There is need to galvanize action to swiftly and permanently rid the world of atomic bombs, especially as the global community grapples with the coronavirus, delegates said today during the General Assembly’s high-level meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
“With our collective determination, I am confident that we can deliver on this commitment,” said Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, opening the day-long meeting. Noting that more than 15,000 atomic bombs remain operational, collectively making the world less safe, he said atomic bombs are not compatible with the collective view of the future, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic forced all States to reflect on the kind of world they want. He recalled that the General Assembly’s very first resolution, adopted in 1946, called for global nuclear disarmament after the horrific use of such weapons more than 76 years ago, when two atomic bombs devastated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, killing nearly 300,000 people.
Secretary-General António Guterres agreed, saying: “Your predecessors in this Assembly understood the fatal flaw behind the use of these weapons; the only inheritance for the victor would be a broken and barren world.” He warned that mutual distrust could lead to mutual destruction, and even eradicate all life on the planet because ultimately, nuclear conflict has no victors, only victims. Even now, the nuclear risk has reached levels not seen in almost four decades, he said, noting, however, that signs of hope have emerged, including the entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in January. Encouraging collective action, he said: “Let’s seize the opportunities this year will present to move closer to our goal of eliminating these weapons.”
Japan’s representative urged States to ensure that the tragedy of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not be repeated. As the only country to have experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war, Japan underlines the need to communicate the realities of atomic bombings across generations and beyond national borders, he said.
President David Kabua of the Marshall Islands recalled that the testing of atomic bombs was conducted in his country from 1946 to 1958 while it was a ward of the United States under the United Nations trusteeship system, which authorized the tests. Long-term effects lingered in the lives, health, culture and environment of the islands for decades, he said, calling for concrete, time-bound disarmament outcomes at the global level.
Many delegates urged States to make these commitments by, among other things, adhering to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, with its three pillars — disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of atomic energy. Many recognized the important safeguard systems of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and encouraged nuclear-weapon-States to join or ratify all relevant conventions to make them operational, including the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which opened for signature in 1996 but has yet to enter into force.
Jeyhun Aziz Oglu Bayramov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said nuclear disarmament has historically been the membership’s highest priority. Convening the United Nations High-Level International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, as mandated by General Assembly resolutions, would provide an important opportunity to review the progress made and further promote that noble objective, he said, adding: “It is time to take a new and comprehensive approach on nuclear disarmament.”
Libya’s delegate emphasized, on behalf of the Arab Group, the need to work harder towards establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
Fiji’s representative, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, called for an end to all actions inconsistent with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, such as developing new types of weapons.
Gabon’s representative reiterated the African Group’s commitment to the Treaty of Pelindaba. He also called upon States to engage constructively on implementation of the 1995 resolution to free the Middle East of nuclear weapons, which “creates an equitable, sustainable and non-discriminatory security architecture in the region.”
President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of Malawi echoed the frustration of many non-nuclear-weapon States with the slow pace of disarmament, saying a world free of such weaponry feels increasingly like a pipe dream. Recalling that four of the Security Council’s five permanent members recently engaged in a “public war of words over nuclear submarines”, he said he remains concerned about the continued proliferation and stockpiling of atomic bombs and the nuclear ambitions of States wishing to follow suit.
Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón, Mexico’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, was among several speakers who expressed concern about ballooning military budgets, pointing out that the nuclear-weapon States spent $72.6 billion in 2020 to modernize their arsenals and develop new weaponry as the world grappled — and still struggles — to contain COVID-19.
Some speakers voiced concern that the nuclear-weapon States, including some of the five permanent Council members, are violating their treaty agreements by modernizing and enlarging their arsenals. Many agreed that the funds spent on updating arsenals would be better spent on realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, because the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 reversed the hard-won development gains of many countries.
China’s representative, expressing full support for disarmament goals, said the current security landscape continues to espouse a cold war mentality. China, for its part, maintains its commitment not to be the first to use atomic bombs, and not to use them — or threaten their use — against non-nuclear-weapon States or in nuclear-weapon-free zones.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan said nuclear weapons are a “political choice”, recalling the decision by his country’s Government in 1991 to shut down what was then the world’s fourth largest atomic arsenal. Furthermore, the Central Asia region has been a nuclear-weapon-free zone since 2006, the first located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere, he noted, urging others to join it.
Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, summed up a common call, emphasizing that there is work to be done with nuclear weapons still proliferating around the world 51 years after the Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force.
Pedro Brolo Vila, Guatemala’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, struck a similar note, noting: “Seventy-six years have passed since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; these events confirmed to the world that these weapons should never have been invented.”
Also delivering statements were Heads of State and Government, ministers and other speakers representing Nigeria, Kiribati, Guyana, Fiji, Namibia, Kyrgyzstan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Bangladesh, South Africa, Honduras, Ecuador, Indonesia, Lesotho, Ireland, Venezuela, Malta, Suriname, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Algeria, New Zealand, Argentina, Jamaica, Malaysia, India, Mauritius, Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, Uruguay, Turkey, Panama, Cambodia, Uganda, Thailand, Iran, Iraq, Niger, Qatar, Austria, Lebanon, Mongolia, Viet Nam, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Dominican Republic, Jordan, Comoros, Albania, Samoa, Brazil, Philippines, Morocco, Timor-Leste, Ghana, United Republic of Tanzania, Paraguay, Bolivia, Nepal and Burkina Faso.
Observed annually on 26 September since 2013, the International Day offers Member States an opportunity to take stock of global disarmament efforts and to turn promises into progress.
The General Assembly will meet again on 11 October to consider the follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.
ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, said more than 76 years ago, the world bore witness to the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons ‑ two atomic bombs that devastated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed nearly 300,000 people. The event dramatically escalated humankind’s destructive capacity while at the same time demonstrating ‑ perhaps truly for the first time - the very real ability to wipe out the entirety of the human race. While many countries continue to keep and invest in nuclear arsenals for their safety and security, the result is actually quite the opposite. Approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons are still spread around the world, with hundreds on high alert and ready to be launched at a moment’s notice, collectively making the world less safe.
Citing a range of global actions needed to make humanity more secure, he pointed to the General Assembly’s first resolution, adopted in 1946, calling for global nuclear disarmament. The entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 22 January 2021, was a milestone in global efforts towards nuclear disarmament. Urging Member States that have not done so to consider ratifying it, he also welcomed the recent agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) through 2026.
