Seventy-seventh Session,
6th Meeting (PM)

Military Aggression by Permanent Security Council Member Constrains Arms Control, Threatens to Upend Disarmament Structures, Speakers Warn in First Committee

Brisk Pace of Illicit Weapons Trade Devastating Civilians at Alarming Rate

Military aggression by a Security Council permanent member had all but eliminated prospects for advancing arms control, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told as it continued its general debate.

The global security landscape had not been more precarious since the Second World War, with growing tensions and distrust becoming the norm, said Iceland’s representative, aligning with the European Union and the Nordic countries, and echoing the concern expressed by more than 100 speakers since the session began last week.  Iceland believed the Russian Federation authorities’ “repugnant rhetoric” combined with “playing fast and loose” with nuclear facility safety was deplorable.

Similarly, the representative of Lithuania said the aggressive and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric of the Russian Federation directly contradicted its role as permanent Security Council member.  Only willing partners operating in good faith would bolster arms treaties.  She cast doubts on whether the Russian Federation was such a partner.

The representative of Spain denounced the ongoing paralysis in certain disarmament forums, spotlighting the inability of the tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to have agreed on a consensus outcome document after a month of intensive negotiations.  She said that the upcoming Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention was an opportunity to reverse the negative trend in the international disarmament architecture.

The NPT did not confer on nuclear-armed States a license to retain their nuclear weapons, Myanmar’s representative said.  It was an agreement under which they were to pursue the disarmament of those weapons in exchange for non-nuclear-weapon States to renounce weaponizing nuclear energy.  He voiced concern for the brisk pace at which conventional weapons were proliferating, with deadly consequences.

Illicit arms trafficking and the dissemination of mines and explosive remnants of war were at the centre of armed conflicts, said the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Those weapons killed and maimed and otherwise affected the lives of thousands, threatening peace, security and development.  Civilians living in conflict-ravaged areas were the first victims of the “devices of death” abandoned by armed groups.

Also speaking today were representatives of Lebanon, Bolivia, Togo, Zambia, Romania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Portugal, Türkiye, Paraguay, Albania, Netherlands, Republic of Moldova and Cuba.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Japan, Russian Federation, Iran, Republic of Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Albania and the Republic of Moldova.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 12 October, to continue its general debate

General Debate

JEANNE MRAD (Lebanon) called for the full implementation of all previous commitments assumed by nuclear-weapon States at past Review Conferences of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) towards the dismantling of their nuclear arsenals.  The two sessions of the conference aimed at establishing a zone in the Middle East free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction were commendable, she said, noting that Lebanon would chair the upcoming session in November.  Progress unfortunately remained slow, particularly with the absence of Israel, the only party in the region that possessed nuclear weapons.  Israel’s compliance with international non-proliferation obligations was a prerequisite for peace and security in the region.

She shared the deep concern about the challenges resulting from the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  She also stressed the need to protect outer space from an arms race, as well as contamination and pollution.  The international community must preserve that domain as a common human property available exclusively for peaceful use.  In fact, a legally binding international instrument was needed to ban the placement of weapons there.

DIEGO PARY (Bolivia), associating with Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said division and tensions between major Powers and colossal military expenditure jeopardized humankind’s survival.  Bolivia had a long tradition of non-proliferation, he said, warning for the catastrophic effects of nuclear, including on socioeconomic development.  He regretted the lack of an agreed outcome at the tenth NPT Review Conference, a sign of a 12-year absence of political will and the pursuit of private interests by nuclear-weapon States.  He condemned any type of nuclear-weapon tests anywhere and underscored the importance the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), calling on the remaining Annex II States to ratify.  The ultimate goal was a world free of nuclear weapons, he said, pointing to the tangible outcomes of the first meeting of States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  It complemented the NPT with a gender-based approach, and the CTBT with victim assistance.

His country rejected the use of chemical weapons, which was a crime against life itself and could not be justified.  He welcomed the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and hoped it could continue to operate in a non-politicized manner.  The Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions needed stringent compliance and effective implementation.  The Conference on Disarmament this year provided an opportunity to use all paths to dialogue.  Turning to cyber issues, he said the malicious use of information and communications technology (ICT) ran counter to international law and the United Nations Charter.  Such attacks affected the integrity of States’ infrastructure and were a detriment to international security.  Outer space should be used in a balanced and rational fashion.  The erosion of international arms control required all to “pull together” to ensure disarmament was at the core of global efforts to advance peace.

