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Monday, November 18th, 2019

First Committee Debates Global Divisions between Nuclear ‘Haves and Have-Nots’, with Some Delegates Calling for Action on Deteriorating Security Landscape

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by October 23, 2019 Medical

Nuclear weapon States disagreed today on who bears responsibility for a deteriorating global security environment, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) concluded its thematic debate on nuclear weapons against the backdrop of an impasse in disarmament and non proliferation efforts.

The representative of the United States invited like minded nations in the First Committee to persuade China and the Russian Federation to cease aggressive policies that undermine the rules based international order. The more assertive China and Russia become, the more they seek an unconstrained strengthening of their nuclear arsenals, especially on new destabilizing weapons, the more they will seek to coerce free nations in their regions, he said.

China’s delegate, rejecting those accusations as baseless, said the culprit is the United States when it comes to the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament processes. A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought, he said, adding that his country has never participated in an arms race and that its limited nuclear force is strictly defensive in nature.

His counterpart from the Russian Federation said Moscow stands ready to work with all sides at the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It will also participate in a conference in New York next month on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons. He expressed regret that the Intermediate Range Forces Treaty ceased to have effect when the United States, under trumped up pretexts, pulled out of it. He also said that extending the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START Treaty) would be a sensible step to prevent a deterioration of today’s strategic security situation.

France’s delegate said his country remains committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and calls on Iran � which must never acquire nuclear weapons � to respect its obligations. Turning to European security, he emphasized the urgent need for joint reflection on ways to restore strategic stability on the continent. At the same time, he reiterated France’s opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said peace and security on the Korean Peninsula hinges on the attitude of the United States going forward. In the interim, Pyongyang will prepare itself to deal with all circumstances. For his part, the Republic of Korea’s delegate said denuclearization is at a critical juncture, but with cause for optimism. Despite recent efforts and little results, he said, the door remains open to future discussions.

Among non nuclear weapon States, several delegates voiced support for the step by step approach to disarmament set out at a 16 nation meeting in Stockholm at the start of this year. Time is of the essence, said Sweden’s representative, who urged all States to do everything in their power to engage in much needed progress towards the collective goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

The Maldives delegate, noting that her small island developing State in the Indian Ocean has never produced weapons and has no desire to do so, said that with humankind and the planet facing the serious threat of climate change, the world cannot afford to worry about a nuclear apocalypse.

Later in the day, the Committee began its thematic debate on other weapons of mass destruction, with Norway’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, saying chemical weapons are being used in flagrant violation of their worldwide prohibition. In particular, he expressed deep concern over Syria’s ongoing possession of chemical weapons, which should all have been declared and destroyed.

Speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the delegate of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic urged the international community to fully and effectively implement all treaties concerning weapons of mass destruction. Calling for increased cooperation to eliminate chemical weapons, he commended the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for its work and pointed to the importance of international assistance for victims of chemical weapons.

The United Kingdom’s representative said deterrence requires identifying the perpetrators of chemical weapon attacks; yet the Russian Federation is preventing effective action by the Security Council to investigate and hold to account those responsible for incidents in Syria. That chemical weapons continue to be used demonstrates that some are still prepared to flout the norms of civilized behaviour, he said. We must all persist in striving to consign these heinous weapons to history.

Also speaking today on nuclear weapons were representatives of Iraq, Nepal, Indonesia, Zambia (for the African Group), Pakistan, South Africa, Qatar, Poland, Austria, Italy, Ukraine, Ghana, Germany, India, Hungary, Viet Nam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Philippines, El Salvador, Finland, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Senegal, Brazil, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Togo, Malaysia, Australia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Samoa, Japan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Algeria, New Zealand, Argentina, Portugal, Netherlands, Slovenia, Nigeria, Turkey, Latvia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand (on behalf of the De Alerting Group), Ecuador, Iran, Spain, Bulgaria, Eswatini, Malawi, Colombia, Israel and Syria.

The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also spoke.

Speaking on other weapons of mass destruction were representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement), Egypt (for the Arab Group), France (on behalf of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons) Switzerland, Poland, United States, Egypt, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, India, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Brazil, Slovakia and Ireland as well as the European Union.

Representatives of the Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Iran, United States, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The First Committee will reconvene on at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 23 October to continue its consideration of other weapons of mass destruction.

Background

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) met this morning to continue its thematic discussion on nuclear weapons. For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3624 of 10 October.

Nuclear Weapons

HASSANAIN HADI FADHIL FADHIL (Iraq), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non Aligned Movement, regretted to note that nuclear weapon States did not follow their obligations stemming from the 1995 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Given the subsequent failures of reviews in 2000 and 2010, he asked Member States for flexibility and political will ahead of the 2020 Review Conference. Iraq supports all international efforts and instruments directed at disarmament and non proliferation. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is of great importance, he said, as is the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones in the world, especially in the Middle East. As such, Israel must put its nuclear programme under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In this vein, he highlighted the importance of the upcoming conference on this issue, to be held at United Nations Headquarters in November, and asked for the participation of all regional countries.

GHANSHYAM BHANDARI (Nepal), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, saying their use or threat of use is not only illegal, but immoral. Nepal is deeply concerned at the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of the intended or accidental detonation of nuclear weapons. It joins others in calling for security assurances from nuclear weapon States and for priority to be given to ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He highlighted the inalienable right of all States to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the positive contribution of nuclear weapon free zones, including in the Middle East, and the work of the IAEA. He went on to appeal for an end to the Faustian bargain that is plaguing humanity and for the money spent on weapons to be directed instead towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals � including the eradication of poverty and hunger � well before 2030.

ROBERT WOOD (United States) said his country remains a leader in efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and is committed to an effective and modernized arms control architecture. However, today’s security environment is worsening, due in large part to the behaviour of countries such as the Russian Federation and China, who would prefer a world in which the United States exercises self restraint while they do as they wish. Noting his country’s Creating the Environment for Nuclear Disarmament initiative, launched in 2019, he said the Russian Federation is expanding its non strategic nuclear forces and developing new strategic range nuclear armed systems. China, meanwhile, looks set to double the size of its nuclear stockpiles over the next decade, but refuses to engage in meaningful arms control discussions with the United States, he said, adding that: The more assertive China and Russia become, the more they seek an unconstrained strengthening of their nuclear arsenals, especially on new destabilizing weapons, the more they will seek to coerce free nations in their regions.

He said the First Committee is a key venue for like minded nations to persuade China and the Russian Federation to cease aggressive policies that undermine the rules based international order and make it dangerous for responsible democratic States to lower their defences. Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said the United States goal remains final and fully verifiable denuclearization and that all Member States must fully implement and enforce Security Council sanctions. He also said that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will not move the world any closer to eliminating these arms. Rather, it will increase political divisions, making future disarmament efforts more difficult.

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, called on all parties, particularly nuclear weapon States, to breathe new life into their political commitment to the implementation of the Non Proliferation Treaty and to remove nuclear deterrence from their strategic defence doctrines. A progressive outcome must emerge from the 2020 Review Conference and all three of the Treaty’s pillars � disarmament, non proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy � must be implemented in a balanced and comprehensive manner. The self selected paradigm of nuclear haves and have nots is inherently unsustainable and fatal because it invites proliferation, he said, welcoming multilateral disarmament efforts and the total elimination of nuclear weapons. He urged all States to quickly become part of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which complements and reinforces the Non Proliferation Treaty. He also urged the remaining Annex 2 States to ratify the Test Ban Treaty, not least for those who have suffered from nuclear testing. Indonesia will work with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the signing and ratification by the nuclear weapon States of the Protocol to the Treaty on the South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, known as the Treaty of Bangkok, he said, adding that his country, with Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa, will present a draft resolution on a nuclear weapon free southern hemisphere.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the only guarantee against their use or threat of use and underlined the urgent need for the planet and outer space be free of this kind of arms. He commended the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, asking all States to sign and ratify it. He also pointed at the positive contribution of establishing nuclear weapon free zones to the overall objectives of the Non Proliferation Treaty. However, he regretted to note that no such zone has been established in the Middle East, despite the 1995 resolution, and welcomed the conference on this issue to be held at United Nations Headquarters in November.