While there is progress, there are at least 15,000 reasons why much more remains to be done, he said, calling for redoubled efforts. As the world marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, he echoed the pressing urgency to make it an effective legal framework, calling on Member States that have not yet signed or ratified it to do so without delay. Noting that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remains the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, he urged States to use its upcoming 2020 Review Conference to renew commitments and to set aside differences to reach mutually agreeable steps towards the total elimination of atomic weaponry.
He said the United Nations has, since 2013, annually marked 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, with the aim of mobilizing political commitment towards ridding the world of its atomic arsenals. “Let us do that now ‑ let us demonstrate our commitment to a better world,” he said. Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced all States to reflect on the kind of world they want to live in, he said nuclear weapons are incompatible with collective views of the future. “Our constituents expect a world built on hope ‑ where humanity is in harmony with nature, where strength is measured in our coming together for a common and just cause, and where future generations can be proud that our actions today have resulted in a planet that is at peace with itself,” he said, pledging to engage with Member States on how best to quickly and comprehensively free the world of its nuclear arsenals. “With our collective determination, I am confident that we can deliver on this commitment,” he concluded.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, noted the first resolution of the General Assembly called for the creation of a commission to eliminate atomic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. “Your predecessors in this Assembly understood the fatal flaw behind the use of these weapons,” he said, as “the only inheritance for the victor would be a broken and barren world.” Mutual distrust could lead to mutual destruction, and even eradicate all life on the planet. “Because ultimately, nuclear conflict has no victors. Only victims,” he said.
He noted that in the ensuing decades, countries ignored “this cold logic” and engaged in a perilous competition, matching weapon for weapon and stockpile for stockpile. “The shadow of the Cold War haunted generations to follow,” he stated, with children learning to hide under their desks. Although States justified their actions as self-defense, “A nuclear arsenal is not self-defense. It is suicide,” he said. Nuclear weapons remain today’s threat, with 14,000 stockpiled around the world, and worrying signs of a new arms race as States continue to modernize their arsenals. While the nuclear risk has reached levels not seen in almost four decades, he noted there are signs of hope; the decision by the Russian Federation and the United States to extend the new START Treaty and begin a strategic dialogue is a welcome step, as is the entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in January.
Calling on all States to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’ goals and recognize its place in the global disarmament architecture, he noted the next year will bring fresh opportunities including the long-delayed Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. These discussions offer a window of opportunity to adopt new measures to reduce the risk of a nuclear detonation. However, he stressed that eliminating nuclear risk means eliminating nuclear weapons, the goal at the core of his Disarmament Agenda, also addressing the proliferation of conventional and new battlefield technologies.
In the meantime, he called on all States to prevent any possible use of existing weapons. Noting that COVID-19 has taught the world to expect the unexpected, the cloud of nuclear destruction looms largest against that unstable backdrop. “Humanity remains one misunderstanding, one misstep, one miscalculation, one pushed button away from annihilation,” he stressed, a shadow cast over humanity for too long. “Let’s seize the opportunities this year will present to move closer to our goal of eliminating these weapons” in rejection of the poisonous and flawed logic of endless nuclear competition, he stressed.
MUHAMMADU BUHARI, President of Nigeria, said today’s commemoration is a reminder of unfulfilled commitments and an important opportunity to reflect on the existential threats and consequences of nuclear arsenals, including unbearable human and environmental costs. Nuclear weapons and their proliferation present threats to international security, and their elimination is a common goal. “The urgency has never been greater,” he stressed. Elimination can be a catalyst for global peace, security and development, he said, adding that Africa has long acknowledged the existential threat, as its countries collectively adopted the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Pelindaba Treaty. He also noted that Nigeria was the first country to condemn France’s nuclear tests in the Sahara Desert in the 1960s.
DAVID KABUA, President of the Marshall Islands recalled that, in 1954, his country — a ward of the United States under the United Nations trusteeship system — petitioned the Organization to halt the testing of nuclear weapons on its territory. “Instead of listening to the pleas for help by the Marshallese people, two Trusteeship resolutions were introduced, authorizing testing of nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands,” he said, recalling that 67 nuclear weapons were tested between 1946 and 1958. Describing their impacts, which have lingered in the lives, health, culture and environment of the islands for decades, he described the effects as “burdens that no other nation or country should ever have to bear”. Against that backdrop, he welcomed effective and meaningful progress by major Powers and nuclear-weapon States — in whatever form it can be achieved — while calling for concrete, timebound outcomes at the global level.
KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, said the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for humanity to augment its collective efforts against the existential threat of nuclear weapons. Welcoming the recent adoption of, and resumption of dialogue on, various framework documents on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons by global Powers, he observed that Kazakhstan recently marked the thirtieth anniversary of its decisions to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and to renounce the world’s fourth-largest nuclear stockpile. Fifteen years later, the Central Asian region is a nuclear weapon-free zone ‑ the first located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere. Emphasizing that: “nuclear weapons are a political choice”, he reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s resolve to achieve the earliest possible entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, while noting that his country is carrying out a comprehensive feasibility study on the development of its nuclear power industry.
TANETI MAAMAU, President of Kiribati, noted that his country was one of the three small island nations in the Pacific whose atmosphere, ocean and land were heavily damaged and contaminated by a total of 34 nuclear blasts in the 1950s and 1960s. Voicing Kiribati’s commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world, he said it continues to engage and support the informal consultations on the organization of the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Among other things, he expressed particular concern about the recent announcement of future nuclear-powered machines in the Pacific, which came as a surprise due to lack of consultation with countries in the region. Kiribati remains committed to supporting disarmament efforts and is prepared to host a regional centre of learning for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
MOHAMED IRFAAN ALI, President of Guyana, said progress in achieving a nuclear weapon-free world remains markedly slow. “The multidimensional impacts of the present COVID-19 pandemic should force a re-think of the way we have been approaching the disarmament agenda, especially given the nexus between peace and sustainable development,” he said, adding: “We simply cannot continue to expend large amounts of resources on the instruments of war while many around the world are in dire need of support.” Describing the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 22 January as a watershed moment, he also joined others in urging States whose ratifications are required for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’s entry into force to do so without delay.
