria) said the continued existence of nuclear weapons remains an existential threat to mankind. As such, he condemned the use of funds spent to develop these armaments instead of spending targeting broad development goals. At the same time, he called on States to fulfil their obligations to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and its previously agreed outcomes. He urged nuclear‑weapon States to consider the catastrophic consequences of such weapons and take all measures to dismantle them. Highlighting the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, he said their use constitutes a crime against humanity and a violation of international law, including international humanitarian law. Concerning the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he called on all States to ensure its entry into force. He welcomed continued IAEA efforts in monitoring and inspecting nuclear facilities. The many benefits of nuclear disarmament are never in doubt. Member States must make more efforts towards a safe world without the danger of nuclear weapons.
ERICK MWEWA (Zambia) condemned the slow pace at which comprehensive nuclear disarmament has been moving despite several initiatives that Member States and non‑State actors have been bringing forth. Since 1968, when the Non‑Proliferation Treaty was concluded, and since 1970, when it came into force, very little or insignificant progress has been achieved in nuclear weapons non‑proliferation and comprehensive disarmament. Zambia, a party to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, Pelindaba Treaty and the Test‑Ban Treaty, will continue to work to ensure the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons produces the desired results of eliminating atomic bombs from the face of the Earth. Zambia will only promote and subscribe to the secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies under the IAEA framework.
CLAUDIO MEDEIROS LEOPOLDINO (Brazil) said nuclear weapons were the only category of weapons of mass destruction not explicitly prohibited until this gap was filled with the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is an integral part of international law and of the rules‑based disarmament regime. “It has come to stay as perhaps the most effective of measures towards the goal, shared by us all, of a world free of nuclear weapons,” he said. The entire structure of the Treaty is designed to uphold and advance obligations enshrined in the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. At a more technical level, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons sets the highest legally binding standard for nuclear non‑proliferation verification.
MARÍA PALACIOS PALACIOS (Spain) called for the extension of the New START Treaty and expressed concern about the deteriorating arms control regime in the Euro‑Atlantic area. The international community must now focus on international law to settle disputes and non‑compliance issues. She called for a strategic security dialogue between nuclear‑weapon States that fosters stable and predictable relations, while reinforcing confidence‑building measures. Meanwhile, she commended the Non‑Proliferation Treaty for having produced indisputable progress in containing vertical and horizontal proliferation threats, noting that compliance to the Treaty should be prioritized by all. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will not necessary lead to their elimination, she said, asking the international community to set realistic goals. Calling for greater negative security guarantees to strengthen the global non‑proliferation regime, she welcomed progress on the Korean Peninsula and expressed hope it will lead to tangible progress. Until this takes place, current sanctions should remain in place, she said, also lending support for Security Council sanctions related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) said nuclear weapons pose a horrible threat to the very existence of humankind and the survival of civilization. Welcoming all initiatives towards the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world, he highlighted a draft annual resolution co‑sponsored by his country on nuclear disarmament. The total elimination of atomic bombs is the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use, he said, noting that the draft resolution underlines the importance of nuclear‑weapon States in undertaking interim measures towards the total elimination of their arsenals. Moreover, the draft resolution calls for the early entry into force and universalisation of the Test‑Ban Treaty as a contribution to nuclear disarmament.
SUN LEI (China) said that with increasing uncertainties and instabilities, the international process of nuclear arms control has reached a crucial crossroads. The international community should actively pursue a new concept of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security while safeguarding the authority of existing arms control and disarmament regimes, such as the Non‑Proliferation Treaty review process and the Conference on Disarmament. Countries possessing the largest nuclear arsenals bear special disarmament responsibilities. They should earnestly comply with the treaties already concluded on the reduction of nuclear weapons and further drastically and substantively reduce their nuclear arsenals in a verifiable and irreversible manner. The willingness and rights of non‑nuclear‑weapon States to be free from the threat of nuclear war must be respected. China has adhered to the strategy of self‑defence, maintained a highly stable nuclear policy and kept its nuclear force at the minimal level required by national security. It also has adhered to the commitment of no‑first‑use of nuclear bombs and not to use or threaten to use them against non‑possessor States or in nuclear‑weapon‑free zones.
AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said his country remains strongly committed to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and continues to support the Test‑Ban Treaty. Expressing support for the start and early conclusion of negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament, he said the United Kingdom will continue to play a leading role in disarmament verification. It does not, however, intend to support, sign or ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which risks undermining the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and ignores both the security situation and the considerable technical and procedural challenges involved in disarmament. He reiterated concerns about Russian compliance with the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, adding that the Russian Federation has offered no credible response. While pledging support for the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he expressed concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile programme. Welcoming the opportunity created by United States President Donald Trump on the Korean Peninsula, he said it is vital for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete actions towards denuclearization. “The threats from nuclear‑capable States are very real and any potential aggressor must be assured that the consequences of an attack far outweigh the benefits,” he said, highlighting the current unpredictable security environment.
MIROSLAV KLÍMA (Czechia) said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons may not help to enhance the security of any country or diminish nuclear arsenals. On the contrary, it is posing risks to nuclear disarmament. The Non‑Proliferation Treaty is an adequate platform to advance towards the objective of a world free of nuclear weapons. Welcoming current diplomatic efforts, she called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to maintain its declared suspension of nuclear‑weapon testing and ballistic missile launches, to comply without delay with its obligations under all relevant Security Council resolutions, the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and IAEA safeguards and to sign and ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty.
FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh) said nuclear weapons pose an overriding security threat to all of humankind. As global awareness of the humanitarian consequences of such weapons increases, the world gains a better understanding of their related risks. While all responsible Member States share a commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons, there are divergent views on the ways to achieve this objective. International peace and security can only be ensured by the total elimination of such weapons, he said, expressing concern over continued investments in these armaments and their means of delivery. In this context, he reiterated a need for reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons, including through complete deprogramming and de‑alerting. He went on to express support for the peaceful use of nuclear technology within IAEA safeguards and a verification regime that can contribute towards achieving sustainable development.
M. SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the global community continues to face mounting challenges compounded by the continuing existence of nuclear arsenals. “We need to stay resolute towards total elimination of nuclear weapons,” he said. Since the Second World War, a growing number of States have denounced nuclear weapons as categorically unacceptable. Malaysia has always viewed the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of an international multilateral framework essential to the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. His delegation has submitted a traditional draft resolution titled “Follow-up to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons”.
PATRICK SAINT-HILAIRE (Haiti) said the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction is an urgent necessity. While disagreements exist among Member States on how to view current security challenges, all acknowledge the great danger weapons of mass destruction pose to humanity. Expressing support for progress being made on the Korean Peninsula, he encouraged the international community to consolidate these efforts. Meanwhile, Haiti favours the proper implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as the universalization and entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty. On the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he welcomed efforts made by civil society, including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, in generating awareness about the need for their total elimination. While all are in favour of a world free of nuclear weapons, the way to achieve that brings about a difference of opinions. For its part, the Caribbean region has adopted the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and shown the international community the way forward when others are lagging behind, he said, emphasizing the crucial role nuclear-weapon States played.
GYORGY MOLNAR (Hungary) said the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is yet another reason to preserve and strengthen its integrity and recommit to its objectives. He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to recommit to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA safeguards as a non-nuclear State. Until the country takes concrete steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, sanctions must be maintained. To make progress in the field of disarmament, Member States must focus on areas where common ground exists. Only a progressive approach consisting of gradual, concrete and practical steps provides for such a platform, he said, noting that Hungary cannot and will not sign and ratify any legal instrument that weakens the existing multilateral nuclear disarmament framework. As a country with an active peaceful nuclear energy programme, Hungary attaches importance to nuclear safety and security in conformity with the provisions of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.
