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GA/DIS/3669
12 October 2021
Seventy-sixth Session, 7th Meeting (AM)

Delegates Call on Arms Manufacturing, Nuclear‑Weapon States to Reduce Production, Slash Stockpiles, as First Committee Concludes General Debate

Against the backdrop of an eroding security architecture, delegates called today on arms‑manufacturing and nuclear‑weapon nations to rein in production, reduce stockpiles and adhere fully to their treaty commitments, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) concluded its general debate and began the thematic segment of its session.

Mexico’s representative cautioned that the nuclear‑weapon States are undermining the non‑proliferation regime.  Noting that 116 States now belong to denuclearized zones around the world, he emphasized that the doctrine of deterrence is no longer acceptable, pointing out that decades ago, there were only five nuclear‑weapon States, while today there are nine.  Perceptions of insecurity are fuelling a return to aggressive rhetoric and ballooning nuclear stockpiles, at a time when the security architecture has eroded, he warned, stressing that withdrawals from international instruments are only adding to those perceptions.

The thematic debate centred on the Committee’s agenda pertaining to nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, disarmament aspects of outer space and conventional weapons.  Many delegates called for additional measures to control the spread and use of various weapons categories.  Several representatives reiterated the need for the nuclear‑weapon States to lead the way towards a world free of such weapons.

Indonesia’s representative, speaking for the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the continued modernization of and reliance on nuclear weapons.  As such, members of the Non‑Aligned Movement who have joined the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons call upon all nuclear‑weapon States to implement their obligations.  He went on to demand that, pending implementation of the 1995 resolution on establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, Israel renounce possession of nuclear weapons, accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and promptly place all its nuclear facilities under full‑scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Many delegates called for adhering to instruments governing a range of weapons of mass destruction, including the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention).

Malaysia’s delegate, echoing concerns about inaction, shared the priorities of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and called on States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty so as to enable its entry into force.  He also stressed the importance of full and effective implementation of the Plan of Action to Strengthen the Implementation of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon‑Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok.  ASEAN members are unequivocally committed to upholding the norms against the existence and use of chemical, biological and radiological weapons, he said, calling for the resumption of multilateral negotiations to conclude a non‑discriminatory, legally binding protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention.

Several delegates expressed worry that cold war‑like tensions on Earth will trigger an arms race in outer space, with many reaffirming the inalienable right of States to access that realm for peaceful purposes.  Many emphasized the need to keep outer space weapon free.

Cameroon’s representative said her delegation remains concerned that outer space has become a site for military activities.  She called for improved trust‑building measures, with the Disarmament Commission playing its key role as a forum for negotiations in that regard.

Many delegates shared concerns about the illicit spread of conventional weapons, saying their countries also continue to be affected by trafficking in the uncontrolled legal trade.

The Observer for the State of Palestine, speaking for the Group of Arab States, noted the unprecedented proliferation of conventional weapons in the Middle East.  Recognizing the rights of States to self‑defence, he expressed hope for progress at the forthcoming Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

Representatives of Sierra Leone, Israel, Dominican Republic and Brunei Darussalam delivered statements during the general debate.

The Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States also delivered a statement.

Also participating were speakers representing the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Speaking during the thematic debate were representatives of Trinidad and Tobago (for the Caribbean Community), Pakistan, Finland, Netherlands, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Senegal, Algeria, Bangladesh and Ecuador.

An observer for the European Union also spoke.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Iran, Syria, Israel and the Russian Federation.

The First Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 13 October, to continue its thematic debate.

General Debate

SULAY MANNAH KPUKUMU (Sierra Leone), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said increased military spending builds mistrust by implying that States are heading for military engagement.  The international community must stand together against reignition of the arms race, he emphasized, pointing out that the associated expenditures can be used for sustainable development.  While noting the stalled work of the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission, he welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty and urged all nuclear‑weapon States to engage bilaterally and multilaterally to reduce their stockpiles.  Reaffirming the right of all States to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he stressed that no treaty should be used to prevent that.  He went on to state that, as a post‑conflict country, Sierra Leone remains concerned about the illicit trade in and poor management of small arms and light weapons, in violation of international law.

