5 October 2021
Seventy-sixth Session, 3rd Meeting (PM)

Need for Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones More Urgent with Key Powers Racing to Boost Deadly Arsenals, Delegates Say, as General Debate Continues

Creating nuclear-weapon-free zones is even more urgent as the major powers continue to develop arsenals that threaten the existence of humanity, delegates told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, as it continued its general debate.

Jamaica’s representative expressed pride in his country’s being a party to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, long a model for the creation of other such zones.  Several other delegates echoed him, calling for the swift designation of such a zone in the Middle East and citing the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, held in November 2019, as a first step.

Senegal’s representative underscored his country’s commitment to the African Nuclear Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, and encouraged other regions to pursue he same goal.

Indonesia’s representative urged all States to resolve outstanding issues around the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok, and all nuclear-weapon States to sign and ratify its Protocol.

Kazakhstan’s delegate emphasized, alongside multilateral efforts, the importance of individual commitments.  He noted that 30 years ago, his country was the first Member State to close its nuclear test site, the second largest in the world, simultaneously renouncing the world’s fourth most powerful nuclear arsenal.  That closure paved the way for other landmark processes, such as the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he recalled, pointing out that the General Assembly eventually designated that date, 29 August, as the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

Such commitments are growing more urgent, given that the arms race continues apace, delegates emphasized.

Libya’s representative, describing nuclear weapons as among the most horrific ever invented, said adoption of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is hampered by the lack of commitment on the part of the nuclear-weapon States, leading to a further build-up of arsenals and international tensions.  He urged them to engage.

China’s representative said a “cold war mentality” hangs over the world like a “dark cloud,” noting that the United States is upgrading its nuclear arsenal.  He warned that the AUKUS trilateral security pact between that country, the United Kingdom and Australia undermines mutual trust and stimulates the arms race.

Ukraine’s delegate, pointing out that his country abandoned its nuclear capabilities and acceded the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1994, said it is cynical for the Russian Federation, which lost its credibility long ago, to pretend it is a champion of disarmament.

Other delegates reminded the Committee that nuclear weapons are not the only threat to international, regional and national security.

Burkina Faso’s representative emphasized that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons remain a threat to his country, and the entire Sahel region and West Africa, with trafficking leading to violence and hampering the quest for development.  Those weapons should be strongly regulated, he said.

Colombia’s delegate said 456 municipalities in his country are now free of anti-personnel landmines, but despite that progress, illegal armed groups continue to have access to those weapons.  He called for collective international efforts to rid the world of landmines.

Also speaking today were representatives of Mongolia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Paraguay, Cambodia, Germany, Republic of Korea, Armenia, Philippines, Eritrea, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Iraq, Brazil, Costa Rica, France and Finland.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Australia (also on behalf of the United Kingdom and the United States), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Japan, Armenia, Ukraine and Syria.

The First Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 6 October, to continue its general debate.

General Debate

MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted positive developments upon which to build, including the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the extension of new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).  There is also new momentum in the ongoing inclusive dialogue on strengthening cybersecurity, arising from the consensual adoption of the report of the Open-Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications, in the context of international security.  He expressed hope that its deliberations will be complemented by those of the Group of Governmental Experts on advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace, in the context of international security.  He called upon the Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and urged all States to resolve outstanding issues around the Treaty on the South‑East Asia Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok, and all those possessing nuclear weapons to sign and ratify its Protocol.  On the creation of a similar zone in the Middle East, he stressed the need for unconditional adherence to the comprehensive safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), adding that all States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty “should not promote any narrative of exceptionalism”.  Additionally, Indonesia supports full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, he stated.  He went on to note the Disarmament Commission’s failure to convene for three years and to the United Kingdom’s recent nuclear weapon policy, calling upon all nuclear-weapon States to refrain from actions contravening the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The increased presence of power projection assets raises serious questions about the state of non-proliferation commitments, he said.  Reiterating calls for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he also underlined the need to address threats to outer space and from space systems.

ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, confirmed his country’s full commitment to the nuclear disarmament and international peace and security.  It is equally committed to implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention, he said.  Concerning the upcoming Review Conference, he encouraged Member States to deliver productive outcomes and concrete recommendations on achieving nuclear disarmament.  While welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to which Mongolia aims to accede, he said that his country, as coordinator of the fourth Conference on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, looks forward to working closely with the Member States for meaningful outcomes.  The Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asia — initiated and hosted by Mongolia since 2014 — has become a mechanism for facilitating talks, promoting mutual understanding and confidence-building, thus contributing to peace and security in the region, he noted.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, called for action to overcome the freeze in the disarmament process, noting with regret that global military expenditures are high when development goals need funding.  Emphasizing that nuclear-weapon-free zones are critical to preventing the spread of such armaments, he said the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of global disarmament efforts.  He went on to commend the IAEA’s efforts and to stress the right of all States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Noting that Nigeria is a party to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, he said that instrument ensures that the continent remains free of nuclear weapons.  Stressing the importance of universal adherence to the Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty, he urged the Annex 2 States to sign and ratify it.  Nigeria regrets to note the stalled proceedings in the Disarmament Commission, he said, while also underlining that efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space must be enshrined in a legally binding document.

BRIAN CHRISTOPHER MANLEY WALLACE (Jamaica), associating himself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, with collective peace and security increasingly under threat, his country has introduced cutting-edge technology and programmes to tackle the unregulated, illicit conventional weapons trade, which negatively affects social and economic life, as well as development efforts.  The use of information and telecommunications technology (ICT), since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, has increased vulnerability to security threats exponentially, he noted, adding that support is required to strengthen vital infrastructure and build resilience.  He welcomed the effort by the Inter-American Development Bank and Estonia to launch the Cybersecurity eGovernance Academy.  Expressing pride at his country’s standing as a State party to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, he said that instrument has long served as a model for the creation of other regions, and Jamaica hopes for the swift designation of such a zone in the Middle East.  Welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he nevertheless expressed concern about strong opposition to the instrument and called upon Member States who have yet to join it to do so without delay.  Describing the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the centrepiece of global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he pledged Jamaica’s constructive participating in the 2022 Review Conference.  He also thanked the IAEA for its support for building his country’s nuclear technology capacity for sustainable development, including by providing real-time RT–PCR equipment to its national laboratory for COVID-19 testing.

YOSEPH KASSAYE, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, associated himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, saying that strengthening multilateralism is crucial to arms control efforts, with the Conference on Disarmament as the appropriate forum.  The First Committee must reiterate the clarion call for disarmament, he emphasized.  Concerned about the spread of small arms and light weapons in the Horn of Africa and other regions, Ethiopia calls upon the international community to redouble efforts to end the illicit trade in such armaments.  He went on to stress that outer space must remain safe, calling for accelerated international coordination on peaceful space technology for the benefit of all.  Highlighting efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, including the Stockholm Initiative on how to advance the objectives of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he said the 2022 Review Conference presents an opportunity for action.  Ethiopia also strongly supports the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Mine Ban Convention, he added.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay) emphasized the critical need to strengthen the disarmament regime, welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, while expressing concern that the Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty has yet to do the same.  Outlining pressing problems that require urgent action, he said terrorism and organized crime continue to threaten entire regions and global security, adding that organized crime also has a negative impact on societies and economies, with the trade in small arms exacerbating the situation.  Noting that COVID‑19 demonstrated the importance of the Internet, he expressed support for efforts to ensure online safety, including through the contributions of civil society.  Turning to outer space issues, he stressed the need for a legal regime covering that common sphere.  More broadly, solidarity and cooperation must guide that and other efforts, he said, underlining the importance of the work of the First Committee and the General Assembly in that regard.

DINA PHAT (Cambodia), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains one of the most effective tools for achieving nuclear disarmament.  She welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty for Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which Cambodia supports, and urged the remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify the Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty without further delay, so as to enable its entry into force.  She said ASEAN will continue working to strengthen the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and to engage the nuclear‑weapon‑States on the need to sign the Protocol to that instrument.  She went on to call for cooperation to combat the smuggling of small arms and light weapons.  Invoking the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction — known as the Ottawa Convention — she said Cambodia has made significant strides in landmine clearance since the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime.

