Seventy-seventh Session,
5th Meeting (AM)

World Gripped by ‘Apocalyptic’ Scenario Amid Nuclear Weapons Threat, First Committee Hears as General Debate Continues

Nuclear-Armed States Urged to Scale Back European Theatre of Conflict

It was supremely illogical that any State would court mutually assured destruction unless that “apocalyptic” scenario of annihilating several hundred million people beyond the theatre of war was the goal, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as it continued its general debate.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago said the international community witnessed with horror how one country loudly issued nuclear threats to deter other States from intervening in an ongoing, large-scale, unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign State.  Nuclear-armed countries must commit to responsible conduct and promptly scale back the European theatre of conflict.

It was hard to imagine, said Kyrgyzstan’s representative, an international climate less hospitable to nuclear arms control.  Under such circumstances, it was more important than ever to strengthen those nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation approaches that remained effective, including nuclear-weapon-free zones and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Several speakers agreed that the current security environment was extremely challenging and complex.  Hungary’s representative said that, with an increased risk of nuclear escalation and miscalculation, arms control, disarmament and non‑proliferation were more important than ever.  He stressed that efforts must be redoubled to reinforce the norms against nuclear weapons and reject policies that threatened to use them.

The representative of Germany said the security environment in Europe following the Russian Federation’s war of aggression had “shrunk the space” for bold disarmament initiatives.  By issuing nuclear threats, spreading fake news about biological and chemical weapons, and by its overall confrontational behaviour, that country was undermining all relevant international agreements pertaining to mass destruction weapons.

Slovakia’s speaker echoed concerns about what he described as the degraded international security environment and security architecture in Europe, owing to the “unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion” of Ukraine.  Russian forces used all categories of conventional weapons in Ukraine, often in a manner that did not comply with international humanitarian law, and its actions seriously threatened the safety and security of Ukrainian nuclear facilities, he said.

Calling nuclear weapons the “ultimate agents of mass destruction”, Nigeria’s representative urged nuclear-armed States to consider the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their use on human health, the environment and vital economic resources, and to take steps to dismantle them.

Algeria’s speaker said that nuclear disarmament was not a choice, but an imperative, and a legal and moral obligation.  He called on nuclear-weapon States to honour their commitments.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones, he added, were not simply confidence-building measures, but also concrete steps towards the full elimination of nuclear weapons.

Also speaking were representatives of Peru, Sri Lanka, Oman, Lesotho, Israel, Singapore, Burkina Faso, Switzerland, Uruguay, Bahrain, El Salvador, Guyana, and Mongolia.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Iran, Russian Federation, Syria, Ukraine, and United States.

The Committee Chairman gave concluding remarks.

The First Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 10 October, to continue its general debate.

General Debate

SARA ALVARADO (Peru) said that the Committee was meeting in a geopolitical context of exceptional concern.  He cited $2 billion in military spending, the ongoing development of more than 13,000 nuclear warheads, and the actions of the Russian Federation, which had heightened tensions between the two most militarized countries.  The world was still affected by the pandemic, an endless arms race, including in nuclear weapons.  She regretted that it had been impossible to reach an agreement at the tenth Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.  Nuclear-weapon States obstructed any commitment to disarmament and had made no substantial progress in nuclear disarmament.  Peru was a party to the NPT, as well as to the nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean.  She supported the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.  Nuclear-armed States should provide security guarantees to all countries in their region without preconditions that they would not use those weapons.

She said that illicit small weapons and ammunition cost more lives than any other type of weapon and played a big role in crime and armed conflict.  Her region bore witness to how their illicit use by unauthorized citizens caused suffering, upended institutions and internal peace.  Their proliferation and shipment to conflict areas increased illegal traffic and crossed borders into stable areas.  Despite binding political commitments, the world had seen little or no progress.  The urgent disarmament agenda also included information and communications technology (ICT).  Geopolitical tensions reaffirmed the need for adequate cooperation in that field.  For Peru, the primacy of the Charter, the application of international law and humanitarian law in cyberspace, as well as implementation of rules and standards of responsible behavior were essential.  The Committee had many challenges before it.  People were under threat of weapons of mass destruction and consensus around disarmament was collapsing.  The world could not bow to the whim of a chosen few.  Instead, it must find balance, reconcile interests, and insist on conditions to achieve peace and security.

