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GA/DIS/3670
13 October 2021
Seventy-sixth Session, 8th & 9th Meetings (AM & PM)

Delegates Highlight Disarmament Crisis Marked by Proliferating Weapons of Mass Destruction, Illicit Small Arms Trade, as First Committee Continues Debate

Addressing a cluster of thematic issues, delegates painted a picture today of a world in disarmament crisis, from the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction to the rampant illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) continued the thematic segment of its session.

The threat to use or actual use of nuclear weapons remains the primary existential military threat to humanity, speakers warned, with representatives of non‑nuclear‑weapon States calling upon those in possession of major arsenals to uphold their responsibilities under various conventions, at the least, or better yet to disarm.

Cuba’s representative, calling for universal adherence to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, noted that his country is a party to the world’s first nuclear‑weapon‑free zone under the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).  He went on to reject the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Ukraine’s delegate said his country is one of the major contributors to international peace and security, recalling that it voluntarily surrendered the world’s third‑largest nuclear weapons arsenal under the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.

China’s representative emphasized that his country pursues a self‑defence strategy and has pledged not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time.  However, the United States seeks military superiority, making huge investments in its nuclear trinity and deploying a global anti‑missile system, he pointed out.

The representative of the United States, however, warned that China is building a larger, more diverse nuclear arsenal than the “minimum deterrent” it has touted for decades, encouraging that country to engage with the United States on practical measures to reduce the risks of a destabilizing arms race and conflict.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stressed that, as the country with the largest arsenal, spending $700 billion annually, and the only one to have used nuclear weapons, the United States should take the lead on disarmament.

Delegates also spotlighted the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons plaguing countries on every continent.

Burkina Faso’s representative noted that small arms trafficking threatens peace, security and stability, fuelling conflicts and spurring transnational criminal networks and terrorist groups while causing the deaths of thousands of people, as well as massive displacement.

Ghana’s delegate, associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the violence and death toll caused by conventional weapons around the world, noting their particular impact in Africa.  She emphasized that universal adherence to the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is essential to peace and security.

Iraq’s representative described the catastrophic effects of conventional weapons, including the indiscriminate proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, as a constant source of concern and a great danger to security and the stability of nations.

Mozambique’s delegate said that controlling the transfer of arms is one of the highest priorities for her country’s Government.  She emphasized the need to build an articulated common strategy and joint inspections among Southern African security forces in light of the rise of terrorism and organized crime in that subregion.

Italy’s representative said his country allocated more than €62 million to mine‑action programmes in 2020 and will double that budget in 2021.  He went on to stress that any existing or future weapon systems must be under human control, especially when engaging in the use of lethal force.

The United Kingdom’s delegate, referring to chemical weapons, expressed grave concern over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and the incidents in Syria.  The United Kingdom encourages strengthening the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (Biological Weapons Convention), he said.

Norway’s representative affirmed his delegation’s steadfast support of the decision to suspend Syria at the resumed Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  No illegitimate decisions have been made at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, he said, emphasizing:  “There exists no Western plot to undermine Russia’s and Syria’s sovereign interests.”

Syria’s representative, however, noted that some States continue to accuse his country baselessly, using unprofessional reports and illegitimate mechanisms.  Certain Western countries claim they wish to strengthen the Non‑Proliferation Treaty while still producing weapons of mass destruction, he pointed out, urging all nations to end all weapons transfers to terrorist groups.

The Russian Federation’s representative said the decision‑making processes of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have been politicized, adding that the Biological Weapons Convention needs a boost to its verification system.

Turkey’s delegate condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, saying that country’s Government must be held accountable.

Turning their sights upward, delegates underlined the importance of protecting outer space, describing it as being of global common interest and exclusively for peaceful use.

Argentina’s representative described the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 as outdated and limited in scope, noting that it does not cover conventional weapons.

Iran’s representative pointed out that the United States already has a space force with a $17 billion budget, which will increase by 13 per cent.

Also speaking were representatives of Ghana (on behalf of the African Group), South Africa (on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition), Canada, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Singapore, Viet Nam, Austria, Hungary, Nepal, Thailand, South Africa (speaking in its national capacity), Lithuania, United States, Australia, Poland, Brazil, Ireland, India, France, Czech Republic, Maldives, Sweden, Myanmar, Togo, Switzerland, Guatemala, Slovakia, Philippines, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Spain, Germany, Kiribati (also speaking for Kazakhstan), Eswatini, Angola, Portugal, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Colombia, Republic of Korea, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Guyana.

The President of the General Assembly also spoke, as did the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty Organization.

Also delivering a statement was the Permanent Observer for the Holy See.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Russian Federation, Belarus, Armenia, Ukraine, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Azerbaijan.

The First Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 14 October, to continue the thematic segment of its session.

Statements

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), speaking on behalf of the African Group, emphasized that, as the common heritage of humanity, outer space must be protected from militarization through the adoption of a legally binding instrument.  The international community must also ensure increased cooperation between developed and developing countries to advance access to the potential of space technologies, including support for the African Space Agency established within the framework of the African Union, he added.

Noting that small arms and light weapons are an obstacle to sustainable development, besides posing a continuing threat to international peace and security, he said the African Group supports full implementation of the pivotal instruments of the United Nations, supplemented by regional and subregional initiatives.  They include:  the Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa; the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa; and the Economic Community of West African States Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.  He went on to call for emphasis on preventing the transfer of those weapons to non‑State actors, within the framework of the related United Nations Programme of Action.

ANGUS SEPTEMBER (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said the group’s primary goal is to realise and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.  However, the current security landscape raises concern, he added.  Expressing the Coalition’s continuing deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, he proposed the implementation of concrete, transparent, mutually reinforcing, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament measures and the fulfilment of Non‑Proliferation Treaty obligations and commitments.  Expressing deep concern about the slow pace of progress and the reliance of some States on indefensible security doctrines that increase the risk of proliferation, he emphasized that the global security environment is no excuse for inaction.  Instead, it reinforces the need for urgency, he said.  What is lacking is not favourable conditions, but political will and determination, he stressed, pointing out that the world witnessed those qualities with the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

He also expressed deep concern about policies or pronouncements that move further away from the goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, calling for serious reflection on the enormous amount of resources dedicated to the maintenance, development and modernization of nuclear arsenals.  They could be better utilized in pursuit of a better future, including that envisaged by the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.  Stressing that the slow progress in implementing the Non‑Proliferation Treaty is unacceptable and untenable, it is time for the nuclear‑weapon States to deliver on their commitments.  The Treaty’s adoption and indefinite extension is based on a “grand bargain”, he said, underlining that any presumption of indefinite possession of nuclear weapons contravenes the object and purpose of the instrument and threatens to erode its credibility and effectiveness.  “We must uphold and preserve the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, and the best way to protect [it] is to implement it,” he said.

