Humanity ‘One Misunderstanding, Miscalculation Away from Nuclear Annihilation’, Secretary-General Warns as Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Begins
Calling for the world to avoid the “suicidal mistake” of nuclear conflict, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that while humanity has been extraordinarily lucky so far, “luck is not a strategy”, and the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is as crucial as ever, as the month-long Tenth Review Conference of that accord began at Headquarters today.
Noting the Conference takes place “at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the cold war”, he added that he will visit Hiroshima on the anniversary of the first nuclear bombardment in human history. Geopolitical tensions are reaching new highs as States seek false security in stockpiling and spending hundreds of billions of dollars on doomsday weapons that have no place on the planet. Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are now being held in arsenals around the world, while from the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula to the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”.
“We need the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as much as ever”, he stressed. Citing areas for action, he called for reinforcing the 77-year-old norm against the use of nuclear weapons; finding practical measures to reduce the risk of nuclear war and return to the path of disarmament; and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology as a catalyst to advance the Sustainable Development Goals. All parties must renew good faith negotiations — as well as listen to compromise and keep the lessons of the past in view.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, underscored that the nuclear safety regime — led by Member States in cooperation with IAEA — “has been tested by fire and flood”, recalling the incidents at the Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants. At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, he outlined seven pillars of nuclear safety that should never be violated, but all of them “have been trampled upon since this tragic episode started”, he said, spotlighting the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The IAEA is ready to travel to that facility to conduct necessary safety and security evaluations, however if something happens there, “we will only have ourselves to blame”.
The Agency must also be given access commensurate with the breadth and depth of Iran’s nuclear programme to provide the requisite assurances that it is for peaceful use. The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is also concerning, and he expressed hope that IAEA inspectors will be able to return to that country following their expulsion in 2009. It is “obvious” that the world will be less secure if more nuclear weapons are added to existing arsenals or if more countries develop such weapons.
In the ensuing debate, speakers including Deputy Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and Secretaries of State of both nuclear—armed and non-nuclear-armed States sounded an alarm over renewed nuclear-related tensions — and the unheeded lessons of the past.
Josaia V. Bainimarama, Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Sugar Industry, Foreign Affairs and Forestry of Fiji, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, said the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (known as the Rarotonga Treaty) was borne from the devastation wrought by decades of nuclear testing and concerns over burgeoning nuclear weapons stockpiles. “This experience made clear to our countries the risks of the nuclear arms race, and of catastrophic nuclear war,” he stressed. Speaking in his national capacity, he said generations of Pacific islanders have waited in vain for an apology, health support and affirmations that nuclear weapons will never be deployed in the region again. From the mothers of deformed babies in the Marshall Islands to families in French Polynesia who lost loved ones too soon, “we are still waiting,” he said.
Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan, called on nuclear-weapon States to enhance the transparency of their nuclear forces and to disclose information on the status of production of fissile materials. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s upcoming visit to Hiroshima on 6 August, he noted that Japan will contribute $10 million to the United Nations to set up a “Youth Leader Fund for a world without nuclear weapons” — inviting future leaders to Japan to learn first-hand the realities of nuclear weapon use.
Other delegates stressed that nuclear-weapon States have failed to live up to their commitments under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, generating insecurity and an atmosphere of mistrust.
Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, noted the Treaty was reached based on a deal obligating nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their arsenals, but they have not complied. He called for binding instruments to give safeguards to non-nuclear-weapon States, as well as for those States to implement efforts for a clear ban on nuclear technology transfer to non-States Parties — particularly Israel — until that State submits its facilities to the safeguards’ regimen.
Azerbaijan’s representative, speaking for the Group of Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, expressed concern over the threat posed by military doctrines on modernization of nuclear forces such as low-yield nuclear warheads, including the latest United States Nuclear Posture Review and the United Kingdom’s Integrated Review. He reaffirmed the importance of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
However, Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, stressed that his country has acted with restraint to unintentionally adding to nuclear tensions. He noted that just two weeks into President Joseph Biden’s term, he extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction (New START) Treaty with the Russian Federation until 2026 — and earlier today, reiterated his readiness to negotiate expeditiously a framework to replace that Treaty if the Moscow is prepared to operate in good faith. As long as nuclear weapons exist, he affirmed, the fundamental role of United States’ nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attacks on his country, its allies and partners.
Pushing back on claims of restraint, Santiago Cafiero, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, stressed that during the fight against COVID-19 in 2021, the five permanent members of the Security Council devoted over $77 million to modernize their nuclear arsenals — and together hold 12,270 nuclear warheads. As the invasion of Ukraine may cause countries without nuclear weapons to try and acquire them, he asked whether the world is at the dawn of a new arms race or is “about to move from temptation to impulse”.
Sounding a note of optimism, Akan Rakhmetullin, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, speaking on behalf of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone States Parties (including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) said the establishment of such a zone is the visionary outcome of collective effort to unequivocally ban the production, acquisition and deployment of nuclear weapons. It is symbolic that Treaty was concluded where one of the world's largest nuclear test sites was closed in 1991, and where the Soviet authorities had conducted 456 nuclear tests for over four decades.
Earlier today, Syed Md Hasrin Syed Hussein, Acting President of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, introduced the final report of the Preparatory Committee (document NPT/CONF.2020/1), adopted on 20 May 2019.
The Tenth Review Conference then elected Gustavo Zlauvinen (Argentina) as its President. He described a world “radically” changed since the last Review Conference, noting that States Parties will need to negotiate in a more complex and changing climate in which the threat posed by nuclear weapons has returned to levels seen during the cold war.
Also speaking today were Deputy Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and representatives of Slovenia, Denmark, (also speaking for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Bangladesh, Belgium, New Zealand, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Romania, Moldova, Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan (in his national capacity), Australia, Philippines, Ireland, Georgia, Viet Nam, Kyrgyzstan, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Norway, Cambodia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and Egypt (on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition).
The Special Envoy for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, European External Action Service of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, also spoke.
The representatives of United Kingdom and Argentina spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Tenth Review Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 2 August, to continue its debate.
SYED MD HASRIN SYED HUSSEIN, Acting President of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, opening the Review Conference, recalled that this is the fifth conference to be held since May 1995, when States parties adopted decisions on the Treaty’s indefinite extension, on the strengthening of its review process and on principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, together with a resolution on the Middle East. Over the past half century, the Treaty has been an essential pillar of international peace and security and a bulwark against the dangers of nuclear weapons. The Review Conference provides Parties with an important opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the fullest implementation of the Treaty and the consensus outcomes of past Review Conferences, as well as to address emerging challenges and articulate a way forward.
