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Disarmament Efforts Stalling amid Emerging Arms Race, Upgrading of Nuclear Arsenals, Delegates Warn as First Committee Continues General Debate

Summary

While the international disarmament machinery remains elemental in the pursuit of a world free of weapons of mass destruction, that effort is stalling in the face of unabated existential threats, delegates emphasized today, as the First Committee (Disa…

While the international disarmament machinery remains elemental in the pursuit of a world free of weapons of mass destruction, that effort is stalling in the face of unabated existential threats, delegates emphasized today, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) entered the fifth day of its general debate.

Speakers said that multilateral processes, procedures and practices are the ideal means by which to address disarmament and non-proliferation issues, given the common human desire for real peace and security, and to further direct resources towards peaceful purposes. However, many delegates repeatedly stressed the dangers of an emerging new arms race, despite the important entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in January.

Zambia’s representative noted that after decades of arms control and disarmament conferences, nations have been developing nuclear arsenals for probable defensive, retaliatory, and in some cases offensive purposes, warning that counter-measures offer little hope.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative agreed that it is a “sad state of affairs” when the nuclear-weapon States fail to live up to their responsibilities, noting that the trillions of dollars inexplicably spent on such weaponry could have gone towards realizing the 2030 Agenda or fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

While emphasizing the importance of the extension of the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty) between the United States and the Russian Federation, speakers nevertheless pointed out that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty remains unsigned or unratified by eight Annex 2 States and has not entered into force.

The Observer for the State of Palestine, referring to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, said it is clear that disarmament and must advance, rather than the trend of granting some States the “right” to possess nuclear weapons. If nuclear disarmament falters, the whole edifice will collapse, he warned.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the presence of intransigent foreign and national armed groups, especially in the eastern sector of his country, is fuelled by a wide array of dangerous weapons obtained in exchange for minerals and cash. He also welcomed the efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), saying it has helped to protect civilians by eliminating explosive devices and opposing the diversion of stockpiles for the benefit of armed groups.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the United States spends more than $700 billion on its military budget, developing state-of-the-art hardware and updating plans for the use of nuclear weapons against its foes, while also transferring nuclear submarine technology to Australia. Meanwhile, the Korean Peninsula remains a “hotspot” due to United States policy, including nuclear blackmail, he added.

However, Bulgaria’s representative was among the speakers emphasizing that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must engage without further delay in negotiations towards abandoning its nuclear weapon programmes.

Japan’s delegate said that his country, the only one ever to have suffered attack by nuclear weapons, expressed concern at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities as well as its recent missile launches. He added that his delegation will submit to the Committee a draft resolution titled “Joint Courses of Action and Future-oriented Dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons”.

Portugal’s representative emphasized the importance of universal adherence to the Arms Trade Treaty and expressed hope that the high contracting parties will adopt an ambitious programme of work in regard to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. He further called for expanded membership of the Conference on Disarmament, encouraging discussions in that forum on establishing a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Also speaking today representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition), Slovenia, Lithuania, Romania, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Hungary, Haiti, Tunisia, Namibia, Uruguay, Kiribati, Morocco, Liechtenstein, Botswana, United Republic of Tanzania, Madagascar, Mauritania and Zimbabwe.

The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also delivered a statement.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Japan, Syria and Turkey.

The First Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 12 October, to continue its general debate and begin its thematic debate segment.

General Debate

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said the group will present a draft resolution during the session. Recalling that the New Agenda Coalition’s creation was based on the belief that the only solution to the threat of nuclear weapons is their total elimination, he emphasized the catastrophic consequences of their use. The New Agenda Coalition believes that any use of nuclear weapons would be a violation of humanitarian law, he said, adding that nuclear disarmament is a legal obligation and an ethical imperative. As for the costs of maintaining stockpiles, he stressed: “We should seriously reflect on the enormous amount of resources dedicated to modernize nuclear arsenals, which should instead be diverted to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.” It is time for States to deliver on their commitments and to safeguard future generations from the danger posed by nuclear weapons, he continued, underlining that the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remains the cornerstone for action. He affirmed the importance of nuclear weapon free zones in realizing treaty objectives and of the 1995 Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference resolution on establishing such an area in the Middle East. States must work towards advancing those goals at the forthcoming 2022 Review Conference, he said.

BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating himself with the European Union, emphasized that as a country with a full fledged civilian nuclear programme, Slovenia believes the third pillar of the Non Proliferation Treaty needs further attention. Calling upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage in dialogue with the Republic of Korea and the United States so as to enable steps towards denuclearization, he also expressed support for intensive diplomatic efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme. Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, he called on Syria to comply with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and condemned the use of the nerve agent Novichok on Alexei Navalny, calling upon the Russian Federation to provide explanations. Slovenia supports all efforts to address the prevention of an arms race in outer space. He went on to call for implementation of the existing norms on cyberspace and expressed his delegation’s readiness to work on that proposal.

RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), associating himself with the European Union, expressed concern about the security situation in the region, the lack of progress towards resolving conflicts, the exploitation of illegal migration as an instrument of political pressure, cyberattacks against political and economic targets and the assault on democracy, free media, and civil society in neighbouring countries. He reiterated his country’s support for an inclusive approach to nuclear disarmament, emphasizing that Lithuania strongly believes that reciprocal and verifiable treaty based nuclear arms control can help reduce nuclear weapons. He described the New START Treaty as a crucial contribution to international security and welcomed the renewal of the strategic stability dialogue between the United States and the Russian Federation, while calling on China to demonstrate responsibility and join nuclear arms control talks. Condemning the use of chemical weapons, he expressed concern that the Russian Federation has not yet disclosed the circumstances of the assassination attempt on Alexei Navalny, while noting that the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons has also been compromised in Syria.

ION JINGA (Romania) welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty and encouraged China to join in negotiations. Describing the nuclear and ballistic missile activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a cause of concern, he urged that State to build trust and confidence and to abandon those programmes in a verifiable and irreversible manner. He went on to emphasize that Romania opposes any attempt to undermine the integrity of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and any use of chemical or biological weapons, including the poisoning of Alexei Navalny on the Russian Federation’s territory. He went on to note that the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition is a significant driver of conflict.