CATHERINE NADEAU (Canada) suggested a step‑by‑step approach to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them irreversibly.  The disturbing trends of diversifying and increasing arsenals must be stopped through genuine commitments by the nuclear‑weapon States, she said, emphasizing that progress hinges on ensuring the maintenance and strengthening of the international disarmament and non‑proliferation architecture, with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty at the centre.  Canada is working with partners to develop concrete proposals and ideas to strengthen the instrument ahead of the 2022 Review Conference, including by engaging with the Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative and the Stockholm Initiative, she noted.  Recent progress, including the extension of the New START Treaty, opens up new possibilities along the road to disarmament, she said, stressing that decision makers must fully comprehend the risks associated with nuclear weapons and recognize that arms control enhances security and predictability.  Canada’s long‑standing objectives include the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty and the negotiation of a fissile material cut‑off convention, she affirmed, while cautioning that both require political will on the part of all States.  “While the steps to nuclear disarmament are largely before us, it is the implementation of these steps that we stumble on,” she noted.  However, some of the most intractable issues of the times can be dislodged by increasing inclusivity and diversity in the field of nuclear disarmament, she said, adding that Canada believes in empowering youth to become the next generation of leaders, and in the equal, full and meaningful participation of women in all related discussions and decision‑making processes.

SARMAD MUWAFAQ MOHAMMED AL‑TAIE (Iraq), calling for acceleration towards universal adherence to disarmament and non‑proliferation instruments by placing them at the top of international priorities, reaffirmed the importance of full implementation of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  He noted that the 1995 resolution adopted at the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction has not yet been implemented, more than two and a half decades later, and emphasized the need for serious support of the upcoming second session.  Calling for unremitting efforts to prevent the militarization of, and an arms race in, outer space, he welcomed international initiatives in pursuit of a legally binding regulatory instrument.  He went on to highlight the catastrophic effects of indiscriminate proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, a constant source of concern and a great danger to security and the stability of nations.

AHMAD SAIF Y. A. AL‑KUWARI (Qatar) said the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction poses a major risk to international security and commended collective international efforts that have led to results in conflict management and nuclear non‑proliferation.  He further emphasized the importance of adherence to all relevant international treaties and conventions, adding that multilateralism is the only path to realizing objectives on international peace and security.  He also went on to deplore the delay in establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, reaffirming Qatar’s support for the next session of the United Nations conference established for that purpose.

PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) said the development of defence systems that threaten space wars is worrisome.  Outer space is a common territory, and space remains the “last frontier”, he said, emphasizing that it must be used for peaceful purposes and remain free of conflict and weapons.  Any regulation should consider using outer space for the benefit of all States, he added, pointing out that an outline can be found in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.  A governance framework must also foster innovation at a time when States have become vulnerable to threats in outer space and cyberspace, he said.  Collective security helps common efforts, but competition has unfolded into a scenario that calls for regulations to discourage the militarization of outer space, he noted, saying his delegation will table a draft resolution during the present session on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

MOHAMED KAMAL ALI ELHOMOSANY (Egypt), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said global tensions and rapid technological developments have elevated the risks of nuclear weapons use to their highest point since the cold war.  “Immediate progress is necessary to restore trust and faith in the current regime,” he emphasized, noting that the tenth Review Conference must reconfirm, as a first step, the validity of all previous commitments.  He blamed the stalemate related to the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, and countless other resolutions, for eroding the credibility of the disarmament and non‑proliferation regime and multilateral norms, as well as the rule of law at the international level.  As such, the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction — first convened in November 2019 — allows the United Nations to take meaningful steps through an institutional, inclusive and consensus‑based process.  Turning to outer space — a “shared heritage” — he called for a legally binding instrument aimed at preventing an arms race, notably by filling existing legal gaps and banning the placement of any weapons in outer space.  It would also ban armed attacks against satellites or any outer space assets, intentional harmful interference in their functioning and development of weapons designed to attack them.  He went on to stress that the lack of clear definitions and criteria related to the Arms Trade Treaty undermines its effectiveness, and called on States parties to ensure that its implementation aligns with the Charter of the United Nations in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of States to fulfil their national security and self‑defence needs.

MAN YAN ENG (Singapore) said that States must not only renew their commitment to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty at the upcoming Review Conference, but also commit to fulfilling their obligations under that instrument.  Nuclear‑weapon States must do more to reduce their arsenals and the international community must work towards universalizing the Treaty, he added.  The international community must also pursue efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, she emphasized.  As one of the world’s busiest transhipment hubs, Singapore takes its responsibilities seriously in that regard, including through its robust export control regime, she said, adding that States must fulfil their international legal obligations to curb the illicit trade in and indiscriminate use of conventional weapons.  In that regard, Singapore is working towards ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty while also imposing an indefinite moratorium on the export of anti‑personnel mines and cluster munitions, she affirmed.

KONSTANTIN VORONTSOV, Acting Deputy Director, Department on Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament of the Russian Federation, said progress on nuclear disarmament can only be achieved through consensus, and attempts to promote an immediate ban are unproductive.  Emphasizing that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be started, he listed several of his country’s arms‑reduction achievements, in line with the United States, citing in particular the extension of the New START Treaty.  What remains outstanding are issues involving post‑Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty global strike weapons, he said, adding that nuclear weapons should not be based outside a State’s national territory.  Calling upon all Annex 2 States to join the Test‑Ban Treaty, he noted that the Biological Weapons Convention also deserves attention, particularly with a view to boosting its verification system.  In relation to the Secretary‑General’s mechanism to address the use of chemical and biological weapons, he said the Russian Federation will table a related draft resolution during the current session.  He noted that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is in a difficult situation, having been divided and politicized in its decision‑making processes.  Attention must also be paid to some countries that see outer space as a combat arena and aim at military domination, he warned, underlining the need for norms and a common understanding that no weapons should be deployed in that realm.  The Russian Federation has worked towards a legally binding instrument in that regard, he said, adding that his delegation will be introducing a related draft resolution later in the session.

DUY TUAN VU (Viet Nam), endorsing the statements made on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said States parties must uphold and renew their commitments to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, which remains the cornerstone of global action.  He also called on States to sign and ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty and to adhere to international legal instruments on other weapons of mass destruction.  Noting that conventional weapons deserve further attention from the international community, he emphasized the legitimate right of States to manufacture, trade and retain such arms for national defence and security needs.  At the same time, States bear primary responsibility to address issues related to conventional weapons, he continued, expressing deep concern over the threat to civilians and peacekeeping personnel posed by landmines and improvised explosive devices, which also have serious and lasting humanitarian, social and economic consequences for more than 60 countries.  As for outer space, he said it is in the common interest and the right of all countries to explore and use that realm exclusively for peaceful purposes, in accordance with international law.  In that regard, he called for further regional and international cooperation to promote confidence‑building measures and friendship among all peoples and nations for the sake of better use of outer space for peace, security and development.

ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said the world knows more about the existential risks of nuclear weapons than ever before.  Noting that disarmament is a self‑evident imperative, he said some States claim nuclear weapons are essential for self‑defence, despite the evidence that geopolitical competition cannot be managed effectively.  That is an illusion of security, he emphasized.  He called for a global paradigm change, pointing to the tenth Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference as the right opportunity.  Pointing out that at least six possessor States have increased their stockpiles, a turning point after decades of transparency on disarmament, he stressed that they must live up to their obligations, describing the New START Treaty extension as a first good step.  Calling for the essential return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said new challenges include the exchange of highly enriched uranium, which must remain taboo.  He went on to underline that, after five years of deliberations among experts, the international community must make an unequivocal commitment to keep humans in control of lethal autonomous weapon systems.

HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted the long‑term plans of nuclear‑weapon States to strengthen their stockpiles, with no disarmament negotiations under way despite clear legal obligations.  The withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and its unwillingness to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, caused immense damage, he added.  Furthermore, Israel is the main hurdle to a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, he emphasized, calling upon the international community to compel that State to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and place related materials under the protocols of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  He said chemical weapons remain a grave concern, with the United States the only possessor, noting that country’s failure to meet a 2012 deadline for their destruction and its postponement of that action until 2023.  He said the most effective approach to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention is a legally binding protocol, urging the United States to withdraw its objection.  Similarly, a legally binding instrument is required to prevent an arms race in outer space, he said, pointing out that the United States already has a space force with a $17 billion budget, which will increase by 13 per cent.  He went on to reject sanctions against Iran’s space programme.

GYORGY MOLNAR, Special Representative of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non‑Proliferation of Hungary, endorsed the statement made on behalf of the European Union, emphasizing that only concrete practical steps ‑ such as ensuring the Test‑Ban Treaty’s entry into force, negotiating a fissile material cut‑off treaty and advancing nuclear disarmament verification alongside risk reduction, transparency and confidence‑building measures — can help realize a world free of nuclear weapons.  He called for a greater focus on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and for full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  Describing the re‑emergence of chemical weapons as among the greatest threats to international security, he called for strengthening the Chemical Weapons Convention.  He went on to highlight Hungary’s participation in a network of laboratories serving the Secretary‑General’s mechanism on addressing and investigating reports of chemical weapon use.  As for preventing an arms race in outer space, he said addressing that threat hinges on adopting an incremental approach, including voluntary measures.

PRATHMA UPRETY (Nepal), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said today’s race to modernize nuclear arsenals does not demonstrate humanity’s ability but rather its inability to make peace.  Calling upon all nuclear‑weapon States to abide by their legal obligations towards the total elimination of their nuclear weapons in a transparent, irreversible and verifiable manner, he emphasized that his country does not produce, possess or transfer any kind of weapons of mass destruction.  Stressing the need for high‑level cooperation to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of non‑State actors like terrorists, he said implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and other relevant instruments remains critical in that regard.

AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom) said his delegation will continue to work on disarmament and non‑proliferation, considering the current security landscape, adding that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty provides a guide.  However, the United Kingdom will not support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he affirmed, explaining that the instrument does not contribute to international law.  The United Kingdom will continue to help develop nuclear verification measures towards the Test‑Ban Treaty’s entry into force.  Expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s new mechanism on the use of chemical weapons, he also voiced grave concern over the attack on Alexei Navalny and the incidents in Syria.  Noting that the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the importance of a robust regime against biothreats, he encouraged the forthcoming review conference on the Biological Weapons Convention to strengthen the instrument in that regard.  He emphasized that preventing an arms race in outer space is key to preserving international security, adding that his delegation will introduce a draft resolution on reducing threats in that realm, including a proposal to establish a working group on the issue.  It will also table a text on conventional disarmament addressing a variety of concerns across weapons categories, he added.  Moreover, the United Kingdom is involved in negotiating a normative framework on lethal autonomous weapon systems under the umbrella of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

TOR HENRIK ANDERSEN (Norway) urged the Russian Federation to conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the poisoning of Alexei Navalny in August 2020, share the findings of the investigation with States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and bring those responsible to justice.  Norway remains steadfast in its support of the decision to suspend Syria that was made at the resumed Conference of the States Parties to the Convention.  “There exists no Western plot to undermine Russia’s and Syria’s sovereign interests,” he stressed, adding that no illegitimate decisions have been made at OPCW.  Citing documented violations of the Convention, he said a cross‑regional group of countries, including Norway, is willing to use the available instruments of the Convention to address those violations.

KARIN KUNJARA NA AYUDHYA (Thailand) expressed his country’s commitment to preserving Southeast Asia as a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, as enshrined in the Charter of ASEAN and the Bangkok Treaty, officially known the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon‑Free Zone.  Calling on nuclear‑weapon States to sign and ratify the Treaty’s protocol, he went on to voice support for ongoing efforts towards the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.  Thailand is working towards its ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty, he said, noting that another national priority is action in support of the Mine Ban Convention.  To date, Thailand has cleared more than 95 per cent of its mine‑contaminated area, and it is serving as the 2021 Chair of the Committee on Victim Assistance under the Convention.  Victim assistance should be a priority for States parties, he added in that regard.

JOHANN PASCHALIS (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group, the Non‑Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition, said nuclear disarmament is a legal responsibility and an ethical imperative.  Welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he noted it is the only instrument banning a category of weapons not subject to a global prohibition.  Noting that modernization programmes and stockpile increases undermine the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he said concrete progress on disarmament is essential to the success of the tenth Review Conference.  The concerns of a few States must not be protected at the expense of humanity at large.  Expressing concern over the polarization of OPCW’s policy organs, he pointed to a move away from the consensus of the past.  In addition, he noted that at least some progress was made at the seventh review process of the Arms Trade Treaty, despite the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), aligning himself with the European Union, called for the full implementation of the regional conventional arms control arrangements that are crucial to European security and stability.  Voicing concern that the major military exercises carried out by the Russian Federation and Belarus once again lacked transparency, he said the notified number of participants did not correspond to reality, while military observers were not invited in accordance with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Vienna Document.  Launching negotiations for the modernization of that text would be a significant positive step to restoring trust and predictability in Europe, he said, also pointing to the militarization of the Crimean Peninsula and transfers of weapon systems, including nuclear‑capable aircraft.  Also voicing concern about the Russian Federation’s military presence in Georgia, he highlighted ongoing violations of freedom of movement, including through the so‑called “borderization” process.

JEFFREY EBERHARDT (United States) said his country is working to reduce the role of nuclear weapons, while ensuring the United States’ strategic deterrence remains safe, secure and effective and that extended deterrence commitments to allies remain strong and credible.  However, China is building a larger, more diverse nuclear arsenal than the “minimum deterrent” it has touted for decades, he warned.  In that context, he encouraged Beijing to engage with the United States on practical measures to reduce the risks of destabilizing arms races and conflict.  Turning to chemical weapons, he recalled the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and urged the Russian Federation to answer the questions submitted by the United States and 44 other co‑sponsors at OPCW last week.  As for biological weapons, the United States will propose that States parties adopt measures to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention immediately and, simultaneously, take steps to intensively explore measures to strengthen implementation and promote compliance.