ABD-EL KADER YASMIN TCHALARE (Togo) reaffirmed the need for complete, immediate, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament.  He welcomed the success of the first meeting of States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in Vienna in June.  He was concerned about the failure of the tenth NPT Review Conference to have agreed on an outcome document.  Constant application of that Treaty was vital, and he invited States not party to it accede as soon as possible.

He expressed great concern about the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, given the security situation in some parts of the world.  He reaffirmed his commitment to the Programme of Action and the international tracing instrument, whose faithful implementation would contribute significantly to resolving the problem. Regarding the management of surplus ammunition stocks, he was following the negotiations of the open-ended working group and was ready to contribute to the definition of a set of political commitments for a new global framework to remedy the existing shortcomings in that pursuit.  The commitments undertaken, however, should in no way call into question the sovereign right of each State to defend itself.  Regarding cyberspace security, he supported to the Open-Ended Working Group on digital security and its use.

ANA JIMENEZ DE LA HOZ (Spain) reiterated her firm condemnation of the Russian Federation’s aggression, which had already cost too many lives.  Threats to use nuclear weapons were a further demonstration of Russia's violation of international law.  She was concerned at the inability of the tenth NPT Review Conference to have agreed on a consensus text, following a month of intense negotiations.  A compromise had been reached, which, although imperfect, would have allowed the Conference to end successfully.  Unfortunately, the Russian Federation, alone, blocked adoption.  She reiterated her firm commitment to the early entry into force of the CTBT, and advocated for the early resumption of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty, and a moratorium on production until such a treaty entered into force.

She said that the imminent ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention was a first opportunity to reverse the negative trend in the international disarmament architecture.  She reiterated her strongest condemnation of any chemical weapons use.  The contamination caused by anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions hindered the development of many communities.  New technologies opened new possibilities, but also new challenges, such as the rapid development of artificial intelligence.  It brought benefits, but also potential risks to the safety and health of individuals without an appropriate regulatory framework.  The multiplication of malicious incidents in cyberspace needed urgent attention.  Export‑control regimes were an effective tool to promote a responsible transfer of military or dual-use equipment and technologies. Regarding the “paralysis” in certain disarmament forums, she urged the disarmament community to redouble efforts to revitalize those structures, which was more necessary now than ever.

CHOLA MILAMBO (Zambia), associating with African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said the world was at a crossroad.  Nuclear weapons were the most dangerous weapons in the world through their long-term catastrophic effects.  Zambia remained committed to general and complete disarmament and was a State party to the CTBT and NPT.  In addition, his country was committed to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty).  Such zones were viable avenues of reducing global security concerns and a means to build confidence among States.  It was imperative, he said, that States cooperate to ensure that terrorist did not gain access to nuclear weapons.

Outer space was a common heritage for humankind, he said, voicing support for all efforts aimed at its peaceful use.  Weaponization of space would lead to a new arms race, at a time when preserving the strategic balance and stability was vital.  The proliferation of the illicit trade and use of small and lights weapons posed a significant threat to global, regional and national peace and security, as well as to socioeconomic development.  He called for the strengthened support of the United Nations to regional and subregional peacebuilding efforts to prevent such security threats.

CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania) said that the illegal, unjustified and unprovoked military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine brought the world into an unprecedented phase.  That was the most severe crisis since the end of the Second World War.  It was incomprehensible that such aggression was perpetrated by a permanent member of the Security Council and a nuclear- weapon State, a status requiring the highest level of responsibility, he said.  The Russian Federation had used all categories of conventional weapons, as well as cyberattacks.  As a nuclear-armed State, it had made nuclear threats and triggered an unprecedented nuclear rhetoric.

He said Romania was fully committed to a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the NPT, and advocated for a gradual and pragmatic process of nuclear disarmament, based on a step-by-step approach, ensuring undiminished security for all.  This year marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the fiftieth anniversary of the Biological Weapons Convention, which were central parts of the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.  He called on all Member States, in particular the major arms exporters, to join the Arms Trade Treaty, as that was the only legally binding international instrument to regulate transfers of conventional arms and ammunition.

KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the United States, in its attempt to sustain hegemony triggered arms races in various parts of the world.  The United States was now forming politico-military blocs, one after another, such as “Quad” and “AUKUS” [Australia, United Kingdom, United States] in the Asia-Pacific region under the pretext of “restoring democracy” and “strengthening alliance”.  That reality proved that general and complete disarmament was just a mirage.  Peace and stability could never be achieved as long as there were forces that systematically threatened the security environment of other countries and regions, in desperate pursuit of hegemonic strategy by way of predominance of power.

He said that the United States military expansion found the clearest manifestation on the Korean Peninsula.  The failure for the Korean Peninsula to get out of the vicious cycle of aggravated tension was attributable to the ceaseless aggressive war games and military build-up of the United States and its followers.  His country, arming itself with self-defensive means to counter the heinous hostility of the United States was a basic right to self-defence clearly stipulated in the United Nations Charter and international law.  In order to realize the complete abolition of nuclear weapons, the United States, the first user of those weapons and the biggest nuclear-weapon State in the world, should take the lead in nuclear disarmament and refrain from providing a nuclear umbrella, sharing its nuclear weapons and transferring nuclear technology.

For stability on the Korean Peninsula, the United States should unconditionally root out the military threat against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said.  That included stopping the arms build-up and joint military exercises with the Republic of Korea and mobilizing United States nuclear assets.  Today, the revival of Japanese militarism and its rise to a military Power were taking shape as one of the most serious threats to regional peace and stability, including on the Korean Peninsula.  The international community must be increasingly vigilant against that.  As a responsible nuclear-weapon State, his country would not deploy its nuclear weapons in the territory of other countries or share those weapons with them.

JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland), aligning with the Nordic Countries and European Union, said that the global security landscape had not been more precarious since the Second World War, with growing tensions, distrust, and lack of compliance becoming the norm.  The ongoing military aggression of a Security Council’s permanent member has all but eliminated prospects for advancing arms control.  Iceland stood in absolute solidarity with Ukraine in defending its people, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.  The Russian Federation authorities’ repugnant rhetoric, combined with playing fast and loose with a nuclear facility’s safety in Ukraine, was deplorable.  He commended the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in that regard.  In addition, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should return to compliance with its international obligations.

We must not give up on our common aim of a world free of nuclear weapons, he said.  The failure to reach consensus at the tenth NPT Review Conference was a testament to the irresponsible behaviour of the Russian Federation, but the Treaty continued to play a crucial role.  The message from the Reykjavik Summit of the nuclear Powers in 1986, namely “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, was more applicable than ever.  Full use must be made of agreements and mechanisms that cemented existing nuclear disarmament arrangements, he said, voicing support for the CTBT, a fissile material cut-off treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The use of chemical weapons should be an echo from a distant past, not a weapon of war or political tool, such as in Syria or the case of Alexei Navalny.  Chemical weapon use was utterly unacceptable by anyone, anytime and anywhere, he said.  Lastly, women should play an active and equal role in every disarmament process to better meet the global community’s challenges.

ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) said that reliance on nuclear arsenals in no way assured strategic security.  It only prompted asymmetric responses with potentially catastrophic consequences, from which there would be no recovery.  The voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing by the nuclear Powers could not be an alternative to the entry into force of a legally binding CTBT, and he called on the remaining Annex II States to ratify it.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones was another important element in in the global disarmament architecture.

He called for collective resources to address future pandemics and the eventuality of deliberate or unpremeditated harmful use of advanced biotechnologies.  Global regimes and norms controlling missiles remained underdeveloped, requiring legally binding multilateral instruments.  A field of increasing concern was competition in outer space, which was rapidly becoming a theatre of weaponization.  Another emerging area requiring attention was the fast-paced introduction of autonomous weapons systems with direct and indirect effects across the spectrum of disarmament and international security issues, including outer space security and cyber capabilities for hostile acts.  Those also appeared in doctrines on nuclear weapons.