GILAD MENASHE ERDAN (Israel) said the Middle East continues to struggle with a chronic lack of compliance with arms control regimes, noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty provides no remedy, since four out of five violations occurred in that region.  He emphasized that Iran’s nuclear programme has reached a worrisome stage in two years of violations, warning that international inaction only bolsters that country’s resolve to engage in flagrant violations, thereby placing world peace in the balance.  Iran also violated its commitments under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and additional protocol, meaning that the Agency can no longer maintain continuity of knowledge, he said, adding that it has also provided missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to terrorists.  Noting that chemical weapons have been used several times in the Middle East since the Second World War, he stressed that two new instances, as well as four different chemical attacks in Syria in 2017 and 2018, must be investigated.  He went on to underline that Israel does not support the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, adding that the establishment of a Middle East nuclear‑weapon‑free zone and other such initiatives contravene the guidelines and principles of such zones.  They must be the outcome of a mutual political desire on the part of States to engage with each other, he said.

JOSÉ ALFONSO BLANCO CONDE (Dominican Republic), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Central American Integration System, noted that arms trafficking remains a serious threat to international peace and security while also undermining human rights and promoting violence.  He emphasized that his country remains committed to the instruments guiding action in that area, including the Arms Trade Treaty and the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  Noting that the nuclear disarmament is deadlocked, he stressed the need to fully implement the three pillars of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty — disarmament, non‑proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy.  As part of the world’s first nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, the Dominican Republic believes that such designated areas promote security and trust among nations, and hopes for positive results at the forthcoming conference on establishing such a zone in the Middle East, he said.

ABDUL AZIM KASSIM (Brunei Darussalam) said his country has amended IAEA Small Quantities Protocol to ensure that nuclear materials on its territory are limited and only used for peaceful purposes, including in the health sector.  Emphasizing the importance of full and effective implementation of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone, he called for the establishment of a similar one in the Middle East.  Concerning threats to cybersecurity, he reiterated his country’s commitment to a rules‑based cyberspace, recalling that it established the Cyber Security Brunei agency in 2020.  Brunei Darussalam aims to increase awareness of cyberthreats in both the public and private sectors, especially on protecting the critical information infrastructure and enhancing law‑enforcement capacities to address threats through the services of the National Digital Forensics Laboratory.  He went on to stress the importance of peaceful uses of outer space, citing Brunei Darussalam’s 2021 Defence White Paper.

FLÁVIO ROBERTO BONZANINI, Secretary‑General of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, said the vast majority of States remain indifferent to those in possession of nuclear arms, allegedly in the name of national security.  Emphasizing that the existence of more than 13,000 nuclear weapons poses an unacceptable threat to humankind, he said that danger becomes more serious day by day, and unfortunately there have been no advances whatsoever on nuclear disarmament, a regrettable status quo.  He noted that the Agency’s member States commemorated the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons by issuing a joint declaration in which the 33 States parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco underlined their priorities and common position.  They also made a new call to four nuclear Powers to withdraw or modify their interpretative declarations concerning Additional Protocols I and II to that Treaty, which are contrary to its spirit, he added.

VÉRONIQUE CHRISTORY, Senior Arms Control Adviser, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), identified two trends that will shape the future of warfare:  ever‑increasing urbanization and rapid development of new means and methods of warfare following advances in science and technology.  Expressing concern about the development of autonomous weapon systems, she warned that new trends point to their expanded development and use, as well as reduced human supervision and capacity for intervention and deactivation, including in urban areas where civilians would be most at risk.  In that context, she recommended that States adopt new, legally binding rules to regulate such weapon systems to ensure the retention of sufficient human control and judgment in the use of force.  Moreover, the use of information and communications technology in future conflicts between States is becoming more likely, she noted.  However, cyberoperations during armed conflicts do not happen in a legal void or grey zone but are subject to the established principles and rules of international humanitarian law, she stressed.  Despite technological advances, conflicts are still predominantly fought using heavy explosive weapons, which are responsible for most civilian casualties in populated areas, she noted, adding that the effects of such weapons interrupt essential services and make measures to mitigate COVID‑19 even more difficult.

MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, associating himself with the Arab Group, said international security must be viewed in an expanded context, trusting in the ability of States to comply with their disarmament obligations.  Emphasizing the Arab League’s support for the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he said almost all its Member States will participate in the upcoming Review Conference.  He urged Israel to join them and to subject all its materials to IAEA oversight.  That State continues to oppose all international efforts to realize the universality of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he noted, recalling that it refused to attend the previous conference in 2019.  He urged the international community to call upon Israel to attend the upcoming event and participate in good faith in the efforts to establish a Middle East nuclear‑weapon‑free zone as soon as possible.

VIVIAN OKEKE, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Liaison Office — New York, outlined that Agency’s role and its verification work, conducted through its safeguards system of internationally agreed legal and technical measures aimed at independently verifying a State’s commitment not to divert nuclear materials from peaceful activities to weapons.  Through early detection of any diversion of nuclear materials or misuse of technology, IAEA alerts the world to potential proliferation, she said, adding that through innovative and efficient planning, safeguards inspectors successfully managed to continue their verification activities throughout the pandemic at the level and quality achieved before the onset of the coronavirus, and continued to provide advisory services and capacity‑building activities, conduct expert missions and carry out other work relevant to the nuclear safety and security objectives of States.  She went on to highlight the Agency’s works in the area of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and helping States address development challenges and priorities, including pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Early on in the COVID‑19 pandemic, she recalled, IAEA undertook the largest technical cooperation project in its history to provide emergency assistance to more than 125 countries, including real‑time PCR test kits and other virus‑detection equipment as well as related accessories and training.  To avert future pandemics, the Agency launched the Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action initiative to improve capacity‑building, training and laboratory support for the fight against such diseases, she said.  At the upcoming twenty‑sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), IAEA will highlight the role of nuclear techniques in supporting mitigation and adaptation efforts in such areas as climate‑smart agriculture and sustainable use of land and water.  Concerning the Agency’s commitment to creating a more gender‑balanced workforce, she pointed out that women now make up 35 per cent of the professional and higher categories, while stressing that more remains to be done.  She said that as States parties prepare for the upcoming Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, IAEA remains ready to play its supporting role.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the statements by Israel’s delegate, saying that country continues to conceal its crimes against the Palestinian people.  Emphasizing that no amount of disinformation can cover up Israel’s war‑mongering policies and its flagrant violations of relevant resolutions, he said that country has used the pandemic to continue its settlement expansion activities and to inflict misery on Palestinians in Gaza.  At the regional level, Israel endangers peace and security by adopting policies of aggression against States while maintaining its refusal to join relevant disarmament instruments on weapons of mass destruction, he noted.  In portraying its version of Iran’s weapons capability and its monitored nuclear programme, Israel is making a hypocritical move intended to distract from its own clandestine activities, he stressed.

The representative of Syria said the statement by Israel’s delegate reflects ridiculous claims of strengthening peace and security while that country maintains ties with such terrorist groups as Al‑Nusra, operating in Syria, including in occupied territories, and providing them with military support.  At the same time, Israel is not a party to any treaty on weapons of mass destruction and remains the only country in the region in possession of such weapons.  Who is building military nuclear reactors, who admits to possessing hundreds of nuclear warheads and who declared Gaza a hostile entity, he demanded, pointing out that it is, in fact, Israel occupying that enclave.  That country has perpetrated violence dating back to 1948, he said, adding that Israel was built on a mountain of victims.

The representative of Israel said Iran violated its commitments under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and other instruments and is the world’s main terrorism‑sponsoring State.  It is also the biggest proliferator of rockets and missiles, destabilizing the entire region and beyond, he added.  He went on to emphasize that Syria must still provide explanations to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as it uses chemical weapons against its own people.

The representative of Syria, taking the floor for a second time, said Israel was the first nation in the region to use chemical and biological weapons, and its policies against the Palestinians even include declarations of genocide.

