With Risk of ‘Armageddon, Apocalypse’ from Just One Single Nuclear Detonation, General Assembly Members Reaffirm Determination to Eliminate Such Weapons
“Nuclear weapons are the most destructive power ever created — they offer no security, just carnage and chaos,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, opening the plenary meeting to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Addressing more than 70 leaders, ministers and representatives of Member States, he asked them to free themselves from the idea that nuclear disarmament is “an unattainable dream”, because achieving a world without such weapons — the oldest objective of the Organization — would offer “the greatest gift to future generations”.
Csaba Kőrösi, President of the General Assembly, invited States who remember the unimaginable suffering caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to reflect on viable solutions to put an end to such horrible weapons that have no place in the modern world. He expressed regret that the war in Ukraine and the critical situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have undermined, in a few short months, the declaration made in January by the five nuclear Powers, which affirmed that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” and caused the failure of the tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Tension is at its highest point, with the war in Ukraine having raised the credible risk of a global nuclear disaster, as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has shown.
Mr. Guterres and Mr. Kőrösi presented their ideas for breaking the deadlock and restoring legitimacy to the multilateral non-proliferation regime — which is essential for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Secretary-General, citing his Joint Agenda, called on countries to consider nuclear disarmament modalities based on a common understanding of new risks, including those related to the evolution of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, and to dispel the vagueness surrounding the distinction between strategic and other weapons. Mr. Kőrösi cited the question of relying on the existing architecture to safeguard and activate the non-proliferation treaties. The multilateral framework exists to ensure the eventual elimination of the 13,000 nuclear warheads, he stated.
Stressing the risks of Armageddon and apocalypse that would result from a single nuclear detonation, both men underlined how there can be neither peace nor trust without the elimination of such weapons. The NPT entered into force in January 2021 after being supported by civil society — with the creation of zones free of nuclear weapons and the right of Treaty adherents to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Several speakers subsequently called on nuclear-weapon States to assume their nuclear disarmament responsibilities under Article VI of the Treaty and to grant negative security assurances, by which they would legally undertake not to use such arms.
India’s delegate stressed that a revitalized Conference on Disarmament is necessary for negotiating a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons that would have the force of law. The African countries signatory to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, also known as the “Pelindaba Treaty” — which made the continent a nuclear-weapon-free zone — and the Arab States engaged in a process of negotiation for the creation of such a zone in the Middle East extolled the merits of these useful instruments for restoring regional confidence. Namibia’s representative said the zones are regional shields against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The representative of Lebanon — which will chair the next conference in November in New York to negotiate a legally binding instrument on a Middle East without weapons of mass destruction — invited all the States of the region to participate in its work.
Representatives of developing countries that are parties to NPT warned against interpretations that could call into question their inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, also calling for increased cooperation with IAEA and civil society actors, the latter having made their voices heard during the day.
China’s delegate — the only member of the permanent five (P5) nuclear-weapon States to speak — denounced the strengthening of rivalries and cooperation on nuclear submarines, affirming that his country’s doctrine is based on no first use of such weapons and rejection of any competitive arms race.
The representative of Pakistan voiced regret that his proposals to guarantee a stable and nuclear-weapon-free South-East Asia had never been adopted. He noted that nuclear capabilities were introduced in South-East Asia by a certain State in 1974, which also detonated the first explosions there on 11 May 1998. The representative of Iran denounced the withdrawal of the United States from several treaties and conventions relating to disarmament, with that position representing the main obstacle on the road to nuclear disarmament.
Many delegations requested that the eight States yet to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) do so as soon as possible so that it can enter into force. The President of the General Assembly further noted that tests on the Korean Peninsula represent a threat to both regional and international peace and security. The representative of Austria, which hosted the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in June, described the Vienna Action Plan as “realistic and ambitious”.
CSABA KŐRÖSI, President of the General Assembly, stressed how necessary this day was in raising awareness among younger generations of the dangers posed by the very existence of nuclear weapons and the importance of eradicating them. He invited States to reflect on the memory of the unimaginable suffering in 1945 following the detonation of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That disaster deeply shocked the global conscience and collective unconscious, he added. He further recalled that in January, the five nuclear Powers (P5) had co‑signed a declaration stressing that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. However, he observed, just a few months later, tension is at its highest point, the war in Ukraine having increased the credible risk of a global nuclear disaster, as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has shown.