TAREQ M.A.M. ALBANAI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said multilateralism is the ideal means by which to address disarmament and non proliferation issues, in view of the common human desire for real peace and security, and to further direct resources towards peaceful purposes. Kuwait supports all calls for universal adherence to all multilateral instruments, he said, emphasizing that the Non Proliferation Treaty and the Test Ban Treaty are the most important. He said his delegation will work in a transparent and inclusive manner to assist all participants in the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction at the end of November. The resolution to establish such a zone remains an integral part of the indefinite extension of the Non Proliferation Treaty at the 1995 conference, he stressed.

DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non Aligned Movement, encouraged the General Assembly and the Security Council to better coordinate their work while promoting international and bilateral cooperation. Affirming that Viet Nam supports the non proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and promotes the peaceful use of nuclear, chemical and biological technologies, he called for reducing nuclear arsenals under Article VI of the Non Proliferation Treaty and for complete disarmament. The upcoming tenth Review Conference will be an important milestone for all nations to deliver on their commitments, he said. He urged Annex 2 States to ratify the Test Ban Treaty without delay. He went on to encourage Member States to provide support on the removal of landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices, citing the Security Council’s presidential statement (S/PRST/2021/08) of April 2021. Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, he said its implementation should be carried out in compliance with international law. He concluded by inviting the international community to establish norms to address cyberspace threats.

GYÖRGY MOLNÁR (Hungary), associating himself with the European Union, said repeated violations, uncertainty over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the lack of progress on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula remain sources of concern. Welcoming the extension of the New START Treaty, he expressed hope that it will lay the groundwork for further advances. He noted that discussions in the Open Ended Working Group and at the Group of Governmental Experts concluded their work with the adoption of consensus final reports. Looking ahead, the most important task is to ensure a successful outcome of the forthcoming Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he said. Hungary also calls on all States to work towards a constructive review conference on the Biological Weapons Convention. Highlighting the importance of addressing the question of lethal autonomous systems, he emphasized the relevance of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects in that regard.

WISLYNE PIERRE (Haiti) emphasized the need for greater efforts in the area of nuclear programmes on health and energy. Concerning the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Caribbean region, she called for efforts to curb the illicit flow, which leads to the displacement of millions of people. She called upon all States to respect international law in weapons transfers, emphasizing that it is a human rights concern. Noting that Haiti has received technical assistance from centres in Europe and the United Nations to better manage weapons, she expressed hope that the First Committee will conduct constructive discussions and set the example for effective multilateralism for which it stands.

MOEZZ LAOUANI (Tunisia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said the Non Proliferation Treaty’s credibility depends on a balanced implementation of all three of its pillars. Emphasizing the crucial need to strengthen dialogue between nuclear weapon States, he pointed to the extension of the New START Treaty, saying it is still possible to use the momentum of recent years in the pursuit of the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearization. He deplored any use of chemical weapons, noting that Tunisia neither produces nor exports any form of weaponry and supports the International Tracing Instrument. He went on to express concern over the militarization of new technologies, including hypersonic devices and lethal autonomous weapons systems.

MUHABI LUNGU (Zambia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, reiterated his country’s commitment to the international treaties and conventions prohibiting the manufacture and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Now is the time to shift the paradigm from disarmament issues and concentrate on the Sustainable Development Goals, eradicating pandemics and tackling poverty and climate change, he emphasized. The huge sums expended on researching and manufacturing nuclear weapons could save many lives if spent instead on eradicating poverty and ensuring the provision of health care, he said. Whereas arms control and disarmament conferences have been held for decades in pursuit of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he noted, some nations have been developing their nuclear arsenals for probable defensive, retaliatory and in some cases offensive purposes, he warned, stressing that counter measures offer little hope.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, expressed regret at the lack of progress towards the Test Ban Treaty’s entry into force, calling upon all Member States to ratify that critical pillar of nuclear disarmament. He said Namibia sees the forthcoming tenth Review Conference on the Non Proliferation Treaty as an opportunity to strengthen transparency and accountability, while condemning the use of cluster munitions in conflict zones around the world. Concerning the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he reaffirmed his delegation’s support for the seventh Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

GABRIELA GONZALEZ (Uruguay), noting that her country possesses no nuclear weapons, expressed support for strengthening multilateralism with a view to complete disarmament. The threat or use of nuclear weapons constitutes a crime against humanity, a violation of international law and of the Charter of the United Nations, she emphasized. Ratification of the Non Proliferation Treaty would be a milestone, she said, recalling that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) created the first such regional zone. She stressed the decisive importance of the entry into force of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and called upon the Annex 2 countries to sign and ratify. She went on to underline the importance of stopping the proliferation of conventional weapons in conflict areas, describing them as truly weapons of mass destruction.

MARCIAL EDU MBASOGO (Equatorial Guinea), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said any initiative to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons is to be welcomed. He condemned the use of chemical weapons wherever that may occur. Expressing concern about the “sad state of affairs” occasioned by the failure of the nuclear weapon States to fulfil responsibilities, he described their expenditure of trillions of dollars that could have gone towards realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or fighting the COVID 19 pandemic as inexplicable. He went on to state that Africa should move forward towards prohibiting the use of uranium in the manufacture of weapons, also noting that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons continues to fuel conflicts in which economic benefits are prioritized over human lives.

TEBURORO TITO (Kiribati) pointed out that the nine nuclear weapon States spent $72.6 billion on weaponry as the coronavirus pandemic spread in 2020. That amounts to $137,666 every minute, as well as an increase of $1.4 billion from 2019, after adjusting for inflation, he said, noting: “This vast amount of expenditures could have been used to fund climate mitigation measures to help both the Blue Pacific and the planet.” He emphasized that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons not only brings comfort to victims of past nuclear weapon tests, but also reignites hope for a more peaceful, loving, caring and trustful world. Calling upon the nuclear weapon States to uphold their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the Non Proliferation Treaty, he urged the remaining Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Test Ban Treaty. He went on to say that partnership and friendship among young people have the potential to change mindsets and make powerful nations more like the Pacific region, where the primary purpose of life is love, peace and happiness.

SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), recalling that efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction date back at least to the General Assembly’s first resolution, noted that today’s global nuclear arsenal has grown, alongside the threat of its use. The more than $700 billion military budget of the United States covers the development of state of the art hardware and updating plans for the use of nuclear weapons against its foes while also deciding to transfer nuclear submarine technology to Australia, he said, adding that the Korean Peninsula remains a “hot spot” due to Washington’s policy against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including nuclear blackmail. As such, Pyongyang is bolstering its self defence efforts and safeguarding its national interests, he asserted. Condemning and rejecting double standards, he emphasized that the country possessing the largest nuclear arsenal must take steps towards progress. The United States must stop sharing nuclear technology, withdraw its hostile policy against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and stop conducting military exercises on the Korean Peninsula. He went on to stress that his country has not changed its position against biological and chemical weapons, and also continues to oppose the weaponization of outer space.

SALIM YOUSFI (Morocco), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said the current challenging security situation must push the world towards multilateralism and cooperation. Emphasizing the critical importance of the Non Proliferation Treaty, he called for universal adherence to the instrument so as to ensure balanced implementation of its three pillars. The crucial role of regional nuclear weapon free zones is also important, he said. Morocco welcomed the first Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, held in 2019, and looks forward to the second session in November. Concerning the potential use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist groups, he said Morocco has participated in efforts to combat nuclear terrorism. He went on to call for greater efforts in the areas of outer space and cyberspace security. Global goals can only be achieved through a commitment to multilateralism, he stressed.

MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein), noting the “exceptionally insecure moment, due to vaccine inequality, climate change and economic hardship”, said the flow of weapons into conflict areas continues unabated, at times in open violation of Security Council arms embargoes and General Assembly decisions. In Europe, security has been weakened by withdrawals from the Open Skies Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, she said. She welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty through 2026 and the intention of the parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to resume talks. Pointing out the increasing political pressure on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, she highlighted the new and aggravated threat from chemical weapons through the use of the severe nerve agent known as Novichok. Regarding the work of the Syria Accountability Mechanism and the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team, she applauded their concrete and thorough contributions to holding perpetrators accountable and called on Syria to cooperate with inspections. She went on to warn that militarized cyberattacks against critical infrastructure undermine democratic norms, saying Liechtenstein has explored a potential role for the International Criminal Court in the regulation of warfare as it evolves in the twenty first century by creating a council of advisers on the application of the Rome Statute to cyberwarfare.

MILIKO LABA (Botswana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the global security situation is deteriorating due to the threats posed by the illicit trade in weapons and technologies across a broad spectrum, ranging from small arms and light weapons to weapons of mass destruction. He encouraged the nuclear-weapon states to recommit to disarmament and the complete elimination of those weapons. Nuclear technology must be appropriately used for peaceful purposes that contribute meaningfully to the advancement of humanity, rather than as destructive weapons for maiming and killing, he emphasized. He reaffirmed his delegation’s support for the central role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in ensuring the commitment of States to implementation of its Safeguards Agreements, he said. Botswana also supports the incorporation of a gender perspective into the disarmament framework, he added, calling for a gender-balanced approach to disarmament, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

OGASAWARA ICHIRO (Japan) emphasized that it is her country’s mission and responsibility to spread awareness of the realities of the disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as the only country ever to have suffered attacks by nuclear weapons. Stressing the importance of the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he said Japan will submit a draft resolution titled “Joint Courses of Action and Future-Oriented Dialogue towards a World without Nuclear Weapons” to the First Committee. Expressing deep concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities and its recent missile launches, he also underlined that the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is reprehensible and contrary to international norms. He went on to note that Japan will again submit a draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons alongside South Africa and Colombia, recalling that in 2020, Tokyo’s financial contribution to various projects in that field amounted to $39 million.

KENNEDY GASTORN (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for all disarmament measures and called upon the nuclear-weapon States to voluntarily fulfil their responsibilities. Recognizing the United Nations as the appropriate platform for all such initiatives, he emphasized that disarmament goals can only be achieved through global solidarity. However, the international community cannot diverge from agreed measures, he said. Highlighting the threat posed by non-State actors, he warned that the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into their hands is higher than ever, as is the likelihood of terrorists obtaining them.

NELI BOGOMILOVA RASHEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union, said it is encouraging that the United States and the Russian Federation extended the New START Treaty for five years, and encouraged China to contribute to any future negotiations. The Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is another building block for disarmament, she noted, urging the international community to redouble efforts for its entry into force all Annex 2 States to sign and ratify it. She went on to emphasize that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must engage without further delay in negotiations towards abandoning its nuclear weapon programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. Expressing deep concern over Iran’s non-compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she stressed that returning to compliance is the only way to lower tensions. Cautioning that future pandemics may be caused by engineered diseases, she underscored the crucial importance of the Biological Weapons Convention.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, said that enforcing existing instruments and filling gaps in addressing other concerns must be the key steps forward. Commending recent positive gains, he expressed hope that the forthcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will be productive. Emphasizing the importance of universalizing the Arms Trade Treaty, he expressed hope that the high contracting parties adopt an ambitious programme of work with regard to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Portugal also hopes Iran would return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and, he said, similarly calls upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with its obligations. Regarding the Conference on Disarmament, he said its membership must be expanded. Portugal encourages discussions in that forum on establishing a fissile material cut-off treaty, he said, adding that greater efforts are needed to prevent the weaponization of outer space and the malicious use of technology.

HERINIRINA RAVELONARIVO ANDRIAMASY (Madagascar) said all stakeholders must agree on a common approach to security. Nuclear weapons remain the major threat to humankind, he added, noting that the 2022 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference represents an opportunity to forge progress in that regard. He called on all States, especially those with space capacities, to move forward on all multilateral efforts to prevent the weaponization of outer space. He also drew attention to the need to keep cyberspace safe, including through effective security measures to ensure that States behave responsibly, and commended the work of the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts in that area. Highlighting African efforts to tackle the spread of small arms and light weapons on the continent, he said solidarity is needed to combat that threat so that all States can build a peaceful and prosperous world.

PAUL LOSOKO EFAMBE EMPOLE (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the pandemic points out how a crisis can spread beyond borders, and suggests what could happen through accidental use of a nuclear weapon. He affirmed that, as a State party to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, his country will continue to work towards regional disarmament goals. He called upon IAEA to promote technological support and sharing of research and development. Concerning the presence of intransigent foreign and national armed groups, especially in the eastern sector of his country, he said it is fuelled by a wide array of dangerous weapons obtained in exchange for minerals and cash. He welcomed the efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), saying it has helped to protect civilians by eliminating explosive devices and opposing the diversion of stockpiles for the benefit of armed groups.