ABDULAZIZ ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia), aligning with the Arab Group, underscored the importance of the NPT and the need to achieve a balance between its three pillars.  His country was a party to the Treaty and contributed to international efforts aimed at ensuring universality and the comprehensive elimination of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Security would never come with the possession of nuclear weapons. Instead, priority should be given to investing in people and advancing communities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  The danger of weapons of mass destruction was the potential for accidents or miscalculations.  The first step to ensure their total elimination was the establishment of zones free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, especially in the Middle East.  He demanded that Israel accede to the NPT rapidly and submit its nuclear facilities to IAEA safeguards, as that would create stability and security for the people of the region.

He called on Iran to implement its obligations pursuant to nuclear programmes.  The peaceful use of nuclear energy was the right of all countries, and the transfer of technology and experience should be facilitated.  In that regard, he urged advanced countries to assist less‑developed countries and lift obstacles.  He stressed IAEA’s important role in helping developing countries build capacity.  It was also the inherent right of every State to peacefully use outer space, for which regulations were needed.  He promoted the critical role of women in disarmament processes and peacekeeping operations.

RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), aligning with the European Union, condemned in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation’s deliberate and unprovoked war, as well as Belarus’ support to the aggression, and the indiscriminate and deliberate missile attacks on residential areas, power stations, railways, trade centres and bridges in Ukrainian cities.  The only sustainable solution for nuclear safety was the unconditional withdrawal of all Russian Federation armed forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine.  The Russian Federation’s aggressive and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric was unacceptable and directly contradicted its role as a permanent Security Council member.  The recent constitutional amendments and irresponsible public statements made by Belarus expressing its readiness to host Russian nuclear weapons on its territory were very concerning.

He said the ultimate goal was achieving a world without nuclear weapons by implementing all elements of the NPT.  Advancing the bilateral strategic arms treaty between the Russian Federation and United States required willing partners to operate in good faith, but he did not think the Russian Federation was such a partner.  He called on China to demonstrate responsibility and join nuclear‑arms‑control talks, as well.  The Russian Federation had a track record of chemical weapons use and sowing disinformation aimed at undermining the international rules-based order.  Expressing grave concern about Iran’s violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said timely and full cooperation with IAEA remained more crucial than ever.  He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease all destabilizing actions and abide by its international obligations.  In addition, all States should sign and ratify the CTBT, adhere to the moratorium and refrain from actions that defeat the purpose of the Treaty.  Lithuania remained committed to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, and urged all countries to respect their obligations and commitments in these fields, he concluded.

Ms. AL-SULAITI (Qatar) said that the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction threatened peoples and countries and violated the rights of communities.  She reiterated the importance of respecting all treaties and conventions banning those weapons.  Their elimination depended on universal adherence to those instruments.  Only that would lead to peace and security and protect future generations, as well as the planet's ecosystems.  She reiterated her support for the convening under United Nations auspices a conference to establish a zone free of nuclear weapons and other mass destruction weapons in the Middle East.  Two such conferences had already been held, she said, wishing that all States of her region would cooperate to ensure the meetings’ success and enable the achievement of their objective, namely, strengthening security regionally and globally via the elimination of mass destruction weapons in her region and elsewhere.  She reiterated Qatar’s commitment to international mechanisms for disarmament, and nuclear disarmament in particular, for the sake of regional and international peace and security.

MOE TUN (Myanmar) said that the vertical proliferation of nuclear-armed States and explicit threats to be the first user of nuclear weapons by a major nuclear Power waging an unjustifiable war of aggression had pushed the world closer to the brink of nuclear war.  The only guarantee against the use or threat of the use of nuclear weapons was their total elimination in a verifiable and irreversible manner.  The NPT remained the indispensable international agreement for nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  Full compliance with that treaty, especially by nuclear-armed States, was of the utmost importance.  The Treaty was not a license for nuclear-weapon States to monopolize nuclear weapons, but an agreement under which non-nuclear-weapon States renounced weaponizing nuclear energy in exchange for nuclear-weapon States committing to pursue nuclear disarmament in a serious manner.

