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Seventy-seventh Session,
2nd Meeting (AM)
GA/DIS/3682

Dangers Posed by Nuclear Weapons Back in Global Spotlight, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Tells First Committee

The existential dangers posed by nuclear weapons were back in the global spotlight, the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today, as it began its general debate.

Division among States was deepening amid inflammatory rhetoric, Izumi Nakamitsu said, calling for an end to the “devastating and senseless war” in Ukraine.  Annexation of State territory by another State violated the United Nations Charter and international law.  She urged the disarmament community to craft a new vision for the future which would ensure collective security.

Committee Chairman Mohan Pieris (Sri Lanka) said the world community was indeed confronted by a stark reality — war and violence were ravaging lives, both of soldiers and civilians — as the desire for peace drifted further away.  The Committee had a crucial responsibility.  He promised it would strive to evolve a set of recommendations for the increasingly complicated global security environment.

Among a rolling list of more than 140 speakers inscribed for the debate was the Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, who said that the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine heavily impacted the arms control, disarmament and the non-proliferation architecture, and hampered both multilateral and bilateral cooperation.  Similarly, the representative of Denmark, speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, strongly condemned the “unprovoked and unjustifiable aggression” against Ukraine.

There was no point in mincing words, the United States’ speaker said:  the United Nations Charter was under attack.  The strain on the international community was undeniably exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, its control of a peaceful nuclear facility there, sabre‑rattling and its single-handed blocking of consensus at the Nuclear Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.  Last week, in an “attempted land‑grab”, Russia held sham referenda at the end of the barrel of a gun, she said.

Representatives of regional and other likeminded groups voiced a range of concerns, including the representative of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who worried that the global peace and security architecture was under pressure from heightened tensions between major Powers, modernization of nuclear arsenals, accelerating arms races and ongoing conflict.

Speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, Iraq’s representative said the presence of nuclear weapons made it impossible to establish global peace, security and stability.  The United Nations multilateral framework provided the only sustainable way to address the issues of disarmament and international security.  He was deeply concerned at the continued failure to achieve tangible progress.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Bahamas (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Dominican Republic (on behalf of Central American Integration System), Nigeria (on behalf speaking for the African Group), Liechtenstein, Indonesia, Ghana and South Africa.

The representatives of the Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Ukraine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 4 October, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

MOHAN PIERIS (Sri Lanka), Chair of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), said the world community was confronted by the stark reality of war and violence, which ravaged the lives of soldiers and civilians alike. The desire for peace drifted further away from fulfilment, underscoring the importance of the Committee to strive to achieve a programme of action to address the increasingly complex global security environment.  In light of what the Secretary-General recently called the “dauntingly complicated” challenges, the First Committee had the crucial responsibility to strive to achieve a set of recommendations to address them.  He noted, among the challenges, government global spending of $2 trillion annually on defence, which, he said, led to an escalation of the arms race and undermined international security.

Despite the shifting international environment, rife with wars and arms races, he said that the Committee had led efforts towards disarmament and arms control throughout the United Nations history.  The post-pandemic environment was conducive to reflecting, in a fundamental way, on conflict, disarmament and governance, in order to build back better, in a way that ensured that human dignity, engagement in political transitions and a sustainable future for all were at the centre of all policies.

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, urged all to step back from the brink, calling for an end the “devastating and senseless war” in Ukraine, as well as to the sabre‑rattling and threats to nuclear safety.  The vision among States was deepening amid inflammatory rhetoric, and the Ukraine war brought the existential dangers posed by nuclear weapons back into the global spotlight.  She urgently appealed to all nuclear-weapon-possessing States to commit to no-first use of any nuclear weapon as an immediate measure to help save humanity from potential extinction.

In that context, she said that the failure of the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to adopt a final document did not mean that States could not implement their Treaty commitments.  On other agreements, she was encouraged by the growth of signatories and ratifiers of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and hoped that momentum continued.  She welcomed the successful conclusion of the first meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and its adoption of a declaration and action plan.  On chemical weapons, however, she warned that the norm against their use remained undermined by the international community’s failure to hold accountable those who would dare to use them, including in Syria.

On the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapon, she shared the frustration of the slow pace of progress and the inability of the group of governmental experts to capture the full extent of convergences in an agreed document, urging States to accelerate efforts to narrow differences on a pathway leading to an effective international instrument.  She commended the work initiated this year on the elaboration of norms, rules and principles governing outer space, and emphasized the importance of cyberspace security and the non-weaponization of outer space.  She encouraged continued work on the security of information and communications technology (ICT), noting potential risks to international peace and security emanating from quantum technologies, biotech applications, human enhancement and novel materials and manufacturing.