LAZARUS McCARTHY CHAKWERA, President of Malawi, said a world free of nuclear weapons feels increasingly like a pipe dream, with four of the five permanent members of the Security Council engaged just days ago in a “public war of words over nuclear submarines”. “For a peaceful nation like Malawi, a nation with no history of armed conflict … the virtues of warmongering have never occurred to us, and heaven forbid that this should ever change,” he said. Describing the continued proliferation and stockpiling of nuclear weapons as “saddening and frightening”, he said that stockpiling ‑ as well as the nuclear ambitions of States that wish to follow suit ‑ represent the two greatest threats. He went on to call for the inclusion of a permanent seat for Africa on the Security Council to deliberate matters of international peace and security.
JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji, expressed concern about the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, and the stockpiling and further development of nuclear weapons. “The world is not made safer by increasing the number and sophistication of nuclear weapons in the hope that they will never be used,” he stressed, recalling that Fiji signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “because it was the right thing to do”. He urged all Member States to do the same. Since the first nuclear test in the Bikini Atoll in 1946, more than 300 nuclear tests were conducted across the Pacific, with severe intergenerational impacts on humans and the environment. “The commitment of the Pacific Island nations to the elimination of nuclear weapons is not based on an abstraction,” he said, adding that its experience is at the root of its sense of urgency.
NETUMBO NANDI-NDAITWAH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, observed that, despite the catastrophic events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons continue to be at the centre of several States’ national security strategies. Current efforts to modernize those arsenals has resulted in an ever-increasing trust deficit between countries. In that context, she encouraged nuclear-weapon States to report their disarmaments efforts to the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA). Without transparency, there is no accountability, she stressed, adding that “no one can win a nuclear war”. As such, she proposed a decade of action against nuclear weapons, with clear targets, stressing: “The world doesn’t need to be constantly in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe.”
JEYHUN AZIZ OGLU BAYRAMOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said nuclear disarmament historically has been the membership’s highest priority, reiterating concern over the threat to humanity posed by the continued existence of atomic bombs and their possible use or threat of use. Convening the United Nations High-Level International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, as mandated by General Assembly resolutions, would provide an important opportunity to review progress made and further promote that noble objective. However, the Movement remains deeply concerned about slow advancement along that path and the lack of progress among nuclear-weapon States in totally eliminating their arsenals, he said, reaffirming the need for those nations to take urgent, concrete actions. Among other concerns, he said, nuclear-weapon States are violating their legal obligations by modernizing arsenals and developing new types of atomic weaponry, as provided for in such military doctrines as the United States Nuclear Posture Review.
“It is time to take a new and comprehensive approach on nuclear disarmament,” he declared. While welcoming the first session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction, held in 2019, and anticipating a fruitful second session, he said the Movement remains concerned about delays. Drawing attention to the resolution adopted at the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference calling for the creation of such a zone, he strongly urged the Secretary-General and resolution’s three co-sponsors to fully implement it. As a staunch proponent of multilateral diplomacy, the Movement supports multilateralism as the core principle of disarmament and non-proliferation negotiations, he said, taking note of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He reaffirmed the importance of the Conference on Disarmament as the single multilateral negotiating body on the issue, while calling for the urgent launch of negotiations therein on further effective measures, including a related comprehensive convention, and for swift compliance with related existing legal obligations and commitments.
MARCELO EBRARD CASAUBÓN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said nuclear-weapon States spent $72.6 billion on their arsenals in 2020, as the world continues grappling with containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahead of the forthcoming 2022 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he expressed hope that parties will reach agreements that lay the groundwork for further progress in nuclear disarmament. Recent declarations of some nations justifying the maintenance of their nuclear arsenals must stop, he said, emphasizing that this approach must not be normalized and appealing to all nuclear-weapon States to move from words to disarmament action.
RUSLAN KAZAKBAEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, said 2021 marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone treaty. Recalling that the five nuclear Powers signed the accompanying Protocol on security assurances in 2014, he urged the United States to ratify it, following the suit of the other four countries. In light of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, he announced his Government’s intention to put forward a draft resolution on the establishment of an International Day for Disarmament Education and Non-Oroliferation and encouraged Member States to participate in its review process. Noting with regret that the existing nuclear arms control system is being undermined, he urged States to embark on the process of establishing a new system, as well as effective ways of achieving a nuclear weapon-free world.
BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, pointed out that the United States and its allies continue to modernize and expand their nuclear arsenals under the pretext of using them as deterrents. “Arms expenditures that are worth millions are an embarrassment in the face of so much inequality in the access to COVID-19 vaccines” and rampant poverty and hunger across the world, he stressed. In that context, he called for the universalization of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and recalled that Cuba was the fifth State to ratify it. Cuba was also part of the first Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in a densely populated area of the planet, established by the Treaty of Tlatelolco, he said.
FAISAL BIN FARHAN AL-SAUD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said his country has continued to support the total elimination of nuclear weapons by joining all international treaties pursuing that goal. The role of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation is essential in that regard. Calling for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, he deplored Iran for its persistent violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and Israel’s refusal to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty. He welcomed the forthcoming Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to take place in January 2022. Inviting all countries to translate their aspirations into actions, he said that tangible and specific results should be achieved to materialize stability and security.
ANN CHRISTIN LINDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said the threat of nuclear war remains ever-present and the global security environment is deeply worrisome. Polarization and lack of trust between States endures, while rapid technological development ‑ in combination with modernization of arsenals and even their expansion by some States ‑ “creates a dangerous mix”. Describing Sweden as a longstanding active partner in multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation, she said in 2019 it joined 15 other countries from various regions in launching the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament. Its members aim to build political support for a pragmatic and results-oriented “common ground” disarmament agenda. Outlining its work, she said it recently adopted 22 concrete proposals and measures for nuclear disarmament, known as “Stepping Stones”, and invited other countries to join.
A.K. ABDUL MOMEN, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and observed that nuclear weapons secure no one. The world must collectively reject the use of nuclear weapons while finding ways to allow for the safe use of nuclear energy. As long as some States possess nuclear weapons, there will be a desire for other States to obtain them for themselves, he cautioned, adding that there is an ever-present threat of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. The total elimination of those weapons is the only way to ensure the safety of the world, he declared. The COVID-19 pandemic should prove that nuclear weapons cannot save lives.