He reaffirmed his commitment to preserving Southeast Asia as a nuclear-weapon-free zone and to the full implementations of the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.  Such zones were important to strengthen global peace and security.  Regarding chemical weapons, he noted with satisfaction that 99 per cent of declared stockpiles had been verifiably destroyed.  He strongly condemned all use of chemical weapons, stressing that the perpetrators must be held accountable.  Significant achievements in curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction had been made, but conventional weapons were proliferating at a brisk pace and with deadly consequences.  It was crucial to ensure that those weapons were not transferred or sold to State or non-State actors willing to use them to perpetrate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious human rights violations.

In Myanmar, many people had fallen victims to a military junta emboldened and enabled by a steady stream of weapons from countries that had ignored the pleas of Myanmar people and the international community to stop arming the inhumane military junta.  The military had been using these weapons for the sole purpose of terrorizing its own people, so as to keep itself in power.  It relied heavily on the air force, which was not sustainable without foreign supplies, to mount assault against innocent people.  Myanmar’s crisis was still unfolding.  The world had seen the brutality, inhumanity and barbarism of Myanmar’s military against the people.  Recently, in the afternoon of 16 September, the junta’s air force made a strafing run over a school in Let Yet Kone Village, Depayin Township in Sagaing region, killing 13 people including 7 children as young as seven years old.  Their body parts were shredded by junta projectiles sold to them by Member States.  And this is not the first, second or third, and it will not be the last time that the military have killed unarmed civilians.

ANA PAULA ZACARIAS (Portugal), aligning with the European Union, said that the five permanent members of the Security Council issued a joint statement disavowing nuclear war and then the Russian Federation started threatening the use of nuclear weapons in its unprovoked and unjustified aggression on Ukraine, soon after.  While that was not the only war in the world, its negative effects were felt globally, from food insecurity to the nuclear threat.  Additionally, the Russian Federation had blocked consensus on the final document of the tenth NPT Review Conference, but that Treaty retained its importance, as it had both reduced proliferation of nuclear weapons and fostered cooperation between nations.  She called on States who had not done so to join the treaty and reiterated the need to start negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Affirming that peace and security were shared goals in the international community, she stressed that nuclear-weapon States had a particular responsibility.  She called for the total, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  Condemning “yet another” ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its stated intention to develop nuclear weapons, he urged the country to pursue a diplomatic solution.  She hoped for a diplomatic breakthrough to resume the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urged Iran to cooperate fully with IAEA, adding that such action would be one step closer to a rendering the Middle East nuclear weapon free.  She said that international human rights law must be apply to the malicious use of technology, as well as the weaponization of cyber- and outer space.  She hailed reports by the Open-Ended Working Group on ICT and the work of the Group of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons systems to inform the creation of a normative and operational framework.

MEMET MEVLÜT YAKUT (Türkiye) lamented that already-existing threats to the international order, disarmament and non-proliferation architecture had been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.  He condemned the attacks of the Russian Federation yesterday producing civilian casualties and reiterated his country’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.  He was deeply concerned about the heightened nuclear rhetoric surrounding the war, recalling the affirmation by nuclear-weapon States earlier in 2022 that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.  Highlighting serious concerns about the security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, he noted IAEA’s efforts to support Ukraine, particularly in the illegally annexed Zaporizhzhia region.

Citing an erosion of trust and confidence in international relations that had damaged arms control instruments, he called on all to reverse that trend by upholding norms, respecting commitments, and promoting confidence-building measures.  He underscored the importance of the NPT.  He regretted the lack of consensus at its tenth review conference, but stressed that previous outcomes and commitments under the treaty remain valid.  Türkiye supported the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, particularly in the Middle East.  On Iran, he called for a revitalization of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  He was concerned about the recent missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and called for its denuclearization.  Turning to the concerning use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere, he commended the work of OPCW and expressed strong support for the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.  Given increasingly severe cyberattacks, he urged the international community to come together to promote a normative framework and establish a plan of action to combat them.

JOSÉ EDUARDO PEREIRA SOSA (Paraguay) said it was truly disturbing that leaders of nuclear-weapon States made constant references to the use of "all their forces”.  His country belonged to the first nuclear-weapon-free zone under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).  He was concerned about the danger posed by the existence, use and threat of use of those weapons, as well as the humanitarian impact.  Their use and threat of use constituted a crime against humanity and a violation of international law, international humanitarian law and the United Nations Charter.  He reiterated that nuclear material should only be used for peaceful purposes and that any deviation from that was a serious risk.  In closing, he said that transnational organized crime in all its manifestations continued to threaten the stability of entire regions and global security.