KATE VASHARAKORN (Thailand), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are intricately linked and mutually reinforcing. She called on all States to pursue in good faith endeavours towards complete nuclear disarmament. The Non-Proliferation Treaty is a true achievement of the world’s collective efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. “This good momentum must be continued and we should do our utmost to bring the Treaty into force at the earliest,” she said. The complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a prerequisite for peace and security in the region. She also expressed support for the United Nations in its efforts towards general and complete nuclear disarmament and in advancing the Secretary‑General’s disarmament agenda.
Mr. LIDDLE (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of five nuclear-weapon States, reiterated their united position on the best approach to creating a world without nuclear weapons is a gradual one that considers the international security environment. Therefore, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is essential to these efforts, as it limited the risk of nuclear war and brought benefits for humanity. He fully supports IAEA and its work on the implementation of the Treaty. However, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons undermines the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and does nothing to increase trust, making the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world even more difficult than it already is.
HAMDA ALAWADHI (United Arab Emirates) emphasized the importance role of the 2020 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and a need to fully implement the resolutions of all such conferences. She lamented the delay in the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, renewing the call for Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the only country in the region not yet party to the instrument. She called for negotiations towards a fissile material cut-off treaty and highlighted the importance of the Test-Ban Treaty, renewing the call to countries that had not yet ratified it, including annex 2 States. Welcoming high-level talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, she called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from all nuclear and ballistic tests and comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions. Highlighting her country’s national nuclear energy programme, she said it is a clean source of energy and a means to achieve development goals. In that vein, she urged IAEA to enhance the safeguard system and for Iran to comply with its non-proliferation obligations.
ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation) accused the United States of developing a global ballistic missile defence system, refusing to abandon the potential deployment of weapons in outer space, increasing numeric and qualitative imbalances in conventional weapons and developed the “prompt global strike” concept. He expressed concern over the United States nuclear posture review, which substantially increases the role of these armaments in military planning. The Russian Federation has confirmed its principled readiness to study the possibility of the New START Treaty’s extension, but it cannot be done without addressing the remaining questions regarding the United States compliance. The implementation of the United States decision to withdraw from the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty would be another short‑sighted and extremely dangerous step for international peace. Such a move would prove again that the United States political and military authorities prioritize their foreign policy goals by obsessively striving to ensure the country’s superiority over the rest of the world.
KATEO KABANGU SERAPHIN (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said nuclear weapons are not just dangerous, but a tool for domination. Therefore, his delegation welcomes the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. However, there are concerning developments, such as increased access to these weapons and the transfer of nuclear technology into wrong hands. Nuclear‑weapon States must show how to create conditions geared towards a world without nuclear weapons. The international community is united against the use of chemical weapons and should similarly be united on the abolition of nuclear weapons. Expressing disappointment that the 2015 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference did not generate positive outcomes, he said the way forward is to eliminate nuclear weapons completely.
ALI ROBATJAZI (Iran) said that actions and policies that are incompatible with article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty continue unabated, particularly by the United States. As long as the United States irresponsible policies continue, there can be no hope for progress towards nuclear disarmament. The United States announcement to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is another step in further deteriorating the already complex nuclear disarmament situation. Under such circumstances, non-nuclear-weapon States must unite and remain resolute, working relentlessly towards the realization of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world. The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a step in the right direction and should be complemented by the commencement of negotiations and the conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons. Another deceitful policy of the United States is its unconditional support for Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons, he said, calling for practical steps towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Thanking delegates who rejected the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said the international community must not allow bullying to trump diplomacy and multilateralism.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal) said that amid growing tensions and multiple failures in the United Nations disarmament bodies, it is crucial that the 2020 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is a success. Concerning nuclear weapon proliferation, he warned that any error could lead to an irrevocable tragedy. The situation is even more dangerous as these weapons become more sophisticated. Senegal supports a world free of nuclear weapons and their total elimination as the only way forward. The establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East is vital if the international community’s truly wishes to achieve the goal of nuclear disarmament. The adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons could have been a big step forward had nuclear‑weapon States adopted the instrument. Pointing to remaining gaps in ensuring compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said general and complete disarmament will not be possible if nuclear-weapon States circumvent provisions of the instrument’s provisions. He went on to underscore the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the safe transfer of such technology to States who adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
RUDOLPH MICHAEL TEN-POW (Guyana), associating herself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said her country is committed to creating a world free of nuclear weapons and its commitment is rooted in its deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of the use of such armaments. Guyana was pleased to see the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which closed the legal gap and is complementary to existing instruments, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty. She urged all States to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Reduction in all types of nuclear weapons is crucial. She warned against the diversion of resources to modernizing weapons, which could be better spent in improving people’s well-being.