MOHAMED DIOP (Mauritania), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab Group and the African Group, noted that his country hosts the secretariat of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force and has programmes in place to fight and cut off all financing of terrorism. He welcomed efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones and applauded substantive and procedural resolutions of the first session of the Middle East, saying he looks forward to a successful second conference in November. Emphasizing the need to preserve non-proliferation gains and advance further efforts, he said nuclear weapons represent a direct threat to international peace. He went on to point out that Mauritania is ranked among the best States in combating explosive remnants of war.

MUCHINERIPI MUDZVITI (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the resources expended on military budgets are direly needed elsewhere, including for post-pandemic recovery, development finance, poverty eradication and climate adaptation and mitigation. The elimination of nuclear weapons is an existential challenge and ought to remain a top priority for the United Nations, he emphasized. While expressing fears that the goal of nuclear disarmament is receding as the nuclear arms control architecture stalls, he said his delegation is encouraged by the decision to extend the New START Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation. Regarding outer space, he expressed his concern about the increasing propensity of some States to place weapons there and to turn it into a war-fighting domain. “Outer space is a common asset for all humanity, for which every country on Earth has a stake and vested interest,” he said, emphasizing the need for a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space and to fill legal gaps.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, noted that Member States continued to modernize their nuclear weapons despite the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, urging the annex 2 States to ratify that instrument. He welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a sign of hope and reiterated the Holy See’s support for the forthcoming tenth Review Conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Applauding the extension of the New START Treaty, he said the doctrine of nuclear deterrence is outdated, calling upon the international community to update its approach to peace and stability. The First Committee must be seen as the appropriate forum in which to conduct that work, he said. He went on to state that disarmament and non-proliferation instruments “enhance respect for life and the dignity of the human person through the promotion of a culture of peace”.

MAJED BAMYA, observer for the State of Palestine, associated himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, saying the continued existence of nuclear weapons more than 75 years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki represents a grave threat. The world must advance towards eliminating all weapons of mass destruction, he emphasized, noting the Non-Proliferation Treaty is clear that disarmament and non-proliferation must advance not the trend of granting States the “right” to possess nuclear weapons. If nuclear disarmament falters, the whole edifice will collapse, he warned. Stressing the critical importance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said resolute action cannot be delayed. Such an approach was taken at the 2019 Conference on the Establishment of a Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, he said, noting that Israel continues to violate existing resolutions and treaties. The State of Palestine trusts the forthcoming second session will allow the world to advance towards establishing a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, he added.

The Committee then decided to begin its thematic debate segment at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 October, following the conclusion of the general debate.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, referred to the statement by the delegate of the United States on 7 October, emphasizing that any suggestions of a significant increase in his country’s nuclear arsenal are groundless and not based on any evidence. The Russian Federation adheres strictly to its arms control obligations, he said, pointing out that the emergence of new weapon systems is a gradual process, including taking obsolete weapons out of commission. Cautioning that the strategic balance can be undermined by destabilizing steps taken by the United States towards a global anti-missile system, he stressed that all factors must be discussed thoroughly to find long-term, mutually acceptable solutions towards a new security equation. He further responded to the representatives of Slovenia, Lithuania and Romania, saying they made unfounded and provocative accusations in connection with the so-called Navalny case, and pointing to the Russian Federation’s detailed explanations in the First Committee on 4 and 6 October.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected false accusations made by Japan’s delegate, saying they are devoid of moral justification in criticizing the inherent right to self-defence to thwart military threats by outside forces. Japan desperately slanders the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but lurking behind its statements are motives of those who have committed sins, he added. The international community should not overlook Japan, a war criminal State, as it speeds up its own militarization, restoring its rights to belligerency and having an army, he said. Japan is working hard to reach its highest expenditures ever on new war hardware and the world is appalled, he added, stressing that Tokyo must dismantle all aggressive weapons and those under development.

The representative of China, responding to statements by speakers representing the European Union, Australia, Iceland and other States, said the international community has long enjoyed consensus, and the United States and Russian Federation should uphold current bilateral disarmament agreements. China has always upheld global peace and the safeguards of the international arms control system, supports nuclear disarmament, and maintains an open attitude on constructive communications, he added.

The representative of Japan, responding to the statement by the delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that country’s actions are in clear violation of Security Council resolutions. He emphasized that Japan has consistently respected human rights and contributed to peace and prosperity in the region and the international community since the end of the Second World War, vowing that it will never change its course as a peace-loving nation.

The representative of Syria, responding to statements by some Western States on 7 October, said the accusations are baseless, describing them as attempts to distract the world’s attention from the fact that terrorist groups are using chemical weapons, and those States are supporting them. Reminding those countries that Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, he said the Government continues to cooperate with the OPCW. Regrettably, however, some States cast doubts on that, he noted, fully rejecting their claims. Turkey’s representative also made false claims, he added, noting that Turkey supports and arms terrorist groups, including facilitating their crossing over into Syria to commit crimes.

The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, taking the floor a second time, recalled Japan’s annexation of Korea and invasion of other Asian countries, noting that it is prohibited from forming a combat force. However, it has been secretly building up military capabilities and bolstering its military muscles while focusing on enhancing pre-emptive striking capabilities, including by developing hypersonic missiles and investing in space, he said.

The representative of Turkey, in response to Syria’s delegate, said the Assad regime was found responsible for the use of chemical weapon, emphasizing that Syria should leave aside its baseless allegations and focus on complying with the Chemical Weapons Convention. Turkey, for its part, continues to fight Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said, rejecting baseless allegations in that regard.

The representative of Japan, taking the floor a second time in response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s delegate, reiterated his country’s active contributions to international peace and security, emphasizing that its outer space activities are in full compliance with international agreements. Stressing the imperative to overcome mutual trust between Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he called for the two countries to work together for a bright future.

The representative of Syria, taking the floor a second time in response to Turkey’s delegate, said that, in reality, that country is involved in all events concerning poisonous weapons used in Syria. Indeed, Damascus will never forget those crimes, which will be prosecuted to the fullest extent, he added.

The representative of Turkey also took the floor a second time, saying the statement by Syria’s delegate deserves no response.