Highlighting the importance of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he stressed the central role of IAEA and its mission to promote knowledge sharing and technology transfers to developing countries, with a view to fostering sustainable development. He called upon all States, especially nuclear weapon nations, to consider the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons on health, the environment and vital economic resources. Calling for universal adherence to the Test Ban Treaty, which offers hope in halting any further development or proliferation of nuclear weapons, he asked for States who have yet to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty to do so without delay.

UMAR SHARIF (Pakistan) said double standards and discrimination in the South Asia region are affecting stability and facilitating the hegemonic ambitions and aggressive designs of one regional State that is engaged in a relentless pursuit of strategic domination. In order to promote a disarmament agenda, he called for a rules based international order that addresses the security concerns of all States, limits and rationalizes the stockpiles of conventional weapons and shuns double standards. Regretting to note the failure of negotiating a fissile material cut off convention, he said: A treaty which only results in a cut off in the future production of fissile material would jeopardize Pakistan’s security and bring no added value to the cause of nuclear disarmament. Pakistan remains committed to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament, he said, adding that for meaningful progress, the underlying security concerns of States need to be addressed in earnest. Among those concerns, he pointed out the possession of disproportionately excessive conventional military capabilities, induction of new destabilizing technologies, aggressive doctrines and long unresolved issues.

MARTIN ERIC SIPHO NGUNDZE (South Africa), associating himself with the African Group, New Agenda Coalition and the Non Aligned Movement, commended the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017. The instrument finally bans the only category of weapon of mass destruction not yet to be subject to a global prohibition, the same way chemical and biological weapons are prohibited, he said, adding that it does so with a humanitarian approach. He underlined the importance of the 1995, 2000 and 2010 reviews of the Non Proliferation Treaty, but States must take urgent action to fully implement their commitments. Indeed, concrete progress in these undertakings is essential for a successful outcome of the 2020 Review Conference. In this vein, he called for a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, which could reinforce the ideals of both the Non Proliferation Treaty and the Test Ban Treaty. Nuclear bombs are inhumane weapons, and it is inconceivable that their use could ever, under any circumstances, be consistent with international law, he said.

ABDULRAHMAN AL-ENAZI (Qatar), associating himself with the Arab Group, recalled the importance of States honouring their commitments to disarmament and non proliferation agreements. Proliferation is stoking tension and conflict in the Middle East, he said, adding that complete and general disarmament will only be possible through the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the region. Qatar supports the forthcoming conference on the issue in November, chaired by Jordan, he said, adding that his country will continue to promote disarmament and non proliferation as well as peace and security throughout the world.

MARCIN CZEPELAK (Poland) said the global arms control system has unfortunately continued to deteriorate over the past year, as exemplified by situation concerning the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Regardless of its diplomatic efforts to show a different narrative, the Russian Federation bears the sole responsibility for the demise of that instrument. His delegation regrets to note that Moscow is showing no willingness � and taking no demonstrable steps � to ensure the treaty’s implementation in an effective, verifiable and transparent manner. However, the only remaining element of modern arms control � the Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty) � must become the topic of serious consultations between the United States and the Russian Federation, with the aim of extending it beyond its 2021 expiration.

THOMAS HAJNOCZI (Austria) emphasized that it is high time for the actions of [nuclear weapons] possessor States to match their commitments. Geopolitical developments cannot be an excuse for inaction, and weapons possessing States must halt their nuclear upgrading programmes. Deploring the demise of important parts of the nuclear disarmament architecture, including the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he said the New START Treaty should be extended and an ambitious successor agreement negotiated. Encouraging all Annex 2 countries to ratify the Test Ban Treaty, he called for efforts to make use of the expertise of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization in the urgent denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Expressing regret over developments on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme and voicing hope that it can be preserved, he said it is more urgent than ever before to prevent backsliding from the 2010 action plan agreed by States parties to the Non Proliferation Treaty and underlined the crucial importance of multilateralism in the disarmament process.

GIANFRANCO INCARNATO (Italy) said the Non Proliferation Treaty provides the only realistic framework to achieve a world without atomic bombs in a manner that promotes international stability. Moreover, as a staunch supporter of the Test Ban Treaty, his delegation calls on all States to continue to respect the voluntary moratorium on test explosions. Highlighting the value of all initiatives taken in terms of nuclear disarmament verification, he voiced support for the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification. Risk reduction can contribute to alleviating tensions and building necessary trust and confidence, he noted, encouraging nuclear weapon States to shrink their arsenals and actively engage in strengthening the disarmament architecture. In particular, he encouraged the United States and the Russian Federation to engage in constructive dialogue on the New START Treaty extension after 2021 and on other arms control arrangements.

ANATOLI ZLENKO (Ukraine) said Kyiv has followed up on its consistent call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons by abandoning its nuclear capability, acceding to the Non Proliferation Treaty as a non nuclear weapon State and by taking steps to eliminate the use of highly enriched uranium. However, the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine violates key principles of the Non Proliferation Treaty and of the security assurances provided to Kyiv in 1994 by the Budapest Memorandum, significantly undermining international non proliferation efforts. As the Budapest Memorandum bound Ukraine’s denuclearization to respect for its territorial integrity by the nuclear Powers, continued violation of that agreement makes nuclear deterrence more attractive for both nuclear and conventional military threats. To eliminate that risk, security assurances require a solid mechanism for holding violators accountable. He also highlighted the importance of the Test Ban Treaty’s entry into force, negotiation of a fissile material cut off convention and the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones worldwide.

MARTHA A. A. POBEE (Ghana), associating herself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons demands action to fast track processes that lead to their elimination. The situation has become only more urgent with the erosion of the arms control architecture and the degradation of the international rules based order. In that context, she urged nuclear weapon States and their allies to reconsider their related security mantras and unite around the quest for human survival. She also called for the balanced implementation of the three non proliferation pillars, while affirming the inalienable right of States to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under strict IAEA supervision. Expressing hope that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will soon enter into force, she urged constructive engagement on establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East, encouraging continued momentum in enhancing disarmament verification and urging States to commence negotiations on a fissile material cut off treaty.

PETER BEERWERTH (Germany) said a realistic road map is needed to reinvigorate nuclear disarmament and expressed his delegation’s strong support for Sweden’s Stepping Stone initiative in this regard. Further steps along the new road map should include practical measures, such as reducing the risks of inadvertent escalation. In this vein, he welcomed the enhanced dialogue among the five major nuclear weapon States on doctrines, as this helps to reduce the risk of miscalculations. A nuclear war must never be fought, he said, adding that strategic risk reduction should facilitate nuclear disarmament, not replace it. The new road map could also include continuing practical work on verification, he said, pointing out that such an exercise jointly conducted by Germany and France showed that dismantling a nuclear warhead can be credibly verified without creating proliferation risks. In addition, the erosion of the nuclear arms control architecture must be reversed.

PANKAJ SHARMA (India) said nuclear disarmament must be universal, non discriminatory and verifiable, and the process should be carried out in a time bound manner underwritten by a universal commitment. Pointing out that such a process would rest on three pillars � namely, prohibition, complete elimination and international verification � he expressed support for the proposal to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention in the Conference on Disarmament � a long standing priority of the Non Aligned Movement and the international community. India, as a responsible nuclear weapon State, has followed a policy of maintaining a credible minimum deterrence and no first use. It remains committed to beginning negotiations on all three core issues in the Conference on Disarmament, as well as to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. He recalled the continued validity of India’s previous proposal related to nuclear disarmament vis A� vis negotiating a global agreement among States on no first use and a universal and legally binding agreement on their non use against non nuclear weapon States.