The High Representative regretted the ongoing stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament, saying that a genuine examination of its modus operandi was long overdue.  On a positive note, she was pleased that the Disarmament Commission was able to get back to substantive discussions on its two agenda items and hoped this positive momentum translates into concrete recommendations next year.  She touched on the growth in importance and relevance of disarmament education.  She pressed the First Committee, through its resolution on “Women, disarmament, non‑proliferation and arms control”, to enable the full and effective participation of both women and men in disarmament processes and decision-making.

Statements

MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Alignment Movement, expressed concern about increasing global expenditure on military instead of on development needs, poverty and disease eradication.  He also lamented the global “dismal state of affairs” due to non-compliance by nuclear-weapon States of their Treaty obligations.  In that vein, he reaffirmed his commitment  to multilateral efforts.  At the same time, he was disappointed at the inability of the ninth and tenth NPT Review Conferences to reach a consensus outcome, despite constructive efforts  by the Movement’s States, and he underscored the urgent need for accountability by nuclear‑armed States.  Additionally, nuclear-weapon-free zones were positive steps towards strengthening global nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation and he was concerned at the persistent lack of implementation of the 1995 resolution leading to the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.  He also expressed strong support for CTBT.

He emphasized the importance of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.  On conventional weapons, he affirmed the sovereign right of States to those weapons, stressing that the international community should not place undue restrictions on their transfer.  At the same time, he warned against the negative consequences of illicit small arms and light weapons trade.  Regarding the disarmament machinery, he emphasized the need for the Conference on Disarmament to commence its work in the areas of outer space and ICT.  He asked the Secretary‑General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs to ensure the Non-Aligned Movement’s adequate representation in the Office for Disarmament Affairs, saying the Movement stood ready to engage constructively to advance issues on the disarmament agenda.

STAN SMITH (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the world was at the most critical juncture since the Second World War.  As the Secretary-General said, it was in big trouble, the divide was growing deeper, the inequalities wider and great challenge remained.  He urged all States to act within the Charter’s framework on all disarmament and international security matters.

He said illegal arms and ammunition were sourced from outside his region, and those, including high-powered firearms, accounted for most of its homicides.  The CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security was working to strengthen regional peace and security through the implementation of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap, aimed at preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit firearms trade.  Additionally, the region was committed to the Arms Trade Treaty.  It also supported the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in all Its Aspects, as well as the International Tracing Instrument.

Nuclear weapons, he said, offered no security, just carnage, and he was deeply concerned about their modernization.  As a region that had established the first nuclear-weapon-free zone under the Treaty of Tlateloco, he was pleased to note the additional signatories, Barbados and Hait, and the new State party, Grenada.  On multilateral treaties, he urged the nuclear-armed States to abide by its Article VI commitments under the NPT.  He was disappointed that, 26 years after CTBT opened for signature, it still had not entered into force.  In closing, he touched on the important of gender equality and gender equity, and the full and meaningful participation of young people in all decision-making processes on matters related to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, as well as that of civil society.

SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the global peace and security architecture was under pressure from heightened tensions between major Powers, modernization of nuclear arsenals, accelerating arms races and ongoing conflict.  He firmly believed that the only way to guarantee against nuclear weapons use was their total elimination.  Highlighting that all ASEAN States have ratified the CTBT, he called on Annex 2 States to do so as soon as possible.  He regretted that the NPT Review Conference had not been able to reach consensus, and he called for the accountability of nuclear-weapon States.

He affirmed the right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and spotlighted the work of the ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but also sought to preserve South-East Asia as a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  He noted, in addition, ASEAN’s support for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.  In other matters, he stressed that access to outer space was an inalienable right of all States, but that realm could be used for peaceful purposes only, and “for the collective benefit of humanity”.  He also highlighted ASEAN’s efforts regarding explosive remnants of war, as well as in the area of cyberspace, and concluded by pledging the Association’s continued contribution to the common goal of a secure, stable and prosperous world.

JOSÉ ALFONSO BLANCO (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System, highlighted the continuing threat of illicit markets in conventional arms, their ammunition and components, misuse and excessive and destabilizing accumulation, as a manifestation of transnational organized crime.  He also drew attention to the implications of the lack of controls on the arms trade in different regions of the world.  The Central American Integration System’s member States continued to focus on the prevention of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  They were also proud to be part of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a densely populated area.  He welcomed the holding of the two sessions for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East and looked forward to a third.

