Citing Alarming Rise in Military Spending, Distrust, Speakers Propose Ways for Tackling ‘Commitment Deficit’ to Stop Nuclear Weapons’ Spread, as Review Conference Continues
Citing an alarming rise in military spending, a widening gulf of distrust and nuclear rhetoric by the Russian Federation as it advances its war in Ukraine, Governments attending the Tenth Review Conference of the “cornerstone” agreement to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons today described heightened risks of miscalculations and proposed ways to tackle the “commitment deficit” endemic to past negotiation cycles.
The Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons — which runs from 1 to 26 August — was postponed two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It follows the failure of its 2015 predecessor to produce a final outcome, owing to major disagreements over nuclear disarmament, among other issues. Against that backdrop, delegates today described the erosion of the Treaty’s integrity over 50 years — and promoted its crucial relevance in a world seemingly more prone to building arsenals than dismantling them.
The representative of the Marshall Islands stressed that circular negotiations for many years have “failed to listen closely to those voices who know better”. She described the Treaty as “largely a hollow shell”. Calling for the disclosure of all information on weapon impacts and waste material taken to or left on her country’s shores, she challenged the Review Conference to produce a strong outcome and unified message that the reduction of nuclear risk is on track.
“We have no choice but to remain steadfast on the path to realizing the Treaty’s goals,” Thailand’s representative declared. “We must not allow 2015 to be repeated.” Like others throughout the day, he said Thailand has engaged in various working papers to foster a consensual outcome, among them, the one titled, “From pillars to progress: gender mainstreaming in the NPT”. That point was echoed by Zambia’s representative, speaking for the Africa Group and associating himself with the Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty, who pressed nuclear-weapon States to demonstrate political will needed to produce recommendations on disarmament.
In that context, Australia’s representative, speaking for the Vienna Group of 10 — comprising Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden — said her Group’s focus is on the traditional “Vienna issues”: nuclear non-proliferation and safeguards, nuclear security, and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. Its working paper — which covers nuclear safety, export controls and nuclear testing, among other issues — represents a carefully negotiated consensus among a diverse set of countries. Its proposed language and elements were drafted with a view to promoting convergence, mindful of other State parties’ positions, she said.
Similarly, the representative of the Netherlands, speaking for the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative — comprising Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates — said his group contributed 17 working papers to the current review cycle. In particular, he presented the “Landing Zone” paper for consideration, which contains recommendations across all three pillars to help forge action-oriented commitments that build upon the 2010 Action Plan.
“After 76 years since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki […] it is in the interest of all nations that the record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever,” he stressed, a point also made by Ecuador’s delegate who urged States Parties to make progress at the Review Conference as a way to honour the victims of those attacks on 6 and 9 August, when those bombs were dropped in 1945.
Several countries pointed to signs of progress, among them, the extension of the new Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) until February 2026, a milestone event for which the Russian Federation’s representative took credit. He said his country also launched a strategic stability dialogue with the President of the United States in July 2021, an endeavour that was ultimately frozen after Moscow rebuffed the United States destructive approach. “We believe that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” he said, sharing a message from President Vladimir Putin and rejecting all charges about unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.
Other delegates — including from Liechtenstein, Guyana, El Salvador and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic — looked to the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Samoa’s delegate, on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, pointed to the first meeting of States parties in June as “a sign of hope” for communities in the Pacific who still bear the burden of intergenerational devastation caused by the more than 300 nuclear tests carried out from 1946 to 1996.
Still others stressed that all countries have a role to play, however, none more so than nuclear-weapon States. Singapore’s delegate pressed them to reduce their arsenals in a transparent, irreversible and verifiable manner within a specified and “reasonable” timeframe. Annex II countries, in particular, must sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. “The Non-Proliferation Treaty is not perfect, but it remains the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime,” he assured.
Also speaking today was the President of Switzerland, as well as representatives of South Africa, Poland, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Chile, Indonesia, Bulgaria, Kenya, Colombia, Nepal, Slovakia, Italy, China, Iceland, Armenia, Iraq, Albania, Honduras, Austria, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Côte d'Ivoire, Lebanon, Panama, Latvia, Greece and Costa Rica, and an observer for the Holy See.
The Russian Federation, Japan, Egypt, Australia and China exercised the right of reply.
The Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 3 August.
FATUMANAVA-O-UPOLU III PA'OLELEI LUTERU (Samoa), speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, described nuclear weapons as the “nemesis to all”, recalling that more than 300 nuclear tests were carried out in the Pacific from 1946 to 1996, in the atmosphere, underground and under water. Efforts to stop the testing led to the adoption of the Treaty of Rarotonga in 1985 and establishment of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone. Communities living near “ground zero” were relocated from their ancestral islands and restricted from using the ocean resources. They experienced cancer and birth defects, while radioactive waste and machinery were either buried or dumped into the ocean. Today, people continue to bear the burden of this transboundary and intergenerational devastation, notably on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where nuclear blasts were carried out and a dome was built to contain 3.1 million cubic feet — 35 Olympic-sized pools of radioactive debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium — which today is being eroded by rising sea levels.
He voiced concern over the geopolitical posturing in the region and called for national and collective interests to be prioritized. There are serious shortfalls in the implementation of Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he stressed, adding that the billions spent on modernizing nuclear arsenals could have instead helped victims of nuclear weapons use. It is “high time" for Member States to reaffirm their commitments to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, from a belief that a peaceful world must be underpinned by trust and respect among nations, and backed by a solid verification regime. He pointed to the first meeting in June of States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria as a sign of hope, and attached great importance to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, calling for the remaining Annex II States to sign and accede to that accord. He called on States parties to address victim assistance and environmental remediation, and to foster both international cooperation and assistance in the context of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. In particular, he underscored the need to ensure international consultations, based on international law, and independent, verifiable scientific assessment in relation to the discharge of water into the Pacific Ocean treated through the Advanced Liquid Processing System at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
ANNE CRAIG (Australia), speaking for the Vienna Group of 10 — comprising Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden — said the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy and technology is under threat in Ukraine, due to the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and illegal invasion. Underlining collective solidarity with Ukraine, she said the Non-Proliferation Treaty provides a framework that fosters international confidence and cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Strengthening it will require progress on all three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. She highlighted the traditional “Vienna issues” and the aim of undertaking a successful review of Treaty Articles III and IV, and related issues, as well as developing forward-looking proposals in these areas.