NALEDI PANDOR, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, said this year’s commemoration takes place amid renewed hope following the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. That new Treaty complements the objectives of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which remains the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It should also serve as a catalyst for much overdue progress in the disarmament pillar of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, she said, calling for the fulfilment of the “historic bargain” between the nuclear-weapons States and non-nuclear-weapon States. In April, the African continent also commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Pelindaba Treaty. As the only country to have voluntarily abandoned nuclear weapons, South Africa is deeply concerned that the obligations under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty remain unfulfilled. “A selective focus on non-proliferation measures and the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament undermines the bargain that is central to the integrity of the Treaty,” she said.
LISANDRO ROSALES, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras, expressed support for abolishing nuclear tests and eliminating weapons of mass destruction through multilateral agreements under the principles of verification, reversibility and transparency. As a signatory of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), which established the world’s first atomic-bomb-free region, he said such designated areas contribute to the rejection of weapons of mass destruction and form a solid basis for promoting the universal ban on them.
MAURICIO MONTALVA SAMANIEGO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, commended civil society efforts to encourage States to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Warning of the increasing risks of the use of atomic bombs, considering the frequency of tense situations arising between nuclear-weapon States, he pointed to related tests deployed by some countries, which have the capacity to develop these tools of global death and terror. Looking forward to a constructive Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in January, he regretted to note that nuclear-weapon States have yet to fulfil their related obligations.
RETNO LESTARI PRIANSARI MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, called on States to preserve the sanctity of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, noting that more than 13,000 nuclear weapons remain in existence. A nuclear arms race and power projections must be avoided, since they would erode the integrity and credibility of the Treaty, she stressed. Highlighting the need to strengthen the global nuclear disarmament architecture, she described the entry into force of The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in January 2021 as a very important milestone and a complement to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and urged countries to sign it. She also voiced her expectation that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty will enter into force and that nuclear-weapons-States will accede to nuclear weapons-free zone treaties.
MATS’EPO RAMAKOAE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Lesotho, said the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was the pinnacle of a worldwide movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use. Recalling that Lesotho was among the first 50 States to sign and ratify the Treaty, he said the existing massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons — as well as their modernization — cast a shadow of doubt on the prospects of attaining a nuclear weapons-free world in the immediate future. “Nuclear weapons create a false sense of security,” he said, adding that their possession only breeds mistrust and heightens tensions between States. While working towards the goal of banning and eventually abolishing nuclear weapons, full compliance with the provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is critical and accession by countries that remain outside it “should not be postponed any longer,” he said.
THOMAS BYRNE, Minister of State for European Affairs of Ireland, echoed other speakers in voicing deep concerns about the prospect of a new arms race, as well as the ongoing nuclear modernization of nuclear weapons programmes. In the face of this, it is more important than ever for countries to recommit themselves to collective efforts to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons, with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at their core. The upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, in January 2022, will be a crucial moment in that regard. Ireland is committed to working with all partners to make tangible progress across the Treaty’s three pillars, especially disarmament, which has been the slowest. Among the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the world’s deeply interconnected nature and how quickly risks can materialize with devastating consequences, he warned.
FELIX PLASENCIA GONZÁLEZ, Minister of the People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that at a time defined by turbulence, stemming from growing conflicts, the existence of nuclear weapons and their inclusion in certain States’ security and defense doctrines constitute a common threat to humanity. Only their total elimination will guarantee they will never be used. Doing so hinges on nuclear-weapon States fulfilling their obligations, which in turn, depends on the unanimous political will of all States. He remained concerned about a new arms race, including in outer space, calling for full adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
SAMEH SHOUKRY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, warned that, amidst the pandemic, some States have increased their spending on a new generation of nuclear weapons and have attempted to enshrine the notion of “nuclear deterrent” into their military doctrines, thus undermining the Non-Proliferation Treaty. He questioned the commitment of these States to the aim of achieving a nuclear‑weapon‑free world. Stressing that 51 years after the Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force nuclear weapons are still proliferating around the world, he expressed hope that the upcoming Review Conference will give an opportunity to adopt an actionable outcome document. He further called on all countries to continue their efforts to build a world free from nuclear weapons, including in the Middle East. Against this background, he urged the international community to support the second Session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, scheduled for November. This conference is a real opportunity to start dialogue among all States and to find a consensus, he said.
EVARIST BARTOLO, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Malta, said his country has always been a strong proponent of disarmament, including of nuclear weapons, with a view towards creating a safer world. “We are of the strong conviction that nuclear weapons pose a great danger to humanity and pose an unacceptable risk, especially in the context of rising strategic tensions and possible miscalculations,” he stressed, calling for dialogue and diplomacy. Malta was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As it has now entered into force, he urged all States to accede to it, thereby send a strong political message against the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons.
KRISHNAKOEMARIE MATHOERA, Minister for Defence of Suriname, said the global community faces increased feelings of uncertainty, insecurity and amid the threats of transnational organized crime, natural disasters and now the COVID-19 pandemic. “Ensuring unity and security poses a greater challenge in our more unpredictable world and calls for global action now,” she stressed. Noting the South American and the Caribbean region declared a nuclear-weapon-free zone years ago, she said Suriname does not possess, produce nor trade in such weapons and has no intention to ever purchase them. Governments should take a strong stance and demonstrate leadership in the elimination of nuclear weapons, she emphasized.
ÓSCAR JOSÉ RICARDO MAÚRTUA DE ROMAÑA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru, said the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons constitutes a crime against humanity and a serious violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter. Multilateralism and international law are essential tools to address the possession, use and proliferation of nuclear weapons, he said, calling on States to ratify related conventions, including the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and to fully implement the Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, he remained concerned about the current landscape, where more than 14,000 atomic bombs still exist, possessor countries still operate arsenal modernization programmes and nuclear deterrence policies still prevail
AMERY BROWNE, Minister for Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, said the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons constitutes a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and international law. Scientific evidence confirms that the use of the nuclear option has the potential to cause untold loss of life beyond the theatre of the conflict, while, at the same time, inflicting catastrophic damage to the environment, food supply and natural ecosystems. Given those risks, “there must be a commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons”, he stressed, noting that Trinidad and Tobago signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2019. As a small island developing State, Trinidad and Tobago relies on the rule of law and adherence to international agreements in order to guarantee our right to a secure and peaceful existence. He therefore welcomed the recent reaffirmation by two nuclear‑weapon States of the principle “that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.