GYORGY MOLNA�R (Hungary), associating himself with the European Union, called on Member States to do their utmost to reinforce the integrity of the Non Proliferation Treaty. Hungary supports the Joint Plan of Action and the international community’s essential role in the limited positive developments seen on the Korean Peninsula. The goal of a world free of nuclear weapons can only be achieved if the current unstable and unpredictable security environment is addressed. Only a progressive approach consisting of gradual and concrete practical steps, and engaging nuclear weapon States, will provide such a platform. Noting that Hungary is a member of the Group of Governmental Experts tasked with examining the role of verification in advancing nuclear disarmament and actively participates in the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification, he said all States parties have an inalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

VU DUY TUAN (Viet Nam), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, called on States parties to uphold their commitments and negotiate in good faith for a fruitful outcome to the Non Proliferation Treaty’s 2020 Review Conference. Affirming his country’s strong commitment to the Treaty of Bangkok and other such nuclear weapon free zones � including a potential one in the Middle East � he called on States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Reaffirming Viet Nam’s support for international efforts on non proliferation and disarmament towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he said his country has ratified all the aforementioned treaties and strictly implements its obligations under them. It has also concluded an IAEA safeguards agreement.

SOMSANOUK KEOBOUNSAN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, said her country ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in September. In addition, she said nuclear weapon free zones have strengthened the global nuclear disarmament and non proliferation regime, adding that her delegation supports the preservation of South East Asia as such a region. Pointing at other tools to help, she highlighted the key roles played by the Non Proliferation Treaty and the Test Ban Treaty, also calling attention to the significant contributions IAEA makes in the promotion of peaceful use of nuclear technology, nuclear safety and nuclear safeguards.

ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN, Non Aligned Movement and the Non Proliferation Disarmament Initiative, said disarmament and non proliferation are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. However, modernization plans and the refinement of nuclear weapon capabilities are lowering nuclear weapon use thresholds and deepening mistrust among States. In addition, disarmament is being made contingent to an improved security environment. Calling on relevant parties to reconsider their withdrawal or suspension of obligations from landmark agreements such as the Joint Plan of Action, he highlighted an urgent need to support efforts to sustain a public discourse that is informed by different perspectives.

HA�CTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERA�N (El Salvador) said disarmament, peace and security and stability in all regions of the world are valid objectives thwarted by the inclusion of nuclear weapons in national military strategies, deterrence policies and modernization programmes. He regretted to note that 14,000 nuclear weapons exist in the world and that the use of only one of these weapons, deliberately or not, would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences that no country would be able to face. The only way of guaranteeing that they will never be used is to prohibit and eliminate them, through the enforcement of a legally binding instrument such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said, calling for all Member States to sign this agreement. Nuclear tests undermine peace and security and go against the objectives of disarmament, he said, adding that: We condemn any tests anywhere and any activities geared at enhancing or modernizing any existing nuclear weapons.

JARMO VIINANEN (Finland), supporting the statements of the European Union and the Netherlands on behalf of a group of countries, said that the only sustainable way forward on nuclear weapons issues is cooperation based on facts. Unfortunately, the facts have lately been obfuscated by blame games, endless rights of reply and other distractions. Those facts include the possession of over 90 per cent of such weapons by the United States and the Russian Federation, a reduction in their overall number, but a rise in reliance on them alongside treaty violations, rapid technological advancement and continued spending of hundreds of billions of dollars that could be spent on sustainable development. In light of these facts, the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world can only be achieved through a process that considers the security concerns of all States through dialogue that builds trust among the nuclear weapon States with the participation of all others. A concrete show of leadership in the effort is required from the two major Powers, starting with the extension of New START Treaty. Mechanisms to increase transparency and manage crises are critical, he said, pledging his country’s commitment to support and facilitate work in this area.

JANG IL HUN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), pointing to the resumption of joint military exercises in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, said the trend towards peace is being overtaken by the dark cloud of war. Emphasizing the self defence character of his country’s nuclear forces, he said the United States is applying military and economic pressure, thinking that will bring about submission. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea attaches importance to solving problems through dialogue and negotiations, but if the United States tries to subdue it by force, then it cannot but seek a new way to defend its sovereignty and interests. Peace and security on the Korean Peninsula depends entirely on the future attitude of the United States. Meanwhile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will prepare itself to deal with all circumstances, he said, adding that in the prevailing international situation, strong national power � based on self reliance and self defence � is a fundamental guarantee for development and prosperity.

ARSEN OMAROV (Kazakhstan) said that since independence, his country has determinedly gotten rid of dangerous and inhumane nuclear weapons, serving as an advocate for a world free of such arsenals. Disarmament and building trust and confidence between States are two sides of the same coin and mutually reinforce each other, he observed, noting that increasing distrust has given rise to a renewed arms race. As such, he urged the United States and the Russian Federation to preserve the New START Treaty. Only confidence building measures can help to resolve many current problematic issues, including the preservation of the Joint Plan of Action and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Reliance on nuclear arsenals can never ensure strategic security, but only prompt asymmetric responses, thus crossing lines of no return, he said. As such, the Non Proliferation Treaty must not be jeopardized, he added, calling for the implementation of article 6 of the convention and decisions taken at its previous review conferences.

LILIANNE SA�NCHEZ RODRA�GUEZ (Cuba) said the number of nuclear warheads in the world today is more than enough to destroy humanity many times over. Nearly half of them belong to the United States, the only country ever to use them. It is unacceptable and illegal for nuclear arsenals to be modernized and for new weapons to be developed. She expressed Cuba’s deep concern at the United States recent Nuclear Posture Review and urged all nuclear armed States to demonstrate the political will and allow the 2020 Review Conference of the Non Proliferation Treaty to adopt substantial recommendations.

FATIMATOU FAYE (Senegal) said recent developments have steadily sapped the few glimmers of hope in negotiations on nuclear issues. This has been compounded by a lack of progress at both the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission. Nuclear weapon States must agree on a more ambitious disarmament agenda while also assuring nuclear weapon free nations that such arms will not be used against them. There can be no general and complete disarmament if States circumvent legal instruments prohibiting the acquisition of nuclear weapons, she said, highlighting the importance of the role played by IAEA and of the expansion of nuclear weapon free zones.

LEE JANG-KEUN (Republic of Korea) said the end of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is a worrisome development contributing to the deepening erosion of trust between States with and without nuclear weapons. The Non Proliferation Treaty regime must maintain its solid foundation for the future, with the 2020 Review Conference being a crucial occasion to reaffirm strong commitment towards it. The five members of the United Nations Security Council must address the growing dissatisfaction and mistrust between nuclear weapon and non nuclear weapon States and asked for greater communication and cooperation between the two groups. He asked for negotiations with on a fissile material cut off treaty and for the Test Ban Treaty’s entry into force. Turning to the Korean Peninsula, he said its denuclearization is at a critical juncture with cause for optimism. Despite recent efforts and little results, the two sides are keeping the door open for future discussions, he said.

CLAUDIO MEDEIROS LEOPOLDINO (Brazil) said the spectre of nuclear war is creeping back to the forefront of the international security landscape, with a dangerous, expensive and potentially destabilizing qualitative arms race unfolding. With the 2020 Review Conference approaching, passively acknowledging the deteriorating status quo is not an option. A renewed commitment to nuclear disarmament is in order, complemented by a comprehensive dialogue on how to reach that goal. Such a dialogue will only be possible if it is based on the Non Proliferation Treaty and a reaffirmation of the commitments that grew out of its review processes, he said, adding that Brazil is the co author of six draft resolutions aimed at making a positive contribution to nuclear disarmament to be considered by the First Committee during its current session.