GEORGE EHIDIAMEN EDOKPA (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, called for renewed efforts to resolve the current impasse in achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  He called on nuclear-weapon States to consider the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons on human health, the environment and vital economic resources, and to take steps to dismantle them.  Nuclear weapons were the ultimate agents of mass destruction, and their total elimination should be the final objective of all disarmament processes.

He expressed Nigeria’s strong support for all efforts aimed at the total elimination and de-legitimisation of nuclear weapons as the utmost prerequisite for maintaining international peace and security.  Nigeria is proud to be among the first States to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and urges all States, especially nuclear-weapon States and those under the so-called “nuclear umbrella” to follow suit.  “We all owe a duty to protect the environment by respecting the moratorium against nuclear testing as we work assiduously in achieving universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” he added.

SUGEESHWARA GUNARATNA (Sri Lanka), associating with the Non-Alignment Movement, said that the uncertainties the world faced were in manifold ways our own creation:  environmental destruction, the pandemic, a “morally bankrupt” international financial system, the unwillingness to help other countries and an unregulated cyberspace.  The Committee meets at a time when there is undoubtedly less security for all.  Moreover, a lack of progress on disarmament, threats of lethal and autonomous weapons, an arms race in space and the proliferation of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  Underlining the importance of the Disarmament Commission as the sole multilateral negotiating body on disarmament, he said that nuclear disarmament was relegated to the background, as the world witnessed during the tenth NPT Review Conference.  Pursuing non-proliferation while ignoring nuclear disarmament created two unsustainable clubs of “nuclear haves” and “nuclear have-nots”, and he called for negotiations for a legally binding treaty on negative security assurances for non-nuclear weapon states.

He voiced regret regarding the non-adoption of the report of the fourth Special Session of the Conference to State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  It was imperative that the current legal regime concerning the use of outer space was strengthened.  He expressed hope that a normative framework for small arms and light weapons would be established, detailing his country’s experience with the senseless destruction of its illicit trade.  A framework for autonomous weapons systems and an open, secure and peaceful ICT environment was needed.  A diversion of expenditure from military to crucial economic and social development would be a game-changer in the world’s efforts to create a safe, healthy and peaceful planet, he concluded.

ZADJALI AHMED DAWOOD (Oman) said that, as the security environment had become more complex and dangerous than ever, he called for the resolution of disputes through peaceful means and a global system that took into account the requirements of security and stability for all countries, without exception, within the concept of common security for all.  Contemporary conditions and challenges, especially in the Middle East, prompted all to renew the call for serious and responsible action.  His region must be freed of nuclear and all other weapons of mass destruction through the establishment of a zone leading to a lasting, comprehensive and just peace.  The relationship between countries should be based on a foundation of demonstrated trust, mutual respect and adherence to the Charter.  Making commitments a tangible reality without politicization and selectivity was imperative.

NKOPANE MONYANE (Lesotho) said that the state of peace and security in the world was gradually getting worse with recurring conflicts and eruption of new ones in many parts of the world.  A fair, balanced, yet robust implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty was critical, in order to regulate the international trade in small arms and light weapons and to curbing their illicit transfer.  Weapons of mass destruction had no place in modern-day civilized society.  The disarmament and international security landscape had seen some progress recently with the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  However, there was still more that needed to be done, particularly by nuclear‑weapon States.

He said that existing nuclear‑weapon stockpiles, as well as modernization of those weapons cast a shadow prospects for ridding the world of those weapons.  Their possession of those and other mass destruction weapons was the principal threat to humankind’s survival.  Sadly, discord remained among Member States on how to overcome those problems.  It was time for the international community to demonstrate resolve and commitment to ensure arms control and disarmament was done on a multilateral basis.  With today’s crises ever more global, multilateralism was more important than ever.

