Cautioning against the start of a new worldwide arms race, on Earth and in outer space, delegates called for urgent, renewed efforts to move beyond the decades‑long stalemate in the disarmament machinery, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued its general debate today.
Representatives of nuclear‑weapon States explained their approach, with the representative of France saying deterrence continues to play a role in preserving regional and international security.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s delegate emphasized that full compliance with disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control obligations is essential to build trust and confidence. As such, he remained concerned that the Russian Federation caused the collapse of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and is developing and deploying new weapons that threaten European security and reduce the threshold for nuclear weapon use.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s representative said recent developments show that the world is in fact moving towards a nuclear arms race. The collapse of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the fierce competition and confrontation among the big Powers in Asia, the missile and anti‑missile testing by the United States and the “reckless misconduct” of Japan are just a few examples, he said.
Many non‑nuclear-weapon States condemned this new sprint to modernize and develop ever more deadly arsenals, with some calling for a return to negotiations and multilateralism to reach the shared‑by‑most goal of a world free of atomic bombs. Mongolia’s delegate pointed out that global military expenditure has increased at an alarming rate, 76 per cent higher than in 1998.
Agreeing with that message, Cuba’s delegate said 74 years after the criminal bombardments of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are still 13,865 nuclear weapons in the world. The only way to avoid their impact is with their total elimination, she said. However, the United States — the only country that has used atomic bombs — remains “the global leader” of nuclear testing and invests greatly in modernizing its arsenal.
Sharing another perspective, Botswana’s representative highlighted the role disarmament and non‑proliferation can play in achieving sustainable development, emphasizing that States who excessively spend resources on military often redirect funds from socioeconomic and environmental policy initiatives.
In light of the current security landscape, Kuwait’s delegate called for reflection in response to efforts by certain nuclear‑weapon States to enrich their arsenals and make deterrence part and parcel of their military doctrines.
Portugal’s representative underlined the need for action to address current tensions, including efforts geared towards extending the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, known as the New START Treaty, beyond 2021.
In this regard, the delegate of Switzerland called for safeguarding and strengthening the rules‑based international order, expressing concern that key instruments and norms in the areas of disarmament and arms control are being put to the test. “In some cases, they are even being called into question, a development that constitutes a regrettable backsliding and could lead to a new arms race,” he warned, citing the example of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
Sweden’s representative, declaring that the risks of a new arms race can no longer be ignored, said a single nuclear explosion would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences. She urged States to support the Secretary‑General’s new initiative, Securing Our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament. Ahead of the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, she said elements of a common‑ground package should include a reaffirmation of the instrument’s position as the cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation regime.
Many delegates agreed that the 2020 Review Conference will be a fresh opportunity to strengthen this instrument and deliver fruitful results. Japan’s representative said that despite the current erosion of the existing international disarmament and non‑proliferation order, members must fulfil all commitments and obligations ahead of the Review Conference. In addition, he said, his delegation will submit to the First Committee a new draft resolution on joint courses of action and future oriented dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons, containing six action areas.
One way to advance along the path of non‑proliferation is by establishing nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, some representatives said, with several calling for creating such an area in the Middle East. Delegates, including those from Singapore and Italy, cited the benefits of living in dedicated nuclear‑weapon‑free zones in their regions.
Iceland’s representative raised concerns about the spread of conventional arms, calling them the real weapons of mass destruction. Some delegates echoed that threat, sharing challenges in dealing with landmines scattered over their territories.
Iraq’s representative said these weapons are killing and maiming people all over the world, and currently in a high degree in his country, after the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). Describing mine‑clearing efforts and services offered to communities for the safe return of internally displaced persons, he asked for support from the international community “to rid ourselves from this dangerous form of armament”.
The delegate from Lao’s Peoples Republic said such unexploded ordinance also kills and maims people in his country every year, hindering national development. Clearing such munitions requires immense resources, he said, adding that the area of concern in his country is so vast, it is not known how long the task will take. On his part, the delegate from Thailand highlighted progress in clearing 86 per cent of landmines on its territory as of 2019.
At the start of the afternoon meeting, several delegates spoke on a point of order about resuming consideration of the adoption of its draft programme of work and timetable. After a short suspension for consultations, the First Committee Chair decided to re‑open the meeting, based on a decision that members made on 8 October to suspend discussions on the issuance of visas by the host country until after the general debate. For more information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3623.