Some States are playing with fire, he lamented, further condemning the thinly veiled threats of nuclear strikes and the fact that the impasse in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula continues to weigh on regional and global security. That 13,000 nuclear warheads are currently deployed while billions of people are struggling to feed themselves and educate their children should make the international community wonder how the world has come to this point, he stressed. Reflecting on how to emerge from the current impasse, he affirmed that these horrible weapons have no place in the modern world, and that there is no justification for nuclear testing, the proliferation of weapons of this type or especially their potential use.
He urged Member States to safeguard non-proliferation treaties, renew their commitment to fully implement the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and refrain from any rhetoric likely to undermine peace and security — further calling on the eight countries listed in Annex II of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) that have yet to do so to ratify the Treaty to allow its entry into force, and calling for negotiations to begin without delay on a treaty prohibiting the production of fissile materials for military purposes.
The multilateral framework exists to ensure the elimination of nuclear weapons, which is the only way to protect humanity and future generations from the horrific risk of nuclear annihilation, he continued. He called on States to find rational compromises and workable solutions, so that the international community can move forward on the road to a nuclear-weapon-free world and eliminate the very idea of a nuclear apocalypse.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the day of commemoration brings world leaders together on the international stage to commit with one voice to “defend our world and our future”. He called on Member States to reject the claim that nuclear disarmament is an unattainable dream. “Nuclear weapons are the most destructive power ever created — they offer no security, just carnage and chaos,” he stressed, reaffirming that their elimination would be the greatest gift to future generations. Noting that, after the cold war brought humanity to the brink of annihilation, “we once again hear the rattling of nuclear sabres”, he stated that the era of nuclear blackmail must end, and that the very idea that any State could win a nuclear war is “deranged”. Any use of a nuclear weapon would lead to a “humanitarian Armageddon”. “We need to step back,” he stressed.
Deploring the failure of the last NPT Review Conference — which, for lack of consensus on the pillars of the Treaty, could not result in a substantive outcome document — he urged all States to pursue avenues of dialogue, diplomacy and negotiations, to ease tensions, reduce risks and eliminate the nuclear threat. Stressing the importance of a new vision for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he recalled that his “New Agenda for Peace” calls for considering the modalities of nuclear disarmament based on a common understanding of new risks. In this regard, he emphasized the need to consider the evolution of all types of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, and to address the blurred line between strategic and conventional arms. Similarly, he noted the importance of providing a legal framework, according to international standards, for cybersecurity and the uses of outer space.
After pledging to work closely with Member States to forge a new consensus on ways to mitigate the nuclear threat and move forward on the road to peace, he reiterated that without the elimination of nuclear weapons there can be no peace, no trust and no sustainable future.
TANETI MAAMAU, President of Kiribati, called attention to the humanitarian goals in CTBT, while recognizing positive obligations aiming to address the harmful consequences of past acts and recent nuclear tests. He urged advancement on questions relating to assistance to victims, environmental reparations and international cooperation. He asked that a trust fund be established for all affected parties.
BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said that no justification exists for the world to be threatened by 12,000 nuclear warheads. He reproached the United States particularly for having allocated $44 billion to nuclear weapons in 2021. The failure of the recent NPT brings the world even further away from our goal of nuclear disarmament, he said. Despite these failures, he called on the international community to continue to fight for a world free of nuclear weapons.
KANDIA KAMISSOKO CAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, expressed concern over the growing number of military deterrence doctrines and proliferation crises. She called for States to act urgently as the world is threatened by 13,000 nuclear warheads, urging the eight countries in Annex II of CTBT that have yet to ratify it do so quickly to fight against both vertical and horizontal proliferation. She further cited the Treaty of Pelindaba, which made the African continent a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
MATSEPO RAMAKOAE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lesotho, stressed that the credibility of NPT is dependent upon the application of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty, the only legal framework that prevents the proliferation of such weapons. She expressed concern that countries who have nuclear weapons have increased investment in them and lamented that the tenth Review Conference of NPT did not end in success. Lesotho will continue to apply all resolutions on the control of nuclear weapons and disarmament.
AMERY BROWNE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, reiterated his country’s support for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, adding that he considers using them a crime against humanity and a violation of the Charter of the United Nations. He expressed concern about the increased rhetoric around the potential use of nuclear weapons and noted that it would lead to both modernizing arsenals but also a large increase in spending. Asking the Assembly to think about what else could be done with spending allocated to nuclear weapons, he lamented the lack of consensus on NPT – as rising tensions could lead to war, with terrible consequences for all forms of life on Earth. Reminding the Assembly that the Caribbean region was the first to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone, he called on all Member States to join NPT, as they must do more than offer words.