THOMAS GÖBEL (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said his delegation’s efforts at the Conference on Disarmament’s 2021 session are centred on nuclear disarmament, efforts to counter proliferation and end impunity, and developing arms control to meet technological and other challenges.  Elaborating, he recalled that the Stockholm initiative, presented in 2020 in Berlin, provides a roadmap with steps to advance nuclear disarmament.  States with and without nuclear weapons can effectively work together on disarmament verification, he noted, encouraging broad attendance in 2022, when Germany and France will conduct an exercise simulating the dismantling of an atomic warhead.  Turning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he strongly urged Iran to refrain from ballistic missile activities and related technology transfers.  Further, Germany urges the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to react positively to efforts by the United States and the Republic of Korea to establish dialogue.  He went on to reject attempts by Syria and the Russian Federation to question the professional expertise of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), emphasizing that Damascus must not be allowed to dodge its obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction.  The Russian Federation, he added, must provide explanations and answer all questions on the use of nerve agents on two of its citizens.  He went on to stress the need, in light of rapid scientific progress and the emergence of new threats, to strengthen the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.  He called for a focus on outer space-related threats and security risks, and on the impact of new technologies on arms control.  Germany also accords high priority to lethal autonomous weapons, small arms and landmines, he said, adding that his country staunchly supports the related conventions.

DOFINI AUBIN TIAHOUN (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the pandemic is a reminder of humanity’s weaknesses, including on nuclear weapons and the trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  The problem of disarmament calls on humanity as a whole to act, as peace and security hang in the balance, he added.  Recognizing the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, he called upon all States parties to aim for a successful Review Conference in January 2022.  He noted that Africa is a nuclear‑free‑zone under the Treaty of Pelindaba, while nonetheless emphasizing that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons is a concern for Burkina Faso and all other States in the Sahel region, as well as wider West Africa.  Their use leads to armed violence and prevents the quest for development, he noted, stressing that such weapons should be a concern for all and strongly regulated.

GUILLERMO ROQUE FERNÁNDEZ DE SOTO VALDERRAMA (Colombia) said the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, and their munitions, is one of the collective threats with the greatest impact, making the Programme of Action centrally important.  He expressed his country’s firm commitment to implementing the Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel mines, declaring that 456 municipalities in his country are now free of such munitions.  Despite progress in that domain, however, Colombia faces challenges due to the use of anti-personnel mines by illegal armed groups, he noted.  Expressing concern about the inclusion of nuclear weapons in the military doctrines of some States, he called on all to pursue progress towards implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and redouble efforts against malevolent use of information and communications technology.

GENG SHUANG (China) noted that the bitter experience of the Second World War led to the multilateral arms regime, but, confronted by multiple challenges, its stability is at a crossroads.  The “dark cloud” of cold war mentality hangs over the international community, with imaginary enemies being created as the United States upgrades its nuclear arsenal.  Emphasizing that the recent submarine agreement linking the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia undermines mutual trust, he said it stimulates the arms race and creates international friction, generating a generalized sense of international responsibility being eroded, due to double standards and exceptionalism.  The United States opposes the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and Japan unilaterally discharged nuclear-polluted water into the sea, he noted.  He went on to point out the tensions and backlog on the Korean Peninsula, arising from unresolved issues, stressing that the technology blockade, under the pretext of national security, restricts peaceful cooperation, deepens the technology gap and creates developmental hurdles.  He underlined the need for an open dialogue.

CHO HYUN (Republic of Korea) underlined the importance of upholding the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, ensuring the Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty’s entry into force and committing to the early start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off convention.  While welcoming pragmatic approaches, such as the Stockholm Initiative, he noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear issue continues to frustrate the Korean Peninsula peace process.  However, milestone agreements and breakthroughs should not be underestimated, he emphasized, citing the inter‑Korean and the United States‑Democratic People’s Republic of Korea commitments.  An end‑of‑war declaration would mark a pivotal point of departure in creating a new order of reconciliation, he said.  The Republic of Korea remains concerned about the use of chemical and biological weapons, including in Syria, he said.  Meanwhile, the threat of conventional arms looms, he added, noting the Arms Trade Treaty’s progress in fostering a well-regulated and legal trade.  Welcoming collaborative responses to emerging issues, he pointed to the progress made by the Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems and on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  The Republic of Korea also supports efforts to make cyberspace safe and to involve young people in disarmament initiatives, he said, adding that his delegation will table a draft resolution on youth.