GEORGI PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union and Australia, on behalf of a group of countries, said a world free of nuclear weapons can only be achieved through increased involvement of all States. A progressive approach based on practical and concrete measures, as well as on provisions of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, will lead to a nuclear‑weapon‑free world. “It is our common duty to ensure the 2020 [Non‑Proliferation Treaty] Review Conference is a success,” he said. He noted Bulgaria’s ratification of the Test-Ban Treaty and urged all States to sign and ratify it without delay. “Nuclear disarmament is only possible with the engagement of all States and it should be based on mutual trust,” he said, urging the United States and the Russian Federation to preserve the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
MAYA YARON (Israel) said her country had taken a constructive, responsible and pragmatic approach to the two nuclear‑related resolutions on the Middle East, but the Arab Group has returned with an attempt to hijack another international process. This demonstrates that some countries in the region still do not accept Israel’s right to exist and that the region is not ready for a weapon‑of‑mass‑destruction‑free zone. Any such process must be consensual among and inclusive of countries in the region, emanate from the region itself and be conducted directly between the States involved, not through third parties. It also must aim at confidence‑building and consider the security concerns of all countries implicated. These considerations are normal for any sovereign State, but the Arab Group has insisted on taking an oppositional path, knowing that Israel cannot accept it. They thus created another platform to single out Israel and accomplish nothing else. Meanwhile, regimes in the region are using chemical weapons and pursuing nuclear capabilities contrary to their treaty obligations. Only a constructive approach that realizes that Israel is a permanent part of the Middle East will bring about cooperation and peace. Many areas of the world do not have a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone and there are no zones free of all weapons of mass destruction, making the Group’s decision more obviously an effort to bash Israel. If the Group goes through with it, Israel will have no option but to no longer cooperate with future regional arms control initiatives, she said, calling on Member States to reject the draft decision, as it is bound to end in complete failure that will resonate for years to come.
MELUSI MARTIN MASUKU (Eswatini) said the total elimination of nuclear weapons remains the single absolute guarantee towards complete nuclear disarmament. He welcomed the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, an essential building block in the international legal framework needed for a total ban of such weapons. Underlining the importance of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones in enhancing global and regional peace and security, he reiterated his Government’s commitment to the Treaty of Pelindaba. At the same time, he applauded the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and underscored its importance as an integral part of multilateral disarmament efforts.
ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, said the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use. Underlining the importance of parallel efforts under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he also voiced support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and said the Philippines is working towards its ratification. Echoing concerns over some States’ continued modernization of their nuclear arsenals, he expressed support for Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and emphasized the need to prevent the spread of such weapons to non-State parties and terrorists. However, he voiced concern that disarmament is being made contingent upon an improved security environment, warning that the process “must not take a back seat despite a tense geopolitical situation”. Highlighting a need for a constructive and proactive effort to facilitate discussions on challenging issues and bridge diverse populations, he supported the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative’s work in reaching out to nuclear-weapon States and others for “frank conversations on thorny topics”.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said his country renounced its nuclear weapons based largely on the clear international security assurances provided in writing in 1994, in particular the Budapest Memorandum signed by Ukraine, United States, United Kingdom and the Russian Federation. Moscow’s brutal violations of international obligations, including under this agreement, has undermined the whole United Nations‑based security system. Even affected by the Russian military aggression and the temporary occupation of its territories, Ukraine continues to regard the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.