OLIVIA RAGNAGHNEWENDÉ ROUAMBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, said that her country seeks regional and international peace and signed the NPT. She lamented that the tenth Review Conference had delivered mixed results and called on all parties to move forward as the current circumstance offer no other choice. She expressed frustration that CTBT has not come into force.
VLADIMIR MAKEI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, asked how close the international community has come to the goal of nuclear disarmament in the past 10 years. He noted that NPT has been challenged both regionally and globally, noting that the most recent conference of States could not come to consensus. However, this does not mean that the Treaty itself is called into question, he said. He called on concerned States to engage in dialogue to make nuclear disarmament both irreversible and multilateral, encouraging them to sign CTBT. He expressed regret that the Middle East and Eastern Europe had not become nuclear-weapons-free zones.
RETNO LESTARI PRIANSARI MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said that nuclear weapons continue to pose a threat to humanity. She decried the lack of sincere engagement of nuclear Powers on the issue of disarmament, proven by their lack of consensus at the last NPT. Nuclear disarmament must remain a priority for all and must be accomplished quickly, she said, calling on the nuclear Powers to stop waiting for another to make a first move, and to renew the Conference on Disarmament.
Mr. ALAM (Bangladesh)also lobbied for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. He supported the action plan in NPT, of which his country is a signatory. Nuclear weapons provide a false sense of security, he said. Expressing disappointment that the last NPT Review Conference did not produce any concrete results, he added that nuclear Powers should not only abolish their nuclear weapons but also stop producing and acquiring them. He called for political will to apply all treaties on non-proliferation. To that end, he called on the international community to re-establish trust between nations and reminded the General Assembly that all nations should have access to peaceful nuclear capabilities, namely nuclear power.
SONIA MARINA PEREIRA PORTILLA (Colombia) declared that the sheer amount of human death from a single nuclear explosion should be argument enough for their total elimination. She underlined the need to advance on this issue and renew diplomatic dialogue. The international community must construct a world without nuclear weapons for future generations, she said.
Ms. MATUNDU (Namibia) defended the principles of multilateral cooperation between States to end nuclear proliferation. She added that her country recently joined NPT and will continue to promote it. Underlining that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a complement to NPT, she urged States with nuclear weapons to reconsider their positions and sign the Treaty. She praised nuclear-weapon-free zones as instrumental in non-proliferation and confidence-building. Criticizing the lack of consensus at the NPT Review Conference, she specified that all States have a right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. She called for cooperation between states and with IAEA, which is also committed to both nuclear disarmament and development.
Mr. GIL (Venezuela) called for an end to old cold war rhetoric and supremacist ideologies that establish blocks and create hostility between countries. He condemned the production and stocking of, as well as threats pertaining to, weapons of mass destruction. He then recalled the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established Latin America as a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
Mr. NJAFI (Iran) expressed concern about the increasing possibility of nuclear conflict in a world where 13,000 nuclear warheads exist. After decrying the withdrawal of the United States from multiple treaties and conventions relating to disarmament, he added that the position of that country remains the main obstacle in disarmament. He reminded the Assembly that the only guarantee nuclear weapons will never be used is their elimination. He described the tenth NPT Review Conference as a failure, and urged the eight parties to Annex II of CTBT to ratify it. It is indispensable in order to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he said.
SANJAY VERMA, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of India, called for universal nuclear disarmament through smaller steps and affirmed that the Disarmament Conference would be the best place to achieve a legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He called on the international community to start negotiations on a treaty ending the production of fissile material.
NANCY TEMBO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malawi, said that her country ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Malawi has stocked radioactive material and is committed to the peaceful use of nuclear energy in the interest of its economic and social development. In this context, she hailed the cooperation of IAEA in assisting countries like hers in the development of nuclear energy. She called for countries with nuclear weapons to reaffirm their commitment to a world free of such arms.
EDUARDO ROSALES (Honduras) called for a total nuclear-weapons ban within an explicit time frame, and cited the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established Latin America and the Caribbean as nuclear-weapons-free zones, as an example of successful negotiations. It is urgent for nuclear Powers to enter into legally binding agreements on disarmament, he said. He underlined the important role IAEA plays in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
CARLOS D. SORRETA (Philippines) expressed regret over the failure of the last NPT conference, noting that much work remained to be done. He called for abandoning the term “deterrence”, as that doctrine did not work, and nothing can justify the possession of nuclear weapons. Noting concern about technological developments that had the potential to “bring the end of humanity closer”, he cited the “tragic conflict” in Ukraine, which is leading to a new arms race, as certain States look to increase, or even double, their expenditure on armaments, while other less wealthy countries could be tempted to bet on nuclear weapons. He called for the conflict to be resolved quickly to limit that arms race.