Introducing the final report of the Preparatory Committee (document NPT/CONF.2020/1), adopted on 20 May 2019, he said three sessions were held between May 2017 and May 2019, with 153 States parties participating in the work of one or more of the sessions. States not party to the Treaty, specialized agencies and international and regional intergovernmental organizations, as well as representatives of academia and non-governmental organizations, also attended its meetings, with a meeting specifically allocated for non-governmental organizations to address delegations. The Preparatory Committee made a recommendation on all main issues related to the organization of the Review Conference, notably, on 25 April 2018, when a decision on the date and venue was adopted. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of the Review Conference on four occasions, the President-designate in a 11 March letter, informed that States parties confirmed the dates spanning 1 to 26 August 2022.
He said the Preparatory Committee also made recommendations on draft rules of procedure and financial arrangements, provisional agenda, allocation of items to the Main Committees, as well as background documentation. It deferred consideration on a final document, or documents, to the Review Conference. However, it devoted most of its meetings to a substantive discussion on all aspects of the Treaty and consideration of three clusters of issues, based on the allocation of items to the Main Committees of the 2015 Review Conference, and three specific blocs of issues: Nuclear disarmament and security assurances; regional issues, including with respect to the Middle East and implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East; and peaceful uses of nuclear energy and other provisions of the Treaty; and improving the effectiveness of the strengthened review process.
Guided by the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference, he said the Chair of the Preparatory Committee’s first and second sessions prepared summaries of the consideration of the issues. During these discussions, and those of the third session, many proposals were put forward — including those contained in the Annex II list of documents in the Preparatory Committee’s final report. However, the Committee was unable to produce a consensus report containing substantive recommendations to the Review Conference.
The Review Conference then elected Gustavo Zlauvinen (Argentina) President of the Tenth Review Conference.
GUSTAVO ZLAUVINEN (Argentina), President of the Tenth Review Conference, said he assumes his role with the greatest responsibility, coming from a country with lengthy experience and outstanding credentials in non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as well as a firm commitment to nuclear disarmament, with the ultimate goal of achieving a world free from nuclear weapons. “After over two years, at last we are here, at the starting line,” he said, noting that the Review Conference was postponed four times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and expressing his deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones during the crisis.
“If we have learned anything from this pandemic it is that low probability events can and do happen with little or no notice, but with catastrophic consequences that affect the world,” he said. “The same thing goes for nuclear weapons.” Despite the delays, States parties persisted to ensure that the Review Conference takes place, affirming it as the preeminent forum for negotiating issues related to nuclear weapons and a pillar for international peace and security. Over two years, States parties have been constantly active, holding a record number of informal consultations virtually and in-person, alongside virtual events organized by the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), inter-regional groups, experts, universities and civil society.
He thanked States parties for their flexibility during this period, which allowed for a solid focus on the substantive issues related to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, stressing: “This is when the real work starts, today, in this prestigious hall of multilateralism.” A consensus outcome that strengthens implementation of the Treaty’s three pillars — non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy — is the goal. Balance in implementing these pillars is fundamental, as they are mutually reinforcing, he said, describing this as the “grand bargain” at the heart of the Treaty.
He described a world “radically” changed since the last Review Conference, noting that States parties will need to negotiate in a more complex and changing climate. Among other factors, external pressures resulting from the war in Ukraine will impact the work at hand. Ensuring effective implementation of the central obligations and commitments is essential to preserving the process. For many, this is particularly important in relation to nuclear disarmament, he said, pointing to negative trends that undermine credibility and erode the potential for making progress in this area. Indeed, the threat posed by nuclear weapons has not decreased since 1945, but instead, returned to levels seen during the cold war. There is broad agreement on the need to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, with a focus on regional perspectives.
Recalling that substantive issues of the Non-Proliferation Treaty are the prerogative of States parties, he said his role is to facilitate negotiations for a meaningful, significant result that reiterates the Treaty’s importance and vitality. He emphasized the historic responsibility of all States parties in working to achieve this objective, expressing hope that they will conduct negotiations on the basis of “common sense and shared purpose”, marked by frank dialogue and political will. Going forward from this point is crucial, he said, given the sensitivities of the issues at hand. In him, States parties will find a President who works in a transparent manner and will do the utmost to help reach shared aims, he said.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Review Conference had been long-delayed, “but its importance and urgency remain undiminished.” It takes place at a critical juncture for collective peace and security and “at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the cold war”. He noted he will visit Hiroshima on the anniversary of the first nuclear bombardment in human history. The initial post-cold war period ushered in a tentative new hope for peace, with massive arsenal reductions, entire regions declaring themselves to be nuclear-weapons-free, and the entrenchment of norms against the use, proliferation and testing of nuclear weapons. As Prime Minister of Portugal, his mission to the United Nations voted — for the first time — against the resumption of nuclear testing in the Pacific, and through a combination of commitment, judgment and luck, the world avoided the suicidal mistake of nuclear conflict.
However, humanity is in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in the terrifying fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with geopolitical tensions reaching new highs and States seeking false security in stockpiling and spending hundreds of billions of dollars on doomsday weapons that have no place on the planet, he said. Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are now being held in arsenals around the world. From the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula to the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, “the clouds that parted following the end of the Cold War are gathering once more”, he said, and while humanity has been extraordinarily lucky so far, “luck is not a strategy.” With “humanity just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” he said: “We need the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as much as ever”.
Citing five areas for action, he called for reinforcing and reaffirming the 77-year-old norm against the use of nuclear weapons, with steadfast commitment from all States parties, and finding practical measures to reduce the risk of nuclear war and return to the path of disarmament. However, reducing the risk of war is not enough — eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used. He urged the international community to work relentlessly towards shrinking the numbers of all kinds of nuclear weapons. Multilateral agreements and frameworks around disarmament and non-proliferation must be reinvigorated, including the IAEA. It is similarly urgent to address simmering tensions in the Middle East and Asia, as by adding the threat of nuclear weapons to enduring conflicts, they are edging towards catastrophe.
He called for promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology as a catalyst to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, including for medical and other uses. The international community must fulfil all outstanding commitments in the Treaty itself, and keep it fit-for-purpose in such trying times. “We are all here today because we believe in the Treaty’s purpose and function,” he stressed: “But carrying it into the future requires going beyond the status quo.” It requires renewed commitment, good faith negotiations — and for all parties to listen, compromise, and keep the lessons of the past and the fragility of the future in view at all times. “Future generations are counting on your commitment to step back from the abyss. We have a shared obligation to leave the world a better, safer place than we found it,” he stressed.