AKKANIT KHAMKET (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, said challenges to the global security architecture must not put into question shared norms and principles. In this context, the Non Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and non proliferation, reinforced by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He called on all States to accede to the latter and engage in dialogue on its objectives, and on Annex 2 States that have not done so to accede to the Test Ban Treaty without delay. He then called on Iran to return to full commitment to the Joint Plan of Action, and on all parties to work together to ensure its balanced implementation. He welcomed diplomatic efforts towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Noting that his country is depositary of the Treaty of Bangkok, he called on nuclear weapon States to accede to that convention. He also pledged his country’s continued efforts to build the trust necessary to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

MAJED AL MATROOSHI (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the Arab Group, Non Aligned Movement and Non Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, drew attention to the potential of the 2020 Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Ahead of the conference, he called for the fulfilment of the agreements reached in the previous reviews in 1995, 2000 and 2010. He also called on all Member States to join the Non Proliferation Treaty and to support the upcoming conference for the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. He highlighted a need for further progress, including by reaching an agreement on a fissile material cut off treaty and to halt deterrence policies that come with nuclear testing. In addition, he said the peaceful and civil use of nuclear energy needs to come with transparency and quality control.

STA�PHANIE KOUMA (Togo), associating herself with the African Group and Non Aligned Movement, said nuclear weapons represent a threat for the survival of the human race and that the international community must stop producing them. She called on all parties to the Non Proliferation Treaty to respect their obligations. For its part, Togo is a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty, Test Ban Treaty, Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, she said, adding that it recognizes the rights of all nations to use nuclear energy for peaceful and civilian use, under safe protocols.

MOHD SUHAIMI AHMAD TAJUDDIN (Malaysia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, called for renewed commitments to fully implement the Non Proliferation Treaty, which remains the cornerstone of the global, multilateral nuclear disarmament and non proliferation regime. Member States must create an impetus for progress and he hoped for a successful 2020 Review Conference. However, he remains concerned about the demise of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the non extension of the New START Treaty beyond its expiry in 2021. Meanwhile, the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was of crucial importance because it complements the Non Proliferation Treaty, he said, adding that the Test Ban Treaty is also a fundamental step in the process of eliminating arsenals. As a party to the Treaty of Bangkok, he said nuclear weapon free zones are necessary to achieve a world free of such arms. He then called on all States of the Middle East to actively participate in the forthcoming conference on establishing such a zone.

VANESSA WOOD (Australia), associating herself with the Non Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, underlined that the Non Proliferation Treaty is a global instrument with near universal membership and hoped for consensus ahead of its 2020 Review Conference. She called on all Member States to approach the conference with a growth mindset and asked them to focus on issues critical for nuclear disarmament. Efforts should be focused on enhancing transparency and confidence building, verification, reducing the risk of inadvertent use and the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut off treaty. Urging members to sponsor this year’s Test Ban Treaty resolution, she also showed support for Sweden’s Stepping Stones approach as well as the United States’ Creating the Environment for Nuclear Disarmament initiative.

MICHAL MLYNA�R (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union and the Netherlands, who spoke on behalf of a group of countries, raised deep concerns about the collapse of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Slovakia is also disappointed that the Russian Federation did not fully comply with its treaty obligations and did not take the necessary action to preserve this key pillar of European security. The New START Treaty’s contribution to arms control and disarmament is critical, he said, encouraging both parties to lead an active dialogue on extending the instrument beyond 2021. Slovakia continues to support the Joint Plan of Action, since its preservation is essential for the region’s stability and security, but regrets the United States withdrawal from the agreement and its re imposition of sanctions. Slovakia is very concerned with the measures Iran has taken since the beginning of July, calling on Tehran to reverse all activities inconsistent with its commitments. He also urged all sides to refrain from activities that could further undermine the Joint Plan of Action.

HANI STOLINA (Czech Republic) said the gradual reduction of nuclear weapon stockpiles is the best approach to ensuring sustainable progress. However, a progressive approach must reflect the political reality, he said, adding that his country does not support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons because it does not consider the security situation in its complexity and has technical and procedural shortcomings. The Czech Republic is a steadfast supporter of the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, he continued, highlighting the central role IAEA plays. Expressing support for IAEA efforts to strengthen and improve its safeguards system, he called upon all remaining Non Proliferation Treaty States parties to bring into force their comprehensive safeguard agreements and additional protocols as soon as possible.

JAMIE WALSH (Ireland), aligning himself with the European Union and the New Agenda Coalition, said his support for disarmament is reinforced by the understanding of unacceptable humanitarian consequences, including the disproportionate impact on the health of women and girls. Last year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ doomsday clock was adjusted by another 30 seconds, signifying that the global risk of nuclear war is as close today as it was during the darkest days of the cold war, he said. This is due in part to rhetoric, an arms race to modernize arsenals and deteriorating trust alongside fast paced technological developments. Calling on all States to reaffirm their commitment to the Non Proliferation Treaty, he said Ireland will soon ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Expressing concern about the unravelling of key international agreements, he said the achievements of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty must be preserved and urged parties to extend the New START Treaty and negotiate a successor instrument.

YANN HWANG (France), associating himself with the European Union, said the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programme is unacceptable. France calls on that country to pursue dialogue and engage in a process leading to total, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. France remains committed to the Joint Plan of Action and calls on Iran � which must never acquire nuclear weapons � to respect its obligations. Turning to European security, he said joint reflection is urgently needed on ways to restore strategic stability on the continent. France calls for the extension of the New START Treaty past 2021 and on lowering strategic risks through transparent doctrines, dialogue between non nuclear weapon States and those possessing nuclear weapons, crisis communications instruments and confidence building measures. He reiterated France’s opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

DOMINIC MISIOLO JUNIOR SOFE (Samoa) said that nuclear weapons by their very existence pose a potential threat and subject the world to needless fear and anxiety. Moreover, their presence has sidelined global efforts towards sustainable development. Our only shield to protect us, as a small island State without a defense force, is our unbroken faith in the rule of law, international treaties and global good governance, he said, explaining that Samoa’s membership in the Test Ban Treaty and Non Proliferation Treaty demonstrates that conviction. Noting that every cloud has a silver lining, he said that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is perhaps that timely breakthrough. The legally binding instrument is 17 ratifications shy from entering into force, he said, urging States to join Samoa and 32 others in signing and ratifying it.

NOBUSHIGE TAKAMIZAWA (Japan) said that all parties should reaffirm their commitment to the Non Proliferation Treaty and take concrete steps in line with past agreements to achieve a successful outcome of the 2020 Review Conference. States should be transparent, embrace dialogue to reduce nuclear risks, extend disarmament and non proliferation education and take other steps to advance nuclear disarmament. Japan regrets the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, which are in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions. Future oriented dialogues on these topics will set the foundation for a stable international security environment.

TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh) affirmed his country’s commitment to a world without nuclear weapons, highlighting that peace and international security can only be achieved by the elimination of these arms. The multilateral machinery is not working properly, and some countries are investing in the enhancement and modernization of existing atomic stockpiles. States must show a spirit of engagement ahead of the 2020 Review Conference, he said, noting that Bangladesh is a signatory of the Treaty for the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. He also showed support for a fissile material cut off treaty and for the entry into force of the Test Ban Treaty. Non nuclear weapon States have a right to receive legally binding assurances that possessor States will not use these weapons against them.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non Aligned Movement, commended the adoption of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as progress along the path towards the elimination of these arsenals. However, most disarmament mechanisms are at a standstill, with no consensus reached ahead of the 2020 Review Conference. The total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only guarantee against their use or threat of use, he declared, calling for the engagement of nuclear weapon States to take effective measures, with the ultimate goal of totally eliminating their arsenals. He also called for the universalization and strict observance of the Test Ban Treaty, welcoming the latest ratification by Zimbabwe and signing of the convention by Tuvalu.

NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria) said nuclear disarmament should not be an aspiration but an urgent priority for the international community and affirmed his delegation’s commitment to the Non Proliferation Treaty, calling for Member States to join it or fully implement its obligations. Algeria plans to ratify the Non Proliferation Treaty, he said, also reiterating support for the Test Ban Treaty and asking those States who have not yet done so to sign or ratify it. There is an urgent need to achieve a legally binding instrument so all non nuclear weapon States have security assurances from their nuclear armed counterparts. Voicing support for the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East, he expressed hope for a legally binding treaty for the establishment of such zone, ahead of the conference on this matter to be held at United Nations Headquarters in November. As for the Non Proliferation Treaty’s 2020 Review Conference, he said it will represent a defining moment, adding that another failure is not permitted.