RUTH HILL (Australia) said the world is at a pivotal moment in nuclear disarmament, and the Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference must focus on areas of convergence.  Her delegation is committed to promoting practical measures towards progressive steps across the pillars and advocates for proposals to strengthen its review process towards risk reduction, verification measures and safeguards.  As a near‑universal instrument, the Treaty is a pact that unites, as both nuclear and non‑nuclear‑weapon States can see there is more safety in eliminating the weapons.  She noted that since August 2020, Australia has called on the Russian Federation to explain the Alexei Navalny incident, joining 44 other States to demand answers and urge that Government to engage in good faith.  She further stated it is incumbent upon all nations to protect infrastructure from an arms race in outer space, noting that the dual use of instruments in that arena makes non‑transparency unverifiable and unworkable.

MARCIN CZEPELAK (Poland) voiced concern over the state of the global arms control system, while describing the extension of the New START Treaty as a positive step in maintaining strategic stability between the United States and the Russian Federation.  Calling upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage in denuclearization talks and abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and activities, he also expressed hope that Iran will return to Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiations without further delay, and that parties will finally reach consensus on its reactivation.  Voicing further concern over the use of chemical weapons in countries including Iraq, Malaysia, Syria, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, he urged the international community to convey a strong and unambiguous message of support for the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Appealing to all parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to pay their contributions on time and in full, he also noted his country’s efforts to promote responsible policies towards small arms and light weapons and its commitment to the Anti‑Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

DOFINI AUBIN TIAHOUN (Burkina Faso) said the illicit arms trade poses a threat to peace, security and stability in many parts of the world, fuelling conflicts and spurring transnational criminal networks and terrorist groups while causing the deaths of thousands of people as well as massive displacement.  They constitute a direct threat to the stability of States and an obstacle to their socioeconomic development, he emphasized, noting that terrorist groups increasingly use improvised explosive devices.  To address those and related threats calls for universal adherence to the Ottawa Convention on Anti‑Personnel Mines and the Arms Trade Treaty, he said, stressing the need to prioritize multilateralism in order to ensure responsible arms transfers and the legitimate and responsible use of conventional weapons.

TAINàLEITE NOVAES (Brazil), endorsing the statement delivered on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said States should have meaningful discussions at the forthcoming Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.  Meanwhile, the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is cause for hope, he added.  Highlighting the Brazilian‑Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, he said that entity is an example for trust‑building among States.  As a party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, Brazil believes the creation of new nuclear‑weapon‑free zones will be part of a crucial step towards realizing a world free of such weapons, he said, adding that his delegation will table a related draft resolution.  Describing the Chemical Weapons Convention as the “gold standard” of disarmament treaties, he said that, as a spacefaring nation, Brazil has participated in negotiations on a legally binding instrument on that subject.  He went on to state that the Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons should include on its agenda a set of recommendations on ensuring that humans retain control of such systems.

ANATOLII ZLENKO (Ukraine) said his country is one of the major contributors to international peace and security, having voluntarily surrendered the world’s third‑largest nuclear weapons arsenal under the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances.  He noted that the Russian Federation launched a terrifying assault on Ukraine, occupying the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.  Despite calls by the guarantor States, the Russian Federation has ignored all calls for consultations, he said, adding that his delegation is seeking an international agreement to replace the Budapest Memorandum.  Condemning the attack on Alexei Navalny in the strongest terms, he noted that the use of a Novichok agent has been confirmed by laboratories and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  He went on to denounce Syria’s use of chemical weapons as a violation under international law.  He further noted the ruinous consequences of Russian aggression, saying it affects biosafety and biosecurity, as well as the destabilizing transfer of conventional weapons across the Ukraine/Russian Federation border.

WU JIANJUN (China) said his country pursues a self‑defence strategy and has pledged not to use nuclear weapons first at any time, under any circumstances, or against non‑nuclear‑weapon States and weapon‑free zones.  The United States, however, is in pursuit of military superiority, making huge investments in its nuclear trinity and deploying a global anti‑missile system, he noted.  As the State that has conducted the most nuclear tests in the world, that country should fulfil its disarmament responsibilities, he emphasized.  Expressing concern over cooperation on nuclear submarines, he said it is against the spirit of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  He warned that the double standards practised by the United States and United Kingdom will affect hotspot issues, and questioned the seriousness of Australia’s commitments to non‑proliferation.  He went on to stress that, in the wake of its disposal of irradiated water, Japan must address international concerns, also calling for enhancement of global governance on biosecurity.  China supports the peaceful use and non‑weaponization of outer space to prevent it becoming a new battlefield, he affirmed.

YURI ARIEL GALA LÓPEZ (Cuba), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the pursuit of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world is challenged by the United States, which continues to amass weapons and modernize its arsenals.  Calling for universal adherence to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he noted that Cuba is a party to the world’s first nuclear‑weapon‑free zone under the Treaty of Tlatelolco and expressed support for the creation of new zones.  He rejected the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  As for the activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he emphasized that only a political solution will resolve challenges on the Korean Peninsula.  Cuba calls for strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention through a legally binding protocol, he said, adding that his country also opposes unilateral coercive measures and calling upon the United States to lift the blockade against Cuba.  He went on to affirm that the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons is critical in stopping the spread of illicit trafficking and called for efforts to examine its root causes.  Turning to emerging threats, he said lethal autonomous weapons must be fully regulated, stressing the need for a legally binding agreement to prevent the weaponization of outer space.

JIM KELLY (Ireland), describing the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a landmark moment for disarmament, called on the eight remaining Annex 2 States to join the Test‑Ban Treaty.  He also expressed hope for further progress following the 2019 political declaration emanating from the first session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction.  He urged all sides to return to talks on full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile activities in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  Emphasizing the importance of conducting space activities in accordance with international law, he also recognized that export control regimes are central to countering the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction.  Addressing the far‑reaching effects of explosive weapons in populated areas, he said that is a priority for Ireland, which is leading a diplomatic process in Geneva to elaborate a political declaration on that critical issue.  Ireland will also pursue progress on the question of improvised explosive devices and mines other than anti‑personnel mines, he said.  The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons must remain responsive to emerging challenges, he added.  Concerned about the considerable ethical, moral and legal dilemmas posed by autonomous weapon systems, he stressed that those that do not incorporate human control must not be developed, deployed or used.

PANKAJ SHARMA (India), spotlighting the crucial role of the United Nations disarmament machinery in tackling today’s multiple and evolving security threats, recalled his country’s 2007 proposal for a step‑by‑step approach to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Expressing his country’s support for the launch of negotiations on a non‑discriminatory, multilateral, verifiable fissile material cut‑off treaty, he emphasized that India is a responsible nuclear‑weapon State and follows a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on the “no‑first‑use posture” and the policy of non‑use of nuclear weapons against non‑nuclear‑weapon States.  “We are prepared to convert these undertakings into multilateral legal arrangements,” he said, also citing his country’s voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.  Among other important resolutions, India submitted a draft resolution titled “Reducing Nuclear Danger” to the General Assembly, he said, adding that the text drew attention to the hair‑trigger alert of nuclear weapons carrying unacceptable risks of unintentional or accidental use.