RAMTANE LAMAMRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and the National Community Abroad of Algeria, called upon nuclear-weapon States to demonstrate a “genuine willingness” to translate their unequivocal engagements related to nuclear disarmament into facts. Algeria’s commitment to nuclear disarmament efforts stems from its experience with nuclear tests conducted on its territory by France, he said. The entry into force of the Treaty of Pelindaba, establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in Africa, shows the African continent’s collective will to lead by example. He expressed hope to see this example followed in other parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East. Algeria welcomed the convening of the first conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, in November 2019.
PHIL TWYFORD, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control of New Zealand, stated that, over several decades, the international community has made significant steps to achieving a world free from nuclear weapons. But, recent progress has slowed, and in some cases reversed. Therefore, a strong outcome at the 2022 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is needed. The nuclear‑weapon States must come ready to engage constructively, with initiatives that underline their commitment to achieving the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals, he said. The international community must redouble the commitment to multilateral disarmament efforts, to rebuild confidence and reduce the risk of war. For that reason, non-nuclear‑weapon States worked hard to ensure the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which coexists alongside the Non-Proliferation Treaty, building on its vision for a nuclear‑weapon-free world. Over time, it will strengthen the global norm against nuclear weapons, he said.
SANTIAGO ANDRÉS CAFIERO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Worship of Argentina, expressing unwavering support for eliminating atomic weapons, said a national nuclear energy programme fully complies with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. As this Treaty continues to be the cornerstone of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime, he said its next review conference will provide an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the States parties to the obligations and rights contained therein. As an example of bilateral confidence-building measures, he highlighted the thirtieth anniversary of an agency co-founded by Argentina and Brazil to safeguard nuclear materials, which has been an inspiration to nations in other regions.
PEDRO BROLO VILA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that given growing tensions across the world and an incessant struggle to impose spheres of influence and domination, it is disturbing that some countries persist in modernizing their nuclear arsenals and developing new types of atomic weapons, even amid the pandemic. Expressing support for the total elimination of these weapons, aligned with Non-Proliferation Treaty provisions, he said Guatemala has taken a range of steps, including working on the final stages of ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Concluding, he said: “76 years have passed since the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; these events confirmed to the world that these weapons should never have been invented.”
KAMINA JOHNSON SMITH, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, recalled that in October 2020 the world reached an important milestone with the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — the first international convention to ban such weapons. However, the journey towards nuclear disarmament continues, as the next stage carries the imperative of implementation. She outlined various domestic laws, including the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act, aimed to regulate the use of nuclear technology for the protection of people, property and environment. As a small island developing State, Jamaica is cognizant of the life-altering consequences a nuclear detonation — whether by accident, miscalculation or design — could have.
SAIFUDDIN ABDULLAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced concern about the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament. “Despite the uncertain security environment and the various challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must remain persistent in the pursuit of nuclear disarmament,” he stressed, adding that the status quo of a world with nuclear weapons is simply unacceptable and unsustainable. During the 1996 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, Malaysia expressed concern that an indefinite extension would not serve as an incentive towards universality of the Treaty, but instead “would be a carte blanche to the nuclear-weapon States to retain nuclear weapons indefinitely”. Those concerns remain true today. It is therefore imperative ‑ and has become more critical than ever ‑ that the global community take action, he said, adding that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons complements, and does not undermine, other international legal instruments relating to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
HARSH VARDHAN SHRINGLA, Foreign Secretary of India, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament that leads to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The goal of nuclear disarmament can be achieved through a step-by-step process, underwritten by a universal commitment and a global, non-discriminatory multilateral framework. Recalling his country’s annual resolution on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons, he underscored that it calls on the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. Highlighting another General Assembly resolution on reducing nuclear danger, tabled annually by India, he urged the international community to take steps to address the grave dangers posed by unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons. Noting that the Conference on Disarmament is well placed to commence negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention, he said India, as a responsible nuclear-weapon-State, has a doctrine outlining credible minimum deterrence with the posture of “no first use” and non-use against non-nuclear weapon States.
ALAN GANOO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of Mauritius, said the more than 13,000 existing nuclear weapons remain a persistent threat to humankind. “Our planet will not survive if just a single one of them is used,” he stressed, calling for more efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and shift resources to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Reaffirming his country’s principled position against such weapons, he said only their total elimination will guarantee against their use or threat of use. He also voiced support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Pelindaba Treaty in Africa and the recently agreed Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, emphasizing: “We simply cannot afford the tragedy of a nuclear confrontation.”
THOMAS KAGISO MMUSI, Minister for Defence, Justice and Security of Botswana, stated that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons closes a gap by establishing a legal ban on the only category of weapons of mass destruction not yet outlawed. The Treaty’s verification processes are critical in ensuring that Member States comply and adhere to the provision of disarmament, he said. As new threats arise and complicate the question of disarmament, addressing nuclear disarmament, the use of arms in outer space and cybersecurity threats have become even more important. He therefore urged the international community to work together towards establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones. He expressed his hope that today’s commemoration will help generate political will and commitments by all Member States toward disarmament and global peace and security.
SIMEON OYONO ESONO ANGUE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Equatorial Guinea, said today’s commemoration is inspired by the duty and shared responsibility incumbent on world leaders to recognize and deeply reflect on the real threat the proliferation of nuclear weapons represents for humanity and the environment. Unfortunately, more than 14,000 nuclear weapons still exist, and nuclear deterrence doctrines persist in States, despite their commitments to relevant disarmament and non-proliferation treaties. Expressing hope for progress at the forthcoming Non-Proliferation Review Conference, he said Equatorial Guinea has signed and ratified conventions that call for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons.
FRANCISCO BUSTILLO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said that, as a signatory of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, his Government believes that establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones has a positive influence on other parts of the world. Turning to the three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said nuclear energy can be channeled to address such current challenges as climate change and the promotion of sustainable development, and expressed his full support for the role and work of IAEA in this regard. When security challenges perceived by States in different regions cause an increase in the risk of nuclear weapons use, all efforts must be made to foster mutual trust, with negotiations conducted in a climate of good faith and mutual respect, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter.
SEDAT ÖNAL, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey, reiterated his country’s commitment to the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Noting that the Non-Proliferation Treaty provided the legal framework for the achievement of that goal, he said the world has yet to see substantial progress on its article 6. “Today’s security environment is complex and presents risks for proliferation,” he warned, expressing hope that the upcoming Non‑Proliferation Review Conference will be convened soon and yield tangible results. Describing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as another important legal instrument, he said its entry into force at the earliest possible date will also be crucial for security and to protect the environment.