For the System’s member countries, the NPT was the cornerstone of global efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and further the objective of nuclear disarmament.  He regretted that, despite the valuable participation of the majority of States parties to the NPT and the efforts of the Chair, the Treaty’s tenth Review Conference had concluded without consensus  on a final document, which would have furthered progress on implementation.  He urged the nuclear-weapon States to comply with their unequivocal obligations to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, in accordance with the Treaty’s Article VI.  He welcomed the recent ratifications of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, making Central America the first subregion to accede to that important instrument.

He strongly condemned all nuclear tests and stressed the need for the early entry into force of the CTBT.  He also supported all efforts to reduce the suffering caused by cluster munitions and their use against civilians, calling it a clear violation of international humanitarian law.  In closing, he called for strengthening the international standards applicable to ICT in the context of international security, promoting strategies to enhance cybersecurity and preventing cybercrime and attacks.  He urged all Conference on Disarmament member to demonstrate the political will needed to ensure the commencement of substantive work without further delay.

MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, condemned the unprovoked and justifiable aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the illegal, sham referenda and illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson regions, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as well as all international humanitarian law breaches.  Moreover, he regretted that the Russian Federation had blocked consensus at the NPT’s tenth Review Conference, and underlined that the Treaty remains the cornerstone of global nuclear non‑proliferation.

He urged States to sign and ratify the CTBT and expressed support for a fissile material cut-off treaty, and among others, the work of IAEA.  He also favoured an appropriate response from the Security Council regarding the Democratic Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapon programme.  The erosion of norms against the use of mass‑destruction weapons, he warned, affected the Chemical Weapon Convention, and to that end, he underlined his full confidence in OPCW.  The Biological Weapons Convention was another vital pillar of the disarmament regime, and he expressed strong support for the Secretary‑General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons as the only independent international instrument for such investigations.  Additionally, he urged Member States to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Convention, and the Arms Trade Treaty to address the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons.

He appreciated the work of the Group of Governmental Exports of Lethal Autonomous Weapons, and was strongly committed to the prevention of an outer space arms race.  Similarly, the group advocated for the full application of existing international law in cyberspace.  Lastly, he spotlighted the importance of the full inclusion of women into the substantive work of the Committee.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, stressed that the establishment of peace, security and stability in the world could not be achieved with the presence of nuclear weapons.  The multilateral framework under the United Nations umbrella provided the only sustainable way to address the issues of disarmament and international security.  He was deeply concerned at the continued failure to achieve tangible progress.  He reaffirmed the prominent role of nuclear-free zones in achieving international peace and security and advancing nuclear disarmament around the world, in particular, the Middle East.  He lamented Israel's continued refusal to accede to the NPT and said he would table, once again, the Group’s draft resolution on the threat of nuclear proliferation in the region.

He called for the  universalization of the NPT and stressed the need to respect its three pillars in order to correct the growing imbalance that resulted from the focus of some on non-proliferation at the expense of nuclear disarmament.  He also stressed the need to activate the pillar of cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy and to support the rights of non-nuclear-armed States to fully realize their inalienable right to the peaceful use of atomic energy.

The Arab Group, he said, believed in the importance of keeping outer space free from arms races and conflicts.  The relevant international agreements played a positive role so far in promoting the peaceful use of outer space and regulating its activities, he said, but a new legally binding international instrument was needed that would prohibit the placement of weapons in outer space.  In the field of cyber security, he urged international cooperation to enhance the security of ICT in order to fortify countries and enhance their capabilities against attacks.  The Group was keen for the United Nations to continue to play the central role in developing a system of international standards for information and communications security.  Additionally, the Group reaffirmed the need to enable the Conference on Disarmament to overcome the stalemate stemming from a lack of political will among certain countries.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the disarmament and non‑proliferation regimes are eroding.   He pointed, in particular, to another “failed” NPT Review Conference.  He, meanwhile, he underlined the Group’s commitment to the Pelindaba Treaty, which established the nuclear-weapon-free zone on the African continent, and in that vein, called upon all parties to work towards the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.