She pointed to the Vienna Group’s working paper on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; nuclear safety, security and safeguards; export controls; nuclear testing and discouraging withdrawal from the Treaty. Explaining that the Group includes nuclear power States, uranium exporters and non-nuclear power States, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Group of 20, European Union, New Agenda Coalition and the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, she said their diverse range of experiences have shaped the paper submitted to the Review Conference. It represents a carefully negotiated consensus, consisting of recommendations and supporting background material. She expressed hope it would prove useful in discussing how to approach the “Vienna issues”. Given the limited progress on the implementation of disarmament commitments, lack of universality and non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is imperative that Review Conference discussions be conducted in the spirit of cooperation and support the strengthening of the Treaty. Explaining that the Vienna Group’s proposed language and elements have been drafted with a view to promoting convergence on key issues relevant to the Treaty’s implementation, crafted in a moderate way, mindful of other States parties’ positions, she expressed hope it will foster consensus on this important set of issues.
THIJS VAN DER PLAS (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative — comprising(Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Türkiye, United Arab Emirates) — said that cross-regional Group has contributed to this review cycle with 17 working papers and presented its “Landing Zone Paper” for States parties’ consideration at the Review Conference. It contains a comprehensive list of practical recommendations across all three pillars to help arrive at action-oriented commitments that build upon the 2010 Action Plan. He deplored the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, and the failure to respect the commitments under the Budapest Memorandum on security assurances. The threat of use of nuclear weapons and the forceful seizure of and attacks on nuclear facilities are unacceptable, with escalatory actions posing a serious risk to nuclear safety and security. The 40-year-long decrease in global nuclear arsenals must be sustained and not reversed, he stressed, calling for further reductions in the global stockpile of all types of nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination, as well as adoption of tangible risk reduction measures, pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons. He further called for increased transparency through engagement in concrete activities, and the early commencement of Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty negotiations.
After 76 years since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is in the interest of all nations that the record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever. He strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unprecedented series of ballistic missile launches, urging that State to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and return to full compliance with its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards Agreements and the Treaty. He further urged Iran to return to full implementation of the Additional Protocol and other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action transparency commitments and noted the conference process on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The Group is also convinced that the Treaty Parties should discuss how to improve the working methods of the Review Process.
CHOLA MILAMBO (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Africa Group and associating himself with the Group of the Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty, voiced regret at the failure of the Ninth Review Conference to reach consensus on a final outcome document. He called upon nuclear-weapon States to demonstrate political will to enable the Tenth Review Conference to have concrete recommendations towards achieving nuclear disarmament. Reaffirming the central role of nuclear-weapon-free zones in addressing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation across all regions of the world, he expressed concern at the lack of progress towards the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East. He also voiced concern over the Action Plan of the 2010 Review Conference regarding the establishment of a Middle East zone free from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, emphasizing the continued validity of those commitments and obligations until their full implementation.
He went on to underscore the importance of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, stressing the IAEA’s central role in this regard. The total elimination of nuclear weapons and the assurance that they will never be produced again is the only unqualified assurance against the catastrophic humanitarian consequences arising from the use of such weapons. “Our world, including outer space, must be free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction,” he stressed, calling on nuclear-weapon States to cease further modernization, upgrading, refurbishment, or extending the lives of their nuclear weapons and related facilities. Underscoring the importance of achieving universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he said that Treaty offers hope of halting further development, qualitative improvement and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, thereby contributing to the goal of nuclear disarmament.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said the lack of implementation of Article VI is a serious risk of the Treaty’s normative strength and its “diligently and carefully crafted balance”. He pointed to problematic developments on the nuclear agenda. The Security Council — a guardian of non-proliferation architecture — departed from unity on this issue when a draft resolution addressing violations of Security Council resolutions was vetoed by China and the Russian Federation earlier this year. Aggression against Ukraine meanwhile was accompanied by the threat of use of nuclear weapons, bringing home “in stark terms” that the risk is very real. Liechtenstein is following with great concern risks to Chernobyl nuclear facilities’ safety. While the Treaty has brought security gains in non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, each year that passes without meaningful progress on disarmament pushes its original purpose further into the distance and threatens its long-term relevance. Nuclear powers enhance capabilities in the name of deterrence, contravening Article VI obligations. Stressing that disarmament and non-proliferation must be pursued simultaneously, he pressed nuclear powers to rid themselves of their stockpiles and recalled the 1996 International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. He called for resumed talks for Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, noting that any agreement must align with the IAEA Additional Protocol. Liechtenstein attaches the highest importance to safeguarding the Treaty’s integrity and looks forward to an outcome based on the 13 Practical Steps on Non-proliferation and Disarmament and the action plan agreed in 2010. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which Lichtenstein strongly supports, is a response to the lack of serious commitment by nuclear powers to comply with their Article VI obligations, he explained, adding that Lichtenstein was pleased to attend the first meeting of States parties. He expressed hope for significant further measures, notably from those that can foster disarmament.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa), associating herself with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement and New Agenda Coalition, recalled former President Nelson Mandela’s appeal to nuclear-weapons States to follow South Africa’s lead in relinquishing nuclear weapons. Highlighting the continuing implementation gap in the obligations of disarmament and non-proliferation — which “destroys confidence in the grand bargain” between States with and without nuclear weapons — she stressed that reinterpretation, backtracking and abandonment of commitments reflects a lack of integrity and undermines the non-proliferation process. This casts doubt on both the value of such commitments and of the process itself. Underscoring that there is no conditionality for the full implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, she said that the success of the Review Conference will be determined by the extent to which these undertakings are practically implemented. Modernization programmes, policy postures and an increased role for nuclear weapons in the security doctrines of nuclear-weapons States reverse positive gains in reducing the number of nuclear weapons. Such States do not bear sole responsibility for reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security strategies, she added, pointing out that States under the “nuclear umbrella” continue to advocate for the presumed benefits of deterrence.
MARCIN PRZYDACZ, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, noted 160 days have already passed since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine — an attempt to subjugate and destroy another State, characteristic of colonial thinking. With its strategic forces being put on high alert, the risk of miscalculation grows, with the shadow of a Chernobyl-like disaster looming over Europe again — terrorist state behaviour that constitutes a clear and direct threat to global peace and security. In such demanding times, “our expectations towards the Review Conference shall be ambitious, but realistic,” he stressed. Noting the future of the arms control global system is already a source of concern, he called for the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) to lead to a broader follow-on treaty which covers all nuclear weapons, including non-strategic ones in Europe — with China constructively engaging in these efforts. The IAEA safeguards system must be strengthened, delivering a deterrence message in different regions of the world which may feel encouraged by the aggression of one of the nuclear-weapon States in Europe to undermine international security architecture and obtain nuclear weapons. He also renewed support for peaceful uses of nuclear energy — a way to achieve strategic energy independence from unsustainable fossil fuels providers such as the Russian Federation.