GILAD ERDAN (Israel) said that rogue States were challenging non‑proliferation and arms control, particularly in the Middle East, which was struggling with a lack of compliance.  That disregard for international norms had become very dangerous in the region.  The international community seemed willing to accept that culture of non-compliance.  While Israel continued to support the non-proliferation regime, the NPT did not provide a remedy for the unique security challenges in his region, including repeated violations by some of its Member States.  Four of the Treaty’s main violations took place in the Middle East, predominantly by Syria and Iran.

For decades, he said, Iran had advanced its nuclear programme, uranium metal and centrifuges.  The “[Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] is worthless” — even from a proliferation standpoint, he said.  The deal would expire in a couple of years, and he wondered about the prudence of discussing a commitment made by a murderous regime, or trust the Ayatollah and the number‑one State sponsor of terrorism.  Iran had violated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and hid their military nuclear programme.  “The international community sits idly by as Iran gallops to nuclear weapons.”  It made a sham of IAEA, which was a nuclear watchdog, not a nuclear pawn.

He said that, despite disarmament processes in Syria, the world witnessed hundreds of incidents of chemical weapons use by that regime, as OPCW had reported.  He called on the international community to remain vigilant.  Non-compliance eroded the norms against the use chemical weapons.  In addition, Syria’s undeclared nuclear activities were worrying.  Its clandestine construction of nuclear reactors had been a blatant violation of its commitments.  Had that project been completed, it would have paved the way for another brutal regime to become a nuclear Power, he said.

On a point of order, the representative of Syria asked the Committee Chair to immediately alert the speakers, and the current speaker in particular, of the need to abide by the rules of diplomatic discourse under the roof of the United Nations and not to use words that besmeared the names of States represented in this Hall.

The representative of Israel went on to say his country had delivered its annual report on military expenditures on small arms and light weapons and had complied with its commitments under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  It had joined the Mine Ban Convention as an observer and was a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty.  He called for international cooperation and security in cyberspace, suggesting that the basic tenets of Israel’s cybersystem be promoted globally.  As for the claim that a comprehensive safety architecture could be established in the Middle East without Israel, or while denying Israel’s right to exist, was unattainable.  Any regional security framework, such as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, must be the outcome of mutual political desire, and his country had no intention of such initiatives.

BERENICE LOW (Singapore)reaffirmed the NPT as the cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The failure of the tenth Review Conference to adopt a final document for the second consecutive time was disappointing.  Nevertheless, she was encouraged that six more Member States had ratified the CTBT.  She reaffirmed Singapore’s commitment to the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, and looked forward to continuing dialogue with the nuclear-weapon States on their accession to the Treaty’s Protocol without reservations.  She recognized IAEA as the sole competent global authority in ensuring nuclear safety, security and safeguards.

She urged Member States to curb the illicit arms trade and indiscriminate use of conventional weapons.  On cyberspace security, she called on the United Nations to play a leading role in the development of international cyber norms.  She meanwhile pressed Member States to redouble their efforts to implement the 11 voluntary, non-binding norms, which, together with international law and confidence-building measures, constituted the cyberstability framework for responsible State behaviour in the use of ICT.

SEYDOU SINKA (Burkina Faso) said that nuclear weapons posed a real threat to all, and it was thus crucial to strengthen efforts to eliminate them.  The NPT was vital in that regard, and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to which his country was a signatory, was a significant step forward.  The cessation of nuclear testing in all its forms was another imperative, and it was regrettable, therefore, that the Test-Ban Treaty had not yet entered force.

He said that, for his country and all others in the Sahel-Saharan region, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons was a real source of concern.  Indeed, those weapons were the primary source of threats to peace, security and stability in Africa, particularly in West Africa.  Even if they were not the direct cause of crises and conflicts, they fuelled or promoted them.  They also played a role in terrorism and transnational organized crime, as well as exacerbated armed violence and undermined the socioeconomic development of countries in his region and elsewhere.  Thwarting their trafficking should be the concern of the international community, which must come together to regulate the arms trade in these weapons.

He deplored the present division among States.  The international community, together, had committed to fulfilling the sustainable development goals.  In that vein, it should firmly commit to a genuine disarmament process that also mobilized financial resources for development.  Burkina Faso urged the global community’s deeper involvement with the Sahelian States, including Burkina Faso, in order to combat trafficking and cross-border crime.