YANN HWANG (France), associating himself with the European Union, said his delegation is working to have Iran return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Calling upon that country to cease all ballistic missile activities, he also noted that the missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are a reminder that it runs a programme of weapons systems with no regard for international security.  He said the taboo on chemical weapons, once thought inviolable, has broken in just a few years, noting Syria’s flagrant non‑cooperation and refusal to reveal its stockpiles.  The poisoning of Alexei Navalny, confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, is yet another example of detestable use, he pointed out.  Emphasizing the importance of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, he said his country will chair the Review Conference on Certain Conventional Weapons in December.  He went on to state that poor management of conventional stocks is a major problem, noting that, alongside Germany, France will present a report on problems around surplus stockpiles of classic munitions.  He called for a behaviour‑based approach to reducing the risk of escalation in outer space.

ANA NEMBA UAIENE (Mozambique) noted that her country’s Government has integrated the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons into domestic law and regularly conducts public campaigns to share its measures and strategies on that matter.  Controlling the transfer of arms is one of the Government’s high priorities, she said, noting its support for transparent production and transfers of small arms and light weapons.  She went on to note that, as a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty, Mozambique welcomes the $100,000 Small Arms and Explosives Management System Project approved by the Secretariat, which will help to make operational four modules of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique Central Database.  She emphasized the need to build an articulated common strategy and joint inspections among Southern African security forces in light of the rise of terrorism and organized crime in the subregion, particularly in Mozambique.  She went on to point out that, as a result of demining efforts, Mozambique was formally declared free of anti‑personnel mines in 2015, after removing and destroying an estimated 10,000 landmines and other explosive remnants of war, stressing that the Government recognizes its responsibility for assisting mine survivors and victims.

KIM IN CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) recalled that catastrophic damage resulted from the first use of nuclear weapons, and whereas it is the duty of the international community to protect coming generations, the world instead sees an arms race in full swing.  Spending more than $700 billion annually, he said, the United States is developing, among other weapons, hypersonic missiles and new‑generation intercontinental ballistic missiles, while violating agreements by transferring submarine technology to Australia, thereby destroying the arms balance in the Asia‑Pacific region.  He emphasized that, as the country with the largest arsenal and the only one to have used nuclear weapons, the United States should take the lead on disarmament.  That State has antagonized the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for several decades, leaving it no other option but the arduous road to deterrence in righteous self‑defence, he added.  He stressed that his country intends no harm to neighbouring countries and will not misuse its weapons, pledging that Pyongyang will make active contributions to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and around the world.

PETRA HOFÍRKOVÁ (Czech Republic), associating herself with the European Union, said all States must adhere to their commitments, and any nuclear disarmament initiative must reflect the current reality.  With the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of such efforts, the IAEA plays a central role in that regard, she noted.  Urging States to sign the Test‑Ban Treaty, she expressed hope that the extension of the New START Treaty is a sign of future progress.  Calling for full implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, she emphasized the need to advance progress on mine action while stressing that outer space must always remain weapons‑free.

ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, said that being tasked with disarmament and international security, the First Committee is fundamental to the overall work of the United Nations. He explained that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening human rights, and recovering from the pandemic all require a foundation of peace.  However, an array of issues is undermining collective security and must be addressed before the major social and environmental challenges can be tackled, he noted.  While applauding the milestone entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he called upon the Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty.  He also encouraged States parties to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty to use the opportunity of the upcoming Review Conference to renew their commitments.

He noted that, in the twenty‑first century, discussions about peace and security extend to cyberspace, emphasizing that the international community must collectively commit to peaceful use of information and communications technology.  He encouraged strengthening cooperation between the Open‑Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications, and the Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace.  While urging Member States to work together to ensure peaceful use of outer space amid the recent, welcome resurgence of space exploration, he also called for greater efforts to combat the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons.  “As Member States we are diverse in our outlooks,” he said, adding:  “However, there are certain hopes that unite all of us and certain interests that transcend our differences.”

ROBERT FLOYD, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty Organization, observed that the international community declared an end to the era of unrestrained nuclear testing with the adoption of the Test‑Ban Treaty.  With state‑of‑the‑art monitoring technologies and advanced detection and data processing capabilities, the Treaty’s global verification regime has proven its ability to meet the verification requirements contained therein, he said.  Furthermore, the democratic nature of the verification regime ensures that all States signatories enjoy equal access to monitoring data and analysis, and to the benefits of the Organization’s technical training and capacity‑building programmes.  He went on to call upon States that have yet to sign or ratify the Treaty to do so, adding that his Organization is ready to help in facilitating the process.

SARA LINDEGREN (Sweden), associating herself with the European Union, said that, amid the fragile security environment, States must work together to protect and strengthen the international arms control, disarmament and non‑proliferation architecture.  Multilateralism matters, she added, emphasizing the importance of a successful outcome from the 2022 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.  With the Stockholm Initiative ‑ comprising 16 other nuclear‑weapon‑free States ‑ Sweden aims to build political support for a result‑oriented disarmament agenda through 22 “stepping stones” to progress, she said.  While noting that the nuclear-weapon States have a special responsibility for disarmament and arms control, she welcomed the New START Treaty extension and future related agreements on, among other things, mitigating the demise of the Intermediate‑Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.  Pending the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty, all existing moratoria on nuclear test explosions must be maintained, she stressed, urging Annex 2 States to join that instrument.  She strongly urged States to engage in nuclear disarmament verification efforts, noting that Sweden is actively involved in partnerships with a view to delivering concrete insights into future verification requirements.  Reaffirming the IAEA’s indispensable role in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, promoting nuclear and radiation safety and facilitating access to related technology, including in such areas as health and agriculture, she underlined that the Agency must receive the necessary political and financial support to fulfil its mandate.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) welcomed any at nuclear disarmament initiative and encouraged full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a key to regional stability.  He also called for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  Highlighting the importance of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, he encouraged all parties to overcome their differences over the Treaty of Bangkok and its Protocol.  On weapons of mass destruction, he called for strengthening existing conventions.  He recalled a recent incident in Yangon, in which clouds of smoke appeared, saying reports show that Myanmar’s military may have been spreading toxins by air.  Information also indicates that a military‑controlled facility that had produced mustard gas in the 1980s and has not yet been declared under the Chemical Weapons Convention, he added.  Strong and effective control over small arms and light weapons must continue, he stressed.  He warned that the military is killing civilians and appealed to those States supplying it to stop doing so.

ABD-EL KADER YASMIN TCHALARE (Togo), associating himself with the African Group, said ongoing conflicts, terrorist attacks and mounting tensions form an unfortunate backdrop for disarmament efforts.  There is urgent need to implement the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he said, calling upon States to join that and other related conventions.  Expressing regret at the breakdown of the ninth Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he expressed hope for a successful outcome at the forthcoming meeting in 2022.  Emphasizing that States must adhere to all disarmament conventions, he said the pandemic serves as a reminder of the importance of working together towards common goals.