ANTONIA URREJOLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, recalled that while nuclear disarmament was the subject of the first United Nations resolution in 1946, the world today has almost 13,000 such weapons and that expenditure for their modernization is considerable. She hailed that a large number of States have joined the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – as hers has. Voicing regret over the failure of the NPT conference, she considered that the current situation was not encouraging – recalling that Latin America had been a pioneer in the elimination of nuclear weapons.
GEORGE MORARA ORINA (Kenya) said that nuclear security assurances were a useful tool in the international arena, but do not provide the absolute security that only the total elimination of nuclear weapons could guarantee. He expressed regret over the lack of consensus during the tenth Review Conference, considering the risk of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists to be serious, and calling on Member States to act to avert it. He hailed the essential utility of nuclear-weapon-free zones and called on Member States to ratify CTBT. He also recalled the right of all countries to develop peaceful nuclear research and technology, noting any threat of the use of nuclear weapons is reprehensible.
FREDERICK MAKAMURE SHAVA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zimbabwe, called for the elimination of nuclear weapons to be re-established as a priority for humanity by highlighting the suffering and destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After warning of the increasing nuclear threat amid current tensions, he assured that Zimbabwe remained committed to upholding its obligations under NPT and the Africa Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. On the other hand, he noted with concern that some States with nuclear weapons show neither the leadership nor the will to get rid of them and have even embarked on their modernization. The tenth Review Conference ended in failure, he noted, hoping that States parties would nevertheless honour their obligations.
SAIFUDDIN ABDULLAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, stated the international community remained hostage to nuclear weapons because of the actions of the few. The qualitative improvement and quantitative increase of nuclear arsenals pose a threat to humanity. After the failure of the last NPT conference, he demanded that the international community redouble its efforts to ensure compliance with the non-proliferation regime. He further argued that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had very stable legal foundations before calling for its universalization. Although the global security environment faces many challenges, the international community must persevere on the path to a world free of nuclear weapons.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), also speaking on behalf of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), explained that the elimination of nuclear weapons remained a priority for those countries. She denounced the threat posed to humanity, particularly in the current international context. Taking note of the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2021 and the election of Mexico as its President in 2023, she stressed that this treaty has come to be associated with NPT and the Treaty of Tlatelolco of 1967, which made the region of Latin America and the Caribbean a nuclear-free zone. It called on the nuclear Powers to respect this denuclearized status, and for the international community to begin negotiations for the adoption of a universal and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances. She urged nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations to eliminate their arsenals unequivocally, reminding them that NPT does not establish any right to the indefinite possession of these weapons for any State.
JAGDISH DHARAMCHAND KOONJUL (Mauritius), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in January had marked an important date which reaffirmed the determination of the peoples of the world to achieve the complete elimination of such arms. He, thus, urged the States possessing nuclear weapons to ratify it in order to move in the direction desired by public opinion and by a considerable number of Member States – 50 of them having ratified it to date. He further urged possessor States to honour their nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of NPT to ease current tensions. He expressed support for the negotiation process underway in New York on the establishment of a legal instrument leading to “the effective establishment of a Middle East without weapons of mass destruction”.
CARLA MARIA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) expressed concern about the breach of trust between great Powers, which entails – as is the case in Ukraine – a flagrant violation of human rights and the Charter of the United Nations. She praised the efforts made by IAEA to find a solution to the untenable situation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Furthermore, to restore interstate confidence, she recalled the effectiveness of the guarantees offered by the nuclear-weapon States to the non-nuclear-weapon States, which ensure that they do not use or threaten to use such arms. She recalled that Central America is the only region where all countries have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which testifies to the aspirations for security and peace of its inhabitants.
MOHAMED KAMAL ALI ELHOMOSANY (Egypt) said he was appalled by the contradiction of nuclear-weapon States modernizing and expanding their nuclear arsenals while the majority of States are experiencing unprecedented economic hardship due to galloping inflation. The failure of the tenth Review Conference only increases the pressures on the global architecture aimed at nuclear disarmament, he noted. He particularly commended the commitments of non-nuclear-weapon States that choose the path of disarmament. It is urgent to finally implement the 1995 resolution calling for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. He considered that the conferences establishing such a zone, organized in 2019 and 2020 under the auspices of the United Nations, had had positive effects on the expected implementation of the 1995 resolution and the plan of action therein.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) expressed concern at the threats of use of nuclear weapons by the Russian Federation on the European continent, noting that these threats are a reminder of the challenges that remain to be overcome to achieve a world without such arms. Following the first meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in June, she welcomed the Vienna Plan of Action, which would enable States to take detailed measures to advance the objective of the universality of this treaty.