Also speaking were representatives of New Zealand, Argentina, India, Canada, Libya, Qatar, Malaysia, Jamaica, Netherlands, South Africa, Brazil, Austria, Mali, Honduras, Colombia, Kenya, Bangladesh and Panama.
Representatives of China, Syria, Germany, Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and Cuba spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The First Committee will meet again on Tuesday, 15 October, at 3 p.m., to resume its general debate.
The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its general debate. For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3624 of 10 October.
SUPARK PRONGTHURA (Thailand), aligning himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that disarmament is a precondition for durable peace, security and development. On conventional weapons, he highlighted his country’s progress in clearing 86 per cent of landmines as of 2019 and its support of the Arms Trade Treaty. He also flagged upcoming opportunities to rebuild trust and move forward on a nuclear disarmament treaty. In this regard, he supported the advancement of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He called for Iran to return to full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on its nuclear programme and expressed hope for progress towards a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. He affirmed commitment as well towards strengthening the prohibitions on chemical and biological weapons and welcomed initiatives to stem potential new spheres of conflict in cyber and outer space. In the face of threats to multilateralism, he urged all parties to remain steadfast in support of the First Committee’s efforts to create a more secure and peaceful world.
SHUO WANG (Singapore) said that in an environment where multilateralism is increasingly under pressure, the international community must continue to affirm and strengthen the nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation regime. In that context, she urged all parties to the Joint Plan of Action to fulfil their obligations and continue dialogue. Renewal 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, known as the New START Treaty, is another priority. She urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abide by its international obligations and commence peaceful denuclearization for the benefit of peace and security in Asia. Supporting advancement of the non‑proliferation, fissile‑material and test‑ban treaties, she reaffirmed her delegation’s commitment to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon‑Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok, and welcomed all efforts to achieve peace in a similar zone in the Middle East. On conventional arms, she encouraged reporting on international transfers. It is also important to pursue international standards in the areas of cyberspace and outer space. Outlining Singapore’s compliance with its non‑proliferation and disarmament regimes, she emphasized that national and regional initiatives must complement the United Nations work to address interconnected and transboundary nuclear challenges.
YANN HWANG (France), welcoming the strengthening of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said resignation and paralysis in facing the threat of chemical weapons is not an option. In this regard, he highlighted France’s launch in 2018 of an international partnership against impunity for chemical‑weapons use, which now has 39 partners. Turning to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said it does not bind France, which sees nuclear deterrence continuing to play a role in preserving regional and international security. Meanwhile, strategic risks must be reduced. The objective of France’s presidency of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction is to foster operational cooperation between State parties. Regretting to note a decline in international cooperation to reduce threats, he drew attention to the French‑German launch of the Alliance for Multilateralism in April. On nuclear non‑proliferation, he said the United States and Russian Federation must continue to reduce their stockpiles. Other priorities include the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty, negative security assurances and other confidence builders. Within treaty frameworks, firm responses to proliferation crises are critical, he said, calling for inclusive and concerted work on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Existing instruments on conventional weapons must also be implemented, and the safety and security of outer space and the cyber domain must be ensured. Across the Committee’s agenda, transregional dialogue, moving away from stigmatization and toward consensus, is needed.
NOBUSHIGE TAKAMIZAWA (Japan) said international security and disarmament are mutually reinforcing, with the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons being one of the most important tools to achieve the goal of a world free of such arms. Despite the current erosion of the existing international disarmament and non‑proliferation order, he encouraged members to fulfil all commitments and obligations ahead of the treaty’s 2020 Review Conference. Japan will submit a new draft resolution on joint courses of action and future‑oriented dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons, containing six action areas. Turning to related concerns, he reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to achieving a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all Pyongyang’s nuclear weapon programmes, highlighting that recent ballistic missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea violate Security Council resolutions. With regard to recent reports on chemical weapon use, he expressed support for OPCW in identifying perpetrators.
DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) said the Secretary‑General’s Agenda for Disarmament — Securing Our Common Future — is one of the few reasons for optimism in the otherwise difficult global security environment. It falls on Member States to halt the weapons race, restore value to diplomacy and dialogue, and recommit to disarmament and the vision of the Charter of the United Nations. She underscored New Zealand’s efforts as coordinator of the De‑Alerting Group, which will push for lowering the launch readiness of nuclear weapon systems during the 2020 Review Conference of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. She expressed hope that international efforts to curb the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, including a political declaration on that topic in Dublin in 2020, will have a measurable impact. She went on to spotlight the connection between the Arms Trade Treaty and realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in the Pacific region.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, reasserted his country’s support for the prohibition of nuclear weapons. At the same time, unexploded ordinance continues to kill and maim his country’s people and hinders its development. Clearing such munitions requires immense resources, he said, adding that the area of concern is so vast, it is not known how long the task will take. He called on the international community to support the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s implementation of Goal 18 of its sustainable development programme, namely saving lives from unexploded ordinance. He went on to say that if Member States demonstrate strong political will and move forward on disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control, then they can gear their resources towards poverty reduction and sustainable development.