NICHOLAS CLUTTERBUCK (New Zealand), associating herself with the New Agenda Coalition, regretted to note that the idea of disarmament is not accepted by those who possess nuclear weapons, the most destructive arms of all. Moreover, these countries are currently engaged in modernizing their arsenals and developing new weapons. He wondered if these actions are prudent or whether they elevate the risk of the use of such weapons, with their catastrophic consequences. He highlighted the implications of the Non Proliferation Treaty and the importance of the 2020 Review Conference. However, he regretted to note that this treaty, and its article IV, accepts a variety of approaches to its implementation. In this vein, he said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the most ambitious legal pathway currently available to advance legal disarmament.

MARA�A PAULA MAC LOUGHLIN (Argentina) said that 2019 marks the twenty fifth anniversary of the agreement between her country and Brazil on their respective nuclear programmes. Moreover, the instrument is facilitating IAEA inspections to ensure that their nuclear facilities are used exclusively for economic, social and other purposes. Noting that Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region never to preside over IAEA, she said Argentina’s candidacy for the post would bring leadership to ensure that the Agency maintains its solid reputation going forward. More broadly, a world free of nuclear weapons requires political will as well as flexibility among all Member States.

JOSA� ATAA�DE AMARAL (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union and the Netherlands who spoke on behalf of a group of countries, said an inclusive step-by-step process of reduction that considers legitimate national and international security concerns remains the best approach to ensure progress. Portugal particularly regrets the failure to preserve the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and said it is necessary to extend the New START Treaty beyond 2021. Expressing support for the Joint Plan of Action, he encouraged its implementation by all parties, particularly Iran. Meanwhile, the complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is needed, he said, calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to full compliance with the Non Proliferation Treaty. Until then, Security Council resolutions should be fully implemented. The international community must continue to seek the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, concrete progress can be achieved on nuclear disarmament verification, security and safety, transparency and risk reduction.

ROBBERT JAN GABRIELSE (Netherlands) said that this is the last First Committee session before the Non Proliferation Treaty’s 2020 Review Conference and there is a shared sense of urgency and a willingness to act. On disarmament, verification work continues steadily in the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification and in the relevant Group of Governmental Experts. To assist this important work, his delegation will co sponsor a resolution that sets out a path forward. The Netherlands is encouraged by the start of the process of creating the environment for nuclear disarmament and will play an active role as co chair of the related working group. The Russian Federation bears sole responsibility for the demise of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he said, urging Moscow and Washington, D.C., to extend the New START Treaty beyond 2021. Expressing regret about the United States withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and concerns about the repeated missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said: Heading towards the 2020 Review Conference, there’s a lot at stake for all of us; we all simply have far too much to lose.

ONDINA BLOKAR DROBIC (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union and the Netherlands, who spoke on behalf of a group of countries, expressed support for banning nuclear tests and the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. She also favours verification activities as well as establishing and maintaining nuclear weapon free zones. However, she remains deeply disappointed that the Russian Federation did not address the concerns about its non compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which led to the instrument’s demise. Still, the New START Treaty provides a new opportunity for a positive outcome.

ANN-SOFIE NILSSON (Sweden) said preparations for the 2020 Review Conference must enter a more concrete phase. The Stockholm initiative, launched in 2019, aims at reaching a realistic outcome through a stepping stone approach to disarmament. The long standing deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament is depressing, and current arms control regimes must remain in place as a safety net while negotiations on new arrangements continue. She urged all States to do everything in their power to engage in much needed progress towards the collective goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Time is of the essence, she said.

REGINA AONDONA (Nigeria), associating herself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said the cost of maintaining and modernizing nuclear weapons is outrageous and inexcusable, given that States could better spend their resources on peaceful development. She called on all States, particularly nuclear weapon States, to think about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their use on health, the environment and vital economic resources. Africa has long acknowledged the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons and it was to that end that African countries adopted the Treaty of Pelindaba, which prevents the stationing and testing of nuclear explosive devices on the continent.

MEMET MEVLAT YAKUT (Turkey), associating himself with the European Union, Non Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative and the Netherlands, who spoke on behalf of a group of countries, said that in today’s fragile security environment, the world more than ever must be guided by the ultimate objective of the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Turkey remains committed to the full implementation and further strengthening of the Non Proliferation Treaty and calls upon States that have not yet done so to join the instrument. He encouraged the United States and the Russian Federation to seek further reductions to their arsenals, with the extension of the New START Treaty remaining a key task. Turkey supports the Joint Plan of Action and also the forthcoming conference in November on establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East.

ANDREJS PILDEGOVICS (Latvia), associating himself with the European Union and the Netherlands, who spoke on behalf of a group of countries, said current challenges can be resolved ahead of the 2020 Review Conference. However, recapturing a sense of purpose is a prerequisite for progress. The Non Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of global disarmament and non proliferation efforts, but the build up of inflammatory rhetoric is worrisome. Emphasizing that formal declarations are not enough, he said confidence is being eroded by the Russian Federation’s unwillingness to discuss concerns.

ENRI PRIETO (Peru), noting that more than half the world’s population live in countries with atomic bombs or which are part of related alliances, said the use and threat of use of these weapons is a crime against humanity and a serious violation of international law, including international humanitarian law. He recalled that Peru was among the first States to sign the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco. He also reaffirmed its commitment to the Non Proliferation Treaty and urged nuclear weapon States to abide by article VI of that instrument. Going forward, a fissile material cut off treaty could lead to an overall reduction in the availability of such material for nuclear weapons.

LI SONG (China), rejecting as baseless the accusations Washington, D.C., is directing at his country, said the culprit is the United States when it comes to the lack of progress in international nuclear disarmament processes. The international community should reject cold war thinking and zero sum games and focus instead on addressing the root causes of nuclear proliferation. A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought, he said. Calling for a step by step approach to disarmament, he said the United States, which has the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal, should bear its responsibility for disarmament and maintain its agreements with the Russian Federation to reduce its stockpiles. China stands for the complete prohibition and verifiable destruction of nuclear weapons, he said, adding that his country has never participated in an arms race and that its limited nuclear force is strictly defensive in nature.

MOHAMMED ALKAHTANI (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said the world cannot be in peace and stability with the existence of nuclear weapons. A zone free of such arms is needed in the Middle East, as called for in the 1995 resolution adopted at that year’s Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. However, the continued refusal of Israel to join the Non Proliferation Treaty and put its nuclear programme under IAEA safeguards is a grave threat to peace, as is its violations of relevant Security Council resolutions. Turning to concerns about Iran, he said a comprehensive agreement is needed to prevent Tehran from getting a nuclear weapon. He also highlighted the right of all Member States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under IAEA safeguards.

CHARLOTTE SKERTEN (New Zealand), speaking on behalf of the De Alerting Group, said she agrees with the Secretary General on the urgent need for risk reduction. De alerting is an issue that deserves strong international consensus. The risk posed by nuclear weapons will remain high for as long as they exist, but risks multiply significantly when they are put on high alert. It is also widely acknowledged that de alerting is most valuable in times of high tension, times such as now, she said. Recalling the history of close calls involving the Russian Federation and the United States, including erroneous sensor data and misinterpreted warnings, she said the international community cannot keep depending on good fortune. Instead, nuclear weapon States must immediately implement their de alerting commitments.

THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives) said her country, one of the few small island developing States to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, has never produced weapons nor does it desire to do so. Recalling that the General Assembly designated the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace in 1971, she said the region must remain free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The international community must cooperate and commit resources to prevent terrorists from obtaining nuclear materials. With humankind and the planet facing the serious threat of climate change, the world cannot afford to worry about a nuclear apocalypse.