DAVIT KNYAZYAN (Armenia), underscoring the importance of conventional arms control, said an effective regime is a cornerstone of the security architecture.  Armenia places high priority on the Vienna Document 2011 on Confidence- and Security‑building Measures to reduce tensions and consolidating security, he emphasized.  Concerning his country’s participation in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), he expressed concern about violations.  He went on to recall the 2020 military operation in which Azerbaijan conducted targeted attacks, saying that such incidents continued in 2021, increasing tensions in the region.  The international community must be steadfast in ensuring compliance with existing agreements, he stressed, while pledging Armenia’s support for strengthening arms control at the regional and global levels.

GIUMA M. M. FARES (Libya) said Member States shoulder a historic responsibility to eliminate all weapons that threaten future global security.  Nuclear weapons are among the most horrific ever invented, he added, noting that there is no way to control the fallout, which can devastate humanity and the planet.  The Non‑Proliferation Treaty has helped, but major concerns remain due to differences over that instrument, he said.  The nuclear‑weapon States are not committed, which has led to an arms race and international tensions, running roughshod over the United Nations and other organizations working towards disarmament, he noted.  Libya and other States started negotiations on an international legally binding instrument on prevention, he said, urging all nuclear‑weapon States to engage.  Noting the many conflicts that lead to the displacement of thousands and claim many lives, he said Libya is a case in point.  A number of States continually violate Security Council resolutions, especially on the arms embargo, he affirmed, stressing that the Council must speak in a unified voice.  He underlined that any solution to his country’s crisis must be Libyan‑led and Libyan‑owned.

Mr. SARZHANOV (Kazakhstan) noted that 30 years ago, on 29 August 1991, his country became the first Member State to close its nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk — the second largest in the world — and “also renounced the world’s fourth most powerful nuclear arsenal”.  The General Assembly designates that date as the International Day against Nuclear Tests, and the closure of Semipalatinsk paved the way for other landmark processes, such as the adoption of the Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty, he recalled.  Emphasizing that a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing is no alternative to the Treaty, he said it must be brought into force to preserve its place in the international disarmament architecture.  He went on to point out that the obvious lack of progress on disarmament resulted in the recent adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which should complement the Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty.  The nuclear‑weapon Powers should join it without preconditions and become non‑nuclear‑weapon States, he said.  Recalling that the nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in Central Asia was established in 2006 with the signing of the Semipalatinsk Treaty, he said that on its fifteenth anniversary, all five Central Asian States issued a joint statement pledging to work for security, stability, peace and environmental concerns in the region.  He urged the international community to realize a nuclear‑weapon‑free world by 2045, the centenary of the United Nations.

ENRIQUE MANALO (Philippines) said his country is engaged in various processes, including conferences on conventional arms and on lethal autonomous weapons.  Calling for action to curb the spread of explosive remnants of war, he urged the international community to fully support mine action that provides services for victims.  Highlighting outer space concerns, he emphasized the need to ensure that realm remains peaceful for the benefit of all.  He went on to say that the Philippines supports efforts to combat cybercrimes, and welcomed reports from the Group of Governmental Experts.  He expressed support for mainstreaming gender issues into disarmament processes, while stressing that the Disarmament Commission must overcome the stalemate and continue its important work.