VINCENT CHOFFAT (Switzerland), recalling that his country hosted the second Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in September, said the parties adopted a strong political declaration underlining their resolve to promote the norms established by that treaty and to further universal adherence.  Expressing concern over the growing urbanization of armed conflicts, he emphasized the need to strengthen the protection of civilians from the humanitarian consequences of explosive weapons use in populated areas.  On nuclear weapons, he welcomed the diplomatic progress while noting that many challenges remain, notably regarding Iran’s nuclear programme and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s advances on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.  The “De-alerting Group” is working to help reduce the operational readiness of nuclear weapons, and hopes to achieve positive results, he said.  Condemning all use of chemical weapons as reprehensible, she pointed out that a clear majority of States parties imposed sanctions on Syria for non‑compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention in response to its unacceptable violation.  She went on to call upon the Russian Federation to launch a criminal investigation into the use of a nerve agent against Alexei Navalny.

PIETRO DE MARTIN TOPRANIN (Italy) said that as the world strives for true progress on nuclear disarmament, one important measure is the prompt entry into force of the Test-Ban Treaty, noting that all States respect the current moratorium.  Securing sensitive materials, especially against access by terrorist networks, remains a challenge, he emphasized, calling for Member States to strengthen the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.  Condemning the use of chemical weapons anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances, he underlined the need to ensure accountability and fight impunity for that alarming trend.  Italy is committed to a dedicated Trust Fund for Humanitarian Demining established by law in 2001, he said, adding that it has allocated more than €62 million to mine‑action programmes and will double its 2020 budget in 2021.  He went on to stress that any existing or future weapon systems must be under human control, especially when engaging in the use of lethal force.

MEMET MEVLÜT YAKUT (Turkey), welcoming the extension of the New START Treaty and the renewed strategic dialogue between the Russian Federation and the United States, said the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the only credible path towards disarmament.  The forthcoming Review Conference will be a crucial first step in reaffirming past commitments, he added.  He noted that the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, of which Turkey is a member, has produced a set of recommendations as a contribution to a successful outcome.  Turkey hopes that talks on upholding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will resume, he said, also urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear‑weapon activities.  Stressing the central role of the Test‑Ban Treaty, he urged all States to join it and called for the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament.  He also encouraged progress towards creating a nuclear‑weapon‑free Middle East.  Expressing deep concern about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the risk of their acquisition by non‑State actors, he condemned their use in Syria, saying that country must be held accountable and cooperate fully with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  The Secretary‑General’s new mechanism to investigate reports on the use of chemical and biological weapons must remain independent, he said.

LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) expressed his country’s pride in belonging to the first nuclear‑weapon‑free zone under the Treaty of Tlatelolco.  He said the existence, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a cause for grave concern and emphasized that prohibition and complete elimination are the only effective solutions.  Firmly condemning any kind of nuclear test, he called upon the eight Annex 2 countries to join the Test‑Ban Treaty and pursue progress on a fissile material cut‑off treaty.  He affirmed that outer space must be governed by the principles of non‑appropriation and peaceful use.  Emphasizing that there is no justification for the use of chemical weapons, he said such attacks are in grave violation of the rules‑based international order and should never go unpunished.  He went on to condemn the scourge of armed violence driven by small arms and light weapons.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, noted that the global non‑proliferation machinery has been challenged by various breaches as well as efforts by some States seeking to develop nuclear weapons or possess the knowledge leading to their acquisition.  Compliance with international obligations is a fundamental precondition for the effective functioning of any treaty‑based international arrangement, he emphasized, while warning about the risk that terrorists could acquire such weapons, their precursors or delivery systems.  He went on to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria, calling on that country to cooperate fully with ongoing processes.  In that context, Slovakia supports the decision by the 2021 Review Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to suspend Syria’s voting rights and privileges, he said.  Condemning the assassination attempt against Alexei Navalny with a military‑grade chemical nerve agent, he called upon the Russian Federation to ensure an impartial and transparent investigation is conducted in close cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  He went on to note that the pandemic has raised awareness of biological risks and vulnerabilities, which could lend impetus to efforts related to the Biological Weapons Convention.  Indeed, rapid scientific and technological developments relevant to that instrument must be addressed appropriately, he said, also expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s new mechanism to investigate allegations of chemical or biological weapons use.

LINDA KESSE ANTWI (Ghana), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the death toll due to the use of conventional weapons in States around the world, especially in Africa.  She emphasized that universal adherence to the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, the International Tracing Instrument and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons is essential to peace and security.  Asserting that Ghana advocates a holistic approach throughout the life cycle of conventional ammunition to help avoid the diversion of stockpiles to illicit actors, she reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation on implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, and urged Member States to address the threat of illicit accumulation and transfer of weapons.

AZELA ARUMPAC‑MARTE (Philippines), endorsing the statement made on behalf of ASEAN, said the world is at a turning point.  Calling on all States to fully implement the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, she urged them to engage productively at the upcoming Review Conference.  The entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty and the creation of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones are also critical, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a new and important tool, she added.  There is also need for progress on addressing the threats posed by other weapons of mass destruction, she said, calling for full implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Her delegation looks forward to progress at the forthcoming Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and in the area of mine action and support for the victims and affected countries.  Calling on spacefaring nations to respect norms on preventing the weaponization of outer space, she called for further steps towards establishing clear regulations in that regard.

SO INXAY SOULIYOUNG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) emphasized the importance of raising public awareness and promoting education on the dangers of nuclear weapons, noting that his country highly values the establishment of nuclear‑weapon‑free zones, as well as the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon‑Free Zone.  On conventional weapons, he said his country is concerned about the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons as they are widely used by criminals and drug traffickers.  Recalling that more than 270 million cluster sub‑munitions were dropped on Lao soil during the Indochina war, he said up to 30 per cent of them failed to detonate on impact, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic continues to encounter the killing and maiming of innocents, particularly children.  National socioeconomic development and poverty eradication efforts have been hampered, he added.  In that regard, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has adopted national Sustainable Development Goal 18, titled “Lives Safe from Unexploded Ordnance”, and has integrated the Convention on Cluster Munitions obligations into its National Strategy for the Unexploded Ordnance sector, he stated.  He went on to welcome the recent adoption of the Lausanne Action Plan, saying it will provide clear guidance for States parties to strengthen implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

DAVID IZQUIERDO ORTIZ DE ZÁRATE (Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said the lack of progress towards a nuclear‑weapon‑free world will only deepen existing divisions.  While welcoming the moratoria on nuclear testing, he emphasized that they cannot replace the Test‑Ban Treaty’s entry into force.  Negotiations must continue on a fissile material cut‑off treaty.  Welcoming recent positive steps, he said the New START Treaty extension has opened the way for further discussions.  While describing the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as a disarmament success, he stressed that the recent use of chemical weapons deserves the world’s full attention.  He called for strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention, including by improving its verification system.  He went on to underline the importance of Security Council resolutions and instruments on preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists, and encouraged progress by the Group of Governmental Experts on lethal autonomous weapons.

ALHAKAM DANDY (Syria), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said his country has always called for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, but the United Nations impeded its proposal in order to support Israel.  He called on that country to place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.  Welcoming advances at the 2019 conference to create a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, he noted that Israel and the United States refused to participate in the gathering.  He went on to condemn the use of chemical weapons, recalling that Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 and continues to cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.  However, some States continue to accuse Syria baselessly, using unprofessional reports and illegitimate mechanisms.  In addition, certain Western countries claim they wish to strengthen the Non‑Proliferation Treaty while still producing weapons of mass destruction, he pointed out, calling upon all nations to honour their commitments and stop all weapons transfers to terrorist groups.