The representative of Iran said Israel continues to spin a web of lies to deceive the international community, mounting ridiculous displays to prevent the leaders of that regime from being tried in international courts.  Israel is the greatest global threat to international peace and security, he emphasized, pointing out its occupation of Palestinian territory and killing of Palestinians for more than half a century.  Israel committed 17 acts of aggression against its neighbours, he noted, adding that, after its rejection of 85 Security Council resolutions, its possession of nuclear weapons is the greatest threat to the Middle East.

Thematic Debate

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concern about the continued modernization of and reliance on nuclear weapons.  Particularly concerned about the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons policy, he said members of the Non‑Aligned Movement who have joined the Non‑Proliferation Treaty call upon all nuclear‑weapon States to promptly implement their obligations.  Pending implementation of the 1995 resolution on establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, he demanded that Israel renounce possession of nuclear weapons, accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and promptly place all its nuclear facilities under full‑scope IAEA safeguards.  Welcoming the outcome of the first session of the conference on creating a nuclear‑weapon‑free Middle East, he said the Non‑Aligned Movement looks forward to a productive second session in November.  He stressed that measures and initiatives to strengthen nuclear safety and security must not be used as a pretext or leverage to violate the inalienable right of developing countries to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

He went on to underline that those responsible for the use of toxic chemicals as weapons must be held accountable.  The Non‑Aligned Movement deeply regrets that politicization and lack of consensus led to the failure to adopt the report of the fourth Review Conference on the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said, adding that its States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention recognize that the lack of a verification system continues to pose challenges to that instrument’s effective implementation.  He called for the resumption of multilateral negotiations on a non‑discriminatory legally binding protocol.

Turning to conventional weapons, he emphasized the need for balanced, full and effective implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and called for financial, technical and humanitarian assistance to help clear unexploded cluster munitions.  He called for further efforts in the area of lethal autonomous weapon systems and for significantly reduced production, possession and trading of conventional weapons by the industrialized States.  He went on to stress that while voluntary transparency and confidence‑building measures may partly contribute to reducing mistrust and enhancing the safety of outer space operations in the short term, it cannot substitute for a legally binding instrument.  Reaffirming the need for a universal, comprehensive and non‑discriminatory multilateral approach towards the issue of missiles in all its aspects, negotiated within the United Nations, he underlined that any initiatives on that subject should consider the security concerns of all States and their inherent right to peaceful uses of space technologies.  The Non‑Aligned Movement will submit the draft resolution “Follow‑up to the 2013 High‑Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament” during the session, he added.

SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called on all States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to renew their commitments to its full and effective implementation, while urging them to work in good faith towards a successful Review Conference.  He described the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a historic agreement contributing towards common goals while complementing existing instruments.  As for the Test Ban Treaty, ASEAN calls on the Annex 2 States to sign and ratify it so as to enable its entry into force, he said.  Furthermore, the Association stresses the importance of full and effective implementation of the Plan of Action to Strengthen the Implementation of the Treaty of Bangkok, he added.  It remains committed to engaging the nuclear‑weapon States and intensifying the ongoing efforts of all parties to resolve all outstanding issues.  Moreover, ASEAN calls for the resumption of multilateral negotiations to conclude a non‑discriminatory legally binding protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, he noted, underlining its unequivocal commitment to upholding the norms against the existence and use of chemical, biological and radiological weapons.

Recognizing the inalienable rights of all States to access outer space, he said it is incumbent upon all nations to ensure that the use and exploration of that realm are exclusively for peaceful purposes.  The General Assembly must play a vital role in fostering continued dialogue on current issues and challenges, he added, emphasizing that, going forward, outer space activities should not remain the exclusive preserve of a small group of States.  Expressing grave concern about the illicit proliferation of conventional weapons throughout the world, he said it contributes to violence, perpetuates poverty and undermines human welfare.  ASEAN reiterates that the implementation of relevant international agreements should be in conformity with fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, he added.  At the same time, the Association acknowledges that States have the sovereign right to acquire and manage conventional inventory for self‑defence and safeguarding national security.  He reaffirmed ASEAN’s strong commitment to combating the illicit trade in conventional weapons, calling upon all States to join hands to stop all illegal trading activities to ensure collective security and continued development without disruption.

DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed deep concern over the proliferation of weapons in the region, saying they are spreading fear and causing widespread loss of life.  Emphasizing the need to attach the highest priority to making their views known in international forums that matter, he urged States to ensure the continued relevance of the International Tracing Instrument on small arms and light weapons by adding a supplementary annex to it.  He thanked the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean — and the Governments of Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Germany — for their efforts in fighting the distribution of weapons in the region.  CARICOM’s roadmap for preventing and combating the spread of weapons and armed violence reinforces its crime and security strategy, he noted.  Although CARICOM is in a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, the region’s States are not safe from the consequences of the most dangerous weapons on Earth, he warned, saying that makes the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons an extraordinary achievement.  Reaffirming CARICOM’s commitment to all international frameworks against weapons of mass destruction, he urged States to invoke the same spirit of multilateralism they displayed in fighting COVID‑19 to effect the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

NATALIE TOLSTOI, Observer for the European Union, reaffirmed the bloc’s unequivocal support of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, and the importance of universalizing it.  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems remains a grave threat to international security, with the very real risk that terrorists might obtain them, she said.  Emphasizing that impunity on chemical weapons must not be tolerated, she denounced Syria’s continued violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  She also condemned in the strongest possible terms the attempts to poison Alexei Navalny and Kim Jong Nam, as well as the incident in Salisbury, United Kingdom, calling on the international community to ensure accountability for such actions.  Biosafety and biosecurity must be strengthened, she said, stressing that the Biological Weapons Convention must keep pace with technological developments in that area.  Turning to outer space, she described it as a global commons while noting that it is increasingly congested and competitive.  An internationally binding instrument to regulate outer space activities is also lacking.  She went on to call for strengthening the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and stressed that the Anti‑Personnel Landmines Convention underpins all that for which the European Union stands.

MAJED BAMYA, Observer for the State of Palestine, spoke on behalf of the Group of Arab States, calling upon all nuclear‑weapon States to uphold their disarmament commitments.  They have avoided committing to any time frame for implementing their obligations, including implementation of the resolution adopted at the 1995 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he noted, expressing the Arab Group’s concern about the continued security threat arising from Israel’s refusal to join that instrument.  Welcoming the first session of the conference on establishing a Middle East nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, he said he looks forward to further progress at the forthcoming second session.  The Arab Group condemns any use of weapons of mass destruction, he affirmed.  He went on to call for banning the placement of weapons in outer space.  Noting the unprecedented proliferation of conventional weapons in the Middle East, he recognized the right of States to self‑defence, while expressing hope for progress on the forthcoming Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms.

JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico) said the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons establishes norms that must be respected.  Recalling that the long legal journey to ban nuclear weapons began with the International Court of Justice decision of 1996, he noted that 116 States are now located in denuclearized zones.  Emphasizing that nuclear deterrence policies are unsuitable, he pointed out that instead of the five nuclear‑weapon States recognized decades ago, the world now has nine.  He said perceptions of insecurity are fuelled by the return to aggressive rhetoric and increased stockpiling at a time when the security architecture has eroded.  Withdrawals from the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and other instruments add to that insecurity, he said, stressing that the nuclear‑weapon States have undermined the non‑proliferation regime.

HARYO BUDI NUGROHO (Indonesia), endorsing the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, noted the worsening strategic environment and called upon all States to advance the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s disarmament pillar and positively consider the Stockholm Initiative on Nuclear Disarmament in strengthening the architecture.  Condemning the use of chemical weapons, he urged the remaining possessor States to destroy their stockpiles.  It is also important to focus on substantial discussions towards the adoption of a legally binding instrument on the peaceful use of outer space, he emphasized.  Turning to conventional weapons, he called for effective implementation of the landmine ban to realize a mine‑free world by 2025.  He went on to stress the sovereign right of States to acquire small arms for self‑defence and condemned embargoes imposed by exporting States on importers.