ANA SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said 74 years after the criminal bombardments of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are still 13,865 nuclear weapons in the world, their existence being a threat to the survival of humanity. The only way to avoid their impact is with their total elimination. However, the United States — the only country that has used atomic bombs — remains “the global leader” of nuclear testing, invests greatly in modernizing its arsenal and is failing to fulfill agreements such as the Joint Plan of Action. For its part, Havana has signed all treaties for the prohibition of chemical, biological and radiological weapons, she said, regretting to note that the United States’ 60‑year‑long blockade against Cuba has prevented its development scientifically. Emphasizing that Latin America and the Caribbean is a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, she called for creating such an area in the Middle East. She also rejected the militarization of outer space and cyberspace.
BAASANKHUU PUREV (Mongolia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said global military expenditure has increased at an alarming rate, 76 per cent higher than in 1998. For its part, Mongolia plans to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the near future and remains fully committed to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, Biological Weapons Convention, Test-Ban Treaty and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction. He expressed hope for productive deliberations and fruitful results at the forthcoming Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, emphasizing the agreement’s legitimacy in the light of a larger objective of disarmament. He expressed support for the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in verifying compliance and supporting signatories in fulfilling their rights to develop peaceful uses for atomic energy. Condemning the failure of the Conference on Disarmament to fulfil its mandate, he said the impasse is caused by seemingly incompatible differences among its members and must not be allowed to continue. Highlighting Mongolia’s non‑nuclear‑weapon State status, he affirmed his country’s desire for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said that as President of the Conference on Disarmament, his country tabled a draft decision to move the entity closer to developing negotiating mandates on its four core agenda items. Despite strong support, the draft was blocked by a small number of States, he said, adding that efforts will continue to get negotiations started in 2020. Emphasizing that full compliance with disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control obligations is essential to build trust and confidence, he said the Russian Federation’s responsibility for the collapse of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty demonstrated its disregard for such agreements, as did its increasingly dangerous and destabilizing activities, including secretly developed and deployed missiles that are mobile, hard to detect and capable of reaching European cities with little or no warning, reducing the threshold for nuclear use. The Russian Federation’s denials and attempts to distort the facts through disinformation are a threat to democracy and must be resisted. While underscoring London’s support for the Joint Plan of Action, he remained deeply concerned about Iran’s decreasing compliance with its obligations and urged Tehran to recommit to the deal. During the First Committee’s session, his delegation plans to focus on preparing for a successful outcome of the 2020 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and seeking with others a new concept of outer space that goes beyond the outdated notions of 30 years ago.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), noting that his country will serve as President of the 2020 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, underscored the pressing need to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear‑weapon States must not violate the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco. As such, he called on all parties to review their positions vis‑à‑vis this agreement. Drawing attention to the technical expertise and diplomatic experience of Argentina’s candidacy for the IAEA presidency, he said that since the establishment of that entity more than 60 years ago, it has never been led by someone from his region.
SARMAD AL-TAIE (Iraq), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Group of Arab States, called for the universalization of all treaties prohibiting nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction as the only guarantee they will never be used, given their catastrophic consequences on people and the environment. Disarmament remains Iraq’s top priority, and all States must commit to negotiations to put these weapons under strict control. He expressed concern for the failure of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review conference, calling for States to show flexibility and political will ahead of the 2020 Review Conference. Calling for the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, he said Israel must join all non‑proliferation treaties and agreements and put its arsenals under IAEA safeguards, like other countries have. Turning to the issue of landmines, he said they are killing and maiming people all over the world, especially in Iraq after the defeat of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). Highlighting existing mine‑clearing efforts and services offered to communities for the safe return of internally displaced persons, he said “we need the support of all countries to rid ourselves from this dangerous form of armament.” Reaffirming his belief in the multilateral approach to disarmament, he asked Member States to demonstrate flexibility and political will after two decades of a stalemate in advancing related efforts.