XENIA JAKOB (Germany) expressed concern about the trajectory of Iran’s nuclear programme, saying it is characterized by systematic violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, activities lacking plausible civilian justification, reduced transparency and insufficient cooperation with the IAEA.  She urged Iran to reverse course and return to full compliance with its political commitments and legal obligations in the nuclear field.  As for North Korea, she said the continuing development of its nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missile arsenal has become a major challenge to global non‑proliferation efforts, emphasizing that it must be met with unity and resolve.  On general disarmament efforts, she said the Stockholm Initiative presents a road map of more than 20 practical steps to advance disarmament, including transparency on arsenals, stronger negative security assurances and broader arms control negotiations.  Regarding a fissile material cut‑off treaty, she stressed that it is time to start negotiations, saying differences over certain aspects must no longer be a pretext not to move forward.

TEBURORO TITO (Kiribati), delivering a joint statement on behalf of Kazakhstan, noted that the first Meeting of States Parties on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will be held in Vienna, Austria, in March 2022.  He said it should follow the lead of other humanitarian disarmament treaties and adopt a final report, declaration and action plan.  States parties should recommit to the positive obligations in Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty, making clear that implementing those provisions is a priority and essential to realizing its humanitarian goals, he urged.  They should also identify initial items for action, with deadlines where appropriate, and overarching principles, in addition to setting deadlines and parameters for future reporting on national measures to ensure assistance for victims, environmental remediation and international cooperation and assistance.  He went on to underline that said States parties should ensure all voices are included.

MDUDUZI KIETH KENNETH MBINGO (Eswatini), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, observed that the illicit trade, transfer, and circulation of small arms and light weapons, including their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many parts of the world, remains an issue of serious concern globally.  He urged developed countries to render more technical and financial assistance to developing nations like Eswatini in their efforts to realize the objectives of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the International Tracing Instrument, with a view to eradicating the illicit trade.  Those efforts will promote national and regional initiatives and help efforts at the global level, he said.

JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola) said that his country, as a State party to the Mine Ban Convention, is engaged in laying the foundations to materialize the aims and objectives advocated by the treaty’s founding States.  Citing an estimate showing that Angola’s mine‑affected land has decreased by 95 per cent, or 1,239 square kilometres, he said the country is still among the most mine‑affected in Africa.  There are currently 71 square kilometres of land affected by mines across Angola, he added, noting that national mine‑clearance activities continue to be financed through annual budget allocations.  The country still has a deficit of about $200 million to complete the demining of the remaining affected areas, he said, emphasizing his country’s commitment to full implementation of the Ottawa Convention.

JORGE EDUARDO FERREIRA SILVA ARANDA (Portugal) highlighted the need to develop new instruments to address governance gaps in existing international weapons conventions and treaties.  For example, there is still no legally binding instrument to ensure a safe and secure outer space environment, he pointed out.  Commending efforts under way to reduce space threats through voluntary norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour, he said that work could help in addressing the challenges of monitoring and verification, as well as preventing an arms race in space.

MANUEL ALCIBÍADES RUIZ DÍAZ (Paraguay) encouraged transparent, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament for all States and welcomed the forthcoming review conferences of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  The peaceful use of energy by States must abide by international standards and respect the environment, he emphasized, highlighting the IAEA’s role in that regard.  The peaceful use of outer space must also be protected, he said, stressing the need for an international regulatory regime in that regard.  He went on to state that arms trafficking endangers societies, especially in conflict areas, and remains a source of other international crimes.  Paraguay urges full support for the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons through technology transfers and the adoption of effective policies, among other measures.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica), pointing out that less than one quarter of speakers in the debate are women, said that some of them did not have a chance to take the floor.  She emphasized the need to ensure the full participation of females and other groups, including victims of various weapons in use.  Nuclear disarmament is a women’s issue, she noted, calling for a feminist approach.  She explained that competition for power currently drives the fragile security landscape.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons demonstrates how to create an inclusive future for all, she said, cautioning that can only occur when the nuclear‑weapon States comply fully with their treaty commitments and stop modernizing and increasing their arsenals.  Gravely concerned about steep increases in stockpiles and growing tensions, she called on States to co‑sponsor and support the draft resolution on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  She went on to stress that small arms and light weapons are also a gender issue, and that words must be translated into action in that context.  Costa Rica encourages the incorporation of ammunition into the relevant arms treaties, she added, underlining that all arms exporters must ensure that transfers are transparent.

NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia) said the Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is an opportunity to renew commitments and fully implement all three pillars of that instrument.  She encouraged Member States to promote women working in science and nuclear technology.  In view of a potential arms race in outer space, the international community must guarantee its use for solely peaceful purposes, she said.  Noting that illicit small arms and light weapons present one of the most impactful collective threats, she endorsed the Seventh Biennial Meeting on the Programme of Action and its outcome document.  She went on to emphasize the need to rid the world of anti-personnel mines, which requires full implementation of the landmine convention.  Given the dizzying array of new technologies and weapons, Colombia hopes for progress in regulating them, she said, stressing the primacy of international law and international human rights law.

MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), noting that her delegation will chair the upcoming Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, said the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and in clear violation of international obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The international community must act with a single purpose and avoid divisions in the operation of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, she said.  Emphasizing that the peaceful exploration of outer space is in the common interest of humanity, she said noted that the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 is limited in scope, as does not cover conventional weapons.  A legally binding instrument must be negotiated to prevent an arms race there, she stressed.

SUNGHOON KIM (Republic of Korea) described the extension of the New START Treaty and the strategic stability dialogues between the United States and the Russian Federation as cause for optimism.  He emphasized that it is time to embark upon negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty, and reiterated the significance of the conventions against chemical and biological weapons.  The Republic of Korea support the Syria‑related mechanisms of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, he said, also encouraging the Russian Federation to cooperate fully concerning the Novichok nerve agent attack against Alexei Navalny.  Noting his country’s contribution of $1 million to the IAEA’s Zoonotic Diseases Integrated Action initiative, he also stressed the need to ensure safe use of space.  Reiterating the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty, he said the pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to prevent the diversion of conventional weapons and to better regulate the arms trade so as to reduce human suffering.  The Republic of Korea will continue to work closely with the international community on landmine issues, he affirmed, while calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to resume dialogue.

DAVIT KNYAZYAN (Armenia) described the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe as one of the cornerstones of detente in that region and plays a significant role in the history of its security architecture.  He went on to say that Azerbaijan has systematically violated the conventional arms control regime, accumulating armaments in violation of that Treaty and in excess of the agreed ceilings.  He noted that 14 of 28 brigades of Azerbaijani forces stationed on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border for decades have been completely or partially excluded from inspection and verification, thus undermining the credibility of data provided by Azerbaijan under the annual military information exchange.  All those violations of arms control regimes, as well as confidence- and security-building measures — accompanied by military provocations in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict — were nothing more than preparations for a large‑scale war, he said.  Moreover, the absence of an adequate international reaction to the Azerbaijan’s breaches of the Treaty’s core provisions and the Vienna Document encouraged that country to resort to the use of force, he added, emphasizing the need for a strong and unequivocal global response.