KHALIL UR RAHMAN HASHMI (Pakistan) said the global disarmament architecture is weakening, with an arms race in full swing and long‑standing rules and norms ignored.  The largest State in South Asia, driven by a desire for regional hegemony, is in active pursuit of dangerous doctrines, he noted.  Meanwhile, nuclear disarmament remains unfulfilled, with some nuclear‑weapon States modernizing their arsenals, he pointed out, calling for negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention and a fissile material cut‑off treaty with stockpiles within its scope.  Warning that scientific advancements heighten the risks of misuse of chemistry and biology by non‑State actors, he said the Russian Federation’s proposal on the suppression of chemical acts of terrorism deserves serious consideration.  Turning to outer space, he called for a treaty against its weaponization and the use of force against outer space objects.  He went on to affirm that South Asia bears witness to Pakistan’s long‑standing pursuit of a balance in armaments.

SANNA ORAVA (Finland) noted that whereas the total number of nuclear weapons is lower than during the cold war, that appears likely to change and the major nuclear‑weapon States must continue leading disarmament efforts.  With nuclear proliferation plaguing the world, there is no need for more States or non‑State actors to possess nuclear weapons, she emphasized, calling upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to give up its stockpiles.  It is essential to maintain the IAEA safeguards system, she said, urging Iran to comply with them.  She added that negotiations must continue towards the return of the United States to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  She went on to state that reducing nuclear risk must entail a wide range of measures to advance disarmament initiatives.  Noting that Finland helps to find and build common ground in line with the Stockholm Initiative, she stressed that, going forward, advancing nuclear disarmament requires political will and must consider the concerns of all States.

MARK ZELLENRATH (Netherlands) underlined the importance of reducing the nuclear threat, including through the swift entry into force of the Test Ban Treaty and full implementation of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s Article VI.  Expressing hope for dialogue on nuclear doctrines, he said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has gained international legitimacy.  He went on to call upon the Russian Federation to answer all outstanding questions about the circumstances of the attack against Alexei Navalny, and urged Yemen to respect international and humanitarian law.

MUHAMMAD ZAYYANU BANDIYA (Nigeria) described the Biological Weapons Convention as a significant part of the preventative architecture, while noting the effective operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention as the only comprehensive treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.  He emphasized that exploration of outer space and celestial bodies must be peaceful for the benefit of all countries, regardless of their level of economic or scientific development.  There must be no arms race in outer space, he stressed, while warning that existing legal instruments are inadequate to prevent its militarization, which calls for a legally binding treaty to prevent an arms race.  He condemned the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, saying they cause unprecedented and phenomenal levels of carnage, especially the immense bloodshed perpetrated by terrorists.  To limit that suffering, Nigeria calls upon major arms‑producer States to ensure the supply and possession of those weapons is limited to Governments or other State‑authorized official entities, he said.

Mr. SARZHANOV (Kazakhstan) noted that the tenth Review Conference will be held amid rising tensions between nuclear Powers, heightened risks of confrontation and erosion of the arms control architecture.  Yet, States parties will have an opportunity to strengthen the global disarmament and non‑proliferation regimes, with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty at its core, and to make good‑faith efforts to implement their commitments, he said.  The current session of the Nuclear Discussion Forum, co‑organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan, aims to foster dialogue on how the Review Conference can produce a balanced outcome across the Treaty’s three main pillars, he noted.  Guiding points for the discussion could focus on how to reduce nuclear risks and reinvigorate a common vision for disarmament, and on how to improve non‑proliferation elements without infringing on the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, he suggested.

LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union, emphasized the importance of the IAEA safeguard mechanism and called for universal adherence to its additional protocol.  The entry into force of the Test Ban Treaty is important for realizing a world free of nuclear weapons, and once in force, it must provide legally binding prevention of any nuclear explosions, she said, urging the Annex 2 States to sign it.  She also emphasized the crucial need to develop norms and an operational framework on the use and transfer of lethal autonomous weapon systems.  She went on to describe the Arms Trade Treaty as an excellent example of how the application of common standards can contribute to global stability, while stressing that without controlling ammunition and stockpiles, there can be no truly effective measures against the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

CHEIKH AHMADOU BAMBA GAYE (Senegal), associating himself with the African Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said complete nuclear disarmament requires that possessor States fully shoulder their obligations under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  He urged States to sign and ratify the Test Ban Treaty, and support negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty and on establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East.  He emphasized the need for efforts to upgrade the verification systems of the conventions on chemical and biological weapons.  Turning to conventional weapons, he underlined the importance of ensuring that arms transfers are limited to Governments, and called for international cooperation for the implementation of related instruments.