VOLODYMYR LAKOMOV (Ukraine) noted that his country abandoned its nuclear capabilities and acceded to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty in 1994.  However, in 2014, provisions of the Budapest Memorandum were gravely violated by the Russian Federation’s armed aggression and occupation of Crimea, as well as the Donbas and Donetsk regions, he said.  It is especially cynical that the Russian Federation, which lost its credibility long ago, pretends to champion disarmament, he stated.  Recognizing the centrality of IAEA, he said the ongoing occupation of parts of Ukraine is the one and only reason for that Agency not to draw a broader conclusion about the country.  The Russian Federation should refrain from actions that prevent IAEA from implementing safeguards in Ukraine, he stressed, warning that it has expanded its military presence in Crimea to include aircraft and naval units capable of introducing nuclear weapons.

ELSA HAILE (Eritrea), associating herself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said one cannot speak of security when global inequality is growing, millions languish in abject poverty and societies face constant assaults on their culture.  Calling for “new thinking on international security” that breaks free from zero-sum approaches, she outlined a raft of important steps, including legally binding negative assurances, [when nuclear-weapon-States guarantee they will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non‑nuclear-weapon States and the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones].  While welcoming the recent adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, she emphasized that it remains the inalienable right of all States to develop their nuclear science and technology sectors for peaceful use, without discrimination, as long as they are consistent with their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  She pointed out that Eritrea is located in a fragile security environment, stressing that tackling the drivers of insecurity in the Horn of Africa requires a redirection of resources.  “We must go beyond regulation and disarmament to address factors contributing to and exacerbating conflicts, such as underdevelopment, insecurity, weak States and external intervention,” she said.

MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the Arab Group, said supporting multilateralism is the best way to progress on disarmament and international security.  Treaties on nuclear safety and security must be upheld, with States committing to transparency, he emphasized, urging all remaining States to join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  He went on to stress the importance of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, thanking the delegation of Kuwait and the Chair for their efforts.  Expressing support for the IAEA’s general system of safeguards, he said that his country’s facilities and installations are under its supervision, and urged all States do the same.  He stressed that Iran must therefore adhere to IAEA criteria and to its responsibilities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  The United Arab Emirates is also concerned about the development of nuclear and ballistic missile capacities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said.

SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, cautioned that the recent introduction of a new partnership, involving strategic delivery systems with nuclear technology, could trigger an arms race.  As such, Malaysia hopes that States will reaffirm their obligations and past commitments towards the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the upcoming Review Conference, he said.  While reaffirming his country’s commitment to safeguarding South-East Asia as a zone free of nuclear weapons, as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the Treaty on the South‑East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, he pointed out that, whereas that Treaty has been in force for more than two decades, its Protocol has yet to be signed by any of the nuclear-weapon States.  He underscored the urgent need to resolve outstanding matters pertaining to its signing and ratification.

MOHAMMED BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said there is a need to promote the universality of conventions and treaties on disarmament, especially to avoid any catastrophic impact.  The international community must eliminate nuclear weapons and all States must negotiate under strict international regulations, he added.  Expressing support for a successful tenth Review conference in January 2022, he called for pressure on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  He welcomed the success of the first session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction and called upon all parties to support the second session planned for November.  He went on to state that Iraq is moving forward on clearing landmines and organized the first international conference of donor countries on demining.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the New Agenda Coalition, said States parties to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty can and must abide by their obligations.  The historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons complements those commitments, he pointed out.  Calling for the entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, he asked the Annex 2 States to join it.  Noting that his country is a party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established the world’s first nuclear-weapon-free zone, he said creating new zones will be another crucial step towards the common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.  In that spirit, Brazil plans to table a related draft resolution, he said, pointing to the joint Brazil-Argentina nuclear materials control agency as a confidence-building model for the world.  Turning to conventional weapons, he said their uncontrolled flow continues to destabilize communities around the world.  Threats also exist online, he added, noting that Brazil chaired the related Group of Governmental Experts and welcoming the report of the Open-Ended Working Group on that issue.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) said the nearly $2 trillion global military expenditure is ironic when development needs persist.  In addition, the open availability of weapons puts societies at risk, she said, expressing support for the destruction of surplus arms and ammunition, particularly when a conflict ends.  While violence persists, it is preventable, she added, encouraging Member States to join the Pathfinders initiative.  Noting that the increased urbanization of armed conflict has heightened the need to protect civilians, she called on States to support the related conventions, adding that human security must also be at the heart of foreign policy, including nuclear disarmament treaties.  She emphasized that every dollar spent on nuclear weapons is a dollar unavailable for development needs.  She called on states to promote the participation of women and girls in disarmament processes, adding that preventing civil society’s full participation at the United Nations only succeeds in silencing their voices.

