Calling for swift remedies to mend a fractured non-proliferation landscape, nuclear-weapon-free States demanded an immediate end to deterrence policies and the start of dismantling atomic arsenals, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) moved into the third day of its general debate.
As thousands of atomic bombs located around the world pose grave risks to humanity, delegates implored nuclear-weapon States to steer the planet onto a path of peace. Some suggested such ways to do so, with delegates agreeing that dismantling nuclear arsenals must start now, in line with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and under safeguards established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Many urged all nations with atomic arsenals to sign, ratify and fully implement existing conventions, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force in January, and some decried the quarter of a century delay in entering into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. To rectify this, many called for nuclear-weapon States to sign and ratify it so that atomic bomb testing can become part of the past.
Cuba’s delegate regretted to note the aggressive nuclear doctrines that continue to exist 76 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, adding that the United States remains the nation with the greatest number of atomic bombs, many ready for use. Indeed, the total elimination of nuclear weapons must be the goal of the First Committee’s work, he stressed.
Algeria’s representative said his country’s commitment to disarmament stems from its unique experience with devastating nuclear tests conducted on its national territory during the colonial period, calling for action to eliminate all atomic weapons.
Kenya’s delegate agreed, emphasizing that disarmament can also have a significant positive impact on development. Indeed, resources saved should be strategically and effectively integrated into nationally owned and driven programmes in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Iceland’s delegate echoed calls for the urgent need to reinvigorate and recommit to the global disarmament and non-proliferation agenda, to counter growing tensions, distrust and lack of compliance, especially in the nuclear domain, stressing that: “We need to safeguard and strengthen the agreements that have kept us away from the wasteful arms race of the past.” To this end, the Non-Proliferation Treaty plays a crucial role, as do such efforts as the Stockholm Initiative, which presents a road map to achieve its objectives.
Several nuclear-weapon States shared their perspective, welcoming the extension of the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) by the Russian Federation and the United States against a fragile backdrop.
The Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security of the United States raised concerns that the international institutions built over the past several decades are being undercut by autocratic regimes seeking to foster instability to the detriment of all, and also posing new nuclear dangers. For its part, the United States released newly declassified information regarding its nuclear weapons stockpile and maintains a moratorium on testing, she said, calling on other nuclear-weapon States to follow suit. Citing a national security imperative and moral responsibility to manage and eventually eliminate the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, she said the United States is committed to leading the way on arms control and addressing complex, global security challenges.
The Acting Deputy Director of the Department on Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation pointed to several concerns, including the United States attempts to obtain unilateral advantages in a so-declared “great Powers competition”. In examining the possible consequences of the trilateral Australia-United Kingdom-United States security partnership, he said the deal clearly does not help to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which does not directly prohibit the construction of nuclear submarines by a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the instrument, but could set a very negative precedent for the implementation of IAEA safeguards. “The time has come to reflect seriously on how to bring nuclear disarmament to the multilateral level,” he said, emphasizing that dialogue must include all States with military nuclear capabilities.
The United Kingdom’s delegate, a permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament, said the threats facing his country and its allies are growing in scale, complexity and diversity. Citing examples of worrying situations, he expressed deep concern at Iran’s role in the proliferation of weapons to proxies and non-State actors, and its escalatory nuclear activity. He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage in dialogue with the United States on denuclearization.
Also delivering statements were representatives of Honduras, Austria, Maldives, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Chile, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Argentina, Latvia, Cote d’Ivoire, Jordan, Thailand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Poland, Estonia, Timor-Leste, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Belarus and Venezuela.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Russian Federation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The First Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 7 October, to continue its general debate.
JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland), aligning herself with the Nordic countries, underlined an urgent need to reinvigorate and recommit to the global disarmament and non-proliferation agenda to counter growing tensions, distrust and lack of compliance, especially in the nuclear domain. “We need to safeguard and strengthen the agreements that have kept us away from the wasteful arms race of the past,” he said. To this end, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons plays a crucial role, as does such efforts as the Stockholm Initiative, which presents a road map to achieve its objectives. Rays of hope exist, including the extension of the Russian Federation-United States Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty), but challenges remain, he said, encouraging China to engage with Moscow and Washington, D.C. on nuclear arms control and disarmament. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty must also enter into force, he said, adding that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must join this critical convention and also return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Voicing support for a fissile material cut-off treaty and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, he called on stakeholders to work constructively going forward. Similar efforts are needed to end chemical weapon use, combat arms trafficking and keep cyberspace safe.
JOHN KYOVI MUTUA (Kenya), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, African Group and “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said disarmament can have a significant positive impact on development. Resources saved during disarmament processes should be strategically and effectively integrated into nationally owned and driven programmes, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. Targeted efforts are also needed to fight terrorism and to completely ban atomic weaponry and testing, he said, endorsing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and calling for the continued commitment to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which opened for signature in 1996 and has yet to enter into force. Turning to other concerns, he voiced support for the Peacebuilding Commission and noted that Kenya has also played an active role at national, regional and international levels to fight the scourge of illicit arms trafficking and the misuse of such weapons. In this regard, it is critical to prioritize areas of convergence on the issue to reach the common objective of stemming the flow of illegal firearms through such instruments as the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. He also called for the continued implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and of Their Destruction. Noting the important role played by science and technology, he welcomed the work of the Open-Ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications, in the context of international security.
BONNIE JENKINS, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security of the United States, said her delegation “remains committed to leading the way on arms control and addressing complex global security challenges,” citing a national security imperative and moral responsibility to manage and eventually eliminate the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. The extension of the New START Treaty was the beginning of that effort to resume a leadership role on arms control and nonproliferation, marking a new era of relentless diplomacy. Yesterday, as a demonstration of transparency, she noted the United States released newly declassified information regarding its nuclear weapons stockpile, as France and the United Kingdom and France have done, and called on other States with nuclear weapons to do the same.
Expressing support for the entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, she said in the meantime, the United States observes its zero-yield nuclear explosive testing moratorium and calls on all States possessing nuclear weapons to declare and maintain such a moratorium. Meanwhile, the international institutions built over the past several decades are being undercut by autocratic regimes seeking to foster instability to the detriment of all, and also posing new nuclear dangers. She noted the world continues to witness repeated and abhorrent use of chemical weapons, in defiance of long-standing norms and international legal obligations, including the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny on Russian territory and Syria’s use of chemical weapons. The international community must steadfastly call out offenders and hold them accountable.
MARY ELIZABETH FLORES FLAKE (Honduras), associating himself with the Central American Integration System, expressed concern over recent increased military expenditures, which would be better used for people’s well-being and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Noting his country’s commitment to disarmament, he noted it ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and hailed its entry-into-force. Given the risk posed by nuclear weapons jeopardizes the objectives of the Committee, he condemned all nuclear tests, calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons through multilateralism and transparency, and urging all States to commit to using nuclear energy for peaceful ends and scientific exploration. He also underscored his country’s commitment to fighting the scourge of the “atrocious” consequences of the manufacture, transfer and illicit flows of small arms and light weapons.
ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, cited the growing dangers posed by an eroding international security architecture, upgrading of nuclear arsenals and accelerating arms race dynamics. The only way to eliminate the existential risk posed is by eliminating those weapons, he said, a goal that is not naïve but necessary. In the wake of the entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he pointed to the meeting of States parties set for 22 March, and also invited support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be strengthened. Noting advances in technology and artificial intelligence also extend to armed conflict with potential consequences, he said the world cannot allow lethal, autonomous weapons systems to engage targets without meaningful human control. There is still time to address that issue, he stated. Austria is engaged in eliminating the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and liberating the world from the scourge of anti-personnel landmines. Highlighting the essential work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), he added that any use of biological weapons is unacceptable, and any guilty parties must be held accountable.
THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the broad impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can be felt in the global security environment, where increasing polarization and distrust are deeply concerning and negatively affect the global disarmament agenda. Global disarmament is the ultimate way to preserve the advancements achieved through multilateralism and adherence to international law, she stressed, noting that Maldives has long been an advocate of United Nations-led efforts on disarmament, being one of the original signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Maldives is not a weapons manufacturer, yet its security is still contingent on the actions of others. To this end, her Government has acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Arms Trade Treaty. She went on to point out the vast imbalances between defence and development budgets in most countries, urging all countries to forgo tremendous spending on the production and maintenance of weapons, and instead divert these resources into sustainable development, addressing the climate crisis and solving emerging challenges, such as the accessibility of COVID-19 vaccine.
PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the total elimination of nuclear weapons must be the goal of the First Committee’s work. As part of the world’s first nuclear-weapon-free zone — established by the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco — Cuba regrets to note the aggressive nuclear doctrines that continue to exist 76 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States remains the nation with the greatest number of atomic bombs, many ready for use. Supporting the implementation of other conventions, including those on biological weapons, he said action is needed in this regard. Turning to other concerns, he said the economic blockade the United States imposes on Cuba remains the main obstacle to development. Encouraging the full implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms, he emphasized that efforts must address the root causes of weapons trafficking and reaffirmed the right of States to defend themselves. In terms of emerging threats, he encouraged ongoing discussions on cyberspace and outer space.
NAZIM KHALDI (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group, Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the call upon the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and translate engagement into facts. Urging all parties outside of this Treaty to join it without delay, he said the upcoming review conference is a timely opportunity for progress. Algeria welcomes the recent entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and remains committed to disarmament, stemming from its unique experience with devastating nuclear tests, conducted on its national territory during the colonial period, he said, underlining the vital importance of the entry-into-force of the Test-Ban Treaty. Other effective tools are nuclear-weapon-free zones, he said, pointing to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Pelindaba. Expressing hope for the designation of such an area in the Middle East, he called on parties to advance progress on negotiating a legally binding treaty at the forthcoming conference on the issue. Concerned about arms trafficking, particularly in Africa, he welcomed the outcome document of the recent meeting of States on the Programme of Action on Small Arms. For its part, Algeria will table a draft resolution on strengthening of security and cooperation in the Mediterranean region.
MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) stressed that it is more important than ever to recognize and strengthen the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation approaches that continue to be effective, including nuclear-weapon-free zones and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Commitment to disarmament and prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is fundamental to her Government’s foreign policy. Noting that Kyrgyzstan is the depositary of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, she called on the United States to ratify the Protocol to the Treaty. She further stressed the importance and effectiveness of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and voiced her country’s firm support for the prevention of an arms race in outer space and the promotion of its peaceful use. She also noted that Kyrgyzstan attaches great importance to mitigating the environmental consequences of uranium mining and activities associated with nuclear weapons’ production.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) expressed concern over the slow pace of the work of disarmament, and alarm over $2 trillion in global military expenditures, which would be better directed to economic and social development — particularly in a world still grappling with the pandemic. Given the link between peace and development, he said a reduction in funds for military purposes can make a key contribution. While encouraged by progress on the New START Treaty, he expressed concern over the development of new nuclear weapons, and strategic partnerships between nuclear-weapon States, which may lead to a new arms race. Highlighting the priority of implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its three pillars, he said his delegation remains steadfast in its opposition to nuclear weapons. Expressing concern over their modernization and increasing destructive capabilities, he urged the international community to take practical steps in creating nuclear-weapon-free zones. After three decades of separatist terrorist conflict, Sri Lanka is acutely aware of the danger of small arms and light weapons, he said.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern over nuclear weapons and other technologies that threaten international peace and security. Bahrain underscores the great importance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and cooperates with various international agencies to help States benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Middle East must be free of nuclear weapons, he said, with a return to the decision made at the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. He welcomed those efforts and the 2019 conference, expressing hope the next review conference will be a success. Noting support for international community efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, he called on that State to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Recent developments in information and communications technology underscore the importance of reports by the Group of Governmental Experts and the Open-Ended Working Group to encourage States to work towards their peaceful use, he said.
MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said co-existence in a world without atomic bombs is possible and is both ethical and essential to protect humanity. In this vein, Chile recently ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and calls for its full implementation. In addition, the Test-Ban Treaty must enter into force, he continued, calling for Annex 2 countries to sign and ratify it. Emphasizing that the Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of such related efforts, he expressed hope that the next review conference will see progress. Likewise, he encouraged the full implementation of conventions on biological and chemical weapons. Turning to recent developments, he commended the newly adopted counter-terrorism measures and expressed hope for further action to combat weapons trafficking, following the recent meeting of States parties to the Programme of Action on Small Arms. On cybersecurity threats, he welcomed progress in the Open-Ended Working Group on the issue, encouraging further cooperation in this area.
AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom), drawing attention to the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy published by his country’s Government in March, said that the threats facing the United Kingdom and its allies are growing in scale, complexity and diversity. He welcomed the extension of the New START Treaty and the beginning of a new strategic stability dialogue between the United States and the Russian Federation, and encouraged all nuclear-weapon States to engage in similar transparency and confidence-building measures. Underscoring his country’s commitment to the long-term goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, he said that the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference will be an opportunity to recommit to its implementation. He also called for action, ambition and cooperation to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention at its review conference.
During the current session, the United Kingdom will introduce a draft resolution to establish an open-ended working group to carry forward the issues set out in the Secretary-General’s report, “Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours,” he said. He called on the Russian Federation to account for the confirmed use of Novichok against Alexey Navalny in 2020 following the nerve agent’s use in Salisbury, England, in 2018. He urged Syria to comply with its obligations vis-à-vis chemical weapons; expressed deep concern at Iran’s role in the proliferation of weapons to proxies and non-State actors, as well as its escalatory nuclear activity; and urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage in dialogue with the United States on denuclearization.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated a commitment to eliminate nuclear weapons, encouraging that priority shifts to building capacities with a view to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. Weapons of mass destruction remain a grave threat to humans and the environment, and the first step towards eliminating atomic weaponry is creating nuclear-weapon-free zones. Regretting to note delays in establishing such a zone in the Middle East, he called on Israel to join the effort and the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Resolving the situation of Iran’s uranium enrichment activities will foster stability in the region, he said, pointing to the important work of IAEA, which also plays a key role in supporting States in their pursuit of nuclear energy for peaceful uses. Saudi Arabia supports, among other things, women’s participation in disarmament processes.
VLADIMIR ERMAKOV, Director, Department for Non-proliferation and Arms Control, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, welcomed the “sober pragmatism” of the new United States Administration, as demonstrated by the extension of the New START Treaty and an agreement to launch a dialogue on strategic stability that can lay the groundwork for future arms control. However, problematic issues remain, caused mainly by the United States’ attempts to obtain unilateral advantages in a so-declared “great Powers competition”, including its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the development of a global missile defence system and its withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty. “The time has come to reflect seriously on how to bring nuclear disarmament to the multilateral level,” he said, emphasizing that dialogue must include all States with military nuclear capabilities. Looking forward to the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, he said that challenges to the non-proliferation regime should be addressed on the basis of that instrument. In addition, all parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear issue must show political wisdom and revive that agreement, although that “it will not be easy to restore it,” he said.