FELIX BAUMANN (Switzerland) said that the international security environment had greatly deteriorated, owing to intensified competition among major Powers.  That trend that had been exacerbated by the Russian Federation's military aggression against Ukraine.  The recent Russian Federation threats of the possible use of nuclear weapons or the increase in their alert level were particularly worrying.  Switzerland was also concerned about the increased use of cyberoperations in the context of the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, particularly when directed against critical infrastructure.  The eroding international environment also had major implications for the global arms control and disarmament architecture.

Work was required on multiple fronts, he said, stressing that attention must be paid to the existential threat of nuclear‑weapons use.  That must be addressed in order to prevent a possible large-scale humanitarian disaster.  There must be strict compliance with international law, including respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States.  He called for new responses, or even new norms, to meet the recent challenges.  He welcomed the intensification of work on outer space security, and in particular that of the Working Group on Space Threats.  In the cyberarea, he was pleased at the adoption by consensus of the progress report of the Open-Ended Working Group on Digital Security and its Use.

THOMAS GOBEL (Germany) was disappointed at the lack of a final document at the last tenth NPT Review Conference.  The Russian Federation, by issuing nuclear threats, spreading fake news about biological and chemical weapons, and by its overall confrontational behaviour, was undermining or violating all relevant international agreements pertaining to weapons of mass destruction.  The security environment in Europe following that country’s war of aggression had “shrunk the space” for bold initiatives.  Negotiations must begin on a fissile material cut-off treaty, for which nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-arms States could very effectively work together.  Nuclear disarmament verification was a case in point.  Recently, Germany and France had successfully conducted a second exercise simulating the dismantlement of a nuclear warhead.

He expressed serious concern at the increasing pressure on the universally accepted global ban against chemical weapons.  The international community should renew its efforts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.  Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and quantum computing created new opportunities for arms control by, among other things, enhancing verification.  But, those technologies also challenged ethical, legal and operational frameworks, and could increase the risk of miscalculation and cause inadvertent escalation.  Developing norms, rules and principles of responsible use and behavior would building transparency and confidence among States.

MICHAL MLYNAR (Slovakia) said that the international security environment and security architecture in Europe had been significantly degraded by the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine.  Russian Federation forces used all categories of conventional weapons in Ukraine, often in a manner that did not comply with international humanitarian law.  Additionally, its actions and illegal annexation seriously threatened the safety and security of Ukrainian nuclear facilities.

He voiced support for a progressive step-by-step approach towards nuclear disarmament, which took into account the prevailing security environment.  Any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, at any time and under any circumstances was unacceptable.  Slovakia reaffirmed its strong support for the Biological Weapons Convention and was fully committed to contributing to the success of its forthcoming review.  He was committed to the prevention of an arms race in outer space and the preservation of a safe, secure and sustainable space environment, and supported the work of an Open-Ended Working Group on reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour.  He was concerned by the development and testing of anti-satellite weapons, and the risks associated with those weapons.  Slovakia supported free, open, stable and secure cyberspace where human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law were observed.

GABRIELA GONZÁLEZ (Uruguay) said that her country remained committed to multilateralism and to nuclear disarmament.  Current threats of the use of nuclear weapons put international security and peace at risk.  Their use would constitute serious violations of international law, humanitarian law, and the Charter.  It was everybody’s responsibility to work for world peace.

She deplored the lack of an outcome text at tenth NPT Review Conference, but said that did not negate States’ responsibilities from earlier conferences.  She reiterated her commitment to the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Latin America and stressed the importance of the CTBT and adherence to the moratorium on nuclear testing.  Ending the proliferation of conventional weapons was also vital.  Their trafficking and trade in armed conflict perpetuated the suffering and death of civilians and affected her country and region.  The Arms Trade Treaty was the basis for international regulations of those weapons, and she welcomed the Open-Ended Working Group, whose format was an opportunity to make advance a set of political commitments.  Assistance was needed for countries to close the technology gap for security, and she supported draft resolutions on the topic. She advocated for the free, fair and safe use of cyberspace.  Lastly, she said any initiative promoting gender equality in disarmament-related matters had her support.