Source: United Nations

Industry

Disarmament Efforts Stalling amid Emerging Arms Race, Upgrading of Nuclear Arsenals, Delegates Warn as First Committee Continues General Debate

Summary

While the international disarmament machinery remains elemental in the pursuit of a world free of weapons of mass destruction, that effort is stalling in the face of unabated existential threats, delegates emphasized today, as the First Committee (Disa…

While the international disarmament machinery remains elemental in the pursuit of a world free of weapons of mass destruction, that effort is stalling in the face of unabated existential threats, delegates emphasized today, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) entered the fifth day of its general debate.

Speakers said that multilateral processes, procedures and practices are the ideal means by which to address disarmament and non-proliferation issues, given the common human desire for real peace and security, and to further direct resources towards peaceful purposes. However, many delegates repeatedly stressed the dangers of an emerging new arms race, despite the important entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in January.

Zambia’s representative noted that after decades of arms control and disarmament conferences, nations have been developing nuclear arsenals for probable defensive, retaliatory, and in some cases offensive purposes, warning that counter-measures offer little hope.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative agreed that it is a “sad state of affairs” when the nuclear-weapon States fail to live up to their responsibilities, noting that the trillions of dollars inexplicably spent on such weaponry could have gone towards realizing the 2030 Agenda or fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

While emphasizing the importance of the extension of the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty) between the United States and the Russian Federation, speakers nevertheless pointed out that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty remains unsigned or unratified by eight Annex 2 States and has not entered into force.

The Observer for the State of Palestine, referring to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, said it is clear that disarmament and must advance, rather than the trend of granting some States the “right” to possess nuclear weapons. If nuclear disarmament falters, the whole edifice will collapse, he warned.

The representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the presence of intransigent foreign and national armed groups, especially in the eastern sector of his country, is fuelled by a wide array of dangerous weapons obtained in exchange for minerals and cash. He also welcomed the efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), saying it has helped to protect civilians by eliminating explosive devices and opposing the diversion of stockpiles for the benefit of armed groups.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the United States spends more than $700 billion on its military budget, developing state-of-the-art hardware and updating plans for the use of nuclear weapons against its foes, while also transferring nuclear submarine technology to Australia. Meanwhile, the Korean Peninsula remains a “hotspot” due to United States policy, including nuclear blackmail, he added.

However, Bulgaria’s representative was among the speakers emphasizing that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must engage without further delay in negotiations towards abandoning its nuclear weapon programmes.

Japan’s delegate said that his country, the only one ever to have suffered attack by nuclear weapons, expressed concern at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities as well as its recent missile launches. He added that his delegation will submit to the Committee a draft resolution titled “Joint Courses of Action and Future-oriented Dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons”.

Portugal’s representative emphasized the importance of universal adherence to the Arms Trade Treaty and expressed hope that the high contracting parties will adopt an ambitious programme of work in regard to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. He further called for expanded membership of the Conference on Disarmament, encouraging discussions in that forum on establishing a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Also speaking today representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition), Slovenia, Lithuania, Romania, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Hungary, Haiti, Tunisia, Namibia, Uruguay, Kiribati, Morocco, Liechtenstein, Botswana, United Republic of Tanzania, Madagascar, Mauritania and Zimbabwe.

The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also delivered a statement.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Japan, Syria and Turkey.

The First Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 12 October, to continue its general debate and begin its thematic debate segment.

General Debate

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, said the group will present a draft resolution during the session. Recalling that the New Agenda Coalition’s creation was based on the belief that the only solution to the threat of nuclear weapons is their total elimination, he emphasized the catastrophic consequences of their use. The New Agenda Coalition believes that any use of nuclear weapons would be a violation of humanitarian law, he said, adding that nuclear disarmament is a legal obligation and an ethical imperative. As for the costs of maintaining stockpiles, he stressed: “We should seriously reflect on the enormous amount of resources dedicated to modernize nuclear arsenals, which should instead be diverted to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.” It is time for States to deliver on their commitments and to safeguard future generations from the danger posed by nuclear weapons, he continued, underlining that the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remains the cornerstone for action. He affirmed the importance of nuclear weapon free zones in realizing treaty objectives and of the 1995 Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference resolution on establishing such an area in the Middle East. States must work towards advancing those goals at the forthcoming 2022 Review Conference, he said.

BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating himself with the European Union, emphasized that as a country with a full fledged civilian nuclear programme, Slovenia believes the third pillar of the Non Proliferation Treaty needs further attention. Calling upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage in dialogue with the Republic of Korea and the United States so as to enable steps towards denuclearization, he also expressed support for intensive diplomatic efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme. Turning to the Biological Weapons Convention, he called on Syria to comply with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and condemned the use of the nerve agent Novichok on Alexei Navalny, calling upon the Russian Federation to provide explanations. Slovenia supports all efforts to address the prevention of an arms race in outer space. He went on to call for implementation of the existing norms on cyberspace and expressed his delegation’s readiness to work on that proposal.

RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), associating himself with the European Union, expressed concern about the security situation in the region, the lack of progress towards resolving conflicts, the exploitation of illegal migration as an instrument of political pressure, cyberattacks against political and economic targets and the assault on democracy, free media, and civil society in neighbouring countries. He reiterated his country’s support for an inclusive approach to nuclear disarmament, emphasizing that Lithuania strongly believes that reciprocal and verifiable treaty based nuclear arms control can help reduce nuclear weapons. He described the New START Treaty as a crucial contribution to international security and welcomed the renewal of the strategic stability dialogue between the United States and the Russian Federation, while calling on China to demonstrate responsibility and join nuclear arms control talks. Condemning the use of chemical weapons, he expressed concern that the Russian Federation has not yet disclosed the circumstances of the assassination attempt on Alexei Navalny, while noting that the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons has also been compromised in Syria.

ION JINGA (Romania) welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty and encouraged China to join in negotiations. Describing the nuclear and ballistic missile activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a cause of concern, he urged that State to build trust and confidence and to abandon those programmes in a verifiable and irreversible manner. He went on to emphasize that Romania opposes any attempt to undermine the integrity of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and any use of chemical or biological weapons, including the poisoning of Alexei Navalny on the Russian Federation’s territory. He went on to note that the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition is a significant driver of conflict.