FARID MOUSTAPHA SANDA (Niger) said that despite many tragedies, the world had weathered many storms and learned lessons from its errors. For its part, Niger is committed to help stave off the threat of nuclear weapons. He welcomed talks towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and encouraged all parties to continue along a path of dialogue. As a country that enriches uranium, Niger joined the Pelindaba Treaty and plays a responsible role in this field. Moreover, it cooperates with IAEA and has developed its own national security strategy. At the same time, Niger has been actively implementing the Test‑Ban Treaty and hosts a station set up by the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty Organization. It has also launched a project to set up a radioactive detection system and is one of three countries in West Africa to host a centre to receive seismological data and detect nuclear tests. In that context, he encouraged the continued financial support of the Test‑Ban Treaty and related initiatives.
CHARLENE ROOPNARINE (Trinidad and Tobago) said nuclear weapons have no place in security doctrines, an outdated paradigm of national security that must be replaced by one of human security. The prestige of a country should not be associated with its destructive capability, but rather its ability to build and maintain peace. In that connection, Trinidad and Tobago supports all efforts towards the objective of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world. Welcoming the decision of the Conference on Disarmament to establish subsidiary bodies, she lamented its failure to resume negotiations and launch discussions on a fissile material cut‑off treaty. As a small‑island developing State with porous borders and limited resources, Trinidad and Tobago is particularly sensitive to the extreme risk posed by the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons. By declaring nuclear weapons as an affront to humanity, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons establishes collective responsibility for all of humanity to address their ongoing dangers.
MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said that one of the most effective approaches to achieving disarmament and non‑proliferation goals is to create nuclear‑weapon‑free zones. During the current First Committee session, countries in Central Asia initiated a draft resolution on such a zone in the region. It is important to continue working to strengthen cooperation between such zones in ensuring regional and international peace and security. Highlighting that nuclear testing harms the most vulnerable peoples and ecosystems, he also called for the mitigation of the effects of uranium mining and the related activities of nuclear fuel production in creating nuclear weapons. In this regard, Kyrgyzstan initiated a draft resolution highlighting the importance of reclaiming areas affected by uranium production and recognizing the need to develop and promote effective programmes for the responsible and safe management of radioactive and toxic waste in Central Asia.
DAVID CHARTERS of the Holy See recalled that in a landmark document in 1965, the Catholic Church declared “The [nuclear] arms race is an utterly treacherous trap for humanity and one that injures the poor to an intolerable degree.” Today, the maintenance of nuclear weapons continues to siphon immense resources from funds that could be devoted to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Pope Francis has made clear that nuclear escalation is morally unacceptable and that nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence. As such, the Holy See was among the first to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
XOLISA MABHONGO, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the Agency continues to work with Member States and other partners to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. A core function of the Agency is to verify that countries are not working to acquire nuclear weapons, he said, noting that staff conduct inspections at nuclear facilities all over the world. Safeguards provide credible assurances that States are fulfilling their international obligations not to develop such weapons and make it possible to detect any misuse of nuclear material or technology in a timely manner. The Agency also stands ready to assist with verification tasks in connection with nuclear disarmament or arms control arrangements. In addition, the Agency has supported the creation and implementation of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones. He confirmed that Iran is implementing its nuclear‑related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Should a political agreement be reached among the concerned parties, the Agency also stands ready to play an essential role in verifying the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme.
Other Weapons of Mass Destruction
FAIZAL CHERY SIDHARTA (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. It is 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. In that vein, s/he urged the United States to take every necessary measure to ensure compliance with their “detailed plan for the destruction of chemical weapons remaining after the final extended deadline of 29 April 2012”, in the shortest time possible in order to uphold the instrument’s credibility and integrity. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should be strengthened to deal with ongoing and future challenges within the confines of the Treaty and without distorting its mandate.
Turning to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, she said the Movement’s members who have joined the instrument consider it as an important component of the international legal architecture related to weapons of mass destruction. They recognize that the lack of a verification system continues to pose a challenge to the effectiveness of the Convention, calling for the resumption of multilateral negotiations to conclude a non‑discriminatory legally binding protocol.
BASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, reiterated its position on a world free of nuclear weapons and the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, recalling that the first related special session of the General Assembly had reached consensus on the priorities of disarmament, giving nuclear disarmament top urgency. The Arab League supports the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention and welcomes the State of Palestine’s accession to both treaties. At the same time, the accession of Israel to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty would contribute to international peace and security and the credibility of the disarmament and non‑proliferation regimes.
The failure of the 2015 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference has had negative effects, he said, as seen in the stalemate around efforts to rid the region of weapons of mass destruction. The Arab States have good intentions in concluding a treaty to free the region from nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. In that context, the international community must redouble efforts with a view to establishing such a zone. He called on States to participate in negotiations to establish such a zone as reflected in the Arab working paper on the issue, adopted by the Non‑Aligned Movement at the 2015 Review Conference. In addition, the Arab League looks forward to the Secretary‑General deploying his good offices in support of this important goal.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, noted that chemical, biological, and radiological weapons, if detonated intentionally or by accident, can cause massive loss of life, damage to property and great harm to the environment. The international community must fully and effectively implement all treaties concerning weapons of mass destruction and increase cooperation to eliminate chemical weapons. The Chemical Weapons Convention remains one of the most successful instruments of disarmament, as it completely prohibits an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.
Similarly, the Biological Weapons Convention represents a critical component of the international legal framework related to weapons of mass destruction, he said. In terms of practical cooperation, ASEAN is committed to improving regional capacities to address chemical, biological and radiological threats. Last week in Singapore, ASEAN defence ministers announced the establishment of an ASEAN network of experts on these materials to share best practices and to make quick contact during crises.
ANNE-SOFIE NILSSON (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said the potential use of weaponized scientific innovations constitutes an ever‑evolving security challenge. In that vein, the Nordic countries embrace the ambitious goals regarding chemical and biological non‑proliferation included in the Secretary‑General’s disarmament agenda. Welcoming the completion of chemical weapons destruction in Iraq and Libya, she remained highly concerned with the continued possession of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime and urged it to disclose all relevant information concerning its related activities. Condemning recent events in Salisbury and Amesbury, she reaffirmed support for the United Kingdom in the face of this grave challenge to collective security. She also condemned the hostile cyberoperation by Russian military intelligence services in April that targeted OPCW.
Meanwhile, she welcomed the agreement at the latest Meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention for a strengthened intersessional work programme. Nevertheless, she called on all States Parties not “to let the best be the enemy of the good”, but to move forward incrementally. Given the dire financial situation facing the Biological Weapons Convention, she called on parties in arrears of payment to provide all outstanding funding without delay. She went on to condemn ballistic missile programmes as highly destabilizing and called for restraint. In that connection, the Nordic countries support The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, calling on all States to subscribe.
Mr. TEN‑POW (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), reiterated his strong support for the Chemical Weapons Convention, which made a significant contribution towards the goal of general and complete disarmament as well as the codification of universal norms. “Frankly, we are dismayed and alarmed at the incidents confirmed by OPCW where chemicals have been used as weapons,” he said, condemning those actions in the strongest terms and calling upon States to uphold the Convention’s provisions. Any use of chemical weapons, under any circumstances, is unjustified, unacceptable and illegal, he said, calling for full and impartial investigations of any reports of their use. Such investigations, along with holding those responsible accountable, will further strengthen international norms against chemical weapon use while also ensuring that victims receive redress. The complete destruction of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles of several States, as verified by OPCW, is a tangible step towards the Convention’s universal implementation. Meanwhile, those Member States that may be defaulting on their obligations under the agreement should take the necessary steps to bring about full compliance.
Also voicing support for the Biological Weapons Convention, he said the treaty is vital at a time when developments in science and technology are increasing the possibility for the acquisition, access to and use of such weapons, including by non‑State actors. Noting that the Secretary‑General has observed that the world is largely unprepared for the catastrophic consequences that would result from the use of biological weapons, he called for robust measures at the national level to complement regional and international efforts to bring about the Convention’s full and effective implementation and asked those States that have not yet signed on to it to do so without delay.