Warning about nuclear weapons’ catastrophic humanitarian consequences, he said that their total elimination was the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use.  He iterated the Group’s support for NPT, Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Vienna Action Plan and the CTBT, and urged all United Nations Member States to sign and ratify them, especially the remaining eight States listed in Test-Ban Treaty’s Annex 2.  The Group was also concerned about the illicit small arms and light weapons trade.  He drew attention to the Arms Trade Treaty, and while reaffirming the sovereign State right to conventional arms, he urged that it be implemented in a balanced and objective manner that protected the interests of all States and not just the major arms-producing countries.

Welcoming the Regional Centre’s deepening partnership with the African Union Commission and African subregional organizations, he called upon the Member States for further assistance to bolster the Centre’s efforts to ensure it can deliver on its mandate.  Moreover, he also welcomed the progress made by the Open-Ended Working Group in the areas of ICT and he stressed the importance of a legally binding framework to prevent an arms race in outer space.

BONNIE JENKINS (United States) said there was no point in mincing words:  the Committee was meeting under the extraordinary circumstances when the core of the United Nations Charter was under attack.  The strain on the international community was undeniably exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and control of its peaceful nuclear facility, along with its sabre‑rattling and single-handed blocking of consensus at the NPT Review Conference.

She said Moscow had flouted international law last week in an attempted land‑grab holding sham referenda at the barrel of a gun.  The United States would never recognize the outcome of those sham referenda or any territory the Russian Federation attempted to seize.  She also pointed to its continued rapid nuclear build-up and the continued rapid missile development of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The United States stood by the principle that a nuclear war could not be won and must never be won.  That would guide its work in the First Committee.

On 18 April, the United States announced its commitment not to conduct anti-satellite missile tests.  In order to encourage restraint, her country would submit a draft resolution on that.  It would also continue to support the NPT.  Some might see the lack of consensus on a final draft at the last Review Conference as a sign of failure.  The United States did not share that view.  Nearly 150 States parties were prepared to endorse it except the Russian Federation.  It was not a failure of the Treaty, but the action of one State.

Despite the differences, there was more that united than divided, she said, adding that her country would, among other things, seek to avoid risk reductions and promote arms control arrangements wherever possible.  It was confident in the CTBT and supported a fissile material cut-off treaty, nuclear verification, and the creation of an environment for nuclear disarmament.

MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said that the illegal flow of weapons into conflict areas continued unabated, in open violation of the Security Council’s arms embargoes and decisions by the General Assembly.  Highlighting the essential role of the NPT, she warned that its lack of implementation constituted a serious risk to its normative strength and ultimately to a world free of nuclear weapons.  Voicing regret regarding the outcome of the tenth Review Conference, she urged all sides to prevent a nuclear catastrophe in light of the alarming situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and expressed full support for the work of IAEA.

Moreover, she condemned the Russian Federation’s nuclear threats, and called on the Treaty’s universalization.  An illegal war, such as the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, must be prevented and perpetrators must be held to account, she stressed, adding that Ukraine had a right to self-defence and it should be supported in exercising that right.

She warned that militarized cyberattacks undermined democratic norms and exposed State institutions and their populations to great risk.  In that connection, she welcomed the Committee’s consideration of cybersecurity and advocated for the application of the Charter’s prohibition of the use of force to cyberspace.  Her country, along with like-minded States parties to the Rome Statute, have explored how to apply the Statute to cyberwarfare.  The First Committee must work closely with other United Nations bodies responsible for peace and security.  Only through multilateralism would the global community be able to find its way back to conflict prevention, disarmament and a decrease in military expenditure, and more broadly, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, stated that, in 2022, the paradigms of both the global and the European security architecture changed drastically.  The Russian Federation invaded the sovereign country of Ukraine with a wide range of conventional weapons, cyberattacks, dangerous nuclear rhetoric and threats to use nuclear weapons.  The Russian Federation, a permanent member of the Security Council, was in gross violation of international law and was severely undermining European and global security and stability.

He deplored the deliberate escalatory steps by the Russian Federation, including the partial mobilisation of reservists.  The Russian Federation also systemically breached the rules of international humanitarian law causing unnecessary injury and suffering, especially among civilians.  He held that country accountable for its human rights violations.  The Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine heavily impacted the arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, and hampered both multilateral and bilateral cooperation and work in that domain.  The long-awaited tenth NPT Review Conference in August had been unable to adopt a final outcome document because the Russian Federation had blocked consensus.  The European Union, which was strongly engaged in Conference preparations and active throughout the Review, deeply regretted that outcome.  Nevertheless, the legally binding obligations enshrined in the NPT and commitments from the past Review Conferences remained valid.