RAFAEL MARIANO GROSSI, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, noting that the food, energy and climate crises are converging “in quite an astonishing way”, emphasized that nuclear science can contribute to common efforts to address all of them. He underscored, however, that nuclear safety and security are paramount, and that the nuclear safety regime — led by Member States in cooperation with IAEA — “has been tested by fire and flood”, recalling the incidents at the Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants. While nuclear safety has been subsequently reinforced, challenges are being multiplied by the spectre of war, which has brought new, unexpected dimensions to nuclear safety in Ukraine.
He recalled that, at the beginning of the war, he outlined seven pillars of nuclear safety that should never be violated, including the need to respect the physical integrity of nuclear power plants and to ensure the protection of staff so they can perform their jobs without undue pressure. All of these principles “have been trampled upon since this tragic episode started”, he stressed, spotlighting the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The IAEA is ready to travel to that facility to conduct necessary safety and security evaluations, and he expressed hope that the Agency will be allowed to do so, stressing that, if something happens there, “we will only have ourselves to blame”.
He went on to point out that, in order for the IAEA to be able to give the necessary assurances that nuclear activity in Iran is for peaceful use, the Agency must be given “access that is commensurate with the breadth and depth of that nuclear programme”. The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is also concerning, and he expressed hope that IAEA inspectors will be able to return to that country following their expulsion in 2009. “Without this, there will be no trust,” he said. Further noting that countries are working on nuclear naval propulsion, he underscored that — while the existing regulatory framework contemplates this activity — adequate technical answers are needed to ensure that such activity complies with all existing regulations and safeguards.
Underscoring that it is “obvious” that the world will be less secure if more nuclear weapons are added to existing arsenals or if more countries develop such weapons, he called on the international community to do everything in its power to prevent this. Urging those present to recommit to the principles enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty and protect that instrument, he added that the IAEA “will be with you every step of the way”.
JOSAIA V. BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Sugar Industry, Foreign Affairs and Forestry of Fiji, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, said South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty [known as the Rarotonga Treaty] was borne from the devastation wrought by decades of nuclear testing and concerns over burgeoning nuclear weapons stockpiles. “This experience made clear to our countries the risks of the nuclear arms race, and of catastrophic nuclear war,” he stressed. He cited the ongoing importance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Article VI and non-proliferation provisions, which have drastically limited the emergence of new nuclear possessor States. The Treaty of Rarotonga reinforces the islands’ commitment to these vital objectives, he said, unequivocally condemning the Russian Federation’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons.
He expressed concern over growing nuclear weapons stockpiles, modernization programmes, development of new types of weapons and reduced transparency, strongly calling on nuclear-weapon States to implement their Article VI obligations. For Pacific islands, the ongoing struggle with the legacy of nuclear testing — from transboundary contamination of homes and habitats to higher numbers of birth defects and cancers — presents an acute awareness of the threats at hand. The Treaty of Rarotonga was the first such treaty to include a dumping provision for radioactive waste and radioactive matter. He pressed the remaining States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, notably those whose ratification is required to bring it into legal effect. He called on the United States to take the steps towards ratification so the Treaty of Rarotonga can have its full effect, while more broadly urging all Non-Nuclear Weapon States to fully comply with the requirement to accept safeguards on peaceful nuclear activities.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said generations of Pacific islanders have waited in vain for an apology, health support, reassurances that there will be no repeat of testing or waste disposal, and affirmations that nuclear weapons will never be deployed in the region again. From the mothers of deformed babies in the Marshall Islands to families in French Polynesia who lost loved ones too soon, “we are still waiting,” he said. He looked to the Tenth Review for “far greater” commitment from all countries that they are reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles. “Mutually assured destruction is no assurance of peace,” he stressed. “Ask the people of Ukraine” or victims of climate driven disasters about the public funds, ingenuity or human capital that could and should be spent improving and protecting lives — or Fiji’s own peacekeepers about what true peace entails. “It comes from understanding, it comes from equality and it comes from opportunity,” he explained.
He urged nuclear States to offer comprehensive and transparent reports of their disarmament efforts, designed in a manner that shifts away from new technology that would make these weapons more effective, efficient, powerful or easier to acquire. “No one should live one accident or one move of aggression away from annihilation,” he said. Fiji’s commitment to a Pacific free from nuclear weapons is also a personal one, as he has waited a lifetime for someone to take responsibility for deliberately exposing his late father — Ratu Inoke Bainimarama — and the sailors he commanded, to the testing of a nuclear bomb. With that, he welcomed initiatives by the Non-Aligned Movement as well as proposals advanced by Canada and Nigeria. “We cannot leave here without a final document,” he said.
KISHIDA FUMIO, Prime Minister of Japan, said his country is determined to firmly uphold the Non-Proliferation Treaty as its guardian and will work on the “Hiroshima Action Plan”, while making efforts to reduce nuclear risks. He called on nuclear-weapon States to enhance the transparency of their nuclear forces and to disclose information on the status of production of fissile materials. To build momentum towards facilitating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he will convene a meeting of the “Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty” at the leader’s level during the United Nations General Assembly in September. Detailing other actions, he said his country will address the nuclear and missile issues of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in coordination with the international community. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s upcoming visit to Hiroshima on 6 August, noting that Japan will contribute $10 million to the United Nations in order to set up a “Youth Leader Fund for a world without nuclear weapons”. Inviting future leaders to Japan and providing them with opportunities to learn first-hand the realities of nuclear weapon use will create a global network among youth towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, he added. In 2023, his country will host the Group of Seven (G7) Summit in Hiroshima, demonstrating its firm commitment to never repeat the catastrophe of atomic bombings.
AYMAN SAFADI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for enhancing the efficiency of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and preventing the transfer of nuclear technology for non-peaceful purposes, to further ensure the IAEA regimen of universal safeguards — as it is the only Agency with the mandate for verifying the peaceful uses of nuclear material. He underscored the adherence of all Arab States to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a testament to their commitment, noting the importance of balance between its three pillars. The Treaty was reached based on a deal obligating nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their arsenals, but they have not complied, generating great concern in the Arab Group over their Article VI commitments. He called for binding instruments to give safeguards to non-nuclear-weapon States, as well as for States parties, particularly nuclear-weapon States, to implement efforts for a clear ban on nuclear technology transfer to States not parties, particularly Israel, until that State submits its facilities to the comprehensive safeguards’ regimen.
He insisted that a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East would require a further verification system, and on the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the special responsibility of nuclear-weapon States and those that have not joined it. Noting a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East is a collective responsibility, he expressed regret that the 2012 Conference did not take place, rejecting all allegations that multilateral fora are not adequate for implementation of the 1995 resolution or that preconditions must be met beforehand. He urged all Parties to work towards that nuclear-weapon-free zone, noting the Arab States look forward to developing programmes for peaceful use, and a database for science and research. Reiterating the importance of transparency and safety in the nuclear sphere, he called on countries operating nuclear reactors for power generation to join all relevant agreements.
