Seventy-seventh Session,
13th & 14th Meetings (AM & PM)

‘High Time to Stand Up to Goliaths of the World and Declare Enough Is Enough,’ Speaker Tells First Committee, as Debate Continues on Nuclear Weapons

Israel Cites Non-Compliance as Basis for Rejecting Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone

No United Nations Member State was too big to disarm on its own and none too small to make a contribution, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) was told today as it concluded its thematic debate on nuclear weapons and began consideration of other weapons of mass destruction.

The representative of Namibia said that, despite the complementarity of disarmament treaties, the concepts of prohibition and elimination should not be confused.  While prohibition of nuclear weapons was an essential foundation for their total elimination, the former should not be “held hostage” by the latter.  She spotlighted the spike in spending by nuclear-armed States to modernize, upgrade, refurbish and extend the lives of those weapons.

Kiribati’s representative expressed profound concern about the qualitative and quantitative advancements of nuclear arsenals and the exorbitant spending on those programmes.  Kiribati had endured years of nuclear-weapons tests.  Having lost many to illness as a result of that tragic legacy, he was standing up to the Goliaths of the world and declaring that enough was enough.  It was high time for the international community to recognize its complicity in allowing nuclear testing in the Pacific for decades and to provide assistance to its people.

The “divided house” of nuclear-weapon States needed urgent action, restraint and leadership, said Brazil’s representative.  These were unprecedented times, with nuclear threats and rhetoric increasing and reversing what should be a downward trend.  During the recent review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Brazil had agreed to “scale back its ambition”, but non-nuclear-weapon States could not keep the non-proliferation regime going on their own.  Inaction was not an option.  “One hundred seconds to midnight is indeed a very short time.”

Several countries of the Middle East reiterated their long-time call for the establishment of a regional zone free of nuclear and other mass‑destruction weapons.  Egypt’s representative urged immediate action to face the strategic imbalance in the region and highlighted the persistence of one State to impede those efforts.  That, he said, hampered security and stability and led to more conflicts, an arms race and lack of sustainable peace.

The observer for the State of Palestine said Israel considered itself above the law, while everyone else must abide by the rules.  That exception was a threat to the region.  He noted the success of the first session in November 2019 of a conference to establish the Middle East zone and its adoption of substantive documents.  He described the framework as allowing the participation of all parties who took decisions by consensus.  Only one party — Israel — had decided to boycott the conference, given its desire to continue to possess nuclear weapons illegally.

The representative of Israel said any regime was only as effective as its members’ compliance.  Four out of five cases of non-compliance with the NPT were in his region.  The Treaty did not provide a remedy for the Middle East’s unique security situation, let alone for its repeated violations.  Some regional actors posited that the region’s security architecture could be established without Israel, but that was untenable.  Regional security frameworks could only be the outcome of mutual political desire.  Anything but that could not serve as a basis for discourse on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Also speaking on nuclear weapons were representatives of Kazakhstan, Peru, Bulgaria, Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Guatemala, Armenia, El Salvador, Türkiye, Japan, Nepal, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Kuwait, Jordan, Ethiopia, Qatar, Colombia, Viet Nam, Morocco, Cuba, Finland, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Paraguay, Chile, Belarus and the United Arab Emirates.

The Permanent Observer for the Holy See and the representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also addressed the Committee.

Exercising the right of reply on the topic were representatives of the Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Syria, Republic of Korea, Japan and Israel, as well as the European Union, in its capacity as observer.

Speaking on the theme of other weapons of mass destruction were the representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Belize (on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Lao Democratic People’s Republic (on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Iraq (on behalf of the Arab Group), Russian Federation (on behalf of several countries), Canada, Indonesia (in its national capacity), France, United States, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Italy, Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, Austria, Germany and Malaysia, as well as the European Union, in its capacity as observer.

Exercising the right of reply on other weapons of mass destruction were representatives of the United States, Russian Federation and Syria.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 October, to continue its thematic discussion on other weapons of mass destruction.

Nuclear Weapons

ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan) said that the threat of nuclear weapons was potentially more deadly that the coronavirus and had persisted, unabated, since 1945.  Reliance on nuclear arsenals could never ensure strategic security, but only prompt asymmetric and devastating responses, thus crossing lines of no return.  He warned of cyberattacks against nuclear “3C” systems and weapons falling into terrorist hands.  The promotion of confidence-building measures was imperative as was strengthening existing measures and facilitating new nuclear‑weapon-free zones, in particular in the Middle East, North-East Asia and Europe.  The entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a milestone. This year, his country had suffered directly from nuclear testing. It would co-chair the informal working group on victim assistance, environmental remediation and international cooperation and assistance.  He underlined that the failure of the tenth Review Conference did not doom the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a whole.  He urged Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Annex II States to ratify immediately as collective action was owed to the millions of testing victims and future generations.  Humanity could not continue living “under the dark shadow of nuclear warfare”.  It was time to overcome nuclear tests and threats and seek new horizons of peace, progress and prosperity.