CHEIKH AHMADOU BOMBA GAYE (Senegal) said that strong, sincere multilateral efforts are urgently needed to reverse the continued development of weapons of mass destruction.  He urged the nuclear-weapons-States in particular to engage in those processes and to agree on negative security guarantees for non-nuclear-weapon countries.  Emphasizing that non-proliferation measures must not impinge on the rights of all States to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination or hindrance, under the guidance of IAEA, he reiterated Senegal’s commitment to the Treaty of Pelindaba and urged other regions to establish similar nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East.  Noting that the COVID‑19 pandemic caused the international community to reflect on the unprecedented disaster that the use of chemical or biological weapons would engender, he stressed the need for their complete elimination.  Cybersecurity is also particularly important today, given the world’s increased dependence on digital technology, he said.  As a party to the Arms Trade Treaty, Senegal encourages all weapons-producing countries to ensure that their trade is limited and only conducted with authorized States, he said.

YANN HWANG (France) drew attention to the unacceptable use of chemical weapons in Syria, which forced some 40 States and the European Union to adopt punishment measures.  Concerning Iran, he said his country remains engaged with the “E3” and views Tehran’s return to the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action as essential.  Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he emphasized that the strict imposition of sanctions is critical.  He went on to stress the importance of the upcoming chemical weapons conference at the end of 2021 and the tenth Review Conference in January 2022, expressing hope that they will take place under the best possible conditions.  The coming year will also see the ninth Review Conference of the Convention on Biological Weapons, he said, underlining that those weapons remain extremely dangerous.  France will introduce draft resolutions on improvised explosive devices and issues related to outer space, he said, adding that it also supports the establishment of a programme of action to ensure responsible behaviour in cyberspace.

MIIA RAINNE (Finland) emphasized that, on nuclear arms control, there is no substitute for agreements between the United States and the Russian Federation, welcoming the extension of the New START Treaty and their renewed dialogue on strategic stability.  As for chemical weapons, she said the most urgent priority is to uphold the norm against their use and to ensure that those that violate it are held to account.  To that effect, the twenty-fifth Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention suspended certain rights and privileges of the Syrian Arab Republic, she reported.  Concerning biological weapons, she urged the international community to use the momentum created by the pandemic to agree on concrete measures to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.  The upcoming ninth Review Conference provides an opportunity in that regard, she said.  Furthermore, more must be done to strengthen the norms of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace and to hold States accountable when they deviate from those agreed standards, she stressed.

Right of Reply

The representative of Georgia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply in response to a statement on 4 October by the Russian Federation’s delegate, said that country bears responsibility for ethnic cleansing in the occupied territory of Georgia.  Recalling that the International Court of Justice established the Russian Federation’s responsibility for that and other crimes, and ruled that it violated the 2008 ceasefire agreement, he called on Moscow to uphold its obligations and end the occupation of Georgian territory.

The representative of Azerbaijan, responding to a statement by his counterpart from Armenia, said his country exercised its right to self-defence after years of occupation, liberating occupied territories and allowing refugees to return to their homes.  Hundreds of historical sites had been ruined and villages plundered, offering proof that Armenia provided false and incomplete information under the provisions of the Vienna Document, he said.  Military equipment that Armenia left behind provides further evidence, he added, also recalling attacks involving prohibited cluster munitions and other weapons.  Emphasizing that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is in the past, he called on Armenia to abide by its commitments under the trilateral agreements that ended the war.