Speaking in his national capacity, he expressed hope that there will be no new crises in a Middle East region that already has enough problems, calling for a nuclear-weapon-free zone and implementation of all provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. He noted Jordan is the only Arab State that is a member of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament. Expressing hope for a Middle East free of all weapons-related issues, he cited the importance of the Palestinian cause and a two-State solution, as well as resolving the Syrian and Libyan crises, which are mutually-reinforcing impediments to progress. The Middle East cannot tolerate any kind of arms race in the region, he stressed, further calling for revived nuclear talks with Iran.
TANJA FAJON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, said blatant violation of the Budapest Memorandum, unacceptable nuclear rhetoric and reckless acts against Ukraine's nuclear facilities must stop. These actions further aggravate an already eroded global nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control regime, she said, stressing that it is high time to collectively reaffirm the Non-Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Noting her country’s commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons, she said it welcomed the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction (New START) Treaty in 2021 and supported the relaunch of the Strategic Stability Dialogue, which has now regrettably stalled, due to the Russian Federation's brutal war in Ukraine. Such new arrangements should address new strategic systems and include the participation of China, she added. As a country with a fully-fledged civilian nuclear programme, Slovenia stands ready to create new opportunities for other countries to benefit from peaceful uses of nuclear energy, science and technology, which is even more important considering global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
JEPPE KOFOD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, also speaking for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, condemned in the strongest terms the unprovoked and unjustified aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, and Belarus for its involvement in the aggression. President Vladimir Putin’s threats of use of nuclear weapons seriously undermines and has a significant negative impact on the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture. For half a century, the Non-Proliferation Treaty has made people more secure from nuclear havoc and has facilitated peaceful uses. In challenging times, it is more important than ever to safeguard the nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and arms control architecture, he stressed, requiring implementation of all obligations, and commitments from previous Review Conferences. He cited the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament and its “Stepping Stones” working paper, offering practical measures to advance nuclear disarmament.
The Nordic countries have been instrumental in advancing the work on nuclear disarmament verification through the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts, he noted. He cited some positive developments before the Russian Federation aggression against Ukraine, including: the five-year extension of the New START Treaty, the Strategic Stability Dialogue between the United States and Russian Federation, the restatement of the 1986 Reykjavik Summit Declaration and the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races after the Paris meeting. He called for a future START agreement to possibly include all nuclear weapon categories, and for China to actively engage in processes on arms control as a responsible nuclear weapon State. Noting last year’s twenty-fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty, he urged States that have not yet done so — in particular the remaining Annex II States — to sign and ratify it. Citing the continued nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as an issue of utmost concern, he welcomed the intention of the United States to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, urging Iran to return to full compliance without delay.
ANTONY BLINKEN, Secretary of State of the United States, stressing that all nuclear arms States have a duty to act responsibly, said his country has chosen to act with restraint and avoid actions that could unintentionally add to nuclear tensions. Together with the United Kingdom and France, it has released a set of principles and best practices that should be expected of every responsible Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory. Among them is that every effort must be made to ensure that nuclear weapons are not used again. His country is committed to reducing the role of nuclear weapons and re-establishing its leadership on arms control and has undertaken a deliberate policy review toward that goal. Noting United States President Joseph Biden’s commitment to disarmament, he recalled that just two weeks into his term, he extended the new START Treaty with the Russian Federation until 2026, making their countries and the world safer. Earlier today, President Biden reiterated his readiness to negotiate expeditiously a framework to replace the New START Treaty if the Russian Federation is prepared to operate in good faith, he added. Outlining his country’s other initiatives, he pointed out that, as long as nuclear weapons exist, the fundamental role of United States’ nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attacks on his country, its allies and partners. The United States will only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend its vital interests and those of its allies and partners, he said.
SANTIAGO CAFIERO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, pointed out that, during the fight against COVID-19 in 2021, the five permanent members of the Security Council — who together hold 12,270 nuclear warheads — devoted over $77 million to modernize their nuclear arsenals. Underlining that the invasion of Ukraine may cause countries without nuclear weapons to try and acquire them, he said that uncomfortable questions must be asked at this conference, including whether the world is at the dawn of a new arms race or is “about to move from temptation to impulse”. For its part, Argentina will continue working towards the objectives of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and those States holding nuclear weapons must commit to making progress on specific measures for nuclear disarmament. Until nuclear weapons are completely eliminated in a transparent, irreversible fashion, non-nuclear States must have a guarantee that they are not subject to the threat or use of such weapons. Spotlighting the prolonged, unjustified military presence of the United Kingdom in the South Atlantic, he underscored the need to preserve a nuclear-weapons-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean. He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear-weapons programme and called on the five nuclear powers with permanent Security Council seats to recommit to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
ABDUL KALAM ABDUL MOMEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, noting that his country joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1979, highlighted its commitment to the instrument. With current geopolitical conditions leading to a new cold war, “we are afraid, the risk of the usage of nuclear war no longer remains as a distant one,” he said. The international community must unite against the holding of nuclear weapons by a handful of States in total disregard for humanity’s safety and security. He urged nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their Article VI obligations and comply with the 13 practical steps of the 2010 action plan on disarmament, in particular, action 5. Noting that Bangladesh was among the first to ratify the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he welcomed its first meeting in June 2022 and the 50-point Vienna Action Plan, and called on all States to join that treaty without delay. He voiced support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty through its three pillars, emphasizing the non-discriminatory nature of Article IV and calling for greater investment and cooperation in nuclear technology research. Efforts to ensure the rapid entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and a start to negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty are also needed. Noting that $82.4 billion was spent in 2020 to upkeep nuclear weapons, he urged States to stop these “senseless” investments and instead redirect resources towards health, climate change and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
HADJA LAHBIB, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade of Belgium, aligning herself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, emphasized that the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war against Ukraine “confronts us again with a potential nuclear threat”. Further, major proliferation files remain unresolved, arms-control treaties have fallen apart, compliance issues have sapped trust in the durability of legal agreements and a rift has grown in the international community on the path forward towards nuclear disarmament. She urged that, while this “bleak picture should inform our debate”, it should “not weaken our resolve”, calling on those present to recommit to the global rules-based order. She went on to express concern over the alarming expansion of Iran’s nuclear programme, urging that country to return to compliance with its international obligations and allow the IAEA to carry out its verification activities unhindered. Additionally, international pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must be maintained, including through the strict application of sanctions by all States without exception. She also expressed regret that China is the only nuclear-weapon State that is rapidly increasing its nuclear stockpile, also spotlighting efforts by other States to modernize their arsenals or introduce new delivery systems. Adding that there can be no nuclear-weapon-free world without a nuclear-test-free world, she called on those States listed in Annex II of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to accede to the Treaty without waiting for others to do so first.