PANKAJ SHARMA (India), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the global security situation is in flux, with looming concerns over the demise of some landmark disarmament treaties, the lowering of the nuclear threshold and the inherent dangers of nuclear brinksmanship pursued by countries as a cover for cross‑border terrorism. Attributing the Conference on Disarmament’s failure to adopt a programme of work in 2019 to a lack of political will and fissiparous tendencies, he said it must return to substantive work as the sole negotiating forum of its kind. India supports the immediate start at the Conference on Disarmament of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, he said, adding that it also hopes to see substantive work soon on such issues as nuclear disarmament verification. Since 2017, India has sponsored draft resolutions on the impact of scientific and technological development, he said, also noting its launch in 2019 of a disarmament and international security fellowship for foreign diplomats.
JOHN DAVISON (Canada) said 2020 features opportunities for the international community to reconfirm its determination to make progress on disarmament and arms control. In this spirit, Canada will work for a positive outcome of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and, in the First Committee, join Germany and the Netherlands in tabling a draft resolution on a fissile material cut‑off treaty. Welcoming recent developments regarding OPCW, he underlined the importance of identifying those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, including the regime in Syria. He also noted that Canada became a State party to the Arms Trade Treaty in September. Applying a gender perspective across all disarmament issues remains fundamental for Canada, not only in terms of equal participation of women in disarmament processes but also in recognizing the differentiated gender impact of weapons. Raising other concerns, he said one incident in 2019 was a reminder to all of the urgent need to address threats to space objects and to avoid actions that intentionally cause space debris. Such debris challenge sustainability and stability in outer space. Canada would support a multilateral solution to address the testing of anti‑satellite weapons, thus increasing confidence and transparency among outer space actors.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Group of Arab States, regretted to note that in the past, there was a consensus to reduce investment in nuclear weapons and the world was presented with the alternative of either starting and arms race or focusing on economic development, but not both at the same time. Some Member States still hesitate in implementing the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, have not shown the will to continue with negotiations and continue to invest in developing and modernizing their arsenals. This makes other States want to acquire or develop their own, hindering disarmament on a global scale, he said, calling for legally binding treaties to address this phenomenon. He warned against new types of armament such as drones or lethal autonomous weapons, which present a fresh threat if they fall into the hands of illegal groups. Foreign interventions for selfish interests have triggered a number of conflicts, leaving thousands dead or wounded, with others becoming refugees, and have caused national divisions while flooding countries with all types of weapons. In this vein, he expressed support for the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. He also called for the intensification of information technologies and international cooperation to prevent them from falling into terrorist or illegal hands.
FELIX BAUMANN (Switzerland) called for safeguarding and strengthening the rules‑based international order, expressing concern that key instruments and norms in the areas of disarmament and arms control are being put to the test. “In some cases, they are even being called into question, a development that constitutes a regrettable backsliding and could lead to a new arms race,” he warned, citing the example of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. As such, the 2020 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference represents an important opportunity to strengthen this instrument, he said, noting the importance of avoiding polarization and taking pragmatic steps to implement the measures adopted at past conferences. Similarly, the Fourth Review Conference of Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction will set out steps towards a mine‑free world by 2025 and achieve the instrument’s visionary purpose. Developments in science and technology have promising civilian and military applications, but also create new challenges, he observed, adding: “we need to be able to rely on functioning and effective disarmament bodies which enable us to monitor such developments.”
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), aligning himself with the European Union, expressed concern about growing signs of a new arms race and underlined the need to extend the New START Treaty beyond 2021. Voicing several concerns, he said Portugal continues to support the Joint Plan of Action and encourages Iran to fully comply with the agreement. Meanwhile, the complete and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is necessary, he said, calling on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to full compliance with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. Highlighting the role of OPCW in upholding the global norm against chemical weapon use, he called for new instruments to assist in these efforts, such as an attribution mechanism. The full and equal participation of women in all decision‑making processes related to disarmament is essential, he said, suggesting that incorporating gender perspectives will help to revitalize the disarmament machinery. Regulating the legal trade and fighting the illegal traffic of conventional arms and ammunitions is also critical, he said, commending the Programme of Action on Small Arms and underscoring the relevance of the Arms Trade Treaty.