Mr. VAN DER PLAS (Netherlands) said that now more than ever the international community must take steps towards a nuclear-weapons-free world, stressing that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is the only road towards that goal. The arms control architecture is unravelling with the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Moreover, the risk of nuclear conflict is bigger than it ever was since the Cuban missile crisis, he stressed, pointing to the Russian Federation’s use of dangerous rhetoric and its seizure of nuclear facilities in Ukraine. He urged the international community to achieve tangible results on all three pillars of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, adding that the IAEA’s work must be strengthened and supported. Now more than ever the nuclear-weapon States need to show that they can deliver on Article VI of the Treaty, and progress must be made on risk reduction, transparency, nuclear safety and safeguards, he said.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) noted his country created the first area free of nuclear weapons under the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco) in 1967 — preceding the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The so-called “grand bargain” should neither be reinterpreted nor misconstrued, he stressed, and non-nuclear-weapon States have done their part, with Mexico even taking on additional voluntary commitments complementary to the Treaty. The grand task of the Treaty is fulfilling the obligations in Article VI — yet 13,000 weapons remain in nuclear-weapon State arsenals, under military doctrines from the cold war era. He firmly rejected any argument to justify the continued existence of nuclear weapons and the threat of use. He expressed hope that States will renew their commitments and report to the Conference with quantifiable measures to support trust-building. The Russian Federation has put its nuclear systems on high operational alert, increasing the dangers of intentional or accidental utilization. He therefore called for the Review Conference to reach a final agreement to review implementation of the Treaty.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said his country, through the Non-Aligned Movement, has engaged through a number of Working Papers to contribute to a successful outcome of the current Review Conference. Noting the successful conclusion of the first meeting of States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said that given the critical need to reduce the risks associated with nuclear weapons, his country has co-sponsored Working Papers submitted by Austria related to that issue and welcomes other efforts, particularly the Stockholm Initiative. As the depository State of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, his country supports the establishment of such zones in all regions, including the Middle East, and urges further efforts at providing new, legally binding commitments on security assurances in the context of nuclear-weapon-free zones. His country stands ready to cooperate on non-proliferation with all parties under different global and regional frameworks and is pleased to co-chair the ASEAN Regional Forum Intersessional Meeting on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, with the United States and Sri Lanka, from 2022-2024.
AMATLAIN ELIZABETH KABUA (Marshall Islands) said that circular negotiations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty have, for too many years, “failed to listen closely to those voices who know better”. In 1954, Marshallese leaders petitioned the United Nations to halt the testing of nuclear weapons; however, the United Nations responded with two Trusteeship Council resolutions that represent the only time the Organization has ever explicitly authorized the detonation of nuclear weapons. As a result, the United States detonated 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958, and the exposure of Marshallese people and land created impacts that have lasted — and will last — for generations. Calling for the disclosure of all key information on weapon impacts and waste material taken to or left on her country’s shores, she said that the test for the Review Conference is to produce a strong outcome and unified message to the world that the reduction and elimination of nuclear risk is on track. She added that the Non-Proliferation Treaty “remains largely a hollow shell” and that global nuclear risk is rising, calling for a global collective goal towards achievements “far stronger than symbolic momentum”.
OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), associating himself with the European Union, condemned the unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, with the involvement of Belarus. With threats to use nuclear weapons, Russian military forces are still occupying the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, in Ukraine. “These acts, amongst many others committed throughout this war, are unacceptable,” he said, and they undermine nuclear safety and security. Expressing support for the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament, he stressed the need for tangible results in halting the quantitative and qualitative proliferation of nuclear arsenals and their delivery systems. It is further crucial to reverse the trend of undermining key instruments for arms control, which has resulted in termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019. While welcoming the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races of 3 January 2022, he stressed that threats from the Russian Federation contradict it. He therefore reiterated the call on China, Egypt, the United States, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to enable its early entry into force. It is also crucial to address the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Welcoming ongoing diplomatic efforts to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear issue, he called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to stop defying Security Council decisions.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT (Guyana), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said this year’s Review Conference must reaffirm the importance and continued validity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and of commitments made previously. Deliberations must be objective in evaluating the status of the treaty and focus on areas of further action that would contribute to its full, effective, and balanced implementation, she added. Voicing concern about the continued existence and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and at trends which seek to normalize the threat of use of such weapons, she joined others in calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, expressing hope that the Review Conference would reinvigorate these efforts. She welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, calling on Member States to ensure that progress is maintained during the Review Conference with a view to adopting a strong outcome document which guarantees the non-use of nuclear weapons and sets out clear commitments and benchmarks towards the Treaty’s full implementation. She further urged States parties to enhance regional and international collaboration and to provide technical assistance and support where needed to fulfil the accord’s objectives.
PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile) welcomed progress in limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but expressed concern that efforts towards nuclear disarmament are lacking. The Tenth Review Conference is the first held after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, to contribute to those goals, States should reduce spending on the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons. This would free up vital resources to address the urgent needs of their citizens. Noting that the international community expects concrete progress to be made on fulfilling binding commitments made at the 2010 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, she stressed that the Tenth Review Conference cannot end frustratingly like the one held in 2015. Chile supports complete disarmament and the indivisibility of international security; namely, that all States — regardless of size or power — must contribute to consolidating an international order based on cooperation and regulated by norms. She also stressed the need for ensuring greater transparency regarding the modernization of the use of nuclear weapons, for reducing the number of States that have their operative systems on high alert and for strengthening reporting on nuclear arsenals.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) said the Tenth Review Conference must deliver a substantive result, stressing that “we must make up for lost time,” not only because the pandemic set back progress but because State Parties did not adopt an outcome in 2015. While the world struggled with the COVID-19 crisis, countries spent over $70 billion for one year of nuclear weapons maintenance. In May 2020, Ecuador and Malaysia, along with 15 others, commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty, issuing a joint declaration that also addressed health. On 1 August, they published a joint statement reiterating the principles outlined in that communiqué. “The best way to strengthen the Treaty is by implementing it effectively” he said, urging the Conference to value the degree of fulfilment by States as related to their obligation. Signalling progress, he said the world has advanced in alignment with the Treaty’s Article VI with the implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — a legally binding instrument that strengthens, rather than weakens, the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Noting that nuclear weapons have always contravened international law given their catastrophic humanitarian impact, he said the risk of nuclear weapons being used has increased amid tensions involving or beginning in countries that possess these arms. When there are 13,000 weapons around the world, he urged countries possessing them to commit to disarmament. “May we take advantage of this Review Conference to further the greater goal of a world free of nuclear weapons,” he declared. This would be the best way to honour the victims of atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki after 77 years, on 6 and 9 August, and pay tribute to all victims of testing “the world over”.