ANA LUISA CASTRO, Vice Minister at the Ministry for External Relations of Panama, said knowledge about the grave consequences of nuclear weapons has only grown since the first atomic bomb was deployed, killing 80,000 people and causing extreme environmental damage. Panama renews its commitment to the objective of global nuclear disarmament, she announced, calling on all nuclear-weapon-States to eliminate their arsenals. Nuclear weapons do not guarantee peace and security, but instead their development and ownership are a major source of international tension, she said, encouraging all States to use today’s commemoration as an opportunity to raise awareness of the risk such weapons pose and to support efforts to generate universal commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation.
OUCH BORITH, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister and Standing Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, voiced his country’s full support for the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament “Securing Our Common Future” and its focus on facilitating dialogue. “It is imperative for States to show political will and flexibility as they work together towards a common goal of peace, security, and development for all,” he said, noting that Cambodia has signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and strongly supports its universalization. All relevant States should also ensure that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which enjoys near-universal support, enters into force as soon as possible.
JOHN MULIMBA, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, associating himself with the African Group, welcomed the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017, while expressing his country’s deep concern over the slow pace of progress by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. He reiterated Uganda’s commitment to the Treaty of Pelindaba, which re-affirms the status of Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. He also underscored the importance of the continued respect of the inalienable right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and central role of IAEA in this regard.
VIJAVAT ISARABHAKDI, Vice‑Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said the current international security environment points to the increased risk of nuclear weapons use. Citing a decline in trust and transparency, he said 2022 should be the year when “we put our aspirations into action”. Thailand is optimistic that in January, the long-awaited Non-Proliferation tenth Review Conference will finally take place, and that two months later, the States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will convene for the first time since its historic entry into force in January. Urging all States to engage constructively in implementing these frameworks, he said the goal of totally eliminating nuclear weapons also cannot be achieved without the support of the general public and called for more awareness-raising activities.
REZA NAJAFI, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, said his country strongly rejects the retention, stockpiling, development, use and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Eliminating such weapons is a legal, political and moral responsibility for the international community. Also rejecting the modernization and strengthening of nuclear arsenals by the United States and other nuclear-weapon-States in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said those countries continue to object to any nuclear disarmament negotiations despite their legal obligations in Article VI. He called on the international community to adopt concrete decisions during the tenth Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, while voicing support for the Non-Alignment Movement’s efforts to pursue a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention. Meanwhile, he said, Israel continues to threaten peace and security in the Middle East and beyond through its clandestine nuclear programme. He urged the international community to invite Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear party without any precondition by placing its nuclear facilities under the auspices of the IAEA.
KAHTAN JANABI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, called for the revitalization of multilateral efforts aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons and reiterated Iraq’s commitment to all relevant conventions and treaties. Global accession to all treaties and conventions on the elimination of nuclear weapons is the only effective safeguard against their use, he stressed. He went on to call for concerted international and regional efforts to create a zone in the Middle East that is free of nuclear weapons. In that regard, he urged Member States to put pressure on Israel to accede to relevant treaties, to denuclearize and to comply with safeguard measures laid out by the IAEA.
ABDOUL WAHAB DJIBO KAINA, President of the High Authority for Atomic Energy of Niger, recalling his country’s actions in favour of the elimination of nuclear weapons, noted that it ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Emphasizing that the United Nations must continue its efforts for the entry into force of the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he invited the eight Annex 2 States to sign the instrument. Niger considers the three treaties to be universal tools for realizing the elimination of nuclear weapons, he said.
YOUSEF LARAM (Qatar) said today’s event demonstrates that “the total elimination of nuclear weapons remains at the forefront of the international community’s concerns”. Noting that the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East adds to the region's daunting challenges, he renewed his country’s support for holding the second session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction. He further stressed the importance of strict adherence to all international agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as development of peaceful programmes for nuclear energy in compliance with the IAEA’s comprehensive safeguard measures.
ALEXANDER KMENTT, Director for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation of Austria, said that nuclear disarmament is a central foreign policy priority of his country. Recalling that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force this year, he underscored it was a result of impressive international cooperation and a demonstration of the clear will of the overwhelming majority of the world. Nuclear weapons provide “an illusion of security,” he said, stressing that some countries upgrade arsenals, put into service new weapons, and use dangerous rhetoric about nuclear weapons. To that end, he urged the international community to stop these “dangerous developments and to engage constructively on the profound arguments underpinning the Treaty”. He went on to invite Member States to the first meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which will take place in Vienna from 22 to 24 March 2022. “I call on all States to sign and ratify the Treaty to make the world more secure for everyone,” he concluded.
TAHER M. T. ELSONNI (Libya), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for banning nuclear threats and fissile material through legally binding agreements. Expressing concern that nuclear-weapon development remains enshrined in the military doctrines of some States, he said the pandemic should be an indicator of what the international community can achieve if huge sums of money were not spent on the arms race. He called upon the nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their arsenals within a specific time frame and to ratify the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty saying that such a positive step would have a beneficial impact globally. However, some States conduct clandestine nuclear programmes, he said, pointing out that, whereas the Middle East seems full of tension, most of the region’s countries have acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and Israel rejects that instrument on the basis of its objection to comprehensive IAEA safeguards. Thus, the Middle East has become an armament race zone, he noted, calling upon the United Nations to facilitate the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, welcomed the adoption of the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and urged Member States to sign and ratify the Non-Proliferation Treaty in order to create a nuclear-weapon-free world. He further expressed deep concern over the slow progress by the nuclear-weapon States towards the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals in accordance with their legal obligations under article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The African Group reiterates its commitment to the Treaty of Pelindaba, he said. Calling on States to engage constructively to implement the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, which “creates an equitable, sustainable and non-discriminatory security architecture in the region”.