PHIL TWYFORD (New Zealand) said the legacy of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine must not be an arms race, or a more polarized and dangerous world, stressing that more nuclear weapons, whether in the hands of the existing nuclear weapons States or others, will not make the world safer. “For too many years the statements by nuclear-weapon States in support of nuclear disarmament have not been matched by action, and the growing gap between promise and delivery is placing unsustainable pressure on this Treaty,” he emphasized. There has not been much progress in the last 20 years on where it really matters: significant stockpile reductions and efforts to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. Almost without exception, the justification for this by the nuclear-weapon States has been that the global security environment is not conducive to nuclear disarmament, he added, urging the international community to reach agreement that restores confidence in the intention of the nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their disarmament obligations and commitments.
ANNALENA BAERBOCK, Foreign Minister of Germany, condemned the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, adding “when I told some people about my trip to New York to attend this conference, they said to me: What’s the use of flying the flag for nuclear disarmament in times like these?” She replied that nuclear stockpiles are rising, and new proliferation risks emerging — trends that are extremely dangerous — “and that’s why we have to act.” She cited an 82-year-old Nagasaki survivor of the catastrophic atomic blast of August 1945 who pleaded to her: “Humans must never again be hurt by nuclear weapons.” It is therefore crucial to re-affirm the validity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Germany and partners in the Stockholm Initiative and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative have proposed steps, including: transparency on arsenals and restraint in doctrines; crisis-proof communication to prevent escalation; and renewed dialogue. However, the Russian Federation is doing the opposite, and China’s arsenals are growing. She welcomed the United States’ readiness, announced today to negotiate a new arms control framework to replace the New START Treaty, and stressed that Iran has no justification for many of its nuclear activities, as no non-nuclear-weapon State needs uranium enriched to 60 per cent — calling Iran on to return to the fair deal of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Citing the most serious violation of the Treaty — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapons programme — she called for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said the war in Ukraine, a neighbour, has created a security risk for his country, ruining hopes that his generation does not need to endure the terrible events suffered by their grandparents. “Since 24 February, this hope of ours is over,” he remarked. Every minute spent on the war presents a physical security risk, including for the safe supply of energy. He urged the international community to focus all efforts on establishing peace in Ukraine through a ceasefire and peace talks. Located in Central Europe, Hungary has always been interested in dialogue between East and West. It is contrary to its interests that the world again be divided into blocs. “We have learned whenever there was a conflict between East and West, we Central Europeans have always lost,” he said. He voiced regret that dialogue among the five permanent Security Council members has been interrupted and “wholeheartedly” asked them to re-engage on the issue of nuclear disarmament. At the United Nations, the norms against nuclear weapons must be reinforced and policies that threaten use of these weapons rejected. While nuclear-weapon States view this issue through a geopolitical lens, they are far away from the war’s location. For countries in the neighbourhood, this is a vital issue. “Do not play geopolitics at our expense,” he cautioned, stressing that the Treaty must be respected by all countries and the use of nuclear weapons must be avoided. He highlighted Hungary’s use of nuclear power for more than four decades as a cost-effective, climate friendly, safe and stable way of generating energy, reducing its dependence on volatile energy markets. Noting that its new nuclear power plant will increase its capacity by 2.5 times, he said such peaceful uses of nuclear energy must not fall under any sanctions regimes and nor should any such international cooperation fall under restrictions, as this would restrict the sovereign right of countries to establish their own energy mix. The operation of nuclear plants also must take place in line with IAEA regulations.
ANN CHRISTIN LINDE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, associating herself with the European Union and the Nordic countries, expressed concern over the severely deteriorating European security environment, condemning the Russian Federation’s brutal attack on Ukraine, and reaffirming support for that State’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Moscow’s threats to use nuclear weapons are a flagrant violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. The lack of transparency and restraint are a cause for concern, as is regional proliferation — in particular Iran, with its lack of cooperation with the IAEA — and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s weapons programme. She cited the Stockholm Initiative’s “Stepping Stones” to advance a roster of proposals, and called for the long-overdue entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The nuclear risk reductions proposals of the Stockholm Initiative, if implemented, can make a real difference, she stressed, noting 24 States parties have aligned with its working papers. As part of a Government with a feminist foreign policy, she noted the full participation of women and integration of a gender perspective in disarmament is key. She called for the Conference to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty, expressing hope that the international community would reach consensus on a forward-looking agenda and adopt a final document.
AKAN RAKHMETULLIN, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, speaking on behalf of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone States Parties (including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) said the establishment of such a zone is the visionary outcome of collective effort, with States parties committing themselves voluntarily and unequivocally to ban the production, acquisition and deployment of nuclear weapons on their territories. It is symbolic that Treaty was concluded where one of the world's largest nuclear test sites was closed in 1991, and where the Soviet authorities had conducted 456 nuclear tests for over four decades. He recalled that it is the first zone located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and in a landlocked region between two nuclear powers.
Paradoxically, the Semipalatinsk test site used to be the only testing venue in the region, where nuclear weapons had been actively tested and deployed. In this context, noting the importance of the environmental rehabilitation of territories affected by radioactive waste, he urged all Governments and international organizations that have expertise in the field of clean-up and disposal of radioactive contaminants to consider giving appropriate assistance to Central Asian States for radiological assessment and remediation of former test sites as well as uranium extraction plants. He expressed hope that such a security and cooperation-based domain across the area will continue to expand so that one day, the entire planet can turn into a single nuclear-weapon-free zone. On 6 May 2014, high-ranking representatives of nuclear-weapon States signed the Protocol on Negative Security Assurances to the members of the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia — so far ratified by four nuclear-weapons States — and he expressed hope the United States will also ratify it.
IULIAN FOTA, State Secretary for Strategic Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Romania, associating himself with the European Union, said the Russian Federation’s illegal military aggression against Ukraine has blunted any glimmer of hope offered by the extension of the New START, establishment of the United States-Russian Federation Strategic Stability Dialogue and joint statement by the five permanent Security Council members that a nuclear war must never be fought. Citing the Russian military’s attacks at and around Ukrainian nuclear facilities, he called for their immediate withdrawal from the Zaporizhzhya plant so Ukraine’s authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities, and noted that Romania facilitated the transit of IAEA inspectors to Ukraine amid these disturbing events. Highlighting other efforts, he said Romania chaired the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) in 2019. More broadly, he advocated a gradual and pragmatic process of nuclear disarmament, based on a step-by-step approach, ensuring undiminished security for all parties. He called for advancing arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation processes, pressing China in particular to join negotiations with the United States and the Russian Federation on limiting nuclear weapons and on measures to reduce risks and build confidence. States Parties cannot remain silent on proliferation challenges posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria and Iran, as well as the change in the non-nuclear status of Belarus, another worrying development, he said reiterating Romania’s full support for IAEA in implementing the safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols.