JAMAL ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said the Committee was particularly important in light of the conflicts and hotbeds of tension in various parts of the world, as well as continued terrorist threats and the access of  terrorist groups to various types of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction.  He attached special importance to the NPT in the context of  nuclear disarmament, preventing the proliferation of those weapons and promoting cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  He stressed the need to implement the decision of the 1995 NPT Review Conference to render the Middle East free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

He said that the tremendous developments in ICT and digital transformation required efforts to prevent cybersecurity abuses. He highlighted the importance of work under way to reach an international consensus on the most prominent cybersecurity issues.  He reiterated that outer space was a common human property to be used for peaceful purposes and not for any arms races.

EGRISELDA LOPEZ (El Salvador) said that complete nuclear disarmament remained an outstanding debt of the Organization.  The deplorable outcome of the tenth NPT Review Conference was a sign that the international disarmament and non‑proliferation regime was at high risk.  All Latin American and Caribbean countries, constituting a nuclear-weapon-free region of more than 640 million people, had ratified the NPT, a sign of the regional tradition of vanguard support for international disarmament and non-proliferation.  She reiterated her concern over other weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological, and especially the threat of the use of such weapons by non-State agents.  She expressed his support for the work of OPWC.

She said the nuclear prohibition Treaty was an energetic contribution to the nuclear disarmament regime and complemented and reinforced the NPT in the pursuit of a nuclear-weapon-free world.  The malicious use of ICT by non-State actors was of grave concern and a broad exchange of views was needed on the norms, rules and principles of behaviour of States in cyberspace.  Emerging technology had a great potential for economic development, but also generated vulnerabilities.  Her country was committed to full compliance with various international instruments and initiatives aimed at controlling the use and transfer of conventional weapons.  She reaffirmed the importance of the full, equitable, meaningful and effective participation of women in all disarmament forums.

CAROLYN RODRIGUES BIRKETT (Guyana), aligning with CARICOM and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the international community was faced with numerous interlocking challenges and crises, ever complex in nature.  She urged all to harness the power of collective action and promote international peace and security.  Nuclear threats had no place in our world and were exacerbating the challenges.  She reiterated her call for the total and complete elimination of nuclear weapons and underscored her full support for the universalization and implementation of the nuclear prohibition Treaty.  She called on States to ratify to it and to end the regression in nuclear disarmament. The CTBT’s Annex II States should ratify that treaty as soon as possible so it could enter force.  “Nuclear deterrence is not a viable option.”

Highlighting the threat of the illegal trade in arms and ammunition to peace, security and stability, she advocated for a multisectoral approach through education, advocacy and capacity-building, as well as the full participation of women and youth.  She underscored the value of ICT, but said the security challenges could not be overstated, including increased asymmetric and hybrid warfare by great Powers, as well as non-State actors.  The world had an opportunity to change course, to devise new strategies to bolster cooperation and enhance the United Nations’ machinery.  Guyana stood ready to rebuild trust and take a new course to disarmament.  She urged States to not renege on their multilateral commitments, to recommit to peace and diplomacy and cooperation.

ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, reconfirmed his country’s full commitment to nuclear disarmament, maintaining international peace and security, as well as to the implementation of the NPT, the CTBT, the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, as well as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  He regretted the lack of an outcome text at the NPT’s tenth Review Conference, but was pleased that a consensus declaration and practical action plan had resulted from the first meeting of the States parties to the nuclear weapons prohibition Treaty.

He said that this year marked the thirtieth anniversary of Mongolia’s nuclear-weapon-free status.  In that vein, he presented his country’s draft resolution “Mongolia’s international security and nuclear weapon free status”.  Both nuclear-weapon-free zones and Mongolia’s internationally recognized nuclear‑weapon-free status contributed to achieving the objectives of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, and he expressed hope for its unanimous support.  Reiterating his country’s readiness to work with all Member States to achieve common goals, he urged the Committee to demonstrate the necessary political will to address the critical issues on its agenda.

DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), associating with CARICOM and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the international community witnessed with horror how one country loudly issued nuclear threats, just within the last few days, to deter other States from intervening in an ongoing, large-scale, unprovoked war of aggression against a sovereign State.  It was supremely illogical that any State would court mutual assured destruction, where several hundred million people beyond the theatre of war would be annihilated.  Unless the apocalyptic scenario of mutually assured destruction was the goal, nuclear‑weapon States must commit to responsible conduct and promptly scale back the European theatre of conflict.  He also called for an immediate de‑escalation of further destabilizing acts of aggression on the Korean Peninsula.

He said his country belonged to a region that had established the first nuclear-weapon-free zone, the Treaty of Tlatelolco and maintained a long‑standing commitment both to disarmament and to the global non‑proliferation regime.  He called on all States to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  In addition, the accessibility of illegal firearms had resulted in an increased number of highly organized criminal gangs and promoted violence, posing severe security, safety and socioeconomic challenges.  In that vein, he underlined that the Arms Trade Treaty should be implemented in good faith by all States parties, including by the major manufacturers, exporters and importers of conventional weapons.  The promotion of gender equality and women’s full empowerment was a priority for his country.  He looked forward to continued collaboration in advancing the goal of disarmament and non-proliferation.

NADIR LARBAOUI (Algeria) said that nuclear disarmament was not a choice, but an absolute necessity, and a legal and moral obligation.  He called on nuclear-weapon States to honour their commitments.  He deplored the fact that the tenth NPT Review Conference had been unable to adopt a final document.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were not simply confidence‑building measures, but concrete steps towards the full elimination of nuclear weapons.  The creation of such a zone in Africa had shown the commitment and collective will of the continent to reaching that goal, and was a model to be followed.

Establishing such a zone in the Middle East, he said, was among his priorities when it came to realizing lasting peace in the region.  He welcomed the work done towards that goal and called on all parties invited to the next negotiating session to participate constructively.  In closing, he said that illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons remained a threat to peace, security and stability in many regions, above all, in Africa.

GYORGY MOLNAR (Hungary) said the current security environment was extremely challenging and complex due to the war in Ukraine, which increased the risk of nuclear escalation and miscalculation.  Against that backdrop, arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation were more important than ever.  Thus, it was a moral obligation to do everything possible to attain it.  Regarding nuclear disarmament, Hungary shared the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.  In the face of the increasing risk of those weapons’ use, efforts must be redoubled to reinforce the norms against nuclear weapons and reject policies that threaten to use them.  At the same time, there was no “fast track” in nuclear disarmament.  Only an incremental approach, consisting of gradual and concrete building blocks, could produce tangible results.  The focus should be on those “stepping stones” where common ground existed and a consensus that included nuclear-weapon States could be reached.

Such steps, he said, included the entry into force of the CTBT, a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and the development of effective verification mechanisms.  Strategic nuclear risk reduction, transparency and confidence‑building were also areas where tangible progress could be made.  The credibility of nuclear non-proliferation could only be preserved if emerging proliferation risks were addressed in a timely and effective fashion.  Multilateral export control regimes also played an essential role in that respect.

The COVID-19 pandemic, he said, should draw attention to the danger of misusing biology for hostile purposes and to the importance of the Biological Weapons Convention, a fundamental pillar of the international community’s efforts against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  He called on States parties to contribute to the success of the Convention’s upcoming Review Conference.  Hungary would submit the annual draft resolution on the Biological Weapons Convention with the hope it would be adopted by consensus.

MEDER UTEBAEV (Kyrgyzstan) said it was hard to imagine an international climate less hospitable to nuclear arms control.  Under such circumstances, it was more important than ever to recognize and strengthen those nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation approaches that remained effective, including nuclear-weapon-free zones and the NPT.  Commitment to disarmament and prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a fundamental principle of his country’s foreign policy.  As an active supporter of a nuclear-weapon-free world, Kyrgyzstan had become one of the initiators and depositary of the Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty in Central Asia, and it would table its traditional resolution on that as it did every two years with technical updates.

He considered the strengthening of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and its foundation, the NPT, to be the most important goal and the CTBT to be among the most fundamental and effective international instruments in the area of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  He firmly supported the urgency of preventing an outer space arms race and promoting that realm for peaceful purposes only.  Noting that the NPT had entered force on 5 March 1970, he proposed that 5 March be declared an international day for disarmament and non-proliferation awareness by the General Assembly.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected allegations made by the representative of the Israeli apartheid regime.  Disseminating false accusations against regional countries, particularly Iran, had been a standard practice of the Israeli regime.  The exclusive purpose was to conceal its core crimes, including genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression, but no amount of disinformation could cover up the criminal and war-mongering nature of that regime over the past 70 years.  Continued malicious, illegal and illegitimate acts in the occupied territory, like cyberattacks, assassinations and sabotage violated the fundamental rights of Palestinians and other Arabs that lived under its occupation.  It had been “a dark chapter in human history”, with relentless attacks on innocent people and repression, and last year, 100 youths were slaughtered and 200 children were incarcerated, as well as journalists.

While the international community focused on mitigating the severe effects of COVID-19, the Israeli regime exploited the period and accelerated its illegal settlements and further entrenched its military occupation.  Those brutalities would continue until the international community held the Apartheid regime accountable and prosecuted all involved criminals.  The regime was morally bankrupt, and by talking about human rights, it exposed its hypocritical nature.  The Israeli regime was the only culprit in the Middle East, and it continued to defy all international regimes governing weapons of mass destruction:  it refused to adhere to the NPT and to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.  Furthermore, it continued to hamper the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, proposed by Iran in 1974.  There was no excuse for objecting or taking hostile positions on establishing such a zone.  Nuclear weapons, in the hands of that regime, were the most serious threat to the security in the region and to the non-proliferation regime.  Its intent to portray Iran’s completely peaceful nuclear programme, which was under robust IAEA verification, as a challenge to regional stability, was intended to draw attention away from the real danger, namely its own nuclear arsenal and its clandestine and unsafe nuclear installations and activities.

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the unfounded and unproven insinuations made by several delegations.  Responding to the accusations of nuclear weapon threats by his country, he declared that an anti-Russian Federation campaign of twisted Western propaganda.  The Russian Federation’s nuclear deterrence doctrine was exceptionally clear:  it did not allow for expansive interpretations and was only defensive in focus.  His country’s official rhetoric did not exceed the bounds of that policy and was fully in line with international obligations.  The international security situation had greatly deteriorated because of the West and Europe.  A very serious crisis had emerged with the involvement of nuclear Powers.  Russian Federation officials had been forced to address the subject of growing nuclear risks, in statements that had the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in mind.  Their hostile expansion jeopardized the Russian Federation’s security interest and forced it to respond decisively.  The West had attempted to balance on the brink of military confrontation, which could devolve into a direct conflict between nuclear Powers.  The United States and its allies seemed confident they were able to control the escalation and exert force on the Russian Federation without harm to themselves.  That was dangerously misleading and could lead to an uncontrolled slide into the abyss, with catastrophic consequences.  That was the essence of his country’s signals and warning to the West.  Not the logical of threats, but rather the traditional logic of deterrence.

In order to whip up anti-Russian Federation hysteria, the West misrepresented the decision of the Russian Federation’s President to temporarily move the deterrence forces to a special duty regime.  In reality, it was exclusively about expanding the number of duty shifts in the command centres, meaning there was greater vigilance against a backdrop of confrontational statements by Western nuclear Powers.  No measures to strengthen the nuclear deterrent had been taken.  Western militaries acknowledged that.  At the same time, there were signs of increased activities by Western countries’ nuclear forces.  The West distinguished itself with irascible rhetoric.  Last week, United States representatives in the media essentially threatened a decapitating strike against Moscow.  While Washington, D.C., might have believed that rhetoric was responsible, most countries would not agree.  To minimize nuclear risks, all nuclear-armed permanent members of the Security Council should adhere to the postulate of the inadmissibility of nuclear war, confirmed in the Joint Statement of 3 January.  According to the logic in the document, there was a need to prevent any military confrontation between nuclear Powers.  Yet, he had heard calls that were diametrically opposed to that, such as the Kyiv regime’s statements about the need for preventive nuclear strikes by NATO against his country.  Knowing whether Kyiv acted with the consent of its Western backers was important.

The representative of Syria, in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the “lies” made by the Israeli representative.  It was ironic that, on the one hand, the representative talked about his concerns over stability in the Middle East, as well as non-proliferation, when his regime was not party to any agreement on weapons of mass destruction.  The Israeli regime possessed thousands of nuclear warheads outside any international oversight, as well as a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.  Israeli's representative spoke about respect for international law, non‑proliferation and disarmament, and gave lessons about respecting international commitments, but defied the will of the international community by trampling dozens of United Nations resolutions.  That entity refused to implement those resolutions, which asked it to withdraw from occupied Arab territory.  That scorn for the law had continued for many years.  Israel was exercising organized State terrorism, committing military abuses against civilian property in Syria, including ports and airports, causing human casualties, as well as significant damage to infrastructure.  It was surprising to hear the representative talk about respect for international law, when his country violated that law.  Israel was lying and stealing resources and land.  The words of that hateful entity were part of its falsification.  It believed it could mislead the world, but Israelis could not lie in the face of the worst occupation ever witnessed.  Anyone with a record of such violations and abuses should be ashamed.  Syria would not remain silent in the face of Israeli actions and would hold Israel accountable through all means possible included in international law.

The representative of Ukraine, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the Russian Federation delegation continued to spread lies.  There was only one country responsible for waging the war against Ukraine, in violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter and other norms and principles, as well as a number of important international agreements and treaties.  Ukraine’s President, before 24 February, had said measures should be taken to prevent Russians from starting a war.  Those measures were only preventive and had included only sanctions, nothing more.

The representative of the Russian Federation, to “the propaganda patterns trotted out by the Ukrainian delegation”, said the delegation had not responded to the substance, nor had it been able to answer for the words of its President.  Instead, the Ukrainian representative trotted out propaganda and insinuations that had nothing to do with reality.  Rather, it was an attempt, once again, to smooth over the effects of the direct quotes of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s text, which had repeatedly brought to bear rhetoric of acquisition or use of nuclear weapons.  The speaker urged all delegates to go to the websites where the interview was publicly available in Ukrainian, and to listen to the first few lines.  President Zelenskyy was not talking about any preventive sanctions before 24 February, but, instead, about the need for preventive nuclear strikes by NATO countries on the Russian Federation.  The Russian Federation would keep a close eye on the statements made by President Zelenskyy, when taking the necessary measures to ensure a nuclear deterrent and his country’s security, in accordance with its military doctrine and nuclear deterrent policy.

The representative of the United States, exercising his right of reply, said that President Vladimir V. Putin’s remarks and nuclear threats against Europe, articulated in that same room, were irresponsible and reckless.  The consequences of nuclear weapon use would be disastrous for the Russian Federation and the world, with the former becoming a pariah on the world stage.  Those threats had been made before and accusing the United States of that rhetoric was outrageous, far from the truth and an example of the Russian Federation’s use of disinformation and lies.  As President Joseph R. Biden had made clear:  any use of nuclear weapons on any scale would be disastrous for the world and would entail severe consequences.

Closing Remarks

MOHAN PIERIS (Sri Lanka), Chair of the First Committee, said that all were inhabitants of a minor planet hovering around one of the lesser stars.  That was how small we were.  It was crucial to preserve that house, our home, the only planet, and it must be in peace.  Former United States President John F. Kennedy had said:  "Let us examine our attitude towards peace itself."  Let's do it this weekend, the Committee Chair pleaded.  Too many thought it was impossible.  Too many thought it was unreal, but that was a dangerous defeatist belief that led to the conclusion that war and confrontation were inevitable, that humankind was doomed, that it was gripped by forces that could not be controlled.  The problems, he said, were manmade and could be solved.  No problem of human destiny was beyond human beings.  Man's reason and spirit had often solved the seemingly unsolvable, he concluded.

For information media. Not an official record.