NAUREDA BRESHANAJ (Albania), aligning with the European Union, said that the international system was under serious threat, the core principles of the Charter were being challenged and the global community was facing a completely new reality.  Albania rejected the unprovoked, unjustified war of choice by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.  The Russian Federation’s irresponsible behavior and unacceptable nuclear rhetoric had put joint arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament efforts at imminent risk.  Concerned over the occupied Zaporizhzhia power plant, she supported the IAEA recommendation to establish a secure perimeter.  Her country would continue to promote universal adherence and full implementation of the NPT.

She said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to violate relevant Council resolutions.  She strongly condemned the dangerous launch of a long-range ballistic missile over Japan on 4 October.  On Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remained the only tool for the international community to be reassured in a verifiable way that the country’s nuclear programme was dedicated solely to peaceful purposes.  Massive cyberattacks had recently occurred against Albania, in an unsuccessful attempt to inflict damage to critical infrastructure, erase digital systems, steal data, paralyse online public services and overall destabilize the country.  Indisputable evidence proved the cyberattacks were orchestrated by Iran.  That was a blatant breach of responsible State behavior.  Albania underlined the importance of defining rules to ensure security and stability in cyberspace within the United Nations’ framework.  It also fully supported the disarmament agenda, arms control, non-proliferation, confidence-building measures and was committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

ROBERT IN DEN BOSCH (Netherlands) said that the international rules-based order was under immense pressure.  The world could not disregard the unprovoked and unjustified acts of aggression against Ukraine.  He condemned the Russian Federation’s atrocities, including those from yesterday and today.  The Russian Federation must immediately withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine, including the autonomous republic of Crimea and the oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

Turning to the tenth NPT Review Conference, he said that all States parties, minus one, showed a willingness to adopt the draft outcome document.  That was a strong message that the Treaty remained the key to peace and security.  It was also a powerful display of multilateralism.  Another important achievement of multilateralism was the near completion of the destruction of chemical weapon stockpiles, but the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the attempts on the lives of Sergei Skripal and Alexei Navalny, and the assassination of Kim Jon-nan was a warning to the global community to remain vigilant.  He fully supported OPCW and the Biological Weapons Convention.

He was concerned about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s escalations, as well as Iran’s failure to seize the opportunity to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  He emphasized that international governance around artificial intelligence in the military domain must be strengthened.  The Netherlands would host a ministerial conference in that regard.  All countries should have equal access to the peaceful uses of technology, but malicious cyberactivities posed a threat.  He urged all Member States to abide by the United Nations framework for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace.  He called on all Arms Trade Treaty partners to remain committed and welcomed the Political Declaration on protecting civilians from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.  His country would continue to promote multilateralism as the key principle for addressing contemporary challenges.

VICTORIA LIETA LIOLOCHA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that, given the incalculable humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons, her country’s commitment to their elimination was manifested in its policy on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, as well as in its compliance with its international obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation regime.  It had ratified the NPT, the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and signed the IAEA Additional Protocol.

She said that anti-personnel mines, the increasing use of small arms and light weapons, explosive devices of war and other conventional weapons were a major concern.  Since her country’s independence — and particularly over the last two decades — it had been the victim of several armed conflicts, which was at the centre of its illicit arms trafficking and the dissemination of mines and explosive remnants of war.  Those weapons killed and maimed and otherwise affected the lives of thousands, threatening peace, security and development.  Civilians living in conflict-ravaged areas were the first victims of the “devices of death” abandoned by armed groups.  Internally displaced persons were exposed to explosive remnants of war when they returned home.  The situation exacerbated poverty and limited development.  Regarding the management of surplus ammunition stocks, her country followed the negotiations of the Open-Ended Working Group and hoped it would succeed in establishing a new global framework to address the existing gaps in the life-cycle management of ammunition.