TAREQ M.A.M. ALBANAI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said multilateralism is the ideal means by which to address disarmament and non proliferation issues, in view of the common human desire for real peace and security, and to further direct resources towards peaceful purposes. Kuwait supports all calls for universal adherence to all multilateral instruments, he said, emphasizing that the Non Proliferation Treaty and the Test Ban Treaty are the most important. He said his delegation will work in a transparent and inclusive manner to assist all participants in the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction at the end of November. The resolution to establish such a zone remains an integral part of the indefinite extension of the Non Proliferation Treaty at the 1995 conference, he stressed.

DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non Aligned Movement, encouraged the General Assembly and the Security Council to better coordinate their work while promoting international and bilateral cooperation. Affirming that Viet Nam supports the non proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and promotes the peaceful use of nuclear, chemical and biological technologies, he called for reducing nuclear arsenals under Article VI of the Non Proliferation Treaty and for complete disarmament. The upcoming tenth Review Conference will be an important milestone for all nations to deliver on their commitments, he said. He urged Annex 2 States to ratify the Test Ban Treaty without delay. He went on to encourage Member States to provide support on the removal of landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices, citing the Security Council’s presidential statement (S/PRST/2021/08) of April 2021. Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, he said its implementation should be carried out in compliance with international law. He concluded by inviting the international community to establish norms to address cyberspace threats.

GYÖRGY MOLNÁR (Hungary), associating himself with the European Union, said repeated violations, uncertainty over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the lack of progress on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula remain sources of concern. Welcoming the extension of the New START Treaty, he expressed hope that it will lay the groundwork for further advances. He noted that discussions in the Open Ended Working Group and at the Group of Governmental Experts concluded their work with the adoption of consensus final reports. Looking ahead, the most important task is to ensure a successful outcome of the forthcoming Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he said. Hungary also calls on all States to work towards a constructive review conference on the Biological Weapons Convention. Highlighting the importance of addressing the question of lethal autonomous systems, he emphasized the relevance of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects in that regard.

WISLYNE PIERRE (Haiti) emphasized the need for greater efforts in the area of nuclear programmes on health and energy. Concerning the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Caribbean region, she called for efforts to curb the illicit flow, which leads to the displacement of millions of people. She called upon all States to respect international law in weapons transfers, emphasizing that it is a human rights concern. Noting that Haiti has received technical assistance from centres in Europe and the United Nations to better manage weapons, she expressed hope that the First Committee will conduct constructive discussions and set the example for effective multilateralism for which it stands.

MOEZZ LAOUANI (Tunisia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement, the African Group and the Arab Group, said the Non Proliferation Treaty’s credibility depends on a balanced implementation of all three of its pillars. Emphasizing the crucial need to strengthen dialogue between nuclear weapon States, he pointed to the extension of the New START Treaty, saying it is still possible to use the momentum of recent years in the pursuit of the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearization. He deplored any use of chemical weapons, noting that Tunisia neither produces nor exports any form of weaponry and supports the International Tracing Instrument. He went on to express concern over the militarization of new technologies, including hypersonic devices and lethal autonomous weapons systems.

MUHABI LUNGU (Zambia), associating himself with the Non Aligned Movement and the African Group, reiterated his country’s commitment to the international treaties and conventions prohibiting the manufacture and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Now is the time to shift the paradigm from disarmament issues and concentrate on the Sustainable Development Goals, eradicating pandemics and tackling poverty and climate change, he emphasized. The huge sums expended on researching and manufacturing nuclear weapons could save many lives if spent instead on eradicating poverty and ensuring the provision of health care, he said. Whereas arms control and disarmament conferences have been held for decades in pursuit of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he noted, some nations have been developing their nuclear arsenals for probable defensive, retaliatory and in some cases offensive purposes, he warned, stressing that counter measures offer little hope.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, expressed regret at the lack of progress towards the Test Ban Treaty’s entry into force, calling upon all Member States to ratify that critical pillar of nuclear disarmament. He said Namibia sees the forthcoming tenth Review Conference on the Non Proliferation Treaty as an opportunity to strengthen transparency and accountability, while condemning the use of cluster munitions in conflict zones around the world. Concerning the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he reaffirmed his delegation’s support for the seventh Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

GABRIELA GONZALEZ (Uruguay), noting that her country possesses no nuclear weapons, expressed support for strengthening multilateralism with a view to complete disarmament. The threat or use of nuclear weapons constitutes a crime against humanity, a violation of international law and of the Charter of the United Nations, she emphasized. Ratification of the Non Proliferation Treaty would be a milestone, she said, recalling that the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) created the first such regional zone. She stressed the decisive importance of the entry into force of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and called upon the Annex 2 countries to sign and ratify. She went on to underline the importance of stopping the proliferation of conventional weapons in conflict areas, describing them as truly weapons of mass destruction.

MARCIAL EDU MBASOGO (Equatorial Guinea), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said any initiative to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons is to be welcomed. He condemned the use of chemical weapons wherever that may occur. Expressing concern about the “sad state of affairs” occasioned by the failure of the nuclear weapon States to fulfil responsibilities, he described their expenditure of trillions of dollars that could have gone towards realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or fighting the COVID 19 pandemic as inexplicable. He went on to state that Africa should move forward towards prohibiting the use of uranium in the manufacture of weapons, also noting that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons continues to fuel conflicts in which economic benefits are prioritized over human lives.

TEBURORO TITO (Kiribati) pointed out that the nine nuclear weapon States spent $72.6 billion on weaponry as the coronavirus pandemic spread in 2020. That amounts to $137,666 every minute, as well as an increase of $1.4 billion from 2019, after adjusting for inflation, he said, noting: “This vast amount of expenditures could have been used to fund climate mitigation measures to help both the Blue Pacific and the planet.” He emphasized that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons not only brings comfort to victims of past nuclear weapon tests, but also reignites hope for a more peaceful, loving, caring and trustful world. Calling upon the nuclear weapon States to uphold their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the Non Proliferation Treaty, he urged the remaining Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Test Ban Treaty. He went on to say that partnership and friendship among young people have the potential to change mindsets and make powerful nations more like the Pacific region, where the primary purpose of life is love, peace and happiness.

SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), recalling that efforts to eliminate weapons of mass destruction date back at least to the General Assembly’s first resolution, noted that today’s global nuclear arsenal has grown, alongside the threat of its use. The more than $700 billion military budget of the United States covers the development of state of the art hardware and updating plans for the use of nuclear weapons against its foes while also deciding to transfer nuclear submarine technology to Australia, he said, adding that the Korean Peninsula remains a “hot spot” due to Washington’s policy against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including nuclear blackmail. As such, Pyongyang is bolstering its self defence efforts and safeguarding its national interests, he asserted. Condemning and rejecting double standards, he emphasized that the country possessing the largest nuclear arsenal must take steps towards progress. The United States must stop sharing nuclear technology, withdraw its hostile policy against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and stop conducting military exercises on the Korean Peninsula. He went on to stress that his country has not changed its position against biological and chemical weapons, and also continues to oppose the weaponization of outer space.

SALIM YOUSFI (Morocco), associating himself with the African Group and the Non Aligned Movement, said the current challenging security situation must push the world towards multilateralism and cooperation. Emphasizing the critical importance of the Non Proliferation Treaty, he called for universal adherence to the instrument so as to ensure balanced implementation of its three pillars. The crucial role of regional nuclear weapon free zones is also important, he said. Morocco welcomed the first Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, held in 2019, and looks forward to the second session in November. Concerning the potential use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorist groups, he said Morocco has participated in efforts to combat nuclear terrorism. He went on to call for greater efforts in the areas of outer space and cyberspace security. Global goals can only be achieved through a commitment to multilateralism, he stressed.

MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein), noting the “exceptionally insecure moment, due to vaccine inequality, climate change and economic hardship”, said the flow of weapons into conflict areas continues unabated, at times in open violation of Security Council arms embargoes and General Assembly decisions. In Europe, security has been weakened by withdrawals from the Open Skies Treaty and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, she said. She welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty through 2026 and the intention of the parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to resume talks. Pointing out the increasing political pressure on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, she highlighted the new and aggravated threat from chemical weapons through the use of the severe nerve agent known as Novichok. Regarding the work of the Syria Accountability Mechanism and the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team, she applauded their concrete and thorough contributions to holding perpetrators accountable and called on Syria to cooperate with inspections. She went on to warn that militarized cyberattacks against critical infrastructure undermine democratic norms, saying Liechtenstein has explored a potential role for the International Criminal Court in the regulation of warfare as it evolves in the twenty first century by creating a council of advisers on the application of the Rome Statute to cyberwarfare.

MILIKO LABA (Botswana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the global security situation is deteriorating due to the threats posed by the illicit trade in weapons and technologies across a broad spectrum, ranging from small arms and light weapons to weapons of mass destruction. He encouraged the nuclear-weapon states to recommit to disarmament and the complete elimination of those weapons. Nuclear technology must be appropriately used for peaceful purposes that contribute meaningfully to the advancement of humanity, rather than as destructive weapons for maiming and killing, he emphasized. He reaffirmed his delegation’s support for the central role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in ensuring the commitment of States to implementation of its Safeguards Agreements, he said. Botswana also supports the incorporation of a gender perspective into the disarmament framework, he added, calling for a gender-balanced approach to disarmament, conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

OGASAWARA ICHIRO (Japan) emphasized that it is her country’s mission and responsibility to spread awareness of the realities of the disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as the only country ever to have suffered attacks by nuclear weapons. Stressing the importance of the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, he said Japan will submit a draft resolution titled “Joint Courses of Action and Future-Oriented Dialogue towards a World without Nuclear Weapons” to the First Committee. Expressing deep concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities and its recent missile launches, he also underlined that the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is reprehensible and contrary to international norms. He went on to note that Japan will again submit a draft resolution on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons alongside South Africa and Colombia, recalling that in 2020, Tokyo’s financial contribution to various projects in that field amounted to $39 million.

KENNEDY GASTORN (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for all disarmament measures and called upon the nuclear-weapon States to voluntarily fulfil their responsibilities. Recognizing the United Nations as the appropriate platform for all such initiatives, he emphasized that disarmament goals can only be achieved through global solidarity. However, the international community cannot diverge from agreed measures, he said. Highlighting the threat posed by non-State actors, he warned that the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into their hands is higher than ever, as is the likelihood of terrorists obtaining them.

NELI BOGOMILOVA RASHEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union, said it is encouraging that the United States and the Russian Federation extended the New START Treaty for five years, and encouraged China to contribute to any future negotiations. The Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is another building block for disarmament, she noted, urging the international community to redouble efforts for its entry into force all Annex 2 States to sign and ratify it. She went on to emphasize that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must engage without further delay in negotiations towards abandoning its nuclear weapon programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. Expressing deep concern over Iran’s non-compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, she stressed that returning to compliance is the only way to lower tensions. Cautioning that future pandemics may be caused by engineered diseases, she underscored the crucial importance of the Biological Weapons Convention.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, said that enforcing existing instruments and filling gaps in addressing other concerns must be the key steps forward. Commending recent positive gains, he expressed hope that the forthcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will be productive. Emphasizing the importance of universalizing the Arms Trade Treaty, he expressed hope that the high contracting parties adopt an ambitious programme of work with regard to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Portugal also hopes Iran would return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and, he said, similarly calls upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with its obligations. Regarding the Conference on Disarmament, he said its membership must be expanded. Portugal encourages discussions in that forum on establishing a fissile material cut-off treaty, he said, adding that greater efforts are needed to prevent the weaponization of outer space and the malicious use of technology.

HERINIRINA RAVELONARIVO ANDRIAMASY (Madagascar) said all stakeholders must agree on a common approach to security. Nuclear weapons remain the major threat to humankind, he added, noting that the 2022 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference represents an opportunity to forge progress in that regard. He called on all States, especially those with space capacities, to move forward on all multilateral efforts to prevent the weaponization of outer space. He also drew attention to the need to keep cyberspace safe, including through effective security measures to ensure that States behave responsibly, and commended the work of the Open-Ended Working Group and the Group of Governmental Experts in that area. Highlighting African efforts to tackle the spread of small arms and light weapons on the continent, he said solidarity is needed to combat that threat so that all States can build a peaceful and prosperous world.

PAUL LOSOKO EFAMBE EMPOLE (Democratic Republic of the Congo), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the pandemic points out how a crisis can spread beyond borders, and suggests what could happen through accidental use of a nuclear weapon. He affirmed that, as a State party to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, his country will continue to work towards regional disarmament goals. He called upon IAEA to promote technological support and sharing of research and development. Concerning the presence of intransigent foreign and national armed groups, especially in the eastern sector of his country, he said it is fuelled by a wide array of dangerous weapons obtained in exchange for minerals and cash. He welcomed the efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), saying it has helped to protect civilians by eliminating explosive devices and opposing the diversion of stockpiles for the benefit of armed groups.