RUSLAN BOLBOCEAN, State Secretary, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova, associating himself with the European Union, said the military activities in and around Ukraine’s nuclear sites, including the Chernobyl exclusion zone and Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, have been causing major concern from the very first days of the war in Ukraine and continue to pose a great risk for the entire continent. Stressing the importance of strict compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said that his country, at the national level, undertakes all necessary measures to prevent possible transfers through its territory of any components, materials and technology related to weapons of mass destruction. Active engagement and co-operation with other countries and relevant international and regional organizations creates an opportunity to use and apply the expertise and best practices in this field and effectively contributes to the prevention and combating of illicit trafficking of radiological and nuclear materials.
HAM SANG WOOK, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said the credibility and relevance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty are being questioned, with dangerous and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and threats to use nuclear weapons, and a dangerous attack on a nuclear power plant. Calling for genuine efforts by the nuclear-weapon States to reduce nuclear risks and achieve progress in nuclear disarmament. he noted the January 2022 Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races affirmed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Urging all nuclear-weapon States to positively consider the Stockholm Initiative’s ambitious yet realistic “Stepping Stones” approach, he further called for the IAEA-centred nuclear safeguards and verification regime to be strengthened. He expressed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, encouraging all relevant parties to return to genuine dialogue at the earliest possible opportunity. He noted the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is relentlessly developing nuclear and missile programmes, and has been launching ballistic missiles at an unprecedented frequency — 31 this year alone – being the only country that abused the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime. He urged Pyongyang to cease all provocations, return to full compliance with the Treaty, and denuclearize in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner — while making it clear that the door to dialogue remains open.
AKAN RAKHMETULLIN (Kazakhstan) said his country’s decision 30 years ago in August 1991 to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site paved the way for the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Its early entry into force is essential for effectively implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he stressed, calling on remaining Annex II States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. His country will do its utmost in its capacity as the Chair of the upcoming seventy-seventh session of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security). It will also preside over the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and will work tirelessly towards a world free from them, he added. His country, with its regional neighbours, created in 2006 the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia, he said, also expressing hope that the United States will sign the Protocol on negative security assurances to that Treaty as soon as possible.
TIM AYRES (Australia) recalled that last September, his country, the United States and the United Kingdom announced the beginning of a trilateral effort towards Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarines, as is provided for in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the IAEA Statute, and its own comprehensive safeguards agreement. All three partners are committed to upholding their legal obligations and strengthening the integrity of the non-proliferation regime, he said, adding that his country is proceeding transparently, engaging closely with the IAEA and providing updates to the international community as it moves through the 18-month consultation period. He went on to say that in Australia, the Pacific, and other parts of the world, the impact of nuclear weapons testing has been borne disproportionately by First Nations’ lands and peoples. “The resolve to maintain a nuclear weapons-free and independent Pacific, and the dogged determination of the Pacific States shall be a clarion call to this Conference to rebuild momentum towards total disarmament,” he said. Expressing support for the increasing attention on diversity in the advocacy and technical work around disarmament, including efforts to increase the number of women engaged in this work, he said there should be more women at disarmament conferences and in all the associated fora.
CARLOS D. SORRETA (Philippines) rejected the notion that nuclear disarmament obligations and commitments are contingent upon any subjective assessment of the international security environment, urging all States Parties to uphold their commitments under the 13 practical steps and 64-point action plan outlined in the 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. His country continues to cooperate with the IAEA with respect to its comprehensive safeguards agreement and its Additional Protocol. The Philippines’ adherence to the highest standards of non-proliferation should be matched by the same level of commitment by nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their end of the “Grand Bargain”, he underscored. The regrettable decision of some nuclear-weapon States to upgrade the role of nuclear forces in their security doctrines, the lack of transparency and functioning of dialogue mechanisms among them, and continued risks of instability in the geopolitical environment, including in the Asia-Pacific region, demands that nuclear- weapon States issue such assurances, without conditions, he stressed, noting that the matter requires most urgent discussions in the Conference.
HILDEGARDE NAUGHTON, Minister for State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, and at the Department of Transport of Ireland, noting that she is the first woman to head her country’s delegation to the Review Conference, welcomed that this review cycle is the first to substantively address gender perspectives and expressed hope that this will be reflected in the outcome. “The world faces heightened nuclear danger,” she said, as the Russian Federation — a nuclear-weapon State and a depository State of the Non-Proliferation Treaty — has made nuclear threats and is engaged in a war of aggression against another State party to the Treaty. Its invasion of Ukraine, nuclear rhetoric and reckless military actions in and near civilian nuclear facilities threaten all three pillars of the Treaty. She recalled that in January, the five nuclear-weapon States declared that a nuclear war “must never be fought”, expressing deep regret that Moscow’s actions have called its commitment into question. She called for implementing the Treaty’s Article VI and existing commitments, expressing regret over the reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines and improvements made by possessor States to their weapons systems. The Conference must agree on immediate actions for nuclear risk reduction and practical measures to facilitate reductions of these weapons. She voiced hope of seeing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons reflected in the Conference outcome document, calling for full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by Iran and steps by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
LASHA DARSALIA (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, said two regions of his country, which are occupied by the Russian Federation, remain a security challenge in many dimensions. His country has documented attempts to smuggle nuclear and radioactive materials through its occupied regions, he added, noting that effective measures carried out by Georgian law-enforcement agencies prevented those illegal activities. However, without international presence on those territories, it has become virtually impossible to conduct any type of verification activities on the ground, he emphasized, pointing to the existence of so-called “grey zones” where internationally agreed security measures cannot be implemented and verified. The lack of the respective control mechanisms in occupied territories of Georgia as well as Ukraine creates a fertile ground for all kinds of illegal activities, including smuggling of weapons of mass destruction and related materials. A multilateral and treaty-based approach provides the best way to maintain and reinforce international peace and security. As such, the universalization and early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty should remain one of key priorities for every State, he said.