SYED NOUREDDIN BIN SYED HASSIM (Singapore) said the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime is under severe strain. He expressed regret that States parties failed to achieve consensus on a substantive outcome document at the 2015 Review Conference and that the Third Preparatory Committee in 2019 was unable to adopt a common set of recommendations for the Tenth Review Conference. “The gulf and distrust between Nuclear Weapon States and non-nuclear weapon States has continued to widen,” he observed. Discussions on the three pillars have become politicized and divisive, as frustration has grown over the lack of progress on disarmament, and non-compliance with both the Treaty and countries’ safeguards obligations. Taken collectively, these issues call into question the relevance, legitimacy and credibility of the Treaty, he said, stressing that the lack of progress has reinforced perceptions that nuclear powers are unwilling to disarm.
Recalling that the New START is the last nuclear arms control pact between the United States and Russian Federation in effect today, he encouraged the sides to resume dialogue, given that they possess the two largest nuclear arsenals. More broadly, nuclear powers must commit to reduce their arsenals in a transparent, irreversible and verifiable manner within a specified and reasonable timeframe. Annex II countries, in particular, must sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, while the Conference on Disarmament must agree on a work programme that includes negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. He expressed support for the creation of nuclear weapon-free zones, strengthening IAEA capacity on non-proliferation and nuclear safety issues and finding ways to address non-compliance, including by encouraging countries outside the regime to abide by the same international rules. There must be a robust global export control regime to guard against illicit trafficking while facilitating legitimate trade. States’ rights to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy cannot be viewed separately from their duty to uphold nuclear safety and security. Singapore is committed to supporting IAEA and fulfilling its obligations under the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. “The Treaty is not perfect, but it remains the cornerstone of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime,” he assured.
TRI THARYAT, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Cooperation at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, associating himself with the Group of Non-Aligned States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and ASEAN, expressed regret that nuclear-weapons States are moving away from effective measures towards nuclear disarmament. Rather, alert statuses have been raised, the role of nuclear weapons in military doctrine remains central and transparency continues to be reduced. Against that backdrop, he stressed the need to transform obligations into concrete actions, to strengthen disarmament architecture and to continuously promote nuclear technology for peaceful use. On that point, he called for increased support to the IAEA as the sole competent authority providing broader technical assistance in the peaceful application of nuclear technology to support national priorities. Expressing concern over the use of nuclear energy for military activities, he pointed out that his country is submitting a working paper concerning the need to tighten verification and monitoring measures for nuclear-naval-propulsion programmes and called on States parties to support it.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union, noted that her country is among those who have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, calling upon all States to sign and ratify it without further delay. “The Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty remains among our top priorities in the nuclear disarmament field,” she said, stressing the need for immediate commencement of treaty negotiations within the Conference on Disarmament. All States possessing nuclear weapons that have not yet done so must declare and maintain a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices. Noting the urgent need to address current proliferation challenges, she called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all its nuclear ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and to return to compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon State and with the IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, as well as to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty without delay. She expressed support for all diplomatic efforts to preserve and restore the full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as an important component of the global non-proliferation architecture.
NJAMBI KINYUNGU (Kenya), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, noted the disheartening trends of rising nuclear rivalry, tensions and use of dangerous rhetoric by some nuclear-weapon States who are also members of the Treaty. She urged all nuclear-weapon States and the “nuclear umbrella States” to aim for new defence and security doctrines devoid of nuclear weapons. She reaffirmed that the outcomes of previous Review Conferences and the commitments therein, including the “13 Practical Steps” of the 2000 Review Conference and the “64 Point-Action Plan” of the 2010 Review Conference remain pertinent. Subsequent Review Conferences should build on these and focus on implementation. As a developing country, Kenya affirms the inalienable right of all States to engage in research and development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. She emphasized that through collaboration with the IAEA, Kenya has seen leadership of women in peaceful use of nuclear science and technology — Kenyan Professor Miriam Kinyua has developed a rust- and weed-resistant wheat variety, which contributes to climate-resilient food security. As a State Party to the African Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone Treaty (the Pelindaba Treaty), she recognized the importance such zones play as critical building blocks — citing the similar role of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga), and the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia (Semipalatinsk Treaty).
GUILLERMO ROQUE FERNANDEZ DE SOTO VALDERRAMA (Colombia) said the existence of almost 13,000 nuclear weapons — 2,000 of them on high alert — puts into question civilization itself. The catastrophic consequences of any use of nuclear weapons mean the international community must adopt urgent measures for their total elimination — a moral imperative and inevitable responsibility to current and future generations. While celebrating the formal extension of the New START Treaty, he noted that sadly, the events of last year have brought a new climax in nuclear threats not seen since the cold war — illustrating the dangerous fragility of the presumption that such weapons provide security. While it is crucial to develop risk-reduction measures towards concrete results in disarmament and verification, this does not erase the obligation towards full disarmament. Major powers must reduce the importance of such weapons in military doctrines and strengthen safeguards with the IAEA — a legal obligation. He called for the creation of new nuclear-weapon-free zones and consolidation of existing ones, with broader peaceful use of those technologies.
AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, rejected all illusive narratives invented to prolong disarmament in the name of nuclear deterrence. The modernization and upgradation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems should be abandoned, as the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. Pending such elimination, there must be unequivocal negative security assurances by all nuclear-weapon States to non-nuclear-weapon States through a legally binding instrument. He further called for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and an early conclusion of the Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty. He emphasized that establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones contributes to disarmament and non-proliferation at the regional and global level, supporting establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. “Nuclear technologies should be a boon, not a bane for humanity,” he said, with robust international cooperation to enable developing and least developed countries to utilize the inalienable right to develop, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia) associating himself with the European Union, said the Non-Proliferation Treaty has no credible alternative, stressing that the Russian Federation’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine raises serious questions about the global non-proliferation and disarmament regime. “We need to be determined and aim for unity for the sake of preserving and upholding the Treaty, its integrity and continued significance,” he said. He called for reaffirming the Treaty as the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime and enhancing commitments undertaken at past Review Conferences. He voiced support for a progressive step-by-step approach of mutually reinforcing legal measures to promote disarmament, stressing that gains — such as the extension of the New START Treaty, launch of the strategic stability dialogue and restatement of the Reykjavik Summit declaration — are now overshadowed by contradictory actions by the Russian Federation that have eroded trust. He called for dialogue on future verifiable arms control arrangements, prospectively engaging other States. He pressed the remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty without preconditions and expressed support for negotiations on a Fissile Missile Cut-off Treaty in the Conference on Disarmament on the basis of the Shannon mandate. He welcomed pragmatic initiatives to promote dialogue on advancing nuclear disarmament and facilitating implementation of the Treaty’s goals, citing the Stockholm Initiative, the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative and the Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament Initiative in this context.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, called on all States to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty as non-nuclear weapon States and fully adhere to its terms, adding that its pillars are complementary and reinforcing. Noting that the Russian Federation’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine breached international law, he said it is the duty of the Review Conference to condemn the intimidating use of nuclear rhetoric by a nuclear-weapon State associated with the invasion of a non-nuclear-weapon State, the betrayal of security assurances given at the time of Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty and the threat posed to Ukraine’s nuclear infrastructure. He welcomed the decision to extend the New START Treaty and to establish a bilateral Security Dialogue, calling broadly on nuclear States with the largest arsenals to make further reductions. The readiness announced on 1 August by the United States to negotiate a new arms control framework is timely and he called on all relevant parties to transparently sustain dialogue. He voiced strong support for risk reduction initiatives and pressed States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. He urged Iran to implement its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take steps towards the complete, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
FU CONG, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of China, stressed the need to uphold the concept of common security in advancing international nuclear disarmament, and said that his country commits not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstance. China always keeps its nuclear capability at the minimum level required to safeguard national security and, with its high level of stability, consistency and predictability, China’s nuclear policy is an important contribution to the international nuclear-disarmament endeavour. He went on to call on the United States to lift its relevant, illegal sanctions on Iran and its long-arm jurisdiction measures on third parties and, on that basis, urged Iran to return to full compliance with its nuclear commitments. He also emphasized that the international community should reject double-standards in the area of non-proliferation, pointing out that nuclear-powered-submarine cooperation between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia poses severe nuclear-proliferation risks. Adding that nuclear-sharing arrangements run counter to the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he called on the United States to withdraw its nuclear weapons from Europe and underscored that any attempt to replicate NATO’s nuclear-sharing model in the Asia-Pacific region would undermine regional strategic stability and be firmly opposed by the countries in the region.
THORDUR AEGIR OSKARSSON, Ambassador for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of Iceland, associating himself with the Nordic countries, condemned the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustifiable military action against Ukraine, another member State of the Non-Proliferation Treaty — stressing that the message from the Reykjavik Summit in 1986 — “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” — is as valid as ever. The most imminent, growing threat to the non-proliferation regime and global security is the rogue behaviour of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which can only be solved by its return to compliance with the Treaty and IAEA Safeguards Agreements. While distrust reigns, recent statements of the leaders of the United States and Russian Federation offer a glimmer of hope — although deterioration in nuclear disarmament should not discourage strengthening critical instruments including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He warned that dark clouds on the peaceful use of nuclear technology are gathering in Ukraine, where the invading Russian armed forces play fast and loose with the safety of nuclear energy facilities. “If there was ever an urgent need to apply more energy, more creative thinking and even more resources to the disarmament and arms control efforts in general, it is now,” he stressed.
DAVIT KNYAZYAN (Armenia), noting different approaches regarding the disarmament pillar of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, stressed that the disarmament agenda should be advanced in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Treaty. The realization of necessary steps — such as the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty — will contribute to further disarmament efforts. He went on to say that, as the Treaty has laid the necessary grounds for global development of the “peaceful atom”, his country prioritizes the safe use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. As a country with an operating nuclear power plant, Armenia pursues a transparent, open policy for the safe, peaceful use of atomic energy and will continue taking necessary measures to maintain and enhance nuclear and radiation safety. In this regard, he welcomed the crucial, cooperative role played by the IAEA through its Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols, as well as its technical assistance programme.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), endorsing statements by the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, called for strengthened measures to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, notably by fully eliminating these weapons and working globally to fight terrorism. Implementation of the Treaty is not as balanced as it could be, as there are “clear gaps” in the participation of nuclear-weapon States on the issue of disarmament. He cited a nuclear arms race and references to these weapons in military security doctrines. He reaffirmed multilateralism as the principle anchoring disarmament negotiations. Noting that non-proliferation efforts should go hand-in-hand with those for disarmament, he urged nuclear States to honour their commitments made in 1995, 2000 and 2010, with a view to eliminating their arsenals and starting disarmament negotiations without delay. Next, an international legally binding instrument must be put in place to provide assurances to non-nuclear weapon States, while the IAEA must be able to exercise its mandate related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. He called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East as soon as possible, in line with Security Council resolution 987 (1991), General Assembly resolutions, and decisions taken at the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, pressing all Member States to support a third session of this conference in 2022. He expressed disappointment that the 2015 Review Conference was unable to reach a consensual outcome document or work plan, calling for “sincere efforts” and the requisite political will to ensure the success of the Tenth Review Conference.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said a step-by-step approach to global nuclear disarmament is the right path to build trust and confidence. In that regard, his country has endorsed the initiatives on Stepping Stones for Advancing Nuclear Disarmament and the Nuclear Risk Reduction Package, put forward by the Stockholm Initiative, as concrete efforts towards improvement of global security, confidence-building measures and progress on implementation of nuclear risk reduction commitments. Voicing concern over the nuclear safety and security risks in Ukraine, he joined the call of IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi for the Agency to be allowed to send a mission to the Zaporizhzya facility to conduct safety, security and safeguards protocols. “We all know that a nuclear war cannot be won, so it should never be fought,” he stressed, expressing concern over the nuclear sabre rattling on the possible use of nuclear weapons. He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to implement in full Security Council resolutions, return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and comply with its provisions and IAEA safeguards. He called on Iran to engage in good faith and seek realistic and lasting solutions, welcoming the IAEA Board of Governors’ resolution that calls upon Iran to act fast to fulfil its legal obligations and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) said the recent ratification by Guatemala of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to which her country is a State party, makes Central America the first region in the world to fully ratify that important nuclear disarmament instrument, reaffirming the region’s political will to support multilateral efforts for peace and security through disarmament and non-proliferation. Stressing the importance of the prompt entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, she called on those countries that have not done so to sign and ratify that international instrument, particularly the countries listed in Annex II. Nuclear weapons are not the way to guarantee international peace and security, she said, stressing that verifiable, complete and unconditional nuclear disarmament is the way to preserve not only human life but also the entire planet. She urged all countries not yet party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to subscribe to it promptly and without delay. She also called on nuclear-weapon States to eliminate nuclear weapons and to make a firm commitment at this Review Conference to refrain from their use.
GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said that despite the five-year extension of the New START Treaty, active negotiations to reduce nuclear weapons have not taken place since 2011. Achieving further reductions remains very challenging, he added, noting that the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty has lapsed, and both the United States and the Russian Federation have withdrawn from the Treaty on Open Skies. He called on the international community to move toward an agreed global ceiling, setting an upper limit from which nuclear arms can be reduced. Noting the war in Ukraine and the heightened risk of a conventional armed conflict escalating to involve the use of nuclear weapons, he urged States that possess nuclear weapons to take steps to decrease the operational readiness of their nuclear forces, and to decrease their nuclear arsenals. “Disarmament treaties are more than legal obligations, they are moral commitments,” he underscored. Noting the pressing need for responsibility solidarity and common security, he said disarmament and non-proliferation education can play an important role in that endeavour, by raising awareness, especially among the youth, of the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons for current and future generations.
ANOUPARB VONGNORKEO (Lao People's Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said nuclear weapons remain a serious concern and pose grave threats to international peace and security. Given the risk they pose for the catastrophic destruction to humanity, the elimination of nuclear weapons is the only fundamental guarantee against their use or threat of use. Against that backdrop, he called for strict adherence to Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty towards complete nuclear disarmament, as it is more crucial than ever for the international community to affirm its commitment to the three pillars of nuclear non-proliferation. Recognizing the critical role of the IAEA, he called for the promotion of peaceful use of nuclear science and technology, adding that the creation of regional nuclear-weapon-free zones, and entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons can make significant contributions to strengthening nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. He urged the international community to renew its political will to ensure genuine dialogue and negotiations for a successful Conference.
RAMSÉS RADHAMÉS LAGOS VALLE (Honduras), expressing concern over the threat that the continued existence of nuclear weapons poses to all of humanity, stressed that non-proliferation matters must be dealt with more effectively through negotiated, multilateral and non-discriminatory agreements “to prevent worldwide catastrophe”. The Review Conference offers an opportunity to assess State commitments and identify areas where greater progress is needed to ensure complete, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament. He also called for the opening of negotiations on universal, legally binding guarantees against the threat or use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. He supported the right of each State to develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends and welcomed the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge in this area. Adding that Honduras is a State party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, he pointed out that his country has joined the objective of making the Latin America and Caribbean region the largest nuclear-weapons-free zone in the world.
ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, condemned the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine and warned that its nuclear threats have shaken the entire nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Some States are responding with a re-emphasis on nuclear weapons and on nuclear deterrence — a grave mistake. The world is at a “threshold moment”, on track towards a nuclear-arms-race dynamic. “So it is up to us to turn the ship around,” he stressed, citing reckless talk about the “usability” of nuclear weapons. The Review Conference must push ahead implementation of the Treaty to achieve significant and credible progress on nuclear disarmament and strengthen non-proliferation alike. And the majority of States have been doing just that, he noted: shifting the focus from argued nuclear weapons-based security needs towards the powerful evidence about the catastrophic and potentially global humanitarian consequences. He underlined a clear position against nuclear power generation, be it for Sustainable Development Goals or to combat climate change, as it is neither viable nor cost efficient, and the disposal of waste and spent fuel remains unresolved. Citing the crises of catastrophic climate change and the pandemic, he warned that the nuclear threat differs in that humanity must act pre-emptively by removing this existential threat altogether. “We owe it to the survivors of nuclear use and testing and to future generations that we use this conference to make real progress,” he stressed.
IGOR VISHNEVETSKII (Russian Federation) sharing a message from President Vladimir V. Putin, said the Treaty’s obligations in the areas of non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy fully serve the interests of nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon States alike. As a State party and a depositary State, the Russian Federation “consistently adheres to the letter and spirit of the Treaty” and has fully implemented its commitments under bilateral agreements with the United States on the reduction and limitation of arms. “We believe that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the global community,” he quoted the President as stating.
He said the Russian Federation attaches great importance to the IAEA safeguards system and considers it extremely important to ensure its objective, depoliticized and technically justified application. All countries that comply with the Treaty also should have the right to access peaceful nuclear energy without preconditions. He stressed that the malicious expansion of the military bloc seeking military, strategic and geopolitical dominance has caused an acute crisis in the centre of Europe, forcing the Russian Federation to defend its legitimate right to its core security interests and subjecting it to a hybrid military campaign “fraught with a slide into a direct armed conflict between nuclear Powers”. In fully implementing its international obligations, including those under Article I, his country bears its “fair share” of responsibility for preserving peace and strengthening global security.
On his country’s initiative, the New START Treaty was extended for five years in February 2021, he said, noting that in July of that year, a strategic stability dialogue was launched with the President of the United States. However, these achievements were devalued by the United States policy of ignoring the Russian Federation’s “red lines” and using its rebuff to this destructive approach as a pretext to “freeze” the strategic dialogue. “It is more critical than ever that nuclear Powers behave with restraint and responsibility,” he said. Commitment to the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought was reaffirmed in his country’s dialogue with the United States, as well as with China and in the Joint Statement of Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races.
He said the principles of the IAEA safeguards system should remain objectivity, technical objectivity and consistency, noting that the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones are important for strengthening the non-proliferation regime and regional security alike. He called for resuming full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, noting that the Russian Federation has consistently advocated the right to develop peaceful nuclear technologies. He emphasized that its main goal is to ensure the Review Conference contributes to strengthening the Treaty, rather than to increasing controversy within it. Finally, he strongly rejected all allegations about unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.