The Russian Federation is examining the possible consequences of the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, but it is already clear that it will not help strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said. The Treaty does not directly prohibit the construction of nuclear submarines by a non-nuclear-weapon State that is a party to the instrument, but it could set a very negative precedent for the implementation of IAEA safeguards. The partnership is also questionable in the context of Australia’s participation in the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga). He recalled that 2021 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and called on the remaining eight Annex 2 States to ratify it, as they hold its fate in their hands. During this session, his delegation will submit a draft resolution on updating the Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, which has not been revised since its approval in 1990. He warned of the risks of outer space becoming an arena of conflict, saying that several Member States are working to deploy weapons there with the goal of achieving military superiority. A draft treaty to prevent the placement of weapons in outer space, submitted by the Russian Federation and China in 2008 and updated in 2014, remains on the table for negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran) associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, deplored the existence of a so-called strategic stability proclaimed by some Powers, while there is a strategic rivalry that pushes for the modernization of strategic arsenals. He pointed out that, last year, $72.6 billion were wasted on the purchase of nuclear weapons and that, despite the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, nuclear-weapon States have continued to build up their nuclear arsenals. The United States Government’s budget for 2022 maintains or increases the budget for every nuclear weapons programme proposed by the Trump Administration. The United States-Russian Federation New START Treaty extension is futile if it is not complemented by other tangible actions to destroy nuclear weapons, he stressed. He urged the United States, “the sole possessor of chemical weapons”, to destroy its chemical arsenal and withdraw its reservation to the Geneva Protocol. Furthermore, he emphasized that Iran has adhered to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, while the United States and the European countries party to the agreement have not met their obligations. He concluded by stating that the Iran will introduce a biennial draft resolution titled “follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed at the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conferences”, expressing his hope for it to be adopted without a vote.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) expressed support for the development and peaceful use of technology, and the non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction. As a country with a substantive peaceful nuclear programme, Argentina exports its technologies under the strictest observation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and will chair the upcoming review conference. Delays in the disarmament process, she said, make it all the more urgent for the international community to speak out. Against a backdrop of eroding understanding, she expressed hope that Iran will comply fully with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Noting Argentina is part of a region at the vanguard of non-proliferation, she said the Treaty of Tlatelolco has been real and effective, and cited the Brazilian–Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials as an example of promoting trust between countries.
ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia), associating himself with the European Union, said the rules‑based international community order remains in place but must be strengthened. There is a need to ensure international law is effectively implemented, with verifiable disarmament central to any progress. That must include military exercises that are far from transparent, and the impact of emerging and destructive technologies. He welcomed the New START Treaty and stated China should join such discussions. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons programme is an unacceptable violation of international law, he stated, also noting that, despite efforts by the European Union and IAEA, Iran must return to upholding its obligations. He stressed the importance of limiting the spread of illicit small arms and light weapons, adding that while information and communications technology (ICT) helped during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been misused by malicious actors.
GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the African Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, called for the consolidation of the non-proliferation regime and greater international commitment for such instruments as the Test-Ban Treaty. Nuclear-weapon-free zones are critical in building a world free of such arms, and efforts must also combat the use of other weapons of mass destruction. On emerging threats, measures must increase the safety of ICT in light of the spread of cybercrime. In this vein, he supported the Open-Ended Working Group on this issue. Outer space must also remain free of weapons, he continued. Equally challenging is the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, particularly in West Africa, where they feed into terrorism, organized crime and violence. Improvised explosive devices were used for the first time in a terrorist attack in Côte d’Ivoire, he said, calling for efforts to address these threats. Operationalizing existing regional mechanisms is critical, he said, voicing robust support for regional disarmament centres. To address these issues, the disarmament machinery must remain effective, he said, encouraging parties to work towards progress.
SULTAN ALQAISI (Jordan), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non‑Aligned Movement, said the First Committee provides an opportunity to assess progress in the implementation of various conventions. Highlighting several concerns, he worried about the failure of progress on commitments undertaken. The Non-Proliferation Treaty must be universal, he said, expressing hope that the forthcoming review conference is successful in doing so. Joining support for the Stockholm Initiative, he welcomed other achievements, including meetings on creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Noting that Jordan had chaired the first session on creating such a zone by working towards negotiating a legally binding treaty, he wished good luck to Kuwait, who will chair the second session. Underscoring the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space, he said a legally binding treaty must prohibit non-peaceful uses of this realm.