PATRICIA ANDJONGO (Cameroon) said disarmament efforts must be linked to development goals.  Calling for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), she emphasized the need to ensure weapons of mass destruction never fall into the hands of terrorists.  Concerned that outer space has become a site for military activities, she called for improved trust‑building measures, with the Disarmament Commission playing its role as a forum for negotiations.  Calling for action to better control the conventional arms trade, she said States must improve their institutional capacities to that end.  Raising awareness of disarmament issues is key, she added, stressing that realizing the noble goals of peace and security requires implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and other related instruments, as well as improved transparency.

NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, welcomed the recent entry into force of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and said the Test Ban Treaty must also be able to enter into force as soon as possible.  Welcoming 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 2019, he called upon the parties to constructively participate in the second session in November.  There is also an urgent need to conclude a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances to all non‑nuclear‑weapon States, he said.  Regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention, he called upon Member States to avoid polarizing the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  He went on to spotlight the illicit flows of weapons threatening Africa’s Sahel region, calling for the full and balanced implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

RAFIQUL ALAM MOLLA (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the pandemic failed to slow the arms build‑up, with $72.6 billion spent to upgrade nuclear weapons in 2020.  He expressed hope that the first meeting of States parties in March 2022 will advance the quest for a world free of nuclear weapons.  In the meantime, all nuclear‑weapon States must uphold their obligations, with increased investment in peaceful use of nuclear technology, he asserted.  Condemning any use of chemical weapons, he noted that Bangladesh is resolute in fulfilling its responsibilities under the Biological Weapons Convention.  He expressed support for outer space exploration for the benefit of all humankind, emphasizing that the concerns of developing States must be taken into account.  Bangladesh has launched its first satellite, he added, calling for a universal legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in space.  He reaffirmed the sovereign right of every State to conventional arms for security and self‑defence.  He went on to note the $2 trillion spent globally on arms, saying “imagine what we could have achieved in the field of development” with those funds.

ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador) said the existence of nuclear weapons, beyond being an existential challenge, prevents the creation of an equitable world order.  It is therefore crucial to change the security doctrines of the nuclear‑weapon States, he asserted.  The best way to celebrate the fifty‑second anniversary of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty would be its effective implementation, he continued, noting that his country is close to ratifying the Test‑Ban Treaty.  Ecuador’s constitution prohibits all aspects of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as toxins and genetically modified goods that may harm humans, he emphasized.  Because of its geographical location, Ecuador is the closest country to outer space, he said, calling for exclusively peaceful use of outer space while warning that conflict there would have devastating effects for humankind.  He went on to point out that women and girls are the primary victims of small arms and light weapons, whether in a context of conflict or not.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply in response to the European Union and the Netherlands on the case of Mr. Navalny, said that certain colleagues believe that lies can magically become the truth.  Indeed, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries perpetuate lies in that regard, he said, noting that his country adopted a transparent position from the beginning.  Instead of mutual cooperation to establish the truth, the Russian Federation did not receive any formal answers to its queries, yet it provided information, including a timeline of events.  Having pointed out many inconsistencies on the state of Mr. Navalny’s health, documents submitted to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons contain the answers to the questions asked today, he said.  At the same time, the European Union and NATO countries have refused to publicize the formula of the toxic agent under the Organisation’s auspices, he noted, saying he expects to receive substantive answers from Germany and Sweden in November.  He called on NATO countries to stop spreading lies, emphasizing that the Russian Federation will continue to seek the truth in the situation involving Mr. Navalny.

For information media. Not an official record.