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of the United Kingdom and the United States, said the “AUKUS” partnership reflects the long-standing security relationship among the parties, and will promote peace and security in the region, under an international order that allows free societies to flourish.  Through AUKUS, efforts will be made to promote deeper sharing of information and technology, and to deepen cooperation, she added.  Under the partnership, the three Governments announced a pathway for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, she said.  Emphasizing their unequivocal commitment to non-proliferation and to the nuclear non-proliferation regime, she said the trilateral cooperation will be fully consistent with the non-proliferation obligations of the parties.  They have already informed the IAEA, which will engage with the trio, she added, noting that Australia remains fully committed as a non-nuclear-weapon State under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to comments by his counterparts from Germany, France and the Republic of Korea, expressed deep alarm at attempts to distort the situation on the Korean Peninsula.  Emphasizing that his country has never acknowledged biased resolutions that encroach on the right of sovereign States to development, he said all its weapon tests are conducted on its own territory, land, air and sea and have never threatened its neighbours.  Some exploit the platform to point fingers at its exercise of sovereignty, he said, adding that they demonstrate a blatant disregard for his country’s sovereignty. 

He deemed it “ridiculous” that some keep silent about their joint military exercises and weapons tests, while criticizing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for conducting regular and planned self-defence measures.  That is a manifestation of double dealing, he emphasized, describing it as the product of a hostile policy towards his country.  Those countries are advised to urge the United States to abandon its double standards against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 

To comments by the representative of the Republic of Korea, he cited the joint military drills carried out — under the pretext of self-defence — against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, stressing that such behaviour is “getting on our nerves”.  It is paramount to ensure respect and abandon prejudiced views, he said, stressing that the Republic of Korea must change its confrontational approach towards his country and instead implement the North-South Declaration in good faith.

The representative of the Russian Federation warned his counterpart from Ukraine not to mislead the international community.  He described accusations against his country as simply anti-Russian propaganda, in violation of obligations under the Budapest Memorandum.  Ukraine’s use of force to ensure that Crimea remains part of that country has instead forced it to leave, he said.  Rather than blame the Russian Federation for the domestic situation in Ukraine, Kyiv should instead resolve its domestic problems.

He said Ukraine’s continued shelling of Luhansk and Donetsk, and non‑compliance with cessation-of-hostilities accords, as well as the Minsk Agreements has only led to widespread suffering, he noted.  Moreover, Kyiv’s unwillingness to protect civilians has led to insecurity in the entire region.  To resolve the domestic conflict, Ukraine should implement the Minsk Agreements, rather than use the First Committee for its own purposes, he emphasized, saying that, as a first step, it should uphold the ceasefire agreement.  He called on Ukraine to acknowledge the negative consequences on its people of actions taken by armed nationalists and security forces.  Denouncing constant attempts to find external enemies and worsen relationships with neighbouring States, he stressed that the key to resolving the conflict in Ukraine is dialogue between Kyiv and the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, based on the Minsk Agreements.  As for Crimea, it is part-and-parcel of the Russian Federation, he affirmed.

The representative of Japan, responding to China’s delegate, said his country will continue to explain its activities transparently and to cooperate with IAEA.  Japan is also willing to discuss any technical information about its activities in an appropriate forum, he added. 

The representative of Armenia rejected the statement by Azerbaijan’s delegate, saying that country unleashed a large offensive operation involving war crimes and attacks on school, hospitals and civilians.  Any allegations of its being a counterattack is false, he emphasized, saying Azerbaijan’s actions are escalating tensions.  Instead, they demonstrate that it was not acting in self-defence and was not in compliance with Security Council resolutions, ceasefire agreements or the Vienna Document. 

The representative of Ukraine said, in response to the Russian Federation’s delegate, that the General Assembly recognizes Moscow as an occupying Power.  As such, the Russian Federation must withdraw and pay in full for its aggression, he emphasized.  Among other things, the Russian Federation has violated arms agreements, undermined European security, and supplied weapons and military equipment to occupied territories in Ukraine and Georgia, where it continues to transfer arms and armaments, causing civilian casualties, he said. 

The representative of Syria, responding to the statements of France and Germany, said the recent OPCW decision was adopted as part of a hostile plan against his country.  Damascus is committed to non-proliferation and disarmament, and has signed all major related conventions, he affirmed.  Meanwhile, France conducted nuclear explosions in Algeria and the Pacific region, he recalled, recommending that France’s representative read the book Road to Damascus

For information media. Not an official record.