SUPARK PRONGTHURA (Thailand) associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), supported international efforts towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. The international community must focus on implementing the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He called upon the remaining Annex 2 States to the Test-Ban Treaty to ratify it without delay. Emphasizing that further efforts are needed to revitalize the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he encouraged all parties to engage in the ongoing dialogue in Vienna and called upon Iran to return to full compliance with the Agreement. Stressing an urgent need to strengthen the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention, he said the international community must diminish the risk of these weapons of mass destruction ever being deployed again. Thailand continues to uphold the Arms Trade Treaty and is working to ratify it. It is also focused on mine‑clearance operations to fulfil its commitments under the Mine‑Ban Convention, he said, noting that more than 95 per cent of Thailand’s mine‑contaminated areas have been cleared and released. Stressing that outer space must be prevented from becoming another domain of arm’s race, he said that State activities in cyberspace must be peaceful.
VILAYLUCK SENEDUANGDETH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), expressed concern about the increase in global military spending, which hinders efforts to mobilize the necessary support for international cooperation and humanitarian assistance. Reaffirming her country’s support for creating a world free of nuclear weapons, she stressed that international efforts must be redoubled to implement the three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. She welcomed the recent entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, calling it an important step in strengthening global norms against nuclear weapons. Furthermore, she urged Member States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. She concluded by emphasizing her strong support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions and highlighted the need to address the grave consequences of unexploded ordnance left over from the Indochina War.
KRZYSZTOF SZCZERSKI (Poland) said that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect global arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. The New START Treaty remains the only non-conventional arms control mechanism in place after the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty due to the prolonged non-compliance of the Russian Federation. The ongoing Russian Federation-United States bilateral dialogue on strategic stability should lay the groundwork for future discussions in this regard, he said, expressing support for extending the dialogue to China. Furthermore, Poland attaches great importance to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapon and the work of OPCW. He underlined Poland’s support for a free, open, stable and secure cyberspace, and called on all actors to stop malicious activities there. Poland actively participates in United Nations processes, including the Open-Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament and strongly supports the Programme of Action, he said.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), associating himself with the European Union, said some States are not complying with international mechanisms. He welcomed progress on the New START Treaty, which can lead to further agreements limiting nuclear weapons and advancing general disarmament, calling on China to contribute. Iran must return to collaborating with IAEA and to negotiations on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are also a matter of grave concern, and it must abandon its weapons of mass destruction programme in a complete and verifiable manner. Condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Malaysia, United Kingdom and the Russian Federation, he said the Alexei Navalny matter is a stark reminder of the danger they pose. He expressed full confidence in the OPCW secretariat’s professionalism and independence.
KARLITO NUNES (Timor-Leste) associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, as a representative of a small country and post-conflict nation, he recognizes the arms race will never bring peace and justice. Welcoming initiatives to reduce the number of weapons and prevent their use, he called for a world free of all weapons of mass destruction to preserve the existence of humanity. He commended the entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as any such use is categorically unacceptable. Timor-Leste continues to promote United Nations resolutions and international instruments that progress towards peace. “The happiness of people is peace and security,” he said, and without them, developing States cannot implement the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.