Mr. MONGUNO (Nigeria) considered that the modernization and development of nuclear arsenals made no sense in the context of the urgent challenges in the fight against climate change, terrorism or achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. He cited the Treaty of Pelindaba, which in 1996 established the African continent as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, adding that the NPT is an essential instrument in efforts aimed at ending vertical and horizontal proliferation. He stressed the importance of promoting the universalization of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force in January 2021, before welcoming the adoption of the Vienna Action Plan in June.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) voiced regret that the risks associated with nuclear weapons were increasing, as illustrated by the lack of consensus at the tenth Review Conference. However, he highlighted some small advances, such as the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the fact that CTBT now has 174 members.
ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria) denounced the Russian Federation’s aggression — a nuclear State — against a non-nuclear State, Ukraine, and the occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Noting it is a shock to the non-proliferation regime, he called on Member States not to “wait for a disaster to occur”. He blamed Moscow for the lack of a final document at the tenth Review Conference. Noting that a majority of countries are not satisfied with the “nuclear status quo”, he welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, co-sponsored by Austria, calling the Vienna Action Plan “realistic and ambitious”. The Plan provides for the launch of a trust fund to support people who have suffered from the impact of nuclear explosions, creation of a scientific advisory council and a 10-year deadline for the destruction of nuclear weapons.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) considered that progress had been made in terms of treaties but regretted that enormous sums were still spent on modernizing nuclear weapons. Expressing concern about the new risks that cyberattacks and artificial intelligence could pose in this area, she condemned the actions of the Russian Federation, a nuclear-weapon State that has endangered international peace and security, calling on it to cease its nuclear pressure and withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. She further urged good faith in the application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, also calling all Member States to accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
MEDER UTEBAEV (Kyrgyzstan) stressed the importance of disarmament and non-proliferation in the context of current international tensions. He called for public education campaigns on the subject, as well as on NPT. To that end, he proposed that the Assembly declare 5 March an international day of sensitivity to disarmament and non-proliferation, and asked that the international community support the initiative.
Ms. SHABEENA (Maldives) said that the existence of nuclear weapons is a threat to humanity. Recognizing efforts of the international community to eliminate them, she pointed out that the nine nuclear Powers continue to produce nuclear weapons. Allocated budgets to manufacture these weapons could have been used for sustainable development, she stressed. Including the Maldives, only 68 countries have signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, she said, and called for States that have not signed to do so.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab States, said that the complete elimination of nuclear weapons is the only way to guarantee that they will never be used. Given an extreme rise in food prices, he suggested that concerned States reallocate resources used for nuclear weapons towards economic and social development. He called on the eight countries in Annex II that have not yet ratified CTBT to do so. He stressed universal participation in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and called for negotiations on a treaty that would prohibit the production of fissile material for military use. He condemned Israel’s refusal to allow inspection under IAEA’s general safeguard system and called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East as outlined in the 1995 resolution.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, outlined the potential impacts of a total nuclear disarmament on development, peace and national security, adding that the only way to guarantee nuclear weapons are not used is to eliminate them. Non-proliferation is an obligation for States with nuclear weapons, he said, and called on the States concerned to act. Suggesting that the Assembly re‑examine its approach to disarmament, he mentioned the conference to establish the Middle East as a nuclear- and weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone, as outlined in the 1995 decisions, as a positive development. He hailed the 2021‑adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and welcomed the related 2022 Vienna Declaration and Action Plan.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), who had spoken first on behalf of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, said that use of nuclear arms is comparable to a crime against humanity. He condemned States threatening to use such weapons as he did all similar implicit or explicit threats, describing them as violations of international law.
Speaking on behalf of Brazil, he lamented the lack of consensus during the tenth Review Conference but still welcomed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Further, he condemned the absurd term “tactical nuclear weapons” to “justify the unjustifiable” for States that have nuclear weapons.
AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal) expressed concern about current threats to peace and stability in the world and urged States to join the disarmament treaties. He lamented the lack of consensus during the tenth Review Conference.