MOHAMED DIOP (Mauritania), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab Group and the African Group, noted that his country hosts the secretariat of the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force and has programmes in place to fight and cut off all financing of terrorism. He welcomed efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones and applauded substantive and procedural resolutions of the first session of the Middle East, saying he looks forward to a successful second conference in November. Emphasizing the need to preserve non-proliferation gains and advance further efforts, he said nuclear weapons represent a direct threat to international peace. He went on to point out that Mauritania is ranked among the best States in combating explosive remnants of war.

MUCHINERIPI MUDZVITI (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said the resources expended on military budgets are direly needed elsewhere, including for post-pandemic recovery, development finance, poverty eradication and climate adaptation and mitigation. The elimination of nuclear weapons is an existential challenge and ought to remain a top priority for the United Nations, he emphasized. While expressing fears that the goal of nuclear disarmament is receding as the nuclear arms control architecture stalls, he said his delegation is encouraged by the decision to extend the New START Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation. Regarding outer space, he expressed his concern about the increasing propensity of some States to place weapons there and to turn it into a war-fighting domain. “Outer space is a common asset for all humanity, for which every country on Earth has a stake and vested interest,” he said, emphasizing the need for a legally binding instrument to prevent an arms race in outer space and to fill legal gaps.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, noted that Member States continued to modernize their nuclear weapons despite the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, urging the annex 2 States to ratify that instrument. He welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a sign of hope and reiterated the Holy See’s support for the forthcoming tenth Review Conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Applauding the extension of the New START Treaty, he said the doctrine of nuclear deterrence is outdated, calling upon the international community to update its approach to peace and stability. The First Committee must be seen as the appropriate forum in which to conduct that work, he said. He went on to state that disarmament and non-proliferation instruments “enhance respect for life and the dignity of the human person through the promotion of a culture of peace”.

MAJED BAMYA, observer for the State of Palestine, associated himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, saying the continued existence of nuclear weapons more than 75 years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki represents a grave threat. The world must advance towards eliminating all weapons of mass destruction, he emphasized, noting the Non-Proliferation Treaty is clear that disarmament and non-proliferation must advance not the trend of granting States the “right” to possess nuclear weapons. If nuclear disarmament falters, the whole edifice will collapse, he warned. Stressing the critical importance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said resolute action cannot be delayed. Such an approach was taken at the 2019 Conference on the Establishment of a Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, he said, noting that Israel continues to violate existing resolutions and treaties. The State of Palestine trusts the forthcoming second session will allow the world to advance towards establishing a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, he added.

The Committee then decided to begin its thematic debate segment at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 October, following the conclusion of the general debate.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, referred to the statement by the delegate of the United States on 7 October, emphasizing that any suggestions of a significant increase in his country’s nuclear arsenal are groundless and not based on any evidence. The Russian Federation adheres strictly to its arms control obligations, he said, pointing out that the emergence of new weapon systems is a gradual process, including taking obsolete weapons out of commission. Cautioning that the strategic balance can be undermined by destabilizing steps taken by the United States towards a global anti-missile system, he stressed that all factors must be discussed thoroughly to find long-term, mutually acceptable solutions towards a new security equation. He further responded to the representatives of Slovenia, Lithuania and Romania, saying they made unfounded and provocative accusations in connection with the so-called Navalny case, and pointing to the Russian Federation’s detailed explanations in the First Committee on 4 and 6 October.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected false accusations made by Japan’s delegate, saying they are devoid of moral justification in criticizing the inherent right to self-defence to thwart military threats by outside forces. Japan desperately slanders the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but lurking behind its statements are motives of those who have committed sins, he added. The international community should not overlook Japan, a war criminal State, as it speeds up its own militarization, restoring its rights to belligerency and having an army, he said. Japan is working hard to reach its highest expenditures ever on new war hardware and the world is appalled, he added, stressing that Tokyo must dismantle all aggressive weapons and those under development.

The representative of China, responding to statements by speakers representing the European Union, Australia, Iceland and other States, said the international community has long enjoyed consensus, and the United States and Russian Federation should uphold current bilateral disarmament agreements. China has always upheld global peace and the safeguards of the international arms control system, supports nuclear disarmament, and maintains an open attitude on constructive communications, he added.

The representative of Japan, responding to the statement by the delegate of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that country’s actions are in clear violation of Security Council resolutions. He emphasized that Japan has consistently respected human rights and contributed to peace and prosperity in the region and the international community since the end of the Second World War, vowing that it will never change its course as a peace-loving nation.

The representative of Syria, responding to statements by some Western States on 7 October, said the accusations are baseless, describing them as attempts to distract the world’s attention from the fact that terrorist groups are using chemical weapons, and those States are supporting them. Reminding those countries that Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, he said the Government continues to cooperate with the OPCW. Regrettably, however, some States cast doubts on that, he noted, fully rejecting their claims. Turkey’s representative also made false claims, he added, noting that Turkey supports and arms terrorist groups, including facilitating their crossing over into Syria to commit crimes.

The representative of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, taking the floor a second time, recalled Japan’s annexation of Korea and invasion of other Asian countries, noting that it is prohibited from forming a combat force. However, it has been secretly building up military capabilities and bolstering its military muscles while focusing on enhancing pre-emptive striking capabilities, including by developing hypersonic missiles and investing in space, he said.

The representative of Turkey, in response to Syria’s delegate, said the Assad regime was found responsible for the use of chemical weapon, emphasizing that Syria should leave aside its baseless allegations and focus on complying with the Chemical Weapons Convention. Turkey, for its part, continues to fight Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said, rejecting baseless allegations in that regard.

The representative of Japan, taking the floor a second time in response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s delegate, reiterated his country’s active contributions to international peace and security, emphasizing that its outer space activities are in full compliance with international agreements. Stressing the imperative to overcome mutual trust between Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he called for the two countries to work together for a bright future.

The representative of Syria, taking the floor a second time in response to Turkey’s delegate, said that, in reality, that country is involved in all events concerning poisonous weapons used in Syria. Indeed, Damascus will never forget those crimes, which will be prosecuted to the fullest extent, he added.

The representative of Turkey also took the floor a second time, saying the statement by Syria’s delegate deserves no response.

Source: United Nations