ABDULMOHSEN A. ALMANSOURI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, called for reflection in response to efforts by certain nuclear‑weapon States to enrich their arsenals and to make nuclear deterrence part and parcel of their military doctrines. The credibility and effectiveness of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty must be strengthened, he said, calling on States to work towards consensus at the 2020 Review Conference. Kuwait will participate actively in the forthcoming conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of atomic bombs and other weapons of mass destruction, to be held at Headquarters in November. He underscored the inalienable right of States to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes without restrictions. He went on to voice concern about the use of armed drones to attack national infrastructure, saying Kuwait was pleased to hear the Secretary‑General call for a mechanism to control their use. A legal framework is required to ensure the safety of civilians and strengthen regional and international security, he said, adding that recent attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia threatened both peace and the global economy.
MILIKO LABA (Botswana), calling on the international community to address current global security challenges, highlighted the role disarmament and non‑proliferation play in achieving sustainable development. States that excessively spend resources on military are redirecting funds from socioeconomic and environmental policy initiatives. The illicit trade, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons often worsens conflicts, he said, noting that Botswana recently joined the Arms Trade Treaty and signed the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Although the participation of women in disarmament remains low, women often suffer disproportionate harm from the development, use and trade of weapons, he said, calling for more gender diversity in disarmament discussions and negotiations.
KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said recent developments show that the world is moving towards a nuclear arms race. He pointed to, among other things, the collapse of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, fierce competition and confrontation among the big Powers in Asia, missile and anti‑missile testing by the United States and the “reckless misconduct” of Japan as it aims to become a major military power. On the Korean Peninsula, the resumption of joint military exercises and deployment of new military hardware run counter to the atmosphere of dialogue and reconciliation. For Pyongyang, any attempt to bring about a new cold war and to give rise to a global nuclear arms race should not be tolerated. Emphasizing his country’s right to self‑defence, he said that Pyongyang neither recognizes nor accepts Security Council sanctions against it. The prevailing international situation proves that strong national power is the fundamental guarantee of independent development and peaceful prosperity.
GIANFRANCO INCARNATO (Italy) said that special efforts should be made to avoid a new arms race. The Non‑Proliferation Treaty provides the only realistic legal framework for effective multilateralism and nuclear disarmament. Any improvement can be achieved only in accordance with article VI. He reiterated his delegation’s support for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. In addition, Italy believes the Joint Plan of Action remains essential to strengthen the non‑proliferation architecture. He also expressed support for working towards creating a mine‑free world. To preserve the long‑term sustainability, safety and security of the space environment, he suggested that a comprehensive international regulatory measure should be enacted.
JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland), associating himself with the Nordic countries, said chemical weapons are still being used, small arms are widely available in conflict areas and the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty has run its course due to the Russian Federation’s non‑compliance. Expressing hope that the 2020 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will be successful, he called for the extension of the New START Treaty and encouraged the Russian Federation and the United States to reach an early agreement. He called for support for other conventions, including the Test‑Ban Treaty, as important factors in advancing along the non‑proliferation path. The common goal should be a world without nuclear weapons and that chemical weapons are never used again. However, conventional arms are the true weapons of mass‑destruction, with more than 500,000 killed by them every year, he said, calling for the full implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and a halt to trafficking.
ANN-SOFIE NILSSON (Sweden), associating herself with the European Union and the Nordic countries, said the risks of a new arms race — and the use of nuclear weapons, intentional or otherwise — can no longer be ignored. A single nuclear explosion would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences, she said, urging States to support the Secretary‑General’s disarmament initiative. Ahead of the 2020 Review Conference, she said elements of a common‑ground package should include a reaffirmation of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s position as the cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation regime. She urged remaining Annex 2 States to take concrete steps towards ratifying the Test‑Ban Treaty. However, Sweden will refrain from signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons due to concerns raised during its negotiation. Early agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation on a five‑year extension of their New START Treaty would be a key scene setter for the 2020 Review Conference. She urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to formalize its commitment toward denuclearization, and expressed regret at the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Plan of Action, also urging Iran to fully cooperate with IAEA safeguards. The 2020 Review Conference is a chance to unlock disarmament diplomacy. “If we are to succeed, nuclear and non‑nuclear States alike must now engage fully and in a spirit of compromise,” she said, adding that constructive discussions in the Committee would be a good start.
TALAL RASHID N. M. AL‑KHALIFA (Qatar), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Group of Arab States, said human security requires collective action, but achieving that goal is contingent on eliminating contemporary tensions. He called for the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a balanced and comprehensive programme of work. On nuclear proliferation, he expressed extreme concern over the lack of progress in ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction and looked forward to the forthcoming conference on establishing a zone free of these arms. Noting that Qatar was a recent victim of a cyberattack, he said cybersecurity must be enhanced, as the abuse of cyberspace threatens both persons and States and requires international regulation.
SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said all States have a responsibility to preserve the global disarmament and arms control architecture and to advance nuclear disarmament. Better conceptualization is required, with the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons being one paradigm that can lead to better discourse and understanding. Ahead of the 2020 Review Conference, Malaysia supports the Secretary‑General’s call for States to reconcile divergent positions. Public education about the threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity must be enhanced. Malaysia will keep working with other ASEAN member States on the signing and ratification of the Protocol to the Treaty of Bangkok by nuclear‑weapon States. However, he remained deeply concerned over the reported launch of a weapons‑grade projectile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 2 October in the sea near Japan. Such a development is counterproductive, he said, calling for the resumption of reconciliation efforts, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of Security Council resolutions relating to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
DIEDRE NICHOLE MILLS (Jamaica) raised concerns about the failing New START Treaty, without which there will be no legally binding limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972. The termination of the 1987 Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is also a cause for concern. The situation is made more tenuous by the fact that military spending totalled $1.8 trillion in 2018, a significant increase over the previous years. Her delegation holds out hope that the Test‑Ban Treaty will eventually enter into force. Jamaica is undertaking its internal legal and administrative processes to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Concerned that the United Nations disarmament machinery, which includes the Disarmament Commission and the Conference on Disarmament, is not functioning effectively, she expressed hope that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s 2020 Review Conference will adopt robust recommendations by consensus, which eluded the previous 2015 meeting.
ROBERT GABRIELSE (Netherlands) said the world is facing serious threats to the multilateral architecture of disarmament and must uphold and strengthen the existing nuclear non‑proliferation agreements, including the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), endorsing the Joint Plan of Action, is under increasing pressure, he said, calling on all parties to fully implement its provisions, including the element on ballistic missile related activities. Efforts to address proliferation challenges posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must be actively supported by the international community. Emphasizing the threat of malicious cyberoperations and fully autonomous weapon systems, he expressed support for current multilateral efforts in both the Open‑Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts. Turning to conventional weapons, he said the Netherlands will contribute to the Review Conference of the Mine Ban Convention. The international community must improve and modernize the disarmament machinery, he said, urging Member States to meet their financial obligations to relevant conventions in full and on time.
XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group, Non‑Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition, said the best way to uphold and preserve the Non‑Proliferation Treaty is to implement it. He recalled his country’s ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in February as well as its participation in the Open‑Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts on developments in the field of information and communications technology in the context of global security. Noting that 2019 marks the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, he emphasized the important role of such zones to global disarmament and non‑proliferation efforts.
MARCELO CAMARA (Brazil), associating himself with the New Agenda Coalition, said the international disarmament and non‑proliferation regime has moved towards a “state of dangerous dysfunctionality” over the past few years, with agreements such as the Non‑Proliferation Treaty being called into question or being abandoned, as is the case with the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. He called for all stakeholders to refuse to accept this situation as a “new normal”, asking delegates to seize the opportunity offered in the 2020 Review Conference. He regretted to note that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty has failed to deliver the ultimate objective of the total elimination of nuclear weapons and has often been used as a thinly veiled justification for the infinite maintenance of existing arsenals. In this regard, he viewed the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an “evolutionary leap” for the disarmament regime. As a member of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, Brazil is located in a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, he said, calling for the creation of new ones on the basis of agreements freely arrived at by all States of the regions concerned.
JAN KICKERT (Austria) said that despite an acceleration in producing new technologies that reduce reaction times and lead to increasing automation, the disarmament architecture is being blocked by procedural issues and there is a lack of progress on existing commitments. The weaponization of artificial intelligence poses challenges to international law and it is imperative that humans remain in control of selecting targets. Emphasizing the importance of preserving outer space for peaceful uses, he called on Governments to establish global mechanisms that would ensure that end. Turning to the effects of the urbanization of warfare, he said Austria is participating in the Vienna Conference on the Protection of Civilians in Urban Warfare. Considering the lack of progress on the nuclear disarmament front, he expressed regret that the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is no longer in force and urged the Russian Federation and the United States to find an arrangement that would ensure atomic bombs are not deployed, as well as start discussions on the extension of the New START Treaty. The entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty is more important than ever before, he said, also welcoming the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said his country’s commitment to disarmament is reflected in its firm support of the Secretary‑General’s disarmament agenda and the African Union’s Silencing the Guns by 2020 initiative. He emphasized that small arms and light weapons claim more lives than any other type of weapon, with consequences that thwart development efforts. Controlling illicit flows of such weapons is a true challenge, particularly in the Sahel. As a major victim of their impact, Mali calls for the responsible application of relevant international instruments, including through tracing procedures and by preventing their transfer to unauthorized entities.