FERGAL TOMAS MYTHEN (Ireland) said that the war in Ukraine should only strengthen the international community’s resolve to eliminate nuclear weapons. Underlining NPT and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as complementary to one another, he emphasized the importance of the former as necessary to avoid any even accidental nuclear event.
DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia) echoed the representative of Ireland regarding NPT. He said that the economic and social well-being of the world depend upon concrete progress on the elimination of nuclear weapons, and called for countries with such arms to honour their commitments to reduce their arsenals in a transparent manner.
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) urged nuclear-weapon States to implement Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and provide security guarantees to restore confidence. Lebanon, which will chair the next session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction in November in New York, calls on all States concerned in the region to participate in the negotiations.
ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia) stressed the need to increase efforts to safeguard the Non-Proliferation Treaty to move towards the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons. As a territory which has enjoyed nuclear-weapon-free status since 1998, Mongolia encourages the creation of other zones of this type to strengthen regional confidence.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) expressed his readiness to work towards the advent of a world free of nuclear weapons, before calling for the security of all States to be guaranteed with the lowest possible level of weaponry. He voiced regret that Pakistan’s proposals to ensure a stable South-East Asia without nuclear weapons had not been adopted. Nuclear capabilities were introduced in South-East Asia by a State in 1974, he noted, which also carried out the first detonations in 1998.
ISSIMAIL CHANFI (Comoros) drew attention to the impact that a nuclear war would have at the global or regional level before deploring that the non-proliferation regime had frozen the situation in favour of nuclear-weapon States. “We cannot accept this situation,” he stressed, demanding more specific commitments from those Governments, and urging world leaders to prioritize achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle climate change.
ZHANG JUN (China) stressed that a world free of nuclear weapons was in the interest of all States, expressing regret that some countries are obsessed with them, before castigating the practice of strengthening rivalries with the development of strategic forces and cooperation on nuclear submarines. “All of this must stop immediately,” he urged, before touting his President’s initiative for global security, which relies on sincere multilateralism to prevent wars and preserve peace. He explained that China prioritizes the doctrine of no first use of nuclear weapons, assuring that Beijing refuses to engage in any arms race with any country.
ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) recalled that modern nuclear weapons were much more powerful than those used in 1945 and could cause hundreds of thousands of deaths. He lamented that more than $100 billion is spent every year to maintain and modernize such arsenals, while welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
ABDULAZIZ M. ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia) said his delegation was ready to support any legal instrument that could reduce nuclear risk, affirming that his country had associated itself with the Vienna Declaration and noting it supports the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. He warned that Iran has engaged in a spiral contributing to the rise of tensions, calling on the international community to ensure that it develops a nuclear programme for peaceful purposes only — further demanding that Israel respect international frameworks regarding the possession of nuclear weapons.
BRIAN CHRISTOPHER MANLEY WALLACE (Jamaica) deplored the risk of the use of nuclear weapons and the fact that certain countries are threatened with it — even though the world should be concentrating on much more pressing social crises. He voiced regret that it had not been possible to adopt an outcome document at the end of the tenth Review Conference, stressing that possession of such weapons makes nuclear-weapon States bolder and incites them to violate international law. Calling for the emergence of a counter-narrative opposing the effectiveness of nuclear deterrence, he stated: “We are on the brink of disaster, let’s take a step back.”
MICHAEL IMRAN KANU (Sierra Leone) affirmed that nuclear weapons do not guarantee the security of any country and should be eliminated. He called on nuclear-weapon States to redeploy resources used for those arsenals to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, also calling on States parties to the NPT to make progress, welcoming the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, ratified earlier in 2022 by his country.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam) underlined that exclusion and confrontation were the surest ways to block the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. He further pleaded for the start of negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile materials to ensure that while waiting for nuclear arsenals to decrease, they do not increase.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) called on nuclear-weapons States to reconsider their doctrine, having proven that these arms in no way guarantee their security or the global strategic balance. Servicing and maintaining the 13,000 nuclear warheads alone poses a local and regional security risk, he added, condemning thinly veiled threats to intentionally use them. He expressed hope that nuclear-weapon States would reaffirm their commitments to reduce their arsenals, made at the Review Conferences of 1995 and 2000.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) defended the usefulness of nuclear-weapon-free zones at the regional and international level. Welcoming the New York conference for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East, he stressed it is necessary to establish a dialogue favourable to a legally-binding treaty that will meet the aspirations for peace and security of the countries of the region. He called for the entry into force of CTBT.