The Union, he said, reaffirmed its resolute commitment to and continued support for the full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and was increasingly concerned at Iran’s continued actions inconsistent with the Action Plan, and in the case of research and development, irreversible proliferation implications.  Some of those actions did not have any plausible civilian justification.  He urged Iran to return without delay to full implementation of the Acton Plan, including all transparency measures.  He also urged that country to fully cooperate with IAEA without any further delay or conditionality to resolve all pending safeguards issues, in accordance with its legally binding obligations under its NPT Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.

Similarly, the unlawful launches of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea threatened international and regional peace and security and warranted an appropriate response by the Security Council.  That country’s declarations that it would continue to develop its unlawful nuclear and missile capabilities, that it would be prepared to engage in the first use of nuclear weapons and that it would not engage in negotiations aimed at returning to compliance with its obligations under Council resolutions were a matter of grave concern.  The country must abandon its nuclear and all other mass destruction weapons and its ballistic missiles and related programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  The Union strongly underlined that the actions taken by that country could not confer on it the status of a nuclear-weapon State in accordance with the NPT, or of any special status, whatsoever.  Until it complied with its obligations under Security Council resolutions, the Union would continue to implement strict sanctions.

In conclusion, he stated the European Union continued to support the multilateral instruments against chemical and biological weapons and was committed to contributing to a successful outcome of the ninth Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the fifth Review Conference of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The European Union strongly supported the Secretary-General’s Mechanism for Investigation of Alleged Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, and was committed to promoting the full application of existing international law in cyberspace.  The European Union will also continue to support and strengthen conventional arms control instruments as well as the multilateral export control regimes.  The European Union will further address emerging challenges including those related to lethal autonomous weapons systems within the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention, advocate responsible military use of new technologies, promote responsible space behaviours and support efforts for the prevention of an arms race in outer space. Finally, he called on all United Nations Member States to join the Arms Trade Treaty and strongly encouraged the full implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  Gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls were important cross-cutting priorities for the bloc.

Mr. KOBA (Indonesia), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that, during this deeply worrying international security situation, the disarmament machinery, marked by institutional inertia and dysfunction, was affected even more.  He cited, among others, the NPT’s two failed Review Conferences and the stalemate at the Conference on Disarmament.  The situation was bringing humanity closer to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.

To address those challenges, he called on Member States to reinvigorate their commitments to disarmament, by correcting past failures, ratifying the CTBT, especially the Annex 2 States, realizing nuclear-weapon-free zones, universalizing the nuclear prohibition treaty and adding a verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention.  Moreover, legally binding instruments were needed to assure non-nuclear-armed States protection against nuclear weapons, to prevent an arms race in outer space and to ban the production of fissile material.  He also called for collective efforts to addressing emerging challenges in connection with cyberspace and autonomy in weapons systems.  “Machines should not kill people,” he said.

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) urged all delegations to re-energise the United Nations disarmament machinery and address the escalating threats to international security and rise in global military expenditures.  He said there was no choice but to move past the disappointment of the failure to reach consensus on two consecutive NPT Review Conferences.  He implored all Member States to commit to the implementation of the Treaty’s three pillars in their entirety and for nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their multilateral legal obligations on nuclear disarmament.  At the same time, non-proliferation policies should not undermine the inalienable right of States to acquire, have access to, import or export nuclear material, equipment and technology for peaceful purposes under IAEA supervision and in full compliance with its safeguards.  He lauded the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world, including the Treaty of Pelindaba.

Ghana, he said, considered the diversion, illicit trade and the unauthorized use of small arms and light weapons ammunition to be a serious impediment to peace, stability and development, and to budding democracy in most parts of Africa.  The upsurge in organized crime, terrorism, conflict, communal violence, banditry and violent extremism in the Sahel region and parts of West Africa were fuelled by the availability and easy access of light weapons.  Ghana also remained concerned over the negative implications of the development and deployment of anti-ballistic‑missile defence systems and threat of weaponization of outer space.

MATHU JOYINI (South Africa), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that the world was at a critical juncture with nuclear danger not seen since the height of the cold war.  The failure of the tenth NPT Review Conference showed the lengths nuclear-weapon States were willing to go to retain their nuclear weapons unchecked and to put their “selfish narrow interests ahead of the collective peace and security of the rest of humanity”. The total elimination of all mass‑destruction weapons was among her country’s key foreign policy priorities.