KIM NGOC HA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said international community is looking to nuclear-weapon States to make progress on disarmament, in line with Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and advance legally binding negative security assurances. They are obliged to ensure the maintenance of international peace without resorting to nihilistic force. The Non-Proliferation Treaty must be complemented by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said, urging those that have not yet done so to join the latter instrument. The non-proliferation regime must be strengthened and Viet Nam looks forward to early positive results from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiations. He called for dialogue on issues related to the Korean Peninsula, building on the achievements of talks over recent years. Efforts should also involve robust verification and the creation of nuclear-weapons-free zones. Noting that Viet Nam has implemented relevant Security Council resolutions and works closely with the IAEA, he said the Government looks forward to working with nuclear-weapon States on the early signature of the Treaty’s protocol. Noting that some $82 billion was spent on nuclear weapons in 2021 — four times the funding for United Nations development activities — he said these funds could have been used to build schools, make vaccines and improve sanitation around the world. Efforts should be made to apply nuclear technology to such challenges as food and energy security, epidemics and climate change.
DINARA KEMELOVA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, said her delegation, as an acting Chair and depositary of the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, is committed to broadening and developing interzone cooperation — noting the increasing pace of interaction with the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean and the African Commission on Nuclear Energy. Kyrgyzstan is also committed to accelerating the entry into force of the Protocol on negative security assurances to the Central Asian Treaty. She underscored the vital but neglected issue of education and training as tools to promote disarmament and non-proliferation, teaching the broad masses about existing international security architecture in that field. Her delegation is planning to initiate the draft resolution titled “International Awareness Day of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation” during the upcoming General Assembly session. Adoption of the draft could become a positive impetus for the inclusion of disarmament and non-proliferation issues in existing national general educational programmes. As a candidate for a non-permanent seat of the Security Council for 2027-2028, her delegation will prioritize the issue.
ÁNGELES MORENO BAU (Spain), recalling that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was borne in a tumultuous world, noted that, after decades, it has done fundamental work to ensure notable nuclear weapons stockpile reductions. “Let us see what we have achieved over the last few decades and not only focus on what we have still to achieve,” she said. Calling on all States to fully, honestly and decisively be involved in implementing their commitments, she said the next step is to generate trust. To reduce the nuclear threat, States must, among other actions, ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and fully support its Preparatory Commission. Also needed are negotiations to adopt a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty as soon as possible. Expressing support for the establishment of a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, she called for the participation of relevant stakeholders in the Review Conference to that end. She urged Iran to fully cooperate with the IAEA and with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and to comply with the provisions of the safeguards agreement. The provocations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must immediately end and honestly undertake a diplomatic process, which would lead to an irreversible disarmament. Until then, the international community should continue to apply agreed sanctions, he said.
MYKOLA TOCHITSKYI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said today is the one hundred and fifty-ninth day of war waged by a nuclear power against a non-nuclear weapon State. “The Russian leadership openly threatens the world with its ability to use nuclear weapons, backed by clear calls to do so by Russian media,” he said. Since 2014 issues around the integrity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty have grown more complicated, even “dramatic”. The Russian Federation’s military aggression provoked a dangerous misbalance in the international security system, undermining the effectiveness of the non-proliferation regime. By occupying Crimea, in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Budapest Memorandum, the Russian Federation has demonstrated that the legal obligations of a nuclear power to respect the sovereignty and independence of a non-nuclear State and refrain from threats “are worth nothing”.
“We should have stopped Russia back then,” he emphasized, stressing that the outcome of this lack of vigilance and decisiveness is now well-known. Today, all three pillars of the Treaty have been violated by a nuclear State. Disarmament has been undermined by the Russian Federation’s unjustified development of new strike capabilities — including the Kinzhal, Avangard and Sarmat hypersonic missiles. As it openly threatens the world with its new nuclear weaponry, “non-proliferation became an illusion”, he said, noting that Moscow also expanded the geographic area of its nuclear arms deployment after Crimea’s occupation and has already deployed missiles able to carry nuclear warheads over Ukrainian cities from Belarus, a non-weapon State, according to the Treaty. For the first time in history, civilian nuclear facilities have been turned into targets and a springboard for the Russian army, in breach of the Treaty.
He said the world sees how nuclear terrorism sponsored by a nuclear-weapon State is a reality. Robust joint actions are needed to prevent a global nuclear disaster. Ukraine requests closure of the sky over nuclear power plants on its territory, and the provision of air defence systems. “The international community has trapped itself,” he said. After the Russian Federation breached every international legal norm by waging its war against Ukraine and made clear its intentions to locate its nuclear arsenal on the territory of a non-nuclear State, “[can] anyone here predict the future of the NPT?” he asked. In addition, the future is challenged by the nuclear missile programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, while the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is another international concern and depends on Iran’s compliance. Given that 95 per cent of United Nations Member States do not possess nuclear weapons, providing them with effective negative security guarantees should be a top priority. The creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones, including in Ukraine’s region, as well as strengthening of the IAEA safeguards system, are becoming more urgent tasks for non-proliferation regime. He added that every State will benefit from the transformation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into a legally binding treaty and the start of negotiations on a Fissile Missile Cut-off Treaty.
GRAHAM STUART, Minister for State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom, expressed his country’s firm commitment to fulfilling its obligations, including under Article VI, and the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Its national report, published in November 2021, outlines efforts to implement the Treaty since 2015, demonstrating that “we take our responsibilities as a nuclear weapon State seriously”. Since the cold war, the United Kingdom has “dramatically” reduced the number of its nuclear weapons, while de-targeting and de-alerting those that remain. It is the only one to have decreased its deterrent capability to a single delivery system and has the smallest stockpile of any recognized nuclear State. It will continue to pioneer verification work, championing transparency and advancing risk reduction, as well as press for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to enter into force and for negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty to continue in the Conference on Disarmament. He described a deteriorating global security environment marked by greater competition, technological disruption and the Russian Federation’s unprovoked, premeditated assault on Ukraine. He also expressed deep concern that Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea continue to escalate their nuclear programmes, noting that the United Kingdom will continue to champion the IAEA safeguards regime. Committed to nuclear-weapon-free zones, it has signed and ratified protocols for Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Africa and Central Asia. With the United States, it has been consulting with States Parties on improved access to peaceful uses, with the aim of establishing a new sustained dialogue, bringing “fresh perspectives” and identifying new opportunities to support peaceful uses.