VADIM GUSMAN (Azerbaijan) said initiatives to eliminate nuclear weapons must continue, highlighting his country’s efforts, including its cooperation with the IAEA.  Proliferation challenges have led Azerbaijan to establish strong policies, including on the trafficking of radioactive materials, he added.  Describing the creating of nuclear-weapon-free zones as a good step forward, he expressed support for the establishment of such an area in the Middle East.  He said full implementation of conventional weapon treaties can advance progress and reduce casualties, he said regional efforts should complement United Nations programmes.  He condemned Armenia’s use of prohibited weapons, including white phosphorous projectiles, and its deployment of missile strikes against Azerbaijan.  National authorities and international actors have confirmed those incidents, he said, adding that Armenia’s refusal to hand over maps indicating minefields has claimed many lives in his country.  He called on Armenia to hand over all such maps.

NEISHANTA ANNASTACIA BENN (Guyana), associating herself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that more than 10,000 nuclear weapons remain in the world 51 years after the Non‑Proliferation Treaty entered into force.  Concerned about the continued reliance on those weapons in defence and security policies, Guyana calls for a world free of nuclear weapons and urges all States parties to promptly implement their obligations under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, she said.  Noting that soaring rates of gun-related violence and fatalities related to arms trafficking are threatening countries in the region, she echoed calls for full implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.  Guyana also appeals to all stakeholders to preserve the spirit exhibited during the negotiation and adoption of global instruments and to continue to deliver progress on their implementation, she said.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, noted that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference is likely to take place in January, and it is important that the permanent five members of the Security Council (P5) jointly consider and agree on steps to complement those of the Russian Federation and the United States in their renewal of the New START Treaty.  It is time to cap nuclear-weapon stockpiles definitively, with the P5 reducing them below the cap, he emphasized.  Moreover, the First Committee must redouble its efforts to provide paths to agreement that will reduce reliance on conventional weapons to resolve disputes, he said, adding that such efforts will not only make nuclear disarmament more feasible, but also moderate interactions in the ongoing relations among States.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply in response to “brazen, unfounded” accusations by Lithuania’s delegate, said briefings on military exercises were held in Minsk and Moscow, and the Viennese authorities were notified and accredited diplomats invited for full transparency.  The maximum number of personnel in exercises did not exceed 6,400, he added.  Turning to Ukraine’s delegate regarding the so-called militarization of Crimea, he said the question of Sevastopol’s ownership was already settled, and as with Crimea, it is a part of the Russian Federation.  He noted that military actions in Crimea and the Black Sea region were carried out on the basis of military sufficiency and to protect the country’s territorial integrity.  He went on to address unfounded accusations of violating the Budapest Memorandum, emphasizing that the Russian Federation had nothing to do with internal policies and socioeconomic issues in Ukraine, or the fallout from them.  Noting that his country has not been provided with evidence of its forces in south-east Ukraine because they have never been there, he said the conflict in Ukraine is an internal one and accusations of the Russian Federation, fomenting a biological crisis there, are cynical.

The representative of Belarus, responding to Lithuania’s delegate, said the September military exercises in his country were responsible, purely defensive and no threat to neighbouring States.  It seems Lithuania does not know or is denying the obvious, despite the offer by Belarus of briefings on the issue, including through OSCE.  He noted that Belarus will be as open as its Western neighbours, and expects colleagues in the First Committee to avoid making brazen accusations that have nothing to do with the matters at hand.

The representative of Armenia said, in response to the Azerbaijan delegate’s baseless distortions about large-scale escalation, Azerbaijan is silent on its non-compliance under the Vienna document of 2011.  For three decades, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have been affected by massive mine contamination due to Azerbaijan’s military activities, which has also denied humanitarian access to the area, he added.

The representative of Ukraine noted that the Russian Federation has been recognized as an occupying Power by the United Nations and the General Assembly.  Describing the current security landscape in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, he said the peninsula has been transformed into a military base, in violation of the Charter of the United Nations.  Crimea now has heavy military equipment installed, alongside Russian troops, and its increasing militarization has eroded arms control regimes in the region, he said, adding that the peninsula remains inaccessible to treaty-mandated inspectors.  Asserting that the Russian Federation has also moved military equipment along the border with Ukraine, he said Kyiv is interested in restoring stability to the region, but to do so, Moscow must immediately withdraw its troops from Crimea and certain areas of eastern Ukraine, and must comply with existing agreements, as well as norms and principles of international law.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected statements made today and on 11 October by the delegates of certain Western States and the Republic of Korea.  Emphasizing the right of a sovereign State to self-defence, he said one-sided double standards must be abandoned.  The military dangers facing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are different today from three years ago, he said, noting that the current threats are marked by blackmail on the part of the United States and its deployment of nuclear assets.  That country has recently signalled that it is not hostile towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but its actions do not match its words, he added.  He went on to state that European countries are well advised to demilitarize their own region and call into question the transfer of nuclear technology to Australia.  At the same time, the Republic of Korea’s military activities threaten regional stability, and its sinister rhetoric and behaviour is “getting on our nerves,” he said.  The Republic of Korea must instead implement all relevant declarations in good faith.

The representative of Azerbaijan said its citizens are living under constant threat from landmines planted by Armenia.  He called upon that country to abandon its destructive position.

The representative of the Russian Federation took the floor a second time, saying the matter of Crimea has already been discussed.  Condemning attempts by Ukraine’s delegation to introduce draft resolutions on militarization of the peninsula, he said such efforts are merely attempts to off-load Kyiv’s problems onto the Russian Federation.  The Minsk Agreements are key going forward, he added, emphasizing that a diplomatic approach is needed to tackle the crisis in Ukraine, including by establishing contact with Donbass.

The representative of Armenia said his country is committed to its obligations under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, but Azerbaijan itself has reported grave violations, as it exceeds ceilings on major armaments in four out of five categories.  Azerbaijan concentrates large amounts of military equipment on the border of Nagorno-Karabakh, he added.  Whereas Armenia takes a human rights-based approach, Azerbaijan has always hindered access to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, as reported by the United Nations itself, he noted.

The representative of Ukraine reminded the Russian Federation’s delegate that the issue of Crimea was closed before the latter invaded, attempted to annex and eventually occupied the peninsula.  Considering grave human rights violations and large-scale militarization, Ukraine and 43 other countries established the Crimea Platform on 23 August to work for demilitarization and human rights, he recalled.  The Russian Federation has violated many obligations under United Nations and OSCE documents, he said.

The representative of Azerbaijan said it is dismaying that a year after war, the level of hatred in Armenia towards his country is at its highest level yet.  Anyone in Armenia who dares to speak of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence is labelled a traitor, he added.

For information media. Not an official record.