ANDRA�S FERNANDO FIALLO KAROLYS (Ecuador) said the best tribute to the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is to endorse instruments like the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Condemning the very existence of nuclear weapons, he said no country would be able to withstand the devastating consequences of such an explosion, accidental or deliberate. He called upon Member States to step up efforts and create more zones free of nuclear weapons to achieve a more safe and secure world. To reach a peaceful world, it is crucial to shift the security doctrines of nuclear weapon States, he said, adding that multilateralism is currently facing many difficulties. Instead of hearing more calls for armament, States should be walking in the opposite direction to boost disarmament efforts. Ecuador categorically rejects any contemplation of nuclear testing, he said, calling for the Test Ban Treaty’s full entry into force.

HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran) said some nuclear weapon States continue to attempt to achieve superiority while refraining from granting universal legally binding security assurances to non nuclear weapon States. The bilateral instruments on preventing an atomic arms race are terminating one after another, with no credible substitutes on the horizon. While the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Plan of Action is undermining international peace and security, the Israeli regime remains the only non party to the Non Proliferation Treaty in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Conference on Disarmament should start the negotiations on a comprehensive convention, he said, also introducing a biennial resolution on follow up of nuclear disarmament obligations agreed to at the Non Proliferation Treaty review conferences.

ANDREY BELOUSOV (Russian Federation), underscoring the fundamental role of the Non Proliferation Treaty, said his country stands ready to work with all parties during that instrument’s 2020 Review Conference. It will also participate in the forthcoming conference at Headquarters on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Emphasizing Moscow’s commitment to the Test Ban Treaty, he called on the United States to change its position on that instrument and to ratify it. The Russian Federation’s commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons is demonstrated by concrete actions, he said, adding with regret that the Intermediate Range Forces Treaty ceased to have effect when the United States, under trumped up pretexts, pulled out of it. He went on to note a lack of clarity on the part of the United States regarding the New START Treaty. Extending that agreement, he added, would be a sensible step to prevent a deterioration of the current strategic security situation.

DAVID IZQUIERDO ORTIZ DE ZARATE (Spain), associating himself with the European Union and the statement of the Netherlands on behalf of a group of countries, highlighted the integrated character of the Non Proliferation Treaty. The 2020 Review Conference is a challenge to all, and disarmament initiatives should bring on board nuclear weapon States to ensure that they live up to their article VI commitments. Spain welcomes trust building efforts such as the Stepping Stone initiative, he said, also expressing support for the forthcoming conference on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, he reiterated the right of States in the region to develop peaceful nuclear capacity in strict compliance with non proliferation commitments. He also called for the universalization of the IAEA safeguards regime and for all States that have not yet done so, including Annex 2 countries, to sign and ratify the Test Ban Treaty to ensure its sorely needed entry into the force.

NELI BOGOMILOVA-RASHEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union and the Netherlands speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said nuclear disarmament that is universal, verifiable and irreversible is only possible within the framework of the Non Proliferation Treaty. The 2020 Review Conference provides a chance to uphold and consolidate the treaty as the key instrument in the global non proliferation and disarmament architecture. The universalization and entry into force of the Test Ban Treaty is a political imperative and practical building block towards disarmament, she said, adding that negotiating a fissile material cut off treaty also remains a top priority for Bulgaria.

MELUSI MARTIN MASUKU (Eswatini), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, reiterated the call for complete, worldwide nuclear disarmament. He welcomed, in that light, the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as a complement to the Non Proliferation Treaty. Reaffirming a strong commitment to the Treaty of Pelindaba, he highlighted the inalienable right of all countries to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the importance of technology sharing in this regard. Consideration of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the detonation of nuclear weapons should, on the other hand, lead to the swift dismantling and renunciation of such weapons. To reach that end, universal adherence to the Test Ban Treaty offers hope of halting further development of the weapons.

MC DONALD MIZATI (Malawi), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, noted the existence of almost 15,000 dangerous nuclear weapons in the world. He condemned the use of such weapons and expressed support for the Non Proliferation Treaty, Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty of Pelindaba. He urged Member States to stop paying lip service to nuclear disarmament issues and use multilateral diplomacy to negotiate and implement those instruments and initiatives to achieve the goals set out on disarmament agenda.

NOHRA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia) affirmed her delegation’s commitment to general and complete disarmament and to the Non Proliferation Treaty. She called on all States to universalize the instrument and to work together putting aside political factors ahead of the 2020 Review Conference. Colombia is part of the Treaty of Tlatelolco and supports all initiatives to create similar zones free of nuclear weapons. Multilateralism remains the right way to approach issues such as disarmament, non proliferation and realizing the shared goal of a nuclear weapon free world. Highlighting various instruments available aimed at that goal, she regretted to note that not all countries play the same role. While non nuclear weapon States focus on the promotion of disarmament, their nuclear armed counterparts bear a special responsibility. The complete elimination of such weapons can only be achieved through dialogue, she said, calling on Member States to revitalize this dialogue.

MICHAL SEHAYEK-SOROKA (Israel) said her delegation exercises a policy of restraint and non proliferation and is committed to a set of mechanisms. However, Israel is against the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, noting that the value of all such agreements is only as effective as the level of compliance of its signatories. Iran is the biggest threat to international security and peace and when its violations were discovered, it demonstrated that the Non Proliferation Treaty is not useful, she said, adding that Syria is another country that has not answered questions about its nuclear programme. Rejecting resolutions aimed at singling out Israel as the problem in the Middle East, she said her country will not participate in the conference on establishing a Middle East nuclear weapon free zone because it goes against United Nations resolutions on disarmament. We will not cooperate with this; we will not participate in November, she said.

ABDULLAH HALLAK (Syria), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, said his country was one of the first States to accede to and ratify the Non Proliferation Treaty. It was also among the first to initiate the idea of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. The 2020 Review Conference must confront grave violations of the Non Proliferation Treaty by some nuclear weapon States, he said, adding that creating a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons requires the Israeli regime to accede to the Treaty and to place its facilities under IAEA safeguards. He remains concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons by the United States in five North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member States as well as in the waters of many other countries, particularly in the Mediterranean. At the same time, the current talk about creating a culture of disarmament is aimed at creating a world that is not free of nuclear weapons.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said treaties are abrogated and flouted, the arms control architecture is weakened and the nuclear arms race has been renewed. This train of events flies in the face of the responsibility of Member States, above all the nuclear Powers, and under the United Nations Charter to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace. He recalled that, following the Cuban missile crisis, Pope John XXIII had written that in the age that boasts of its atomic power, it no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice. The Holy See has ratified the Non Proliferation Treaty, Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, with a view to realizing the full promise of these instruments, which are vital tools for nuclear disarmament.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the accusations directed at his country are absurd and unfounded. His country took all political and diplomatic steps to address concerns regarding the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he said, adding that the United States brought down that instrument to give a green light to the unfettered development of its nuclear missile potential. The United States alone is guilty for the collapse of the treaty, along with those countries in Europe that are party to that tragic turn of events.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that in order to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the United States must take a different approach. The fate of bilateral dialogue depends on the United States attitude, he said, calling on Washington, D.C., to withdraw its hostile policy against Pyongyang. He went on to say that allegations made by France, Portugal and a few others are unacceptable and do not hold water.

The representative of China said the United States is fixated on a cold war mentality and is using other countries to break free of the constraints of international treaties. Its behaviour is undermining global stability and it has some serious accounting to do. He reiterated that China’s nuclear arsenal is not at the same level as those of the United States and the Russian Federation. Any comments by the United States about China’s capabilities are hypocritical and ring hollow. China is not the United States, it will not become the United States and it will not adhere to its nuclear doctrine, he said, adding that those attempting to make the cold war a new reality will run up against resistance from the international community.

The representative of Iran said it is a waste of time for Saudi Arabia to come up with proposals that are neither new or creative, but only copies of existing initiatives already in operation. He recommended that its representative look at Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) endorsing the Joint Plan of Action. It was intended for those countries with misgivings about Iran’s nuclear programme and to build confidence. It is alarming that Saudi Arabia is implementing an ambitious nuclear programme but exempting itself from IAEA inspections. Saudi Arabia should be realistic and try at least to bring itself to the level of international commitment that Iran is undertaking.