SARA ALVARADO (Peru) stated that the question of global security could not be the reason for the lack of progress and even regression in disarmament and non-proliferation.  Now, more than ever, it should serve to reiterate the need for urgent action towards the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction.  It was deplorable that amid even greater challenges, threats of nuclear war were growing.  The only guarantee to avoid the humanitarian consequences of a nuclear disaster would be complete elimination.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was the right path forward.  She also called for a ban on nuclear tests.  Those were crucial measures to prevent both horizontal and vertical nuclear proliferation, and an essential part of the international system nuclear non-proliferation system.  All States benefited from the peaceful use of nuclear energy, for which progress was needed on exchange of material and technology, to aid developing countries in such areas as food security, the protection of the environment and others, which directly contribute to their social and economic development.

LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), aligning with the European Union, said that the Russian Federation’s illegal war, its irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and blatant violations of the Budapest Memorandum, had undermined reduction of nuclear arsenals since the cold war.  The need for progress was more evident than ever.  Nuclear disarmament should be effective, verifiable and irreversible, and attained within the NPT framework.  She regretted the Russian Federation’s blocking of the Tenth Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference outcome text, but said the draft represented  many points of convergence.  The CTBT was a building block in the construction of a world without nuclear weapons, and she called on all States, in particular the Annex II States, to ratify it.  Negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty were another priority.  All States, meanwhile, should abide by a moratorium on the material’s production for nuclear weapons.  Effective multilateral disarmament verification was another pragmatic building block.  The safety and security of nuclear facilities was crucial for peaceful nuclear energy development.  She strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s illegal seizures of Ukrainian nuclear power facilities and called for the implementation of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) seven pillars of nuclear security and safety.  The only guarantee for the plants’ security, however, was the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops.

Mr. DAMICO (Brazil) said the international community was experiencing unprecedented times, with nuclear threats and rhetoric increasing, thereby reversing what should be a downward trend.  The past two NPT Review Conferences had not produced a consensus outcome, he stressed, noting the tendency in the Committee was confrontation, with the introduction of a large number of draft resolutions.  He recalled that during the tenth Review Conference, his delegation agreed to scaling back its ambition to sustain the nuclear non-proliferation regime, but non-nuclear-weapon States could not keep the regime going on their own.  The shortening of the review cycle was the right choice, as inaction was not an option.  The divided house of nuclear-weapon States needed urgent action, with restraint and leadership, and bad examples avoided.  “One hundred seconds to midnight is indeed a very short time,” he stressed.

SUNGHOON KIM (Republic of Korea) said that, with the nuclear threat of the Russian Federation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued provocation and the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear programme, prospects for nuclear disarmament were bleak.  The January Joint Statement had faded amid the subsequent war.  The tenth NPT Review Conference also had failed, owing to one country’s objection to consensus on an outcome document.  It was important to note, however, that there had been broad support in the draft for key elements of the Treaty’s three pillars.  He noted that 79 States parties had expressed deep concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s violations of Security Council resolutions, and 191 States parties had condemned the country’s six nuclear-weapon tests.  It was deplorable that it continued to launch ballistic missiles and threaten tactical nuclear-weapon use.  Should the international community fail to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, the crack would surely widen, potentially drawing others into the nuclear pit.  The tall order of realizing a world without nuclear weapons required effective multilateralism, and he called on the Council’s permanent members to translate their Joint Statement into concrete action.  He urged the start of negotiations for a fissile material ban, as well as for bridge-building initiatives to close the perception gap and mistrust between States.  Negative security assurances could contribute to nuclear non-proliferation as they reduced incentives for acquiring those weapons.  Those assurances, however, should be applied only to those who faithfully complied with the NPT. 