EIVIND VAD PETERSSON, State Secretary, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Norway, noted new weapons systems are being developed and deployed and proliferation challenges are on the rise, with the Russian Federation’s reckless rhetoric on nuclear weapons having global implications. He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to dialogue, and to take concrete steps to abandon its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. He called on all nuclear-weapon States to step up efforts to fulfil their commitments under Article VI. Norway has presented a report on its national implementation of the conclusions and recommendations of the 2010 Review Conference, stressing that any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences, and will work with States parties to build on this acknowledgment. “It must continue to motivate us in seeking a path towards real disarmament,” he said. The Russian Federation’s violent seizure of control of nuclear facilities in Ukraine is deplorable, he stressed, turning to how peaceful nuclear applications can support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, for which Norway has provided $1 million to the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative. He affirmed that all countries should benefit from advanced technologies that have the potential for enhancing health and prosperity.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Group of Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, reaffirmed nuclear disarmament as its highest priority, and expressed concern at the threat to humanity posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons. He stressed the urgent need to negotiate and bring to a conclusion a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons with a phased programme for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified time frame. He further expressed concern over the threat posed by military doctrines on modernization of nuclear forces, including low-yield nuclear warheads — including the latest United States Nuclear Posture Review and the United Kingdom’s Integrated Review. Pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons, he called for the early commencement of negotiations on universal, unconditional, irrevocable and legally binding security assurances to all non-nuclear-weapon States by all nuclear-weapon States, while reaffirming the inalienable right of each State to pursue the development, research, production and use of nuclear energy.
He expressed full confidence in the impartiality and professionalism of the IAEA and strongly rejected any politically motivated attempts by any State to politicize its work. Strict observance of and adherence to IAEA comprehensive safeguards and to the Non-Proliferation Treaty are conditions for any cooperation in the nuclear area with States not Parties to the Treaty. He reaffirmed the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones in fulfilling the objectives of the Treaty, and for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. Pending its establishment, he demanded that Israel, the only non-party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the region, renounce any possession of nuclear weapons, and accede to the Treaty without precondition and further delay. He also expressed disappointment that, as the result of opposition by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada in the 2015 Ninth Review Conference, consensus on new measures regarding the implementation of the 1995 resolution was not achieved.
MARJOLIJN VAN DEELEN, Special Envoy for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, European External Action Service of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, reiterated the strongest condemnation of the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine, also condemning Belarus for its involvement. The international community will hold Moscow accountable for its atrocities, she stressed. In the current security environment marked by increasingly high tensions and serious proliferation, she called on all States concerned to abstain from any steps that would risk further escalating tensions and undermine the significant reductions achieved after the end of the cold war. A new nuclear arms race must be avoided. She conferred the highest importance to the New START Treaty as a crucial contribution to international and European security, emphasizing that the two nuclear-weapon States with the largest arsenals hold a special responsibility in nuclear disarmament and arms control. She further called on China to actively contribute to these processes, welcoming discussion between United States President Joseph Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on nuclear issues.
Citing the critical importance of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and implementation of the resolution on the Middle East adopted at the 1995 Review Conference, she noted the convening of the Conferences in 2019 and 2021 on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. Expressing serious concern that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues to further develop its illegal nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, she called on that State to take concrete steps in dismantling its weapons of mass destruction and engage in meaningful discussions with all relevant parties towards the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. She also reaffirmed support for the inalienable right of all Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with the accord.
SOVANN KE (Cambodia), speaking for ASEAN, deplored the conduct of nuclear tests, stressing that all member States in the bloc have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. He called on the remaining Annex II States, whose signature and ratification are crucial for the Treaty to enter into force, to join at the earliest. He emphasized the importance of nuclear-weapon States adhering to legally binding negative security assurances and a policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, and called on all States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to renew their commitment towards its full implementation, particularly Article VI.
On non-proliferation, he voiced strong support for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, especially in the Middle East, reiterating ASEAN’s commitment to preserving South-East Asia as a zone free of nuclear weapons. He affirmed the inalienable right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, in particular for their economic and social development, noting that ASEAN will continue to expand its cooperation with IAEA. In that context, he welcomed progress in implementing the 2019 Practical Arrangements on Cooperation in the areas of nuclear science and technology and applications, nuclear safety, and security and safeguards between ASEAN and the Agency. Member States in the region are also implementing all applicable and relevant obligations on nuclear safety and security, he added.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition, voiced concern about the nuclear dimension of recent international tensions, including the conflict in Ukraine, urging all States Parties to reinvigorate their efforts to fully implement Article VI and the actions and commitments agreed at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences. The Non-Proliferation Treaty must continue to be informed by recognition of the devastating global humanitarian, health and environmental consequences and economic impact of any nuclear detonation, he said, noting that his bloc has put forward proposals on concrete, transparent, mutually reinforcing measures to promote the fulfilment of Non-Proliferation Treaty Article VI obligations. He called on the current Review Conference to reaffirm its support for those past agreements, from 1995, 2000 and 2010, adding that those documents form an “acquis” of commitments that remain as valid today as when they were adopted, and stressing that their implementation has become even more urgent.
He went on to say that since the last Review Conference in 2015, nuclear-weapon States has been reluctant to make progress on those commitments. Instead, they increased their reliance on nuclear deterrence in their security and military doctrines and enlarged their arsenals. Nuclear weapons States must deliver fully on their part of the bargain and use this opportunity to agree on achievable steps that can be carried out in the next intersessional period. Stressing that the 2010 Review Conference did not exhaust the discussion on humanitarian consequences, he pointed out that that concept should be underlined in every discussion regarding nuclear disarmament and must be included in the final document of the present meeting. His bloc, throughout each Non-Proliferation Treaty review cycle, and in its annual General Assembly resolution, has consistently called for and proposed measures to accelerate the implementation of States parties’ nuclear disarmament obligations and commitments, including de-alerting, entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, and the creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones, particularly in the Middle East, he said.
Right of Reply
The representative of the United Kingdom, exercising the right of reply, in response to comments by his counterpart from Argentina concerning the 1982 Falkland Islands (Malvinas)[*] conflict, said the issue has been in the public domain for almost 20 years. As confirmed in 2003, the nuclear depth charges were already onboard ships in the British task force when they sailed to the South Atlantic at short notice at the outbreak of the conflict. There was never any intention of using them during the conflict. Their presence did not break any disarmament treaties. No nuclear weapons were taken into Falkland Islands waters during the conflict and all the depth charges were returned to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom ratified the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) in 1969, fully respects its obligations under those protocols and has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, he said.
The representative of Argentina rejected all that was just stated by her counterpart from the United Kingdom and reiterated all that was stated earlier today by Argentina’s foreign minister. The Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and surrounding maritime areas form part of Argentina’s territory. They have been illegitimately occupied by the United Kingdom since 1833. They are the subject of a sovereignty dispute recognized by the United Nations, which characterizes the Malvinas situation as a special and particular colonial situation. She requested an update on the 31 nuclear depth charges sent by the United Kingdom to the Malvinas, in particular about the number of kilotons and the main impacts to the region.
[*] A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).