MEMET MEVLÜT YAKUT (Türkiye) expressed his concern over the threat of the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Türkiye is campaigning for a world free of the weapons, he said, hoping that despite the failure of the tenth Review Conference, the world would reach an agreement later. He called on all States that have not yet done so to ratify CTBT.
ANGELA HASSAN-SHARPE (New Zealand) recalled that the Pacific region had in the past been the site of numerous nuclear tests. She expressed concern about the new arms race, which is far from the ambitions that prevailed at the establishment of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. New Zealand is disappointed that the Russian Federation blocked consensus during the tenth Review Conference. She further called on all States to ratify CTBT before inviting them to make a stronger commitment to non-proliferation.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) said that no nuclear weapon can be positive, their mere existence being a threat to the survival of humanity, calling on the United Nations to redouble its efforts, with other partners, to achieve a world free of them. Ecuador is proud to belong to the first region in the world to have refused all nuclear weapons, he affirmed, calling on Annex 2 States to ratify CTBT.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) expressed regret over the lack of consensus emerging from the tenth Review Conference — marking 12 years of failure, a stark reminder of how much nuclear-weapon States are prepared to do to keep their arsenals unchecked and put their narrow, selfish interests ahead of peace. South Africa remains convinced that as long as nuclear weapons exist humanity will continue to face the threat of their massive, uncontrollable and indiscriminate use.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) expressed concern that the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons today was higher than at any time since the start of the cold war. With this in mind, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida proposed, during the tenth Review Conference, the “Hiroshima action plan” — the first step in a realistic evolution towards the ideal of a world without nuclear weapons. Based on the ideas set out in the plan, Japan will continue to work with the international community to achieve a world without such weapons, including within the framework of the United Nations General Assembly resolution on their elimination.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT (Guyana) said that in 2022, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons had taken on greater importance, particularly in view of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the heightened tensions around the world, posing the threat of a nuclear catastrophe. “We are only one miscalculation away from a global humanitarian disaster,” she warned. Expressing concern about the persistence and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, she stressed the moral, ethical and legal obligation to prohibit the use of such weapons.
EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) recalled that the use or threat of use of a nuclear weapon constitutes a crime and that NPT is the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime. No country could cope with the consequences of a nuclear detonation, she added. It is crucial to universalize the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as equal participation “is essential if we want to make nuclear disarmament a reality”.
MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq) called on the international community to implement all measures to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The only way to ensure that such weapons do not fall into the hands of terrorist groups is to ensure their destruction. He denounced an unbalanced and flawed implementation of NPT, expressing regret that the tenth Review Conference failed to reach an agreement. Urging for implementation of the 1995 decision calling for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he recalled the inalienable right of developing countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without being victims of discrimination. In this regard, he particularly welcomed the timeliness of technical assistance from IAEA.
JASSIM SAYAR A.J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar) praised the relevance of CTBT, hoping that the funds devoted to these tests would be allocated to the economic and social development of developing countries. He stressed that the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is urgent and would bring the international community closer to the goal of peace and security. Qatar is ready to host the third conference in November aimed at creating such a zone, which will be held under the Lebanese presidency.
SUNIL ALGRAM SITALDIN (Suriname) said it is urgent to free the world from the nuclear threat by giving priority to disarmament and the elimination of such weapons. Welcoming the establishment in several regions of nuclear-weapon-free zones, he made it clear that his country has no weapons of mass destruction and no intention of acquiring any. Moreover, Suriname respects its international obligations in this regard and has ratified all relevant international treaties. The creation of a world free of nuclear weapons is the responsibility of all because the survival of humanity is at stake.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) recalled that his country ratified NPT in 1988 and was party to all treaties guaranteeing nuclear security. Similarly, Bahrain supports all initiatives aimed at preventing terrorist groups from gaining access to this type of weaponry and wishes that IAEA can fully exercise its mandate. He also expressed his support for the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Such a measure would allow countries in the region to trade with confidence and reduce the risk of conflict. In this context, he called on Iran to honour its international obligations in this area and respect the IAEA regime, while proving the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.
AMRIYO BOBOZODA (Tajikistan) stressed that the nuclear arms race could have no winner. His country attaches great importance to the pursuit of nuclear non-proliferation programmes and the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones. In that regard, Tajikistan was one of the five founding countries of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia. Welcoming the day of commemoration, he added that his country shares the goal of a world completely free of nuclear weapons and calls on all countries to ratify CTBT so that it can come into force.
JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic) considered it essential that efforts to raise awareness of the nuclear threat continue, given the increasingly complex international context. She argued that the only guarantee against the use or threat of nuclear weapons is their total elimination. Expressing regret that the tenth Review Conference had not been able to achieve consensus and an outcome document, she said she was proud to belong to the first region to declare itself free nuclear weapons through the Treaty of Tlatelolco. The establishment of such zones promotes global disarmament and international peace and security, she said, calling on all countries to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to ensure its universality.
SULEIMAN HAJI SULEIMAN (United Republic of Tanzania) welcomed the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and was pleased that 91 Member States had signed it and 68 ratified it as of 23 September, noting that the ratification process was under way in his country. He called on Member States to join his and commended the work of IAEA, calling on all to work with it in good faith.
LUIS UGARELLI (Peru) voiced regret that recent nuclear threats had increased tensions on the international scene. “We are on the brink of nuclear war,” he stressed. Recalling that Peru had been one of the first States parties to CTBT, he added that as a member of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, he called on other regions of the world to adopt this type of instrument.
MARÍA ANTONIETA SOCORRO JÁQUEZ HUACUJA (Mexico) expressed concern about a very real threat of nuclear war and that a nuclear power station was in a combat zone. She called on nuclear-weapon States and non-weapon States belonging to nuclear-weapon alliances to revise their doctrine. “Threats to use nuclear weapons contravene international law,” she concluded.
NADER LOUAFI (Algeria) called for concrete measures towards nuclear disarmament and expressed disappointment that the tenth Review Conference did not result in consensus. However, he welcomed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and called for all countries to sign CTBT.
PIETRO PAROLIN, Observer for the Holy See, said that the conflict in Ukraine shows how close the world is to a nuclear conflict and underlined that the elimination of nuclear weapons has become urgent. He lamented that States with nuclear weapons prefer to develop their arsenals instead of practicing disarmament and non-proliferation.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that the elimination of nuclear weapons was the only way to prevent their use. He called for the implementation the nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, recalling commitments from the 1995 NPT conference.
LAETITIA MARIE ISABELLE COURTOIS, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), expressed concern over that the increased risk of deliberate or accidental use of nuclear weapons, adding that they are the among the greatest threats to humanity. She called for renewed dialogue about the humanitarian and environmental consequences of such weapons use and warned that accepting nuclear weapons as a means of defence is dangerous and unacceptable.
MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, of the League of Arab States, highlighted the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones and called that one be implemented in the Middle East according to commitments from the 1995 NPT conference. He called on the international community to pressure Israel to submit its facilities to inspection by IAEA.
NIKOLIC HUGHES, of the Peace Foundation, urged the Assembly to learn from the past and to reflect on the present. The 13,000 nuclear warheads that exist currently are more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, she emphasized, adding that their devastation remains unimaginable. Nuclear war is simply not an option. Bringing up the possibilities of a “nuclear winter” and “the end of humanity”, she called on all countries to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
PATRICK KAREKEZI, speaking in his capacity as Young Champion of Disarmament for the non-governmental organization Restless Development, said that he was intervening on behalf of the 1.9 billion young people who must ensure that tomorrow’s world is a peaceful one. He called on humanity to renounce fear and defiance, and abolish nuclear weapons.
MOLLY MCGINTY, of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, cited a study indicating that a nuclear war using less than 3 per cent of the global nuclear arsenal would wipe out one third of humanity. Nuclear weapons are a symptom of a broken system that allows those who have them to hold the world hostage, she said. She added that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons offered a ray of hope in a context of increased nuclear threat related to the conflict in Ukraine. Underlining that 1 million people have signed the petition asking the Russian Federation to refrain from using nuclear weapons, she urged both the country and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to abandon such weapons.
Mr. KŐRÖSI praised the participants for making their voices heard. He added that they had underlined the significant role of the General Assembly in a quest for peace, speaking out against “nuclear blackmail” and reaffirming that nuclear weapons have no place in a world where we want to see our children live.
He encouraged the participants to leave the Hall with resolve in their hearts and solutions in their minds to rid the world of the nuclear threat. This call, this aspiration requires the entry into force of CTBT and for negotiations to start on a treaty banning the production of fissile material to be used for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices. This also requires that all stocks of nuclear weapons be dismantled.
He recalled the statue of Saint Agnes found in the ruins of Nagasaki, charred from the nuclear explosion. The statue remains in the United Nations permanent collection as a testimony to a past that must never be repeated.