GHEORGHE LEUCĂ (Republic of Moldova), aligning with the European Union, said that the Russian Federation’s unprovoked war against Ukraine was an attack on the rules-based international order and on nuclear safety.  Three of the cruise missiles launched from the Russian Federation’s military ships in the Black Sea had crossed Moldovan airspace.  The Republic of Moldova firmly condemned the violation of its sovereign airspace and reiterated its strong support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  He was concerned about the military activities in and around Ukraine’s nuclear power sites and reiterated  critical need for walking back the rhetoric on nuclear weapons use.

He said that the proliferation, excessive accumulation, and misuse of conventional weapons had a wide range of negative humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences.  Effective implementation of conventional arms control instruments was important.  He supported the Arms Trade Treaty and reducing the unregulated availability of conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons.  He called on the Russian Federation to withdraw completely and unconditionally from the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova.  The Cobasna stockpile, which posed a silent threat to regional safety and security, should be removed and destroyed.  His country was committed to the disarmament agenda, with the United Nations playing a central role in ensuring the universalization and implementation of existing treaties.

The representative of Cuba hailed the first and successful meeting of States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Unfortunately, the tenth NPT Review Conference once again concluded with no agreed result.  That stalled nuclear disarmament.  He was convinced that the total elimination of nuclear weapons in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible fashion was linked to humankind's very survival.  He was proud to belong to the first zone free of nuclear weapons.  He reaffirmed his commitment to the full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions.  Hopefully, future treaty reviews would foster full implementation.  He supported a legally binding protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention and regretted that the United States had stood in the way of that.  He rejected selective, biased and politically motivated approaches to implementation of disarmament measures.

He condemned the imposition of new intellectual coercive measures, which limited or impeded the exercise of the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  He reiterated his appeal for the timely adoption of a protocol prohibiting autonomous lethal weapon systems and advocated for the establishment of regulations for the use of semi-autonomous weapons, particularly for military attack drones.

Right of Reply

The representative of Japan, in exercise of the right of reply, responding to the statement of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that Japan had always adhered to the basic principle of an exclusively defence-oriented policy, as stipulated in its Constitution.  His country would never change its course as a peace-loving nation and ensured transparency over its military spending.  The defence forces only carried duties to secure the livelihood of the Japanese people and the international community.

The representative of the Russian Federation, also in exercise of the right of reply, rejected the allegations about the special military operation in Ukraine.  Regarding the military contingent on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, he said that the 14th Soviet army, the successor being the group of troops in Transnistria, had been deployed in the broad south-west region, during the existence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  Both components of the military presence were part of the peacekeeping contingent that had clear mandates to protect ammunition stocks near populated areas and had derived from the unresolved conflict.  The Republic of Moldova bore significant responsibility for that situation.  The 1992 agreement by both Presidents on the principles on the peaceful resolution of the conflict remained in force.  A joint control commission and joint peacekeeping forces remained operational.

In essence, the number of Russian military personnel was very low:  just two rotating battalions with approximately 1,200 personnel in total, he said.  The military continents that were not part of the peacekeeping contingent were there to protect the ammunition warehouses.  The status of Russian Federation forces regarding the agreement was to be determined during bilateral negotiations.  In accordance with international law, agreements were developed on the legal status and modalities of military troop withdrawal.  The Russian Federation side had not ratified it.  Attempts to reinterpret the agreement as if it did not create a legal basis for peacekeeping were ineffectual.  It was a peacekeeping mission to maintain peace and stability in the region as a whole.

His country was committed to the political process for resolving the Transnistria issue, as a co-mediator and guarantor in preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova.  Any attempts by parties to shirk responsibilities, while political talks were stalling, ran the risk for the conflict to enter a “hot phase” once again.