The representative of the United States said most countries in the room understand the situation on the Korean Peninsula quite clearly. United States President Donald J. Trump has held out the prospect of a brighter future for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea if it makes the strategic decision to denuclearize, he said, calling on Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table. Turning to Cuba’s comments, he said his country’s Nuclear Posture Review does not indicate a lowering of the threshold of the use of nuclear weapons, but rather the contrary. Responding to China’s remark that the United States is responsible for a decline in the security environment, he said it is China that is responsible, through its aggressive and non transparent military activities. He urged China to join the United States and the Russian Federation in trilateral negotiations. In response to his counterpart from the Russian Federation, he reiterated that Moscow has deployed several battalions of cruise missiles and that the United States has no similar system in Europe. Turning to the statement made by the representative of Syria � that the United States is in violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty � he said it is Damascus that is breaching the agreement by constructing a clandestine plutonium reactor. He went on to recommend that the representative of Syria read the negotiating history of the Treaty, for it is clear from his remarks that he has not.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, responding to false allegations made by his counterpart from Iran, said Riyadh supports the Joint Plan of Action, however, Iran has benefited economically from the deal and in turn is giving the Houthi militias arms in clear violation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), and went on to say Iran has been exporting ballistic missiles to the region. He added that the Joint Plant of Action bears many inconsistencies and showed support for the decision of the United States to pull out of the agreement.

The representative of Cuba said she rejected the United States delegate’s statement. It is deplorable that Washington, D.C., will not ratify the Test Ban Treaty and is ignoring multilateralism by abandoning the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Joint Plan of Action.

The representative of Syria said the position of Israel is weak and that it spreads wrongful information instead of talking about its own aggressions. Israel is the only State with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the region. He said he was surprised by the accusations because everyone knows that Israel seeks to distract the world from their arsenals while refusing both to comply with Security Council resolutions and to join the Non Proliferation Treaty. Israel has in the past threatened Syria with the use of nuclear weapons � in 1973 � and has carried out secret nuclear tests in 1979 in the Indian Ocean, a test that was covered by the United States Administration, he said, adding that, they are involved in violations around the world.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation has no intention to engage in negotiations, at least not before the United States takes steps to completely withdraw its aggressive policy. He asked for the United States to come to the negotiating table with a new way of calculation to solve the problem.

The representative of China said Beijing has no interest and will not participate in the trilateral negotiations mentioned earlier because we believe the United States wants to free itself from international obligations. China’s nuclear disarmament policy is clear, he said, asking the United States not to impose its own agenda on others. Turning to the issue of the South China Sea, saying that China has always prioritized peace, stability and security. The peaceful development of the South China Sea is our goal, and we have been carrying out peaceful and constructive activities, he said, adding that: It is our inalienable right, but the United States has travelled long to position itself in the area. Indeed, the United States is a bully in the South China Sea and the presence of a third party will jeopardize the stability of the region.

The representative of Iran wondered whether the international community should believe Saudi Arabia’s words or its actions, such as its military aggression in Yemen and the ensuing humanitarian catastrophe. Saudi Arabia should also declare that it renounces the option of nuclear weapons.

The representative of the United States said his counterpart from Syria is making ridiculous charges with no substance. The United States will no longer allow China to claim that it is a peace loving nation when its actions, threats and bullying show otherwise.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said Iran is part of the problem in the Middle East, as it interferes in the affairs of Arab countries and spreads chaos in the region. Iran should support the legitimate Government in Yemen and extend humanitarian assistance, as Saudi Arabia has done.

The representative of Syria said it is the United States delegate who is seeking to distort reality. He is putting forth lies, as other delegations have remarked. Recalling the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he said that such lies have led to destruction in the Middle East.

Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

PANGERAN IBRANI SITUMORANG (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, said the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction is the only comprehensive multilateral treaty banning an entire category of weapons of mass destruction and urged the United States, as the only remaining State yet to sign it, to join it. Anyone responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable, he said, and went on to point out the use of white phosphorus against Gaza in 2009 and 2014, expressing grave concern at the use of this type of weapon against a populated area and calling for a full investigation. Non Aligned Movement members consider the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction an important component of the disarmament architecture, he said, calling for the beginning of negotiations to further enhance international cooperation to deal with toxins, biological agents and equipment.

Turning to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), he underlined the need to ensure that any actions by the Council do not undermine the United Nations Charter, existing multilateral treaties on weapons of mass destruction and international organizations established in this regard. He cautioned against the continuing practice of the Security Council to utilize its authority to define the legislative requirements for Member States in implementing its decisions, adding that the issue of acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non State actors should be addressed in an inclusive and non discriminatory manner by the General Assembly, taking into account all Member States’ views.

JA�RN OSMUNDSEN (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said chemical weapons are being used in flagrant violation of the global ban and the potential for the misuse of scientific innovations constitutes an ever evolving security challenge. He expressed deep concern over Syria’s continued possession of chemical weapons, which should have been completely declared and destroyed. The Nordic countries contributed significantly to the international mission to ship out Syria’s declared chemical weapons for destruction in 2014. However, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) declaration and assessment team has concluded that the statements provided are insufficient and marred by errors, he said, urging Syria to immediately disclose all relevant information.

Expressing strong support for the intersessional programme of work of the Biological Weapons Convention, he urged States to move forward incrementally on issues where consensus seems to be within reach in the run up to the 2021 Review Conference. Expressing concern over the financial situation facing that Convention, he called on all States parties to pay their assessed contributions. On the issue of ballistic missiles, he said such programmes can be highly destabilizing, and restraint is of the essence. A lack of transparency and predictability regarding ballistic missile tests could result in miscalculations and devastating effects.

DAOVY VONGXAY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, condemned in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical and biological weapons by any party under any circumstances. He called on the international community to fully and effectively implement all treaties concerning weapons of mass destruction, affirming that all ASEAN member States were parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Calling for increased cooperation to eliminate chemical weapons, he commended OPCW for its work and highlighted the importance of international assistance for victims of chemical weapons.

Noting that ASEAN members are also parties to the Biological Weapons Convention, he called for universal adherence to international instruments prohibiting all weapons of mass destruction, including radiological threats, with a view to keeping them out of the hands of terrorists and other non State actors. ASEAN is committed to improving regional capacities to address such threats, through the sharing of best practices by experts and working with the European Union to identify risk mitigation needs, develop national action plans and implement regional project proposals. He also highlighted the importance of enhanced international support of States parties to build national capacity for the implementation of treaties related to weapons of mass destruction.

BASSEM HASSAN (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, highlighted the importance of creating a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. Group members continue to support the chemical and biological arms conventions and condemn their use regardless of who and how. At the same time, Israel must join the Non Proliferation Treaty, he said, regretting to note the current impasse on declaring the Middle East a region free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The Arab Group has taken courageous steps to ban nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence. Highlighting the importance of the forthcoming conference on establishing a Middle East free of such weapons, he expressed hope that the outcome will be a legally binding instrument to set up such a zone.

Mr. HWANG (France), speaking on behalf of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, said the group is determined to combat the use of these arms. The Chemical Weapons Convention is an essential pillar of international disarmament and counter proliferation architecture, he said, calling on the four remaining States to join it without delay. Commending the determination of State parties to find the perpetrators of recent chemical attacks in Syria, he condemned the Government’s refusal to grant access to its territory to the investigation team. It is highly likely that the Government of Syria is responsible for a series of recent chemical attacks, he said. In the case of the Salisbury, United Kingdom, chemical attack, there is no plausible alternative explanation than what reports have shown.

ANNE KEMPPAINEN, European Union delegation, said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery remains a grave threat to international peace and security, urging Syria to fully honour its obligations as a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention and calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Israel and South Sudan to join this instrument. The bloc has provided a total of Euros 57 million to OPCW since 2004. The European Union Centres of Excellence on the mitigation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risks offer capacity building assistance to more than 60 countries.