Ms. DUNCAN (New Zealand), outlining her delegation’s efforts at the Conference on Disarmament, said the world is witnessing backwards steps, with States flouting their commitments or using unlawful weapons. At the same time, the United Nations disarmament machinery remains deadlocked. New Zealand has adopted three pillars to guide its disarmament efforts. First, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament is a priority, she said, anticipating that the forthcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will demonstrate practical steps forward to ensure progress. The entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is another welcoming sign of commitments, she added. The second pillar is strengthening humanitarian law, which is at the heart of New Zealand’s approach, she said, raising grave concerns about reports of prohibited weapons used on civilians. Upholding the Arms Trade Treaty and other conventions is essential. Third, the future must be shaped by making outer space safe and by progressing on efforts to regulate autonomous lethal weapons, an issue that needs a framework.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO (Nicaragua), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said it is unacceptable to witness more and more money spent to modernize and test weapons of all kinds when the world needs funding to fight off the COVID-19 pandemic. Welcoming the entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he expressed confidence that establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones will bolster international peace and security, a significant step towards nuclear disarmament. Hailing the Treaty of Tlatelolco and declaration of the Central American Integration System, he rejected the imposition of all sanctions on Iran. He affirmed that his delegation will co-sponsor resolutions tabled by the Russian Federation in the Committee. Turning to small arms and light weapons, he noted Nicaragua has incorporated the International Tracing Instrument and is the third-least-violent country in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a homicide rate of 8 per cent per 100,000 people. He welcomed the conclusion of the Open-Ended Working Group on developments in ICT in the context of international security and adoption of its report on progress in that area.
ARTSIOM TOZIK (Belarus) regretted to note the lack of global progress in nuclear disarmament. All nuclear-weapon States must provide negative security assurances to atomic-bomb-free nations. Underlining the importance of the nuclear-weapon-free zones, Belarus reiterated calls to establish such areas in Europe and the Middle East and called on States to sign and ratify the Test-Ban Treaty. Information security is also important, and rules for responsible behaviour must be established, he said, welcoming the outcome of the Open-Ended Working Group on this issue. Belarus also supports China’s proposal for strengthening information security. Efforts are also needed to ensure weapons of mass destruction do not fall into the hands of terrorists, as well as to ensure the peaceful use of outer space.
JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the world exists in a time of vertiginous changes, with a dangerous deterioration of international agreements on disarmament, unilateral arms races and isolationism, The Non-Proliferation Treaty remains a cornerstone of disarmament, as the elimination of nuclear weapons is a political and moral imperative, given the latent risk they pose to all life on the planet. Reiterating support for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he condemned unilateral coercive measures against States exercising their sovereign right in that domain. He noted the importance of not politicizing OPCW. Despite the New START Treaty, he observed the emerging danger of a new arms race, and the Australia-United Kingdom-United States alliance and its threat of nuclear proliferation in the South Pacific ‑ reminiscent of cold war alliances. Peace and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula are only possible through political dialogue, he said, rejecting any interference by extra-regional powers. The international community needs a legally binding international framework on the peaceful use of ICT.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected insinuations by the United States, United Kingdom, Poland and Estonia on use of chemical weapons and Novichok. He noted that, when stories are similarly connected, they represent a chain of propaganda to exert pressure on his country. The United Kingdom will not engage in joint investigations and substantive talks on what happened in Salisbury, he said, and notes verbales from the Russian Federation were ignored. That trail blazed by London was followed by Berlin on the issue of the Russian blogger, he said, with Germany concealing facts from the Russian Federation for a second year. He said the facts reveal the Russian Federation turned to the OPCW secretariat for technical assistance, but never received it, due to bureaucratic red tape. The strange behaviour of all involved means they have something to hide. The Russian Federation remains determined to find out the truth in both cases, and the United Kingdom and Germany must provide exhaustive information and uphold their responsibilities.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to several European countries, expressed alarm at what he had heard. The United States maintains a track record of pursuing threats and imposing talks with no preconditions, a smokescreen hiding its hostile acts. He noted the United States has conducted war drills in Korean waters for several decades, and joint military exercises that are a war rehearsal rounding up preparations for pre-emptive strikes. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea only engages in self-defensive preparations, he said, as only deterrence not words can ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula. If European countries want peace, he urged them to call on the United States to abandon its hostile policies and double standards.