The representative of Iran cited a letter sent by his country’s Permanent Mission to the Secretary-General and the Council President on 10 September, saying his country denied and denounced any unjustified, unilateral attribution for the alleged cyberattacks on Albania’s infrastructure.  Such fictitious and false claims were based on fabrications leveled only for a political agenda.  Iran had long been the primary target and main victim of cyberattacks against its vital infrastructure.  Cyberspace and ICT must be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.  Despite Albania’s hasty, unwarranted and unilateral decision to sever diplomatic relations, Iran stood ready to engage constructively to clarify the unfounded accusations leveled against it.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which had launched more than 40 ballistic missiles in 2022, alone, was ready to conduct a seventh nuclear test and had openly pursued its dangerous nuclear ambition.  The Republic of Korea’s and United States’ combined defence and deterrence posture, including the joint exercises, was a response to the military threat of that country.  Those defensive measures were the duty of a responsible Government.  Moreover, the United Nations’ command was officially recognized by Council resolution 84 (1950) and continued to contribute to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.  “If the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had not invaded the Republic of Korea and started the Korean war against its fellow country people, there would not be US troops and the UN Command on the Korean Peninsula now,” he stressed.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan’s moves to build pre-emptive strike capabilities undermined regional stability.  Japan stuck to the United States’ nuclear umbrella and continued its moves to become a military Power.  It was scheming to institutionalize the pre-emptive strike capability as a national policy.  It was also seeking ulterior motives to justify its preparation for invasion.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would continue watching those military moves, he said, urging Japan to reflect on the dire consequences of seeking to become a military Power.

He said the Republic of Korea’s ongoing military drills were carried out with large-scale naval forces involving the United States.  The United States offered enhanced deterrence to the Republic of Korea against his country and deployed nuclear-power aircraft in the waters off the Korean Peninsula.  In such inevitable circumstances, his country was compelled to organize military drills and simulations of an actual war to check and improve the reliability and combat power of its deterrence and send a strong military warning to the enemies.  He was watching the security environment on the Korean Peninsula and all military moves of the enemies, and said his country would take all military countermeasures if necessary.

The United Nations Command in the Republic of Korea was an illegal entity backed by the United States in order dominate the Peninsula, he said.  The United Nations Command stood in the way of peace on the Peninsula.  The Republic of Korea argued that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s withdrawal from the NPT decreased security, but that was wrong.  The withdrawal was a sovereign decision of his Government.  Moreover, after the Second World War and after the United States’ occupation of the Republic of Korea, the United States had maintained a hostile policy against his country.  That was why the situation on the Peninsula had gone from bad to worse.  He totally rejected Council resolutions as those were a fall-out of the hostile policy against his country.

The representative of Albania said her country had been targeted twice by large-scale cyberattacks.  The goal had been to take down the entire Government system and all Government online services, to paralyse the whole country and to create insecurity.  Those attacks had failed, she said, adding that lengthy investigations had confirmed that the cyberattacks were State-sponsored aggression by Iran.  Nothing could justify that behaviour.  Albania could not stay idle in the face of those maliciously attacks.  The issues must be dealt with, including by addressing cybersecurity in the First Committee.

The representative of the Republic of Moldova reiterated his country’s request to the Russian Federation to destroy ammunition and withdraw its military forces from the Republic of Moldova in line with the 1999 Istanbul Summit outcome document.

The representative of Japan said his country had adhered to the basic precepts of maintaining a defence-oriented policy, of not becoming a military Power that posed a threat to other countries.  It would never change that course as a peace-loving nation and would make every effort towards peace and security in the Asian region and the international community in cooperation with close allies and partners.

The representative of Iran, in right of reply, rejected all unsubstantiated allegations.  The Albanian Government had failed to respond to his country’s frequent requests.  In that light, he concluded that all those allegations were unilateral in nature.  He invited the Albanian Government to cooperate with Iran, free of any influence from either any terrorist cult it had hosted or any other Government.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he wished to respond to the statement made by the representative of the Republic of Moldova.  Regarding matters relating to the presence of a Russian Federation military contingent on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, that should be resolved through the legal mechanism established for that purpose, namely, the agreement on the principles for a peaceful settlement of the armed conflict in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova.  It was on the basis of those documents and that legal framework that the issues should be resolved.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the revision of the United States-Japan defence cooperation guiding principles of 2015, revision of its defence strategy, and institutionalization of pre-emptive strike capability, among others, showed that Japan was making desperate efforts to become a military Power.  Japan was exploiting external threats to justify its military moves in order to realize its ambition for reinvasion.  His country opposed such military moves and cautioned Japan to reflect on their consequences.

For information media. Not an official record.