ANNE KEMPPAINEN of the European Union said the repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria, Iraq, Malaysia and on European soil in the United Kingdom is a direct challenge to the global non‑proliferation and disarmament architecture outlawing the production, stockpiling and use of them and their precursors. Expressing grave concern over the failure to reach an agreement on the OPCW‑United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism mandate renewal, she also regretted to note the Russian Federation’s vetoes on the Security Council in this regard. Recalling the European Union’s 15 October adoption of a new regime of restrictive measures to address the use and proliferation of chemical weapons, she anticipated early progress on the listing of relevant individuals and entities. Condemning the March attack in Salisbury, she agreed with the Government of the United Kingdom’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible.
Welcoming the start of the 2018 to 2020 intersessional process of the Biological Weapons Convention, she voiced serious concern over the worsening financial situation of the instrument. As such, she called on all States to urgently fulfil their financial obligations to ensure that its meetings convene and to secure the continued operation of the implementation support unit. Delegation Member States will continue to support the Convention by offering capacity‑building assistance to interested States, and through the regional European Union Centres of Excellence, with a budget of €250 million for 2010 to 2020. Turning to ballistic missiles, she said the European Union strongly supports The Hague Code of Conduct as well as international export control regimes. The European Union’s dual‑use export control assistance benefits 34 countries, with projects worth more than €35 million since 2004.
YLEEM D. S. POBLETE (United States) said the Chemical Weapons Convention and the international norm against the use of such weapons is under direct assault and that lack of accountability breeds impunity and undermines arms control. Citing recent uses of chemical weapons around the world, she said the Russian Federation and Iran continue to protect the [Bashar Al-]Assad regime from international censure. Her delegation is also concerned about Iran’s compliance with the Convention. The United States, Canada and the Netherlands recently submitted a proposal to the Director General of OPCW to add Novichok chemical families to schedule 1 of the annex of chemicals, she said, calling on other States to support that proposal. The forthcoming Review Conference provides an opportunity to address the threat of toxic chemicals targeting the central nervous system, she said, calling on States to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention in areas on which there is substantial consensus and for parties in arrears on their payments to rectify the situation immediately.
Right of Reply
The representative of the United States, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that for more than four years, his country has raised the issue of the Russian Federation’s violations regarding the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, calling for a return to compliance. However, the United States has not been successful. Treaties need to be respected and the United States has given the Russian Federation plenty of evidence that they have developed and tested a cruise missile, to which it denied and then admitted, saying the range did not make it in violation of the Treaty. “Our patience has run very thin,” he said. The situation can be resolved quickly by the Russian Federation destroying this missile. The United States cannot stand back and allow this to continue without a response. It has been committed to the Treaty and wants to see the Russian Federation return to compliance.
The representative of the Russian Federation, said statements made claiming his country violated the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty are propaganda with a clear goal: to deflect criticism from the United States about its own non‑compliance with the instrument. While the United States accuses the Russian Federation of alleged violations without presenting any convincing facts, his Government’s concerns about non‑compliance are based on specific facts, including that the United States supports and develops low‑ and medium‑range ballistic missiles. Such violations have forced the United States to begin a campaign to discredit Moscow as a responsible participant of the Treaty. Recent statements by the United States show that the goal was actually to prepare international opinion for its own withdrawal from the Treaty. This is not the first agreement that risks being nullified because of the United States, he said, pointing at the 2002 withdrawal from the Anti‑Ballistic Missile Treaty, one of the instruments that promoted strategic stability, and more recently, from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Moreover, he expressed surprise by criticism from his counterpart from Poland, which hosts a base in violation of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and called on the United States to address existing violations of the Treaty. The Russian Federation is always open to dialogue across a series of disarmament and non‑proliferation issues. Concerning Ukraine, any accusations against his Government regarding the Budapest Memorandum are groundless and are anti‑Russia propaganda, as it was drawn up as a package of agreements to allow Ukraine to accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. Its provisions did not factor in domestic political and economic factors. Events in Ukraine clearly demonstrate that provisions of the Budapest Memorandum were not violated by the Russian Federation.