Highlighting several concerns, she said Iran must abide by all relevant Security Council resolutions, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must immediately halt all its ballistic missile launches. She also called on all States to adhere to The Hague Code of Conduct, expressing support for further examination of multilateral steps to prevent the threat of missile proliferation and to promote disarmament.

FA�LIX BAUMANN (Switzerland) strongly condemned any use of chemical weapons. Switzerland supports the creation of a mechanism within OPCW that serves to identify the origin of chemical weapons used and the responsible parties. He welcomes the progress made in creating an investigation and identification team and supported it with a voluntary financial contribution in 2019. The Chemical Weapons Convention must keep pace with technological developments, and Switzerland believes it is necessary to address the aerosolized use of central nervous system acting chemicals for law enforcement purposes. An increasing number of States parties fear that continued inaction on this issue risks undermining the Chemical Weapons Convention’s purpose. In this vein, he said Australia, Switzerland and the United States have begun a process to work towards a policy discussion on this issue.

MIROSLAW BROILO (Poland), associating himself with the European Union, supports the core mission of OPCW. The use of chemical weapons continues to challenge the bedrock of the Chemical Weapons Convention, raising questions about the instrument’s integrity alongside the credibility and future of OPCW. This negative environment cannot be an excuse for inaction, he said. OPCW must be able to perform its core functions and adapt to a changing security environment. The key goal of the draft resolution on the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Poland introduces in the General Assembly each year, is to provide strong and clear support from the international community. This session, Poland was confronted again with fundamentally divergent views that were mutually excluding, he said, adding that his delegation, as the sole sponsor, continues to provide a factual text.

Mr. WOOD (United States) said the Chemical Weapons Convention continues to be violated by the Syrian regime. The international community must stand against those acts or risk normalizing them. OPCW support remains vital to control the use of chemical weapons, he said, adding that concrete measures must be taken against threats posed by weapons that attack the central nervous system, such as fentanyl. As such, the United States co sponsored a draft decision that makes clear the aerosolized use of such weapons is inconsistent with law enforcement purposes. Practical steps must be taken to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention despite the blockage of action by certain States, he said, calling on those obstructing progress to join the majority.

MATTHEW GORMAN (United Kingdom), associating himself with the European Union, said the complete ban on the production and use of chemical and biological weapons remains a central pillar of international law and the international rules based order. That chemical weapons continue to be used demonstrates that some are still prepared to flout the norms of civilized behaviour, he said. We must all persist in striving to consign these heinous weapons to history. Deterrence requires identifying the perpetrators of chemical weapon attacks; yet the Russian Federation continues to prevent effective action by the Security Council to investigate and hold to account those responsible for incidents in Syria. Urging all States to uphold the Chemical Weapons Convention and strengthen OPCW capabilities, he also highlighted the importance of the Biological Weapons Convention and called for more international support for the Secretary General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical, Bacteriological (Biological) or Toxin Weapons, the only international tool designed for that purpose.

Mr. HASSAN (Egypt), speaking in his national capacity, said his country gives the utmost priority to nuclear disarmament and pointed out that the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a historic step because it puts this class of arms under the international law. Despite the instability of the Middle East, Egypt demonstrated good intentions and joined the Non Proliferation Treaty. However, some States are in contradiction; on the one hand, they call for international investigations for any violation, and on the other hand, they set aside any pressure for Israel to join the international disarmament system. This will not help in ridding the world of nuclear weapons, he said. Some States cannot be better than others. We call on them to review their positions. This is a clear case of double standards.

USMAN JADOON (Pakistan) said the most effective method of strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention is through the conclusion of a legally binding protocol covering all the articles and including a multilateral verification mechanism. Pakistan participates actively in convention meetings, including during the intersessional programme. Condemning the use of chemical weapons, he said the role of OPCW should be in strict accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. Extending the Secretariat’s remit towards attribution is inconsistent with the technical nature of its work, he noted, saying that it is for States parties to consider such issues in consideration of the Secretariat’s technical findings.

Mr. INCARNATO (Italy) said securing sensitive materials, especially from access by terrorist networks, and implementing effective export controls continue to be major challenges. As such, there is a need for the universal implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention. The international community has a responsibility to enforce the prohibition of chemical weapons and support the international chemical non proliferation regime. Expressing concern over the repeated use of chemical weapons in recent years, he said Italy participates in the Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. Reaffirming support for the OPCW fact finding mission to investigate allegations of use of chemical weapons, he urged Syria to honour its obligations as a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention and to extend its full cooperation in order to resolve outstanding issues.

Mr. BEERWERTH (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said the Biological Weapons Convention remains a major pillar of the international arms control and non proliferation architecture. Developments in the field of biotechnology and life sciences need to be monitored in view of their dual use potential, he said, proposing that a scientific and technological experts advisory forum be established under the auspices of the instrument. Turning to the Chemical Weapons Convention, he said the international community must enforce the rules it has set for itself, including identifying those who violate that instrument and holding them to account. No Government or group of non State actors can count on impunity when using chemical weapons, he said, calling on States to participate in the alliance against impunity. The OPCW investigation and identification team has been an important step in that regard.

Mr. SHARMA (India) said the commitment to prevent non State actors and terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction is enshrined in Indian domestic law. As in previous years, India is introducing the draft resolution Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, which continues to command consensus and growing support in the First Committee and the General Assembly. India has the world’s second largest number of declared chemical facilities, receives among the largest number of industry inspections from OPCW, and has a flawless track record of verification inspections, he said. The country is committed to improving the Biological Weapons Convention, but the lack of a comprehensive protocol to strengthen its implementation has hampered its effectiveness. India believes that its long term sustainability should be rooted in legally binding measures with State parties endowing collective confidence in this instrument.

ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) said the conventions to prohibit chemical and biological weapons are vital international legal instruments to guide multilateral efforts aimed at the total elimination of specific types of weapons of mass destruction. He expressed support for the universalization of the Biological Weapons Convention, saying that every new accession helps to strengthen the global norm. Kazakhstan also gives a high priority to the Chemical Weapons Convention, as any use of these arms is in complete disregard of humanity, and therefore, cannot be justified. The means to strengthen the instrument is to amend it.

ANA SILVIA RODRA�GUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), associating herself with the Non Aligned Movement, expressed regret that States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention could not reach a consensus on a final report, as politically motivated agendas have crept into the process. She called on the United States to comply with the requirements of the Convention and destroy its arsenal of chemical weapons as soon as possible. The only way to make the Biological Weapons Convention legally binding would be a protocol that would prohibit the use of such weapons, one that does not limit or prevent the broadest exchange of materials the United States might use for peaceful purposes.

CLAUDIO MEDEIROS LEOPOLDINO (Brazil) condemned the use of chemical weapons by any State, including Syria. Calling for the restoration of consensus in OPCW, he said his country supports the its identification team mechanism, adding that it must operate with impartiality. The team should function as an effective tool to reduce stockpiling weapons for use in war. Reiterating full support for the Biological Weapons Convention, he said efforts should be geared towards strengthening the instrument’s institutional framework.

DANIEL DOM (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, expressed concern over the repeated use of chemical weapons and efforts to undermine impartiality of OPWC and its Technical Secretariat. Welcoming the establishment of the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team, he called on Syria to cooperate fully with the team. Slovakia continues to fulfil its commitments to OPCW also through tangible contributions, he said, also reporting that his country supports the efforts of the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.

FRANK GROOME (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union, said weapons of mass destruction have no place anywhere. Ireland calls on those remaining States who have not yet joined instruments that aim to achieve a world free of weapons of mass destruction to accede to them. Further, the worldwide condemnation of those who breach their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention must be matched by action. Because the Biological Weapons Convention exists in a scientific context which has altered considerably from the assumptions that underpinned the original text, the world should be open to considering ways to strengthen it.

Source: United Nations

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