YURI ARIEL GALA LÓPEZ (Cuba) said the only sustainable solution to the existential threat of nuclear weapons is their full, transparent, irreversible and verifiable elimination. His country rejects attempts to impose conditions on nuclear disarmament and legitimize the status quo, he said, stressing that political manipulation, selectivity and double standards in non-proliferation must stop. It is not fair nor acceptable for a group of States parties to comply strictly with all the obligations under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, while others do not. It is not fair either to condemn or demonize countries for alleged violations of the non-proliferation regime when the same States that condemn continue to upgrade their nuclear arsenals, supplying and transferring technologies, he added. The Conference must conclude with a clear call to the nuclear-weapon States and those under the so-called "nuclear umbrella" to comply with their obligations and implement, without preconditions or delay, the commitments agreed upon in 1995, 2000 and 2010, including the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country has always stood at the forefront of global non-proliferation and disarmament efforts, dating to the 1976 Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, chaired by Sri Lanka, during which the idea of a special session on disarmament was mooted, and including the historic 1995 Review Conference, which it also chaired. He pointed to the legitimate concerns of non-nuclear States to receive assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, noting that the expansion of arsenals raises questions of credibility. Welcoming the joint statement by the permanent Security Council members in January, he said sustaining progress in non-proliferation and disarmament relies on young people and he encouraged investment in disarmament training and education. He noted initiatives to promote “nuclear risk reduction” as the focus of the Review Conference, noting that this should not be viewed as an end in itself. The Review Conference should not be diverted from the Treaty’s core aims, resulting in setting the bar too low. The approach of nuclear risk reduction seems to emerge as a compromise for the unsatisfactory pace of progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation objectives of the Treaty. Such an approach must be accompanied by a commitment to report annually on the risk‑reduction actions taken, he said, highlighting the importance of transparency, verification and irreversibility of all nuclear disarmament measures.
GBOLIÉ DESIRE WULFRAN IPO (Côte D’Ivoire), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, stressed the urgency that nuclear-weapon States respect their commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. He also called for the creation of zones free of nuclear weapons, like that established in Africa by the Treaty of Pelindaba. The international community must also prevent malicious non-State actors and terrorist groups from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. His country advocates the peaceful use of nuclear power — although this third pillar remains the most neglected. It must therefore become a priority for the years to come, in particular through renewed support for international cooperation with IAEA. In Côte d’Ivoire, such cooperation has produced tangible results in fields as varied as nuclear medicine, animal health, improving crop productivity and the safety of certain foodstuffs, as well as preserving the environment and combating soil erosion. He noted Côte d’Ivoire is a signatory to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 Amendment, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, as well as of the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency.
IGNAZIO CASSIS, President of Switzerland, stated that, 60 years ago, during the Cuban missile crisis, the world gazed into the abyss. The Russian Federation’s unacceptable nuclear threats earlier this year as part of its military aggression against Ukraine once again remind the international community of the Sword of Damocles hanging over humanity. He noted that any use of nuclear weapons would break the nuclear taboo that has existed for 75 years, with catastrophic humanitarian consequences. The Review Conference must set the course for urgent and necessary change: reducing the role of nuclear weapons; and the probability of a nuclear accident or use resulting from a misunderstanding. Nuclear risks will remain until the of the last of the weapons is dismantled, he stressed, calling on nuclear-weapon States to renounce the accumulation of nuclear weapons and return to the path of arms control and disarmament.
Warning that recent international developments have shown the vulnerability of civilian nuclear facilities, he urged that the facilities must be kept safe and secure under all circumstances, including during armed conflict. Failure to do so would have immense humanitarian and environmental consequences. For the Non‑Proliferation Treaty to be effective, the international community must uphold its non-proliferation standard: in particular, addressing regional challenges including condemning further development of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme, and the need for an immediate return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by all its parties. Last year, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force. With Switzerland having participated in the first meeting of States parties to this instrument as an observer, he wondered if it is possible to aim for nuclear disarmament without the nuclear-weapon States.
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, said the bipolarity of the cold war has been replaced by “nuclear multipolarity”, with so many States acquiring nuclear weapons. The world is at risk of sliding into a nuclear war, and the use of nuclear weapons, by design or miscalculation, a higher risk than ever before. In a few days, she noted, the world will commemorate the seventy-seventh anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with all their horrors, and this lesson for humanity: never again. Noting the picture is not all dark, she cited the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and extension of the New START Treaty. A re-commitment to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by all States parties should include a renewed commitment to the implementation of the 1995 resolution which calls for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East. As the peaceful use of nuclear energy is a right and an important pillar of that Treaty, nuclear-weapon States should help developing countries to access this right without delay, or discrimination. Quoting late United States President John F. Kennedy, she warned that humanity is hanging by the slenderest of threads and “we should not allow nuclear weapons to cut us out of existence”.
ZORAYA DEL CARMEN CANO FRANCO (Panama) expressed concern over ongoing upgrades of nuclear arsenals, means of delivery, materials and connected technologies — including hypersonic weapons, silent cruise missiles and artificial-intelligence systems — as these are evidence of a new arms race and undermine the goals of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty. Further, there is a risk of such weapons falling into the hands of non-State actors, and they are vulnerable to piracy and cyberattacks. The only effective guarantee against the threat of nuclear weapons, she underscored, is their complete prohibition and elimination. The Review Conference provides an opportunity to assess State commitments and follow up on the results of previous review conferences, and the potentially catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear-weapon tests or use obliges all States to ensure the full application of international law standards. She went on to point out that the Latin America and Caribbean region was the world’s first nuclear‑weapon-free zone — serving as an example to other regions — and that the Treaty of Tlatelolco also demonstrates the region’s commitment to complete disarmament.
PĒTERIS FILIPSONS (Latvia), aligning himself with the European Union, urged a progressive, practical approach to nuclear disarmament, pointing out that the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the commencement of negotiations on a treaty banning the production of fissile material would be relatively straightforward — yet essential — first steps. He also called on States that have not yet done so to join the “overwhelming consensus” against nuclear testing, on Iran to return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from further escalation and engage in meaningful dialogue. He went on to stress that the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine is “singularly shameful” because it was carried out by a permanent member of the Security Council against a nation that received security assurances upon giving up its nuclear weapons and joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Further, he expressed concern over the Russian Federation’s intention to transfer nuclear-capable ballistic-missile systems to Belarus and render its fighter planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons, as this would further violate both countries’ commitments under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, and called on the Russian Federation to stop its “dangerous nuclear rhetoric”.