Ahead of the 2022 Review Conference of the Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he called on all States to work towards preserving credibility and sustainability of Treaty’s goals, as well as achieving its universal adherence. Highlighting the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons on human health, environment and vital economic resources, he urged the States to dismantle these weapons. The African Group acknowledges the overwhelming support of the international community in promoting the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he said, calling on nuclear‑weapon States and those who have not yet signed and ratified the Treaty “to do so without further delay”.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, noted with concern that as of the beginning of 2021 nine States possessed approximately 13,080 nuclear weapons. He called for an end to all actions inconsistent with article VI of the landmark Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, such as the development of new types of weapons. Four of the nuclear-weapon-States have signed and ratified the protocols to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty. In that context, he asked the United States to take the necessary steps towards ratification, while stressing the legal obligation of every country to prevent the dumping of radioactive nuclear waste and other radioactive material in the oceans. Amid the growing interest in nuclear energy as a form of clean energy, he also urged all States to fully comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards on peaceful nuclear activities.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) recalled the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 76 years ago, which took the lives of more than 200,000 people and reduced the two cities to ashes in an instant, and urged States to ensure the tragedy not be repeated. One of the most acute non-proliferation challenges today remains the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, he said, pointing to the ballistic missiles launched by the country into Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone two weeks ago, followed by a possible ballistic missile on 27 September. Voicing deep concerns about Pyongyang’s continued development of nuclear and missile technology, he stressed that Japan is the only country which has experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war. In that regard, he extended his respect to the longstanding efforts of the hibakusha — atomic bomb survivors — whose average age now exceeds 83 years, while highlighting the need to communicate the realities of the atomic bombings across generations and beyond national borders.
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) stressed that “nuclear weapons are the single most existential threat to humanity”, which the world “ignores it its own peril”. “The world must wake up,” she said, noting that, while some large Powers have reduced their nuclear weapon stocks, they continue modernizing and upgrading their arsenals in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Noting that nine States possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons — which wipes out the gains of a half century of arms control — she nevertheless said that two recent events provide a glimmer of hope. The first is the five-year extension of the New START Treaty by the United States and the Russian Federation, and the second is the entering into the force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Underscoring that the time to act is now, she cited the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction as a unique opportunity to show commitment to a peaceful region. Bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is another entry point in the process of eliminating nuclear weapons, she added.
VORSHILOV ENKHBOLD (Mongolia) commended the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in January, describing it as a milestone in banning nuclear weapons. Mongolia actively participated in the negotiation of the treaty, he said, expressing his hope that the Review Conference of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty will be successfully organized and deliver productive results. He further pointed out that Mongolia declared its territory as a single‑State nuclear-weapon-free zone in 1992 and is committed to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. In that regard, his country initiated the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security eight years ago, which has evolved into an important platform to discuss regional security prospects, he said.
GENG SHUANG (China) noted that 30 years after the cold war, the threat of nuclear weapons and warfare has yet to be eliminated, which is ultimately attributable to the lingering shadow of the cold war. “The total elimination of the cold war must begin with the total elimination of the cold war mentality,” he added. Pointing out that some countries have been sticking to that mentality in recent years while pursuing offensive nuclear policy, he emphasized that the recent announcement of cooperation on nuclear submarines poses a serious risk of nuclear proliferation and contradicts the goal of totally eliminating nuclear weapons. He noted that his country has advocated for the complete prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons since the very first day when it came into possession of nuclear weapons, reiterating that China will never be the first to use such weapons under any circumstance. China is unconditionally committed not to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-States or nuclear-weapon-free-zones, nor will it seek to compete with any country on the scale and quantity of nuclear weapons, or engage in a nuclear arms race, he stressed.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam) stated that greater efforts are needed to protect humankind from the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Further concrete measures must also be taken to implement article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. He called upon nuclear-weapon States to reduce their nuclear arsenals and stressed that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty must enter into force in a timely manner. His Government will continue to spare no efforts in the common cause of eliminating nuclear weapons, he said.
THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives) outlined historic milestones over the course of efforts to realize nuclear disarmament, particularly in 1959, when nuclear disarmament became the first resolution adopted unanimously by the General Assembly. However, there are still nine nuclear armed countries spending tens of billions of dollars each year on such weapons, he noted. Pointing out that only 55 States have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, she said that, since 2019, his country has ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the Cluster Munitions Convention and the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, and has enacted stringent laws to prohibit the illicit trade in arms domestically and aboard. She further stressed that the fulfillment of international disarmament obligations is a cornerstone to international peace and stability.
MOHAN PEIRIS (Sri Lanka), emphasizing that the international community should not ignore the threat of nuclear weapons quoted the Secretary‑General’s warning that the world is “on the edge of the abyss”. He described global nuclear disarmament as one of the oldest goals of the United Nations, recalling that it was the subject of the first resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1946. In 1975, he said, Sri Lanka called for a special session on disarmament, which led to the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament in 1978. Referring to the tragic events of 1945 in Japan, he pointed out that more than 30,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world today. Sri Lanka regrets that no nuclear weapon has been destroyed since the end of the cold war, he said, inviting the international community to reiterate its commitment against nuclear weapons and to deliver on its obligation to realize nuclear disarmament. The lack of progress is a violation of international law, he said, stressing that the total elimination of nuclear weapons will only be achieved through a collaborative approach and strong political will.
JOSÉ BLANCO (Dominican Republic), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that in the wake of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, and all subsequent nuclear tests, humanity has borne witness to the devastating consequences of such weapons. It is time for the nuclear-weapon States to provide categorical guarantees to non-nuclear-weapon States about their intentions regarding their arsenals, he said, emphasizing that rather than pouring generous resources into producing weapons, they should instead earmark those funds for aid, development and alleviating such crises as the pandemic. Welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he urged all remaining States to accede to it, and to ratify the Test-Ban Treaty if they have not yet done so.
MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan) emphasized the need for the nuclear-weapon States to implement their obligations in line with Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in particular those related to the universalization of that instrument. Recalling that the first session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons in 2019 — over which Jordan presided — adopted a political declaration compelling the region’s countries to stop proliferation, he called upon Israel to join the next conference without any preconditions. “We can only achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons if all countries cooperate and engage positively with each other,” he stressed, urging States to work constructively to adopt a comprehensive outcome document during the next review conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
ISSIMAIL CHANFI (Comoros), said a world free of nuclear weapons is one of the oldest and noblest goals of the United Nations. However, with 14,000 of them in existence and the countries that possess them planning the long-term modernization of their arsenals, the situation is very worrying, he added. The doctrine of nuclear deterrence is particularly concerning when the world knows that peace means a life of progress and prosperity, he noted. Comoros ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in February 2021, and the Treaty of Pelindaba in 2012, he said, reiterating his country’s complete commitment to “this global struggle”.
BESIANA KADARE (Albania) said her country does not produce, store or transport nuclear weapons or other devices, nor does it provide assistance to States that do so. As an elected member of the Security Council for the next biennial, Albania will stress the importance of promoting nuclear security and combating the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials, she added, warning that the risk of terrorist groups obtaining a weapon of mass destruction is a constant risk to international security.