EILLIM NYLECOJ FLORES IRACHEZ(Honduras), associating herself with the Central American Integration System, said that to the best of its abilities, her country has always supported efforts to strengthen the nuclear disarmament regime, including through the Treaty of Tlatelolco. In keeping with the Programme of Action on Small Arms, and to prevent and eradicate the smuggling of conventional weapons and their diversion to the black market, Honduras recently adopted legislation to control the flow of firearms, ammunition, explosives and related materials. She also noted her country’s ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty and the Inter‑American Convention against the Illicit Manufacture of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials. But, much remains to be done, she said, with the risk of an arms race greater than ever before and military expenditures growing, diverting resources away from the Sustainable Development Goals. She went on to emphasize the vital importance of international cooperation for the transfer of technology, the exchange of experiences and the training of civil servants.
NOHRA QUINTERO (Colombia) said small arms and light weapons trafficking is a priority for her delegation because it is closely linked to drug smuggling, terrorism and organized crime. In this regard, she commended the Programme of Action on Small Arms, asking for munition, parts and components to be also subjected to controls. Pointing out that gun trafficking uses the same infrastructure as drug smuggling, she regretted to note that the world is flooded by “low cost weapons” and called for international cooperation to curb this problem. Turning to the issue of atomic bombs, she said Colombia’s foreign policy is based on the goal of total elimination of weapons of mass destruction and showed support for the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, a cornerstone of the disarmament regime. Condemning the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, she said OPCW is the right forum to address related issues. Commending the Biological Weapons Convention as the first treaty to ban a whole category of weapons, she called for added financial support for its full implementation.
LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said global cooperation is the key to addressing current security challenges. Fully committed to disarmament and non‑proliferation, he said Kenya has called for a total ban of weapons of mass destruction. Speaking of new threats, he called for an open, secure and stable cyberspace. “It is necessary to make an effort to prevent terrorists from attacking or recruiting our youth in cyberspace,” he said, emphasizing Kenya’s commitment to international laws that promote a free and peaceful Internet. As for small arms and light weapons, he deplored their wide availability and misuses that fuel unnecessary conflicts which in turn cause the displacement of millions of people and fuel illegal activities such as poaching and piracy. To remedy this situation, he called for the full implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, urged all parties to return to the time‑tested track of dialogue and diplomacy in order to transcend narrow divides, escalatory political rhetoric and possible threat of military action and use of nuclear weapons. “We urge all concerned to forge ahead with their ongoing efforts toward lasting peace and security in the Korean Peninsula,” he added. The ultimate guarantee of international peace and security can be ensured only by the total elimination of nuclear weapons. To that end, Bangladesh has signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and ratified it in September. He welcomed the convening of the first session of a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, also emphasizing: “There should not be an impediment to pursue the inalienable rights of all States to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” The international community must redouble its efforts for the Test‑Ban Treaty’s entry into force and commence negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a fissile material cut‑off treaty. With the launch of the Bangabandhu‑1 satellite, Bangladesh now has an enhanced stake in preventing an arms race in outer space.
ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) said it is not right for countries to “twiddle their thumbs” in the face of the erosion of the international arms control architecture. She noted that Panama was among the first to sign the Treaty of Tlatelolco, adding that the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean represents a benchmark for the world. She went on to say that the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty will make it possible to exchange information between States, including data from monitoring stations, one of which is based in Panama. She also drew attention to a peer review exercise with the Dominican Republic on measures taken to implement Security Council non‑proliferation resolutions.
Right of Reply
The representative of China, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, and referring to remarks made at a previous meeting by his counterpart from the United States, said that if anyone seeks to name and shame his country in future Committee meetings, then Beijing will fight back. “That I assure you,” he said.
The representative of Syria said the failure of the 2015 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was due to the United States, United Kingdom and others insisting on protecting Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons and its non‑accession to that instrument. The United Kingdom is among those European countries exporting terrorists and terrorism, especially to Syria. He condemned the “campaign of lies and negative propaganda” launched against his country by France, which has supplied weapons and ammunition, including toxic chemicals, to armed terrorist groups.
The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the 29 member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and replying to remarks by the Russian Federation, said NATO allies are committed to the full implementation of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty in all its aspects. The Alliance’s nuclear arrangements have always been consistent with the Treaty, he said, adding that the nuclear‑weapon States of the Alliance retain full control and custody of their weapons. NATO nuclear arrangements have been in place since 1970 when the Treaty came into force and basic provisions were made public and shared with the negotiating parties.
The representative of the Russian Federation, in response to his counterpart from the United Kingdom, said Moscow remains committed to nuclear disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons. It continues to make its contribution to article VI of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. For more than 30 years, the Russian Federation has strictly abided by its obligations under the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and it rejects unfounded baseless accusations that it violated the instrument and bears responsibility for its demise. Unlike another key participant in that Treaty, one which has been waging a propaganda campaign against Moscow, the Russian Federation has taken concrete steps to address stated concerns, including conducting a demonstration of a missile system.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said remarks made by representatives of France, United Kingdom, Sweden and some other Member States were provocations against his country. It was preposterous for them to criticize his country’s self‑defence efforts while remaining silent on missile tests by the United States. He denounced sanctions imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, saying they are not the answer or a solution to outstanding problems. He went on to say that Japan should address its past and the astronomical damage it has inflicted on the Korean Peninsula.
The representative of the United States said he categorically and emphatically rejects Cuba’s remarks on his country’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that United States President Donald J. Trump has held out the prospect of a much brighter future for that country if it makes the strategic decision to denuclearize. In this regard, he urged Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table. Replying to comments made by Syria’s representative, he said that no matter how often he takes the floor, it does not change the fact that the Syrian regime has carried out horrific crimes for which it will be held to account. Replying to the Russian Federation, he said the so‑called missile demonstration did not address the range of that device, which was the key issue at hand. The United States made every effort to save the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, but it was the Russian Federation that caused its demise.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the wild fabrications and conspiracy theories of his counterpart from Syria could not go unanswered. His statement hardly replied to the fact that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons, he said, adding that if that delegate has a coherent reply, he would like to hear it.
The representative of France said that with its baseless and ridiculous accusations, the delegate from Syria’s remarks were an opportunity to go back to the facts about the use of chemical weapons. The list of violations is a long and striking one and when the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on 7 April 2017, “they knew what they were signing up for”. France responded in a transparent and limited manner to avoid escalation with stakeholders on the ground, he stated.
The representative of Japan, responding to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that since the end of the Second World War, his country has followed path of a peace‑loving nation. It will continue to do so as a responsible member of the international community. Japan’s defence programme is transparent and its military is under strict civilian control, he said, adding that its nuclear programme, including plutonium stocks, is subject to IAEA safeguards.
The representative of Cuba, replying to the United States, said that country is the only chemical‑weapon‑possessing State that has not confirmed the full destruction of its chemical weapons as per the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The representative of Syria said British colonization has had disastrous consequences for the Middle East and that the United Kingdom’s blind support for Israel only exacerbates crises in the region. British intelligence services put pressure on terrorist organizations that they created, namely the White Helmets, in order to play out the Douma incident. Turning to France’s remarks, he said that country respects no international norms or conventions, and that it probably has forgotten the nuclear tests it carried out in Polynesia and Algeria. French policies also contributed to the crisis in Syria.
The representative of the Russian Federation, replying to his colleague from the United States, said that for 10 years or more, Washington, D.C. has blocked the work of the mechanism established through the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to address concerns about its implementation. Just two weeks after the cessation of that instrument, the United States tested a ground‑based cruise missile over a distance that would have been prohibited by the Treaty. That fact and others eloquently confirm who eroded the Treaty and for what purpose.
The representative of the United States said he categorically and emphatically rejects Cuba’s charge. He said his country is on target to destroying the last remnants of its chemical weapons stockpile by 2023 because, unlike Cuba, it is a democracy. Turning to his counterpart from the Russian Federation, he said the United States complied with its obligations under the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and tested no weapon subject to that instrument while it was in force. He added that it is prudent for the United States to address emerging security challenges posed by China and the Russian Federation.
The representative of Cuba said she fully rejects the United States remarks. That country should have completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile by 2012. In response to the United States delegate’s remarks about democracy, she said the United States has no moral authority to give Cuba lessons, having twice used nuclear weapons as well as having used chemical weapons in Viet Nam.