She hoped that the first meeting of States parties to the nuclear prohibition convention earlier this year would serve as a catalyst for much‑overdue progress in the disarmament pillar of the NPT.  Regarding nuclear‑weapon-free zones, she called on States to work towards the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, and for further strengthening of the Pelindaba Treaty.  She also highlighted the importance of restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for regional and global security.  Emphasizing the world’s collective responsibility to uphold the Chemical Weapons Convention, she urged States to be held accountable for any non-compliance.  She reaffirmed her continued support for OPCW, while underlining the importance of the Biological Weapons Convention.

Noting the adoption of the 2022 Annual Report of the Open-Ended Working Group of ICT and International Security, she cautioned against the establishment of an unnecessary, parallel process and lauded the Group’s capacity to find common ground in the complex ICT landscape.  Finally, she welcomed the Disarmament Commission considerations of outer space and nuclear matters under its South African chairpersonship and emphasized the importance of women’s participation and leadership in all peace processes.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply, rejected all the accusations made against his country as baseless.  The move towards a multipolar and fundamentally democratized world seemed to be a trend.  His country was carrying out a special military operation in Ukraine, which had led to issues of the economy and affected international relations, and at times, to a point of no return.  The United States was upset his country was taking its own independent course, while United States efforts were aimed at a return to their dominant position at any cost.  The West was not ready to create a universal infrastructure of equality.  It did not want to allow independent States the freedom of choice.  It was focused on narrow dominance.  Western countries had destroyed many of the foundations of international security, including in arms control, and led to the development of crises in many areas.  The United States was focused on the Russian Federation's sovereign status, along with that of other enemies declared by the United States and members of the coalition working to enforce their desires through unilateral sanctions and the use of  force, with a neo-colonial approach.

The West was developing an approach to further conflict with the Russian Federation focused on the war currently in Ukraine, increasing the number of weapons provided to criminal authorities in Kyiv, including rockets and reconnaissance within military and civilian infrastructure.  Its use of mercenaries had led to the death of civilians, which was bringing the United States closer to being considered a direct opponent of the Russian Federation.  That could lead to direct armed conflict between nuclear Powers with all the consequences that entailed.  The United States was fully able to coordinate that goal without any losses to their own status.  That was very dangerous for the world.  They are a threat to the Russian Federation.  Clearly, the West could not be a trusted partner.  It never followed through on its promises, he said.  The question here was that of multilateral platforms, at the United Nations, turned into propaganda platforms which were undermining the goal of a multipolar world.  The goal here was one of inclusivity and transparency, and must be maintained.  Nor could the sovereign equality of States and undivided security.  History cannot be ignored, he said.  The Russian Federation and other sovereign States will continue to bolster their independence and cooperations.

[The Bureau then announced that the microphone had been “cut off”.]

The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, responding to the “provocative statements” by the United States and European Union, said they continue to seek to distort the situation on the Korean Peninsula.  He would never accept the Security Council resolutions, which flowed from the United States’ hostile policies towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The security landscape of the Korean Peninsula was a “vicious cycle”, which was recently heading into a “much more dangerous space”.  The United States recently renewed its nuclear war scenarios, driving the Peninsula to the brink of war.  Its goal was to overthrow his Government by pressuring it to lay down its nuclear weapons and its right to self-defence.  The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had already warned that the United States-Republic of Korea joint military exercises posed a threat to the region.  In order for his country to change its nuclear strategy, the world had to be altered .  If the European Union desired peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should not blindly follow the hostile American policy.

The representative of Ukraine said the Russian Federation was waging an illegal war against Ukraine, violating the Charter, the principles of international law and numerous treaties and agreements, including the Budapest Memorandum, arms control treaties and the Vienna document.  The Russian Federation’s aggression was taking a terrible toll on civilians.  He pointed to the massive use of conventional weapons, including those prohibited under international law, against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and the seizing of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.  He also drew attention to the Russian Federation’s most recent propaganda show — or “referenda” — in the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine, forcing people there to fill out some papers at the barrel of gun.  That was “yet another Russian crime in the course of its aggression against Ukraine”, in violation of Ukraine’s constitutional laws, as well as the norms of international law and the Russian Federation’s international obligations.  He said that the referenda had nothing to do with free will and that their outcome would not change Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.  He condemned the actions of the Russian Federation, and thanked the Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs for their principled and firm position of not recognizing those so-called sham referenda.

For information media. Not an official record.