FATUMANAVA-O-UPOLU III PA'OLELEI LUTERU (Samoa) said achieving global nuclear disarmament is an important long-standing issue for Pacific small island developing States. In the 1970s, Samoa and other founding members of the Pacific Island Forum provided a united stand against nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific region. The resulting Rarotonga Treaty established the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, which marked its thirty-fifth anniversary in 2020. Underlining the important role of regional treaties more broadly, he said Samoa is also a party to many international agreements that have as their key objectives the abolition and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As a small Pacific island State, Samoa cannot protect itself from the threat of nuclear weapons. “Indeed, no nation can, regardless of size or wealth,” he said, urging the global community to be firm in its disarmament efforts and not to yield to the pressure imposed “by those who profit from the manufacturing, exporting and possession of these horrific weapons”.
CARLOS ALBERTO FRANCO FRANÇA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, described the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an evolutionary step against proliferation and welcomed its entry into force earlier this year. Noting that 2021 also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he called upon the Annex 2 States to ratify it and emphasized that the total elimination of nuclear weapons requires concrete steps. Turning to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said it was based on “a bargain between disarmament and non-proliferation”, yet the lack of transparency in the way nuclear-weapon-States handle their stockpiles undermines international efforts against proliferation. Brazil looks forward to the Tenth Review Conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he stated, stressing that it expects participants to discuss the 13 practical steps and the 2010 Action Plan. He went on to note the thirtieth anniversary of the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, describing that entity as a positive example of collaboration for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
ENRIQUE AUSTRIA MANALO (Philippines), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said prosperity, peace and security can be annihilated “in the blink of an eye” with a single nuclear incident. He expressed concern that as most nations remain occupied with battling COVID-19 the nuclear weapons capabilities of nuclear-weapon States continue to be modernized and developed. Calling on all States to remain vigilant and pursue forward-looking, action-oriented outcomes that implement obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said the Philippines continues to support the “13 Practical Steps” and “64‑Point Action Plan” agreed at the 2010 Review Conference and calls upon the eight remaining Annex 2 States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty without further delay and usher in its entry into force. He looked forward to the constructive engagement of Member States — especially nuclear weapons States — at the upcoming Review Conference in January 2022.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) stressed that nuclear weapons are not a guarantee of security or stability at a regional or international level. He went on to note that the tenth Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is forthcoming, as well as a conference to consider the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone that will be chaired by Kuwait. In addition, Morocco demonstrated its commitment to nuclear disarmament when it participated in the United Nations conference on negotiations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a representative of Africa, he said.
KARLITO NUNES (Timor-Leste) said the existence of more than 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world pose a significant risk to security. His Administration continues to support a world free of nuclear weapons, as well as effective controls of conventional weapons and regulation of new technological weapons. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are complementary, he stressed, encouraging all States to become Parties to both treaties. “Achieving a nuclear-free world is our responsibility to ensure global peace and security for the current and future generations,” he concluded.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the continued lack of progress in the total elimination of nuclear weapons is a concern that “sits uncomfortably and in contradiction to the aspiration for a modern civilized community of nations”. The existential threat posed by the accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction remains real, he said, voicing concern about the deterioration in the international security environment and alarming developments related to the lack of implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations. Equally worrying are the ongoing extensive and expansive plans by nuclear‑weapon States to replace, modernize and maintain their nuclear weapons materials and facilities. Calling for compliance with applicable international laws and disarmament conventions and treaties, including the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he noted that such efforts are needed now more than ever, as COVID-19 has ravaged many nations and laid bare the fragilities of international cooperation.
KENNEDY GODFREY GASTORN (United Republic of Tanzania) welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, calling it a “milestone in human history”. Noting that his country already has started the ratification process, he declared: “We need the efforts of all members to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons.” The United Republic of Tanzania will continue to adhere to all the measures set out by IAEA and encourages other States to do the same. His Government supports the total elimination of nuclear weapons and promotion of peaceful use of nuclear energy, he said.
JULIO ARRIOLA (Paraguay), emphasizing that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a real threat to humanity, said the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was essential and provided a binding framework for disarmament that complements other international instruments. Noting that the forthcoming Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the first meeting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be critical milestones, he urged Member States to ensure their success. He went on to urge the nuclear-weapon States to generate trust by taking practical bilateral or multilateral measures for nuclear disarmament
DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia) emphasized that nuclear weapons endanger global stability and their use under any circumstance must not be permitted. He said Bolivia is a pacifist country and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction should be a priority, stressing that nuclear disarmament is a moral imperative for the world. Describing the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a positive step, he reiterated that the total elimination of such weapons is the only way to build an equitable world, based on the principles of peace and solidarity.
AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal) said the billions of dollars aimed at nuclear programmes should be redirected to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. He called for the complete disarmament of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in a time-bound manner. In addition, he recognized the right of States to pursue peaceful use of nuclear technology for health care, agriculture and livestock productivity, as well as for disaster management. As the host country of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, Nepal believes that regional disarmament approaches such as the Kathmandu Process can complement ongoing global disarmament dialogues, he said.
ALPHA BARRY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, associated himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement. Welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he described it as a great victory for all the world’s peoples and a turning point. A new process is under way with the clear goal of total and definitive elimination of all nuclear weapons, he said. In that light, division between States over how to achieve total nuclear disarmament is not right, he added, noting that the two-decades-long absence of the Conference on Disarmament exacerbates the situation. Warning that failure to convene the Conference poses a serious threat to peace and security, and is conducive to an arms race, he said all nuclear-weapon States must observe their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and refrain from any action that could undermine disarmament goals. Reaffirming Burkina Faso’s commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he stressed: “Global challenges call for global action”.
Mr. SHAHID (Maldives), Assembly President, thanked Heads of State and Government, representatives of civil society and all participants, noting: “Many of us gathered here today represent different flags.” Despite such a diversity of cultural backgrounds and outlooks, he said, all participants shared a common aspiration — a world where peace, progress and prosperity prevail. However, the continued existence of nuclear weapons that can wipe out human civilization at a moment’s notice is incompatible with that vision, he emphasized. The importance of ensuring disarmament commitments is not merely symbolic, and he called upon the international community to translate them into meaningful action to completely halt any further proliferation of nuclear weapons and to safely destroy stocks currently in existence.