The representative of Syria said the statement delivered by Israel’s delegate was an attempt to mislead the Committee through false and baseless allegations, while diverting attention from Israel’s non‑accession to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and other related conventions. The Israeli entity refuses any initiative to declare the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons. Noting that European Union States have sponsored terrorists in Syria and supplied them with weapons, including toxic chemicals, he also responded to the statement by Sweden’s representative, on behalf of the Nordic countries, noting that several States in that group have been exporting terrorists to Syria since the start of the crisis. Condemning any use of chemical weapons as a crime against humanity that can never be justified, he said Syria has complied with all its commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Terrorist groups in Syria continue to obtain chemical weapons with the assistance of United Nations Member States. Responding to the statement delivered by the United States delegate — which was replete with contradictions — he said the representative failed to refer to any use of chemical weapons by terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, which have been proven by OPCW and the Security Council. The United States has also failed to destroy its own weapons of mass destruction, currently sponsors more than 25 secret biological weapons labs around the world and “is the worst violator of international conventions in the world”.
The representative of Iran, responding to the United States delegate regarding his country’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, said such baseless and unfounded allegations are being made by an Administration that has no limit to its manufacturing of stories, its distortion of facts or its spreading of lies. “They have no shame in adopting such a policy in the United Nations,” he said, recalling that Iran was the victim of chemical weapons use in the 1980s, when former President Saddam Hussein of Iraq used such weapons — provided by the United States — against Iranian troops and civilians. “That’s why we joined the [Chemical Weapons Convention],” he continued, rejecting any false allegations of Iran’s violations of that instrument. “The United States is undermining every international mechanism and this is no exception,” he said, adding that Washington, D.C. only seeks hegemony and lacks any respect for the rules‑based international order. In addition, the United States continues to miss deadlines to dismantle its own chemical weapons arsenals, despite possessing all the resources and tools to do so. The United States also persuades terrorists in Syria to use the chemical weapons it trained them to use, he said, asking the United States — a supporter of an Israeli regime that possesses weapons of mass destruction and respects no international rules — to “look in the mirror and see themselves”.
The representative of Ukraine read out specific provisions of the Budapest Memorandum that affirmed the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Yet, Ukraine’s current border has been violated and parts of it annexed by the Russian Federation. Nobody opposed those provisions at the time; it was only after occupying parts of Ukraine that the Russian Federation attempted to justify its illegal actions and direct violations of the Budapest Memorandum.
The representative of the United States said the missile systems referred to by his counterpart from the Russian Federation are fully consistent with the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty provisions and were developed and tested only to defend against objects not on the surface of the Earth. Turning to other concerns, he said Syria is one of the leading State sponsors of terrorism. For its part, the United States is on schedule to destroy its chemical stockpile by 2023 and denies that it is developing these capabilities. Meanwhile, Iran is in no position to call any State a liar. A leading State sponsor of terrorism in the world, Iran tries to claim it is a victim and a moderate, peace‑loving nation, but has no credibility. It is arming dangerous parties in the Middle East and around the world. It is part of its addiction to terrorism. The United States will not stand idly by while Iran continues its reign of terror. On 5 November, it will be much more difficult for Iran to fund its terrorist activities.
The representative of Syria said claims made by the United States rely on misinformation and are based on incitement at the expense of logic and scientific facts. The United States is the biggest financier and sponsor of terrorism, as evidenced by its support, financing and sponsorship of terrorists on Syrian soil. The United States, and two other countries, support terrorist groups and use them as an element of United States foreign policy. Successive administrations have failed to get rid of their chemical arsenals, but observers know that neither this Administration nor the next will eliminate these arsenals. Meanwhile, the Government of Syria has provided letters to the United Nations outlining how the United States has trained terrorists to compound chemical agents and use them. Moreover, United States forces present on Syrian soil have participated in transferring toxic chemicals to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh).