Seventy-seventh Session,
6th Meeting (PM)

Russian Federation Casts ‘Long Shadow’ Over Disarmament with Unprovoked, Barbaric Invasion of Neighbour, Speaker Says in First Committee Debate

Massive Missile Attacks Targeting Civilians Destabilizes Global Order

The Russian Federation, by launching an “unprovoked and barbaric invasion” of its neighbour, had trampled the fundamental principles of prohibiting the use of force against the territorial integrity and political independence of a State and cast a long shadow over disarmament, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard as it continued its general debate.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the Russian Federation had resorted to desperate procedural manoeuvres to curtail any discussion of its war, or of the means and methods by which it pursued it.  It repeatedly attempted to “justify the unjustifiable”, he said.  It portrayed itself as the victim when it was the aggressor, and it blamed everyone but itself for the consequences of its own choices.  “Try as it might, though, Russia cannot hide from the revulsion the world feels at its actions.”

More than seven months into the war, the disastrous impact on Ukraine, on the Russian Federation, itself, and on the world was clear, he said.  President Vladimir V. Putin’s efforts to incorporate Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson into Russian Federation territory was a new low in that country’s blatant flouting of international law.

Georgia stood in full solidarity with Ukraine, its representative said, condemning the invasion, the illegal sham referenda and annexation, which were gross violations of international law that severely undermined the international security architecture.  There was a “creeping annexation” of Georgian territories by the Russian Federation, he said.  That country had also subjected Georgia to disinformation and cyberattacks, which were not confined to one State or region.

Indeed, Estonia’s representative said, the Russian Federation had engaged in a propaganda and disinformation campaign to spread unfounded allegations against Ukraine and the United States regarding biological and chemical weapons.  Moreover, that country, just this morning, had launched massive missile attacks on Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Lviv and other regions, targeting innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure.  Those actions were reckless, desperate and severely undermined global security and stability.

Rounding out the list of speakers for today’s debate was the representative of Viet Nam, who said that geopolitical rivalries were compounding long-standing conflicts.  The world was witnessing confrontations on a scale that most of the younger generations had only seen in documentaries.  The danger of miscalculation was the most alarming.  He urged a renewed commitment to international disarmament and the preservation of achievements in response to such emerging challenges.

Also speaking today were the representatives of India, Finland, Bulgaria, Guatemala, Morocco, Jordan, Colombia, Iran, China, Belarus, United Arab Emirates, Honduras, Brazil, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Kenya and Ireland.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Australia, Syria, Ukraine, Finland, Georgia and Iran.  The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The First Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 11 October, to continue its general debate.

General Debate

ANUPAM RAY (India), noting that his country would complete its tenure as a Security Council member this year, said that his country has been a voice of the underrepresented developing world on key peace and security issues.  He remained firmly committed to the goal of universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament and called for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons through a step-by-step process.  India would be tabling four draft resolutions in the Committee.  As a responsible nuclear-weapon State, it was committed to maintaining credible minimum deterrence with the posture of no-first‑use and non-use against non-nuclear-armed States.

He said that preventing an outer space arms race was another important priority, with vital development and security interests.  The Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions were worthy examples of global non‑discriminatory treaties aimed at eliminating entire categories of weapons of mass destruction.  India and France jointly proposed the establishment of a database for assistance in the framework of the Biological Weapons Convention and he hoped that the proposal would receive unanimous support.  The illicit transfers of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, in particular to terrorists and non-State actors was a grave concern.  India actively participated in the ongoing on ammunition, and underscored the need to address its diversion to non-State actors.  Guidance should be strengthened in that area.  Cyberspace was facing increasing threats and misuse for criminal and terrorist purposes, which he said must be addressed, as well.

OUTI HYVARINEN (Finland) condemned the unprovoked and unjustified attack by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.  The Russian Federation invasion of a sovereign country was a violation of international law, including the United Nations Charter.  Finland supported Ukraine in her righteous self-defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) remained central to the rules-based multilateral system.  It was disappointing that it had not been possible to agree on an outcome document at the its tenth Review Conference owing to the Russian Federation’s opposition.  She further regretted the lack of nuclear disarmament.

She noted that this year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Despite tangible progress in implementation, the re-emergence of the use of chemical weapons remained a threat to international peace and security.  The most urgent priority was to uphold the norm against their use and ensure that perpetrators of chemical attacks were held to account.  On biological weapons, the COVID-19 pandemic showed the devastating impacts of the spread of dangerous pathogens — being it accidental or natural.  The Convention must be strengthened.  In closing, she stressed the need to tighten the rules-based international system as that would advance disarmament and non-proliferation.

LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), aligning with the European Union, said that the Russian Federation’s illegal, unjustified and unprovoked war against Ukraine had severe global repercussions, which shook the foundations of the global arms control and non-proliferation architecture.  She condemned the dangerous and irresponsible escalation of the conflict, rejected the illegal annexation of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, as well as the sham referenda that were neither free nor fair and would never be recognized.  It was deplorable that the outcome of the tenth NPT Review Conference had been blocked by the Russian Federation.

She said Bulgaria, as part of the IAEA Board, would spare no efforts to counter the global non-proliferation challenges, the threats to nuclear safety and to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  The ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons was attainable, but only within the NPT framework.  The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was a political imperative.  Her country, as an Annex II State, had signed and ratified it, and she urged others to follow suit.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes posed threats to regional and global peace.  Regarding Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action should be restored.

She voiced support for the Chemical Weapons Convention and OPCW efforts to ensure identification and accountability of perpetrators.  The Biological Weapons Convention had a key role in international efforts to prohibit and prevent the use of those weapons.  She also strongly supported the Arms Trade Treaty.  A globally accessible, free, open and secure cyberspace could be achieved through responsible State behavior, confidence-building measures and transparency, within the existing international legal framework.  She pledged support for revitalizing the disarmament machinery and ensuring that the Conference on Disarmament delivered on its mandate.

AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom) said that, on 24 February, the Russian Federation trampled over fundamental United Nations Charter principles by launching an unprovoked and barbaric invasion of its neighbour Ukraine.  Over seven months into the war, its disastrous impact — on Ukraine, on the Russian Federation and on the world — was clear.  And now, President Putin’s efforts to incorporate Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson into the territory of the Russian Federation was a new low point in that country’s blatant flouting of international law, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The United Kingdom was proud to stand in solidarity with the Government and people of Ukraine, as they fought for their freedom and independence.

The Russian Federation’s aggression had cast a long shadow over international disarmament negotiations, he said.  Unable to acknowledge its consequences on the NPT — including issuing grossly irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, undermining security assurances by flouting the Budapest Memorandum, and recklessly endangering the safety of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant — it alone blocked the adoption by consensus of a final document at the tenth Review Conference in August.  It had also tried — and failed — to airbrush from the record the criticisms it faced at the Conference on Disarmament this year.  Additionally, it had attempted to exploit the Biological Weapons Convention by deliberately misrepresenting peaceful public health cooperation between the United States and Ukraine as a biological weapons programme.  And it had made baseless allegations about Ukraine in OPCW.  Together with its ally, “the Assad regime in Syria”, the Russian Federation continued to impugn the expert, impartial and evidence-based work of the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

He noted consistent reports of the Russian Federation’s use of anti‑personnel mines and victim-activated booby traps, which, he said, called into question its compliance with its obligations under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  The United Kingdom, as President of the tenth Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, expressed its grave concern at that country’s repeated use of those weapons.  Moreover, it had resorted to desperate procedural manoeuvres to curtail any discussion of its war, or of the means and methods by which it was pursuing it. It repeatedly attempted to rewrite history to “justify the unjustifiable”.  It portrayed itself as the victim, when it was the aggressor.  It blamed everyone but itself for the consequences of its own choices.  “Try as it might, though, Russia cannot hide from the revulsion the world feels at its actions.”

There were many other global challenges, he said, citing, among others, Iran’s refusal to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launching of an “unprecedented” number of ballistic missiles in 2022, Syria’s non-compliance with its chemical weapons obligations, and the illicit and uncontrolled proliferation of conventional arms contributing to instability, terrorism and organized crime, and causing untold death and devastation.  He was also concerned by continuing efforts by some States to undermine and discredit multilateral arms control regimes.  Also worrying was the use of ICT for purposes inconsistent with international peace and security.

CARLA MARÍA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala), aligning with the Central American Integration System, said that the pandemic showed that arms were no guarantee for security.  A small fraction of the $72.9 billion spend on nuclear weapons would have helped in overcoming the pandemic.  The Russian Federation’s non-provoked invasion of Ukraine had great consequences.  A nuclear debacle would be a tragedy for humankind and all living beings.  She condemned any action that would increase tensions or impede efforts for denuclearization and peace.  Nuclear-armed States were withdrawing from treaties, but multilateral action was the only way forward.  Guatemala was fully committed to a world free of nuclear weapons.  It was a party to the nuclear-weapon-free zone treaty in its region and believed the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was only avoided by full prohibition.

She urged all nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligations, reminding them that the NPT did not provide for an indefinite right to possess nuclear weapons.  She condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent launching of two ballistic missiles.  She called on the eight CTBT’s Annex II countries to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay.  She warned of the potential for an outer space arms race.  Chemical and biological weapons use by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstance could not go unpunished.  Armed violence was strengthened by the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons. The Arms Trade Treaty could regulate that.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco), aligning with the African Group, Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that the international community needed to choose between coexistence with divisions or multilateralism with peace and security.  The world would not survive a nuclear war.  Only a multidimensional security framework was a credible and realistic alternative to nuclear threats or the use of those and other mass destruction weapons.  Nuclear weapons did not guarantee regional or global stability.  He reaffirmed the NPT’s relevance, despite the unfruitful outcome.  He added that the peaceful use of nuclear energy, under IAEA oversight, was an inalienable right.

He said Morocco would spare no effort to promote Africa’s Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty).  Zones free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction were important in many regions, including in the Middle East.  In that vein, the NPT was tied to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East, and he welcomed the conferences held on that topic.  Morocco also would continue to employ efforts to ensure the CTBT’s entry into force.  Regarding the Chemical Weapons Convention, he condemned the use of those weapons by anyone for whatever reasons and under whatever circumstances, and supported the OPWC.  He remained concerned about the threat of use of chemical weapons by non-State actor and terrorists.  He reiterated the view that outer space was the common heritage and domain of humankind, and the international community should work together to keep it and cyberspace secure.  In closing, he stressed that political will and collective efforts were needed to tackle the world’s security crisis.

Ms. HANNUST (Estonia), aligning with the European Union, said the Russian Federation continued its war of aggression against Ukraine.  The so-called “referenda” had no legitimacy and were yet another blatant violation of the Charter.  This morning, that country launched massive missile attacks on Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Lviv and other regions, targeting innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure.  Those actions were reckless, desperate and severely undermined global security and stability.  She was extremely concerned about the nuclear safety threat and welcomed the call by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for a protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia Power Plant.

She deeply regretted the Russian Federation’s opposition during the tenth NPT Review Conference.  She also condemned the violation of security assurances under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.  The ultimate goal was a world without nuclear weapons.  In that vein, she expressed full support for the CTBT, fissile material cut-off treaty and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  She condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s illegal launch of ballistic missiles last week.  The Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions were the framework for the legal prohibitions of those categories of mass destruction weapons and protected against impunity.

The Russian Federation had engaged in a disinformation campaign and propaganda to spread unfounded allegations against Ukraine and the United States regarding biological and chemical weapons.  That was unacceptable.  She called on Syria to comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and on the Russian Federation to come clean on the Skripal and Navalny cases.  The Russian Federation also used cybertools to advance military aggression, which underlined the importance of promoting an open and secure cyberspace.

MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan), gravely concerned at the failure to achieve universality in the field of nuclear disarmament, said that, among other things, failure to rid humanity of weapons of mass destruction is diverting funds from development.  The representative called on all United Nations members to welcome the outputs of the negotiations to free the Middle East of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  He supported the efforts of the countries of the region who had reiterated their invitation to Israel to join the conference without any preconditions and to cease proliferation of nuclear weapons.  At the same time, he stressed the right to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the most stringent safety guidelines and IAEA oversight.

He emphasized the need to avoid an arms race in outer space.  In additional to existing instruments on promoting the realm’s peaceful use, a united international community must expedite the conclusion of a new legally binding text.  He also supported efforts to solve the problem of space debris.

NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia) stated that significant resources were allocated to increased military spending, which could be used to achieve the sustainable development goals and to address climate change.  She regretted that the tenth NPT Review Conference had ended on a negative note, and reiterated that the assumption that nuclear weapons provided security was a fallacy challenged by their humanitarian impact.  Their existence was unacceptable and reaffirmed the urgent need to advance general and complete disarmament, under strict and effective international control.

She said that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition had the greatest impact, because of its humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences, as well as because of its link to violence, organized crime, terrorism and other crimes.  That spotlighted the need to adhere to the small arms Programme of Action and eradicate the illicit trade.  Colombia, together with Japan and South Africa, would present a resolution on the illicit trade.  Her delegation was also firmly committed to the full implementation of the Mine Ban Convention.  Colombia, together with Germany and the Netherlands, would present a text on the treaty, which sought to promote its effective implementation and universalization.

HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the international community should address traditional and non-traditional security concerns in cyberspace and outer space.  Weapons of mass destruction were an existential threat to humanity.  He highlighted the spike in military expenditures and the all-time high in military transfers in 2021.  Nuclear war was more likely, the nuclear arms race was renewed and nuclear arsenals were upgraded, he said, noting the United States’ increased budget and the United Kingdom’s policy to increase stockpiling and lowering the weapons threshold for use.  Besides erosion of the arms‑control architecture, there was non-compliance with the NPT by nuclear-weapon States.  The international community must hold them accountable, especially following the failure of successive NPT reviews.

He said that the Israeli regime was equipped with weapons of mass destruction and carried out cyber- and physical attacks against nuclear facilities.  It also carried out the terrorist assassinations of scientists.  It must join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon party and subject its activities to IAEA safeguards, he said, adding:  “We believe that nuclear weapons are not deterrents, but tools of mass murder.”  The simple solution was nuclear disarmament through total elimination.  Use of chemical or biological weapons should be rejected and those conventions must be implemented.  The United States had not destroyed its arsenal, had blocked the Biological Weapons Convention’s strengthening, and had reservations about the 1925 Geneva Protocol.  He urged the Israeli entity to join those treaties.  Cyber- and outer space could only be utilized for peaceful purpose, and he opposed reckless decision-making or unilateral interpretations, pointing to two regrettable examples of irresponsible behavior by the United States and the Israeli regime.  The United States’ withdrawal from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 and unwillingness to return to the programme damaged nuclear non-proliferation efforts. Iran had complied and cooperated with IAEA, he concluded.

LI SONG (China) said that the cold war mentality remained the biggest threat to international peace.  Trust was undermined and double standards had shaken the non-proliferation regime.  The Global Security Initiative by President Xi Jinping offered wisdom for eliminating the root causes for conflict.  Mutual trust and collaboration were the bedrock of international stability, and he urged nuclear-weapon States to abandon strategic competition and listen to everybody’s concerns.  The Council’s five Permanent Members should strengthen communication, maintain strategic balance and not pursue first use of nuclear weapons.  Moreover, nuclear disarmament must be gradual, and the United States should stop deploying global missile defence systems in the Asia‑Pacific region and Europe and stop nuclear‑sharing.

He said the growing number of conflicts were not a result of the Charter’s principles being obsolete, but of breaches in the rules-based international order.  Member States should practise true multilateralism and uphold the international system, with the United Nations at its core.  NPT States parties should renew their efforts and expand the Treaty’s role.  Moreover, the world should oppose proliferation disguised as non-proliferation, he said, pointing to “AUKUS” [Australia, United Kingdom, United States].  The United States should listen to Iran’s legitimate concerns.  He urged all parties to focus on stability, denuclearization and dialogue on the Korean Peninsula.  Negotiations on legally binding arms‑control instruments were the key to outer space security.  He supported the United Nations leading role in stronger artificial intelligence governance and advocated for the peaceful use of science and technology, with dividends shared among all.  China had pursued an independent role and did not engage in any arms race.  The world must rise above the cold war mentality and respect the security of all countries, he concluded.

SIARHEI MAKAREVICH (Belarus) regretted the unprecedented distrust and increase in military confrontation, against the backdrop of collapsing international agreements on arms control and non-proliferation.  The proceedings at the tenth NPT Review Conference were held hostage by the politization of nuclear issues.

He called for decisive steps to strengthen the global non‑proliferation machinery and to lay the groundwork for a world free from nuclear weapons.  Positive steps included the Joint Declaration of the five nuclear-weapon States on preventing nuclear war and a nuclear arms race.  He called for the swift entry into force of the CTBT, which played a critical role in nuclear disarmament.  States that could determine the fate of that instrument must show the political will to ratify it.

Overall, he said, agreements on a new world order, which provided security guarantees, were needed.  Also important was to ensure compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.  He advocated the depoliticization of OPCW.  The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the increased importance of biological security and showed the need to shore up existing international legal mechanisms in that realm.  He also attached importance to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) as an important step in preventing mass destruction weapons from falling into the hands of non-State actors.  He supported the full-fledged, non-politicized work of the Conference on Disarmament to slow the pace of the arms race, as well as the draft of the Russian Federation and China on preventing an arms race in outer space and the use or threat of use of force against outer space objects.  It was imperative to refrain from the first placement of weapons in outer space.  Multilateral disarmament fora were constrained by disagreements and politized approaches.  In the Committee, fewer resolutions were approved by consensus, and there had been a proliferation of texts, which entrenched disagreements.

DAVID BAKRADZE (Georgia) said that his country stood in full solidarity with Ukraine.  He condemned the invasion, the illegal sham referenda and annexation, which were gross violations of international law that severely undermined the international security architecture.  He raised concerns about the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, nuclear rhetoric and threats to nuclear facilities.  He welcomed IAEA’s work at Zaporizhzhia power plant.  He supported the NPT regime and was disappointed that no consensus had been reached at its last Review Conference.  Georgia also fully adhered to it, as well as to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.  Its national legislation was now aligned with the latter Convention.  In addition, the National Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Council was established in Georgia in cooperation with the European Union, United States and the United Nations Inter-Regional Crime and Justice Institute.

Georgia, he went on, supported the Arms Trade Treaty and the working group on conventional ammunition.  Today’s global security architecture put the fight against international terrorism at the forefront.  Prevention and response to nuclear threats were a main element of State security.  The Russian Federation illegally occupied two Georgian regions, where there were documented attempts of smuggling nuclear and radioactive materials.  While law enforcement prevented those illegal activities, without an international presence, that remained difficult to verify on the ground.  The continued occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali violated fundamental norms and were a continued pattern of a “creeping annexation” of Georgian territories.  Cyberspace had become a critical aspect of hybrid warfare as a tool to advance political agendas.  His country had been subjected to disinformation and cyberattacks from the Russian Federation.  The world must address such multidimensional challenges.  Those were not confined to one country or region, he concluded.

MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) said that multilateral action was the most effective way to achieve progress in disarmament and international security.  He also advocated compliance with international agreements and instruments on nuclear security and safety.  States should follow a transparent approach in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. He called for the universalization of the NPT, and regretted that the tenth Review Conference had been unable to adopt its outcome document.  He stressed the importance of implementing the outcomes of previous review conferences, especially the resolution to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  He looked forward to participating in the third session of the conference on that pursuit.

He emphasized the pivotal role of the IAEA safeguards system as a reliable mechanism to ensure that nuclear materials and facilities were exclusively used for peaceful purposes.  And he reiterated his call on States, whose nuclear activities were questionable, to provide the necessary cooperation and answers to IAEA's inquiries. With malicious attacks targeting critical infrastructure increasing, he highlighted the importance of strengthening international cooperation in cybersecurity and supporting frameworks that regulated ICT.  He called for intensifying efforts to protect countries and peoples from the misuse of cyberspace, which had become a threat to the whole world.

NOEMÍ ESPINOZA (Honduras), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, the Central American Integration System and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the rise in military spending and major escalation in nuclear threats undermined the goal of the United Nations.  No country was ready to face the humanitarian catastrophe of nuclear‑weapon use.  As long as those weapons existed, the latent threat was unquestionable.  Her country signed on to the Treaty of Tlatelolco in 1967 and firmly believed that legally binding instruments, which established norms and principles, were required for nuclear‑armed States.  She added that nuclear energy should be used in a responsible manner.

The need to strengthen norms, she said, also applied to outer space and ICT.  For Honduras, assistance and cooperation and the participation of women in disarmament processes was fundamental.  Honduras now had a democratically elected female President.  Its challenges were great, however, as the 2009 coup created fertile ground for corruption and arms trafficking.  The existence of those weapons played a central role in the continuance of armed conflict, migration and violence, making their effective control more important than ever.  Small arms and light weapons also were linked to sustainable development and gender equality and stopping their illicit traffic would reduce human suffering.  She was dedicated to building a system centered on humanity, solidarity, integration of communities, peace, respect for human rights and solidified in political and moral will, to counteract the contemporary crises of humankind.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that countries’ military spending had spiked to unprecedented levels, in a spiral that some called "the great global rearmament".  That diverted crucial resources from other key sectors, such as education, health care and sustainable development.  It was high time to overcome the elusive narrative that more weapons made everyone safer.  It was no use trying to understand the crisis of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime through the exclusive lens of super Power rivalry.  In fact, the crisis stemmed from the abandonment by nuclear-weapon States of the "grand bargain" that had made possible the adoption of the NPT. Over its five decades of existence, however, it seemed that only the non-proliferation side of the bargain was being consistently met.  And yet, there were those who insisted on furthering that untenable imbalance.  That state of affairs was unsustainable and might ultimately lead to the demise of the NPT regime.  On the other hand, last June, more than 80 States had met in Vienna to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to the total, irreversible, verifiable and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons.  The Vienna Declaration had included an unequivocal condemnation of any and all nuclear threats, whether explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.

ANOUPARB VONGNORKEO (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) stated that the international community should renew its commitment to maintain global peace and security in order to create an environment conducive for sustainable development.  Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation should remain at the core of all disarmament regimes, especially when global peace and security were at risk.  The NPT remained the cornerstone treaty since its entry into force more than five decades ago.  Despite the efforts made during the intensive negotiations at the tenth NPT Review Conference, no consensus on an outcome had been reached.  He encouraged all States parties to engage in constructive and meaningful dialogue to reaffirm their commitment to the NPT.

He reiterated his country’s strong support to rid the world of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Against that backdrop, he emphasized the importance of full and effective implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) and other instruments related to the disarmament of mass destruction weapons.  In addition, he supported the full and effective implementation of the action programme on small arms and light weapons.  He recognized the importance of technology contributing to socioeconomic advancement and added that it was vital to ensure that all ICT activities were carried out in line with international law and the United Nations Charter, aimed at thwarting emerging threats in cyberspace.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), associating with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that seven decades after the first resolution called for the elimination of atomic and other major weapons, the urgency of that call remained unheeded.  The threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists was real and required increased vigilance and collective action.  Nuclear security assurances could never be guaranteed and the era of an open-ended nuclear deterrence posture was long past.  He reaffirmed his commitment to nuclear disarmament and the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons.  He called on CTBT Annex II States to ratify the Treaty, and underlined that his country was party to the Pelindaba Treaty.  For a developing country, respect for the inalienable right to engage in the research and development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes was important.  Kenya had benefited immensely from the technical cooperation with IAEA.  He voiced his commitment to the NPT and disappointment regarding its tenth Review Conference.

He said that the United Nations effectively supported countries in building digital capacity and ensuring they were equipped to balance digital innovation and addressing the malicious use of digital technologies by both State and non-State actors, as well as threats to critical infrastructure.  Cautioning against an arms race in outer space, he supported the adoption of a legal framework.  He said that the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons was a serious threat to regional and international peace and security.  He pledged Kenya’s continued engagement in disarmament and international security matters.

CÁIT MORAN (Ireland), aligning with the New Agenda Coalition and the European Union, said that the only way to address issues like nuclear threats and cyberspace was through collective action.  The Committee convened in a time of crisis, she said, pointing to threats of the nuclear safety of facilities near civilians.  She supported IAEA and its proposed safety zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant.  It was deeply troubling that one country, the Russian Federation, had prevented consensus at the tenth NPT Review Conference.  She stressed an early entry into force of the CTBT and urged Annex II States to ratify it.  Iran should return to full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and address safeguarding issues with IAEA.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should abandon its missile and nuclear programmes, she stressed.  The re-emergence of the use of chemical weapons, including in Syria, was the most urgent threat, and she voiced her full support for OPWC, as well as for Biological Weapons Convention.

Her country led efforts to restrict explosive weapons that could harm civilians and objects.  The Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas Conference would be held on 18 November in Dublin.  The situation in Ukraine underscored the need for the unequivocal prohibition of anti-personnel mines and cluster weapons.  The Chemical Weapons Convention must also be implemented.  Despite challenges, she said, failure to proceed with discussions regarding lethal autonomous weapons could not continue indefinitely.  She welcomed the working group on reducing space threats.  The Committee was more important than ever to secure a peaceful world, and she looked forward to working together, including with civil society.

DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that geopolitical rivalries were compounding long-standing conflicts.  The world was witnessing confrontations on a scale that most of the younger generations had only seen in documentaries.  The danger of miscalculation was the most alarming.  The commitment to international disarmament must be renewed and achievements preserved in response to the emerging challenges.  Multilateralism remained at the heart of the global community’s efforts and should be nurtured.  The common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons was the priority.  Multifaceted efforts should be made on multiple fronts, from the promotion of nuclear-weapon-free zones to negative security assurances.

Underscoring the right of States to retain, possess and manufacture conventional weapons for legitimate self-defence, he said it was crucial to address those issues with great care and balance.  He voiced support for the implementation of the Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons and called for further international cooperation in that regard, including capacity‑building support to developing countries.  The thin lines were blurred between borders and sovereignty, and between defence and economic activities, so further efforts to establish internationally agreed frameworks on all cyberspace and outer space activities must be made in line with international law and the United Nations Charter.  The right of every State and people to free access must be preserved.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, in exercise of the right of reply, said he was responding to multiple anti-Russian Federation and unfounded accusations.  Regarding Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia were announced as part of the Russian Federation following the free expression of the will of the people, in line with the Charter.  The presence of Russian Federation military personnel in the regions was regulated by bilateral agreements with those two independent States and it provided them with large-scale assistance to ensure their independent democratic institutions, strengthen their international position and ensure socioeconomic development.

Regarding the most recent anti-Russian Federation attacks, he said there had been an armed coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014 with the direct support of Western countries.  Power was taken by radical nationalist forces that were openly “Russophobic”.

Statements by official Ukrainians on the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass region spoke for themselves, he said.  Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had called them “non-humans”.  President Zelenskyy in 2021 had said of the Russian‑speaking people in Donbass that there were people or specimens.  More recently, Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov, said “we have full moral right to calmly and with completely calm minds kill these non-people all over the world”.  The National Security Service Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said “in all of the towns where Ukrainian armed forces entered, the citizens would be ‘Ukrainized’ without considering their opinion.  This does not only apply to Russian people, but also to other ethnicities.”  The Ukrainian Ministry of Education had excluded Russian language and literature from school curricula, in bans that resembled fascist Germany.  Monuments of Russian authors had been destroyed.  He also highlighted hypocritical statements regarding the Minsk Agreements.

The Kyiv authorities were openly and with impunity sabotaging the rights of the people of Donbass, with financial transfers and energy blockages there, he said.  The citizens were cut off from social payments, salaries and services like health care, pensions and education, and were deprived of their basic civil rights.  President Zelenksyy had said the Minsk Agreements were only needed to uphold the sanctions against the Russian Federation.  There was impunity on the side of the Kyiv regime.  It had its Western backers to thank for that.  They were cynically turning a blind eye to solve the Donbass situation with force.  With State support, there was national intolerance against ethnic Russians.  Ukrainian officials were not ashamed of their “Nazi essence”, calling with impunity for the killing of Russian people.

He said the Ukrainian Ambassador to Kazakhstan had said on 22 August that “we’re trying to kill as many of them as possible, the more Russians we kill now, the fewer our children will have to kill”.  On 5 August 2021, President Zelenskyy had advised everyone who felt Russian to, for the good of their children and grandchildren, leave and go to the Russian Federation.  Recent calls by the Ukrainian President to Western countries to carry out preventive nuclear strikes against his country were very irresponsible.  The facts showed that Ukraine had finally transformed into a national radical State with openly “Russophobic” views.  Carrying out special military operations was unavoidable.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the United Kingdom, Germany and other European countries were misusing this forum to spread disinformation about his country.  The Korean Peninsula was in a state of war and the stakes were high.  The United States also was spreading disinformation with the ultimate goal of overthrowing his Government and forcing it to give up its right to self-defence.  The United States was leaving no stone unturned in portraying the massive military drills as defensive in nature.  Its leader in his speech on the Republic of Korea in May committed to the expansion of joint military exercises, both in scale and scope, as well as the deployment of nuclear assets.  The drills’ underlying objective was to become well-versed in the plans of a surprise attack against his country.

He cited specific examples, which contained decapitation and landing operations, as well as the invasion of his capitol.  The United States deployed nuclear submarines and aircraft every time it conducted joint military exercises, and it wanted to replicate the NATO model in the Asia‑Pacific region.  He regretted that very few countries knew about this, and all chose to ignore it.

He said that to ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the region, these threats must be resolutely countered.  The main reason for his country’s defence capabilities was to prevent a hostile war and to ensure that the hostile forces relinquished their threats.  His country’s aspirations for peace were high, because it had been at war since the 1950s.  Its approach in responding to the growing hostilities from the United States and its followers was clear and cut.  The United Kingdom was pushing ahead with the AUKUS partnership, undermining the global non-proliferation regime.  It had no right to dispute his country’s self-defensive capabilities.  The Western countries needed to let go of their cold war habit of following the United States.

The representative of Australia, exercising her right of reply also on behalf of the United Kingdom and the United States, said that trilateral cooperation in the context of the AUKUS partnership was fully consistent with their respective non-proliferation commitments, and strengthened the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  Naval nuclear propulsion was not prohibited under the NPT.  She welcomed IAEA’s September report, which reaffirmed its satisfaction with AUKUS partnership operations.  Australia had consistently complied with its obligations.  It was critical to non-proliferation that IAEA be allowed to engage with Member States on safeguarding issues.  She rejected the charge that AUKUS destabilized the region.  In fact, it supported the international order, which respected the rule of law and the peaceful resolutions of disputes, free of coercion.

The representative of Syria, exercising his right of reply in response to the representatives of Estonia and the United Kingdom, stressed that his country unequivocally condemned the use of chemical weapons at any place, any time, by anyone under any circumstances.  It had eliminated its stockpiles, as affirmed by the Joint Mission to verify the elimination of chemical weapons in 2014.  He rejected allegations of Syria’s non-compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  His country had completely eliminated its chemical stockpile in record time and under very difficult and complex circumstances.  Syria communicated with the OPCW Technical Secretariat and provided all of the facilities for their visit to Syria.  The continued casts of dispersions on the cooperation between Syria and OPCW were unacceptable.  His country spared no efforts to work with the Technical Secretariat and had adopted a constructive approach to deal with the issues they raised.

The representative of Ukraine, exercising his right of reply, said the Russian Federation delegation continued to use the Committee to spread lies and manipulations.  Everyone knew who started the war in 2014.  The Russian Federation had launched its aggression in the east of Ukraine, invaded and occupied Crimea, deployed illegal formations in eastern Ukraine and supported them.  Those illegal formations terrorized the population of Ukraine, in particular, in Donbass.

Today, the Russian Federation launched the most unprecedented missile attack throughout the war, preceded by strategic air strikes in residential areas in Zaporizhzhia.  It had sent 22 missiles, killing at least 16 people and injuring some 100 others in two days.  At least 83 missiles and 17 kamikaze drones had been sent from the Russian Federation, Belarus, Caspian Sea and temporary occupied Crimea, killing 11 people and injuring 64.  Forty-five missiles had been intercepted, and nine Iran-supplied chemical drones had been destroyed by the Ukrainian air force.  Civilian infrastructure in various regions had been targeted, leaving residential areas without energy and water.  That proved the Russian Federation’s status as a terrorist country, which attacked civilians while losing on the battlefield.

The Russian Federation was already constantly hitting Ukraine with missiles before the bridge was damaged, he said.  Shifting the blame to the victim of aggression by suggesting that the Russian Federation was provoked, was misleading.  Its attacks were directed at intimidating civilians and undermining Ukraine’s resolve in liberating its territories.  Its actions showed that the war was “unequivocally genocidal”.  The last time such atrocities had occurred was during the Second World War.  Terrorism was a crime that must be punished, he said.  At the State level, it was one of the most heinous and threatened the entire international community.  Ukraine never wanted the war and had done nothing to provoke it.  His country was in fact dealing with a terrorist State.

The representative of Finland, in right of reply, said he did not hate Russians, even though the former Soviet Union had attacked it several times.  The Russian Federation’s illegal aggressions in Georgia, Crimea and now in other parts of sovereign and independent Ukraine, however, made it difficult to like its leadership and puppet representatives.  He was pleased that some representatives were on the side of the truth and did not want to defend the killing of Ukrainian citizens.  The Russian Federation’s representative in Geneva showed that not all State representatives were afraid to express their opinions.  The anti-Russian claims came only from the Russian Federation and were aimed at Russian people in order to justify the country’s aggression in Ukraine.

Regarding “neo-Nazism” or other terms, that was a desperate attempt to justify the illegal war in Ukraine.  If there was any truth to those claims, the Ukrainian representative would carry Nazi symbols or lift his arm.  The number of people in the Russian Federation that did not trust those claims was increasing, and academics there had never trusted the claims.  Still, no one called Russians Nazis, although the aggressions would give them a right to do so.  People understood that the Government was not the same as its people, he added.  Addressing the Russian Federation’s representative directly, he told him to not use that language here as he was not on State media, and his audience here was not the Russian people.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, fully supported the statement by the representative of Finland.  She urged the Russian Federation to stop its disinformation campaign and propaganda.  The Union denounced the allegations that officials continued to spread to legitimize their illegal war, and it categorially rejected any questioning of Ukraine’s status as a sovereign and independent State.  The Union condemned the illegal annexations that followed the referenda, conducted at gunpoint.  The outcome was null and void and did not produce any legal effect.  It violated international law, Ukraine’s Constitution, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and had taken place amid human rights abuses and intimidation of citizens by the illegally appointed authorities in the occupied territories.  Nor did they represent the free will of the people living in Ukraine.

The representative of Georgia, exercising the right of reply, responded to the Russian Federation’s statement regarding the two regions it currently occupied.  The representative of the Russian Federation had said that those were independent States through the free expression of the people, but thousands of ethnic Georgians had been expelled through ethnic cleansing.  Those people represented a major part of the population in those regions, so the Russian Federation could not speak of the free will of the people.  Those territories were an integral part of Georgia under international law and changes to its internationally recognized borders would never be recognized, he said.

The representative of Iran said that he did not confirm the so-called claims that the Russian Federation was using Iranian drones in its war against Ukraine.  Those claims were baseless and the transfer of military equipment to any party to the war would only postpone peace.  Iran’s position was to support the peaceful settlement of the dispute.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he was responding to Ukraine, Finland, Georgia and the European Union.  It was well known that it was not the Russian Federation that had attacked Georgia in 2008, but the Saakashvili regime that had attacked South Ossetia.  An analogous step was going to be carried out in Abkhazia.  Those peoples had no choice except to ensure their own security and right to exist through self-determination as independent States.  His country guaranteed a bright future for the people of those independent States.

He said there was a reason for the actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.  Reports by criminologists and operational information pointed to the Crimea bridge explosion being a terrorist act, aimed at critically important Russian civilian infrastructure.  The special services of Ukraine carried it out.  That regime had been using terrorist methods for a long time by killing public figures, journalists and scientists, both in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine.  There was terrorist shelling of the citizens of Donbass and acts of nuclear terrorism, such as on the Zaporizhzhia power plant, as well as attacks on Turkish gas pipelines.  The Kyiv regime had put itself on the same side as terrorist groups.  This morning, the Russian Ministry of Defence and military staff had carried out long-range high precision weapons attacks on military sites in Ukraine.  If other terrorist attacks occurred against his country, then the response would be harsh and commensurate with the threat posed against it.  “Nobody should have any doubts about that,” he concluded.

For information media. Not an official record.