ANTONIOS PAPAKOSTAS (Greece), associating himself with the European Union, strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine. Noting that Greece voted in favour of the text on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), he said transparency among nuclear-weapon States encourages confidence-building and that the communique issued by the five permanent Council members in December addressed their responsibility to reduce the risks of nuclear conflict, including the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons. Noting that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons does not make the needed provisions for the incremental withdrawal of nuclear weapons or provide a verifiable mechanism that would oversee such an undertaking, he said Greece looks forward to dialogue on creating a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East and acknowledges all States’ sovereign right to opt for peaceful nuclear energy. He called for strict implementation of IAEA safety standards. Given the ongoing conflict and record of seismic activity in the Eastern Mediterranean area, he said safety and security, and the implications of safeguards must be fully respected in Ukraine, where facilities should operate without interference and under the full control of the Ukrainian regulator. IAEA experts must have all access to all nuclear plants to conduct safety activities, including on physical inventories, and monitoring. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and conclusion of deliberations on the Fissile Missile Cut-off Treaty would signal a major turning point in negotiations, he said, adding that the Review Conference should seek to adopt a forward-looking outcome to strengthen the Treaty’s norms.
MARITZA CHAN (Costa Rica) said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the only gender-sensitive nuclear weapons agreement in existence, standing in contrast to previous instruments and fora that had largely excluded or tokenized the expertise and experience of women and girls. “Whether it is having more women in the room and driving the initiative, taking stock of the disproportionate effects of nuclear weaponry on women and girls, or elevating women’s experiences and gendered perspectives that challenge masculinized narratives of power, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and its First Conference of States Parties outcomes are documents that place gender-sensitive considerations firmly in spaces that historically would not allow it,” she pointed out. However, greater awareness must translate into effective, thoughtful inclusion that drives action, which must go beyond simply increasing the numbers of women in nuclear disarmament spaces, by including marginalized groups and engaging in gendered analysis. The goal of gender mainstreaming is to avoid making gender an ‘add-on’. Every aspect of a given activity, such as peace or disarmament negotiations or post conflict operations, must be assessed for its gender implications, she said.
Right of Reply
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his country has unfailingly fulfilled its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum, including not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The interpretation of statements by the Russian Federation leadership is unscrupulous and does not stand up to any criticism. Meanwhile, statements by Kyiv can be interpreted as an explicit bid to reconsider the non-nuclear status of Ukraine. Neither in 1994 nor afterward did the Russian Federation commit to recognizing coups d’état, he said, nor forcing regions to remain part of Ukraine against the will of the local population. He rejected speculations as detached from reality that the Russian Federation would use nuclear weapons, particularly in Ukraine, while not ruling out that such comments intend to fuel anti-Russian hysteria. The Russian Federation remains committed to the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races, and its warnings are not the language of threat, but a statement of what is possible — such is the logic of deterrence.
The representative of Japan referred to the earlier statement by China’s delegate citing the disposal of nuclear contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Japan’s basic policy, formulated in April 2021, concerns treated water with concentrations of radioactive materials far below regulatory standards, not the discharge of contaminated water. The Government of Japan would never discharge water into the sea without meeting international standards. Japan’s handling of treated water strictly abides by international law and gives due consideration to international practices and will continue to do so. The IAEA and international experts, as third parties, have been reviewing efforts, and the Government will continue to explain processes to the international community including China in a transparent manner.
The representative of Egypt, responding to Luxembourg’s call to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, stressed that Egypt fully supported that instrument, participated seriously in its negotiation and then signed it. It has not yet ratified the Treaty, however, as there is an imbalance in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regimes in the Middle East. Some countries in the region have yet to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and some nuclear facilities continue to operate outside the IAEA’s comprehensive safeguards regime. Spotlighting the need to ensure the universality of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he urged all States to comply with the universalization of that instrument.
The representative of Australia, also speaking for the United Kingdom and the United States, said that the three countries announced a trilateral effort in September 2021 to identify the optimal pathway to support Australia in its acquisition of nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarines, as permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The three countries will be able to provide the IAEA with full confidence, at every step of the submarines’ lifecycles, that no diversion of nuclear material is occurring, and will cooperate with the IAEA to set the highest-possible standards for nuclear naval propulsion. Emphasizing that the three countries remain committed to engaging openly and transparently on this matter, he welcomed further discussion or queries thereon.
The representative of China said the disposal of contaminated water and its potential impact on the marine environment and security of people cannot be neglected. The Japanese Government, before exhausting all options and after failing to consult with all partners and the international community, hastily made the decision to dispose of the water into the sea. Many Pacific coastal countries expressed their concerns and opposition to that decision, he added. Japan stressed that the water had been treated, but according to its own report the treatment technology used has not achieved the expected results. The water, which does not meet international standards, can only be considered contaminated water, but not treated water. Due to the limitation of the terms of reference, the IAEA can only consider the disposal into the sea of the Japanese water. The IAEA working group plans to visit Japan again at the end of the year and will draw its conclusion after the visit. Japan should consult fully with all stakeholders and international agencies, and use open, transparent and scientific methods to dispose of the contaminated water, rather than forcefully pushing forward the plan to dispose of the water in the ocean, he said.
The representative of Japan, speaking again, noted that some of the previous speaker’s remarks could be misleading and as such, he wished to clarify his delegation’s position to provide accurate information. Water treated through the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, would be discharged into the sea only when the Tokyo Electric Power Company operator complies with the regulatory standards based on recommendations by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. ALPS-treated water will also be discharged in line with international practice. The IAEA also acknowledged the discharge into the sea as technically feasible and in line with international practice. In addition, the IAEA is reviewing the handling of ALPS-treated water from an independent perspective. His Government will continue to explain its efforts, including the outcome of its activities to the international community in a highly transparent manner, and takes very seriously any concerns expressed from any international platform.
The representative of China, taking the floor again, addressed the AUKUS pact on nuclear-powered submarine cooperation, noting other countries have also expressed their positions, with the obvious fact that the issue is of great contention as to whether the IAEA comprehensive safeguards regime is applicable. He expressed hope that the Non-Proliferation Treaty States parties will fully discuss AUKUS cooperation and all proliferation and legal implications during the Review Conference, and that the pact States concerned will not take any hasty action in pushing forward the safeguard agreement with IAEA.