ANDRÉS FERNANDO PIEDRA CALDERÓN (Ecuador) said that with the persistent age-old risk of nuclear weapons, their non-proliferation must be incentivized.  Their disarmament and non-proliferation should advance in tandem.  The world should continue seeking a peaceful and prosperous global order without nuclear weapons.  Yet, huge budgets were earmarked for the development and modernization of those weapons, while other global challenges affected humanity such as hunger, poverty, and climate change.  He urged all States to deploy efforts to consolidate nuclear-weapon-free zones around the world.  He reminded all of the first special session of the General Assembly dedicated to disarmament in 1978.  Its outcome document had established effective measures for nuclear disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war as the highest priority.  In light of the threat currently hanging over the planet, it was time to once again echo that call.  Good would vanquish evil, he said.

MARÍA DEL ROSARIO ESTRADA GIRÓN (Guatemala) regretted that more than 50 years after the NPT’s adoption, States parties had once again been unable to reach consensus on a final document, while the international context obliged the international community to seek solutions for the future of civilization.  Outstanding commitments under the Treaty’s article VI remained.  She welcomed the holding of the first two sessions of the Conference for the creation of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and hoped that the third session scheduled for mid-November would advance the pursuit.  She condemned all types of nuclear-weapons tests, and called on the eight countries in the CTBT’s Annex II whose ratification was needed for its entry into force to adhere to it as soon as possible.  She also urged progress on a fissile material cut-off treaty to prohibit the production of that material for nuclear weapons and guarantee the disposal of such stockpiles.

DAVIT GRIGORYAN (Armenia) reiterated his support for a world free of nuclear weapons with the NPT as the cornerstone of the international security, which was designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology.  He called for all remaining States to join as non-nuclear-weapon States.  He regretted that no consensus had been reached at the tenth NPT Review Conference but looked forward to achieving progress in the new cycle.  Dialogue among nuclear-weapon States played an important role.  He welcomed the New START extension and urged more efforts in the field of nuclear disarmament verification and confidence-building.  Armenia would continue to support the CTBT and called for the start of fissile material cut-off negotiations.  Nuclear-weapon-free zones were important regional approaches, and he supported such a zone in the Middle East.  He expressed his full compliance with IAEA Safeguards Agreements and Protocol and noted the recent visit of the Agency’s Director General to Armenia.  The Armenian nuclear power plant had implemented several projects based on IAEA recommendations.  In that context, he called for a treaty on the physical protection of nuclear power plants for peaceful use.

EGRISELDA ARACELY GONZÁLEZ LÓPEZ (El Salvador) noted that the tenth NPT Review Conference had failed to adopt a final document after four weeks of intense debate, for the second consecutive time.  The outcome document was not perfect, but it set a delicate balance in a complex international situation.  El Salvador was party to several international instruments that strengthened the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  She urged all CTBT Annex II countries to ratify the Treaty to enable it to enter force as soon as possible.  She emphasized the importance of gender equality in efforts towards nuclear disarmament, also highlighting the contributions of civil society, non-governmental organizations and academia in the tireless work on the issue.

MEMET MELVUT YAKUT (Türkiye) lamented that, after four weeks of intensive negotiations, the tenth NPT Review Conference had been unable to agree on a final outcome document.  It had not been perfect, but it contained many valuable elements that reaffirmed the importance and validity of previous commitments and set out forward-looking steps to better implement the Treaty.  Its emphasis on transparency and reporting measures, as well as nuclear risk reduction, represented building blocks for much needed progress towards the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.  He reiterated his support for a systematic, progressive, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament that was based on the principle of undiminished security for all and highlighted the special responsibility of nuclear-weapon States in that pursuit.  He encouraged them to take steps to further reduce their nuclear arsenals, and achieve greater transparency and dialogue with regard to their nuclear and security policies and doctrines.

OGASAWARA ICHIRO (Japan) said that, 77 years since the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings, the Russian Federation had made the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons an uphill struggle.  He called on the international community to ensure that nuclear weapons were never used again, and to refrain from inflammatory language.  President Vladimir V. Putin’s speech contradicted the January Joint Statement.  Japan urged nuclear-armed States, in particular the Russian Federation, to honour, not only with words, but with deeds, their crucial commitments.  He underlined the urgent need to revitalize nuclear disarmament momentum.  Japan submitted a new draft resolution on a common road map towards a world without nuclear weapons, following the Hiroshima Action Plan, as introduced at the NPT Review Conference.  The draft resolution proposed robust actions.  He hoped for the widest possible support to gain new momentum for nuclear disarmament.  He condemned the recent Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missile launches and called on all Member States to reaffirm their strong commitment to a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea free of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, in accordance with Council resolutions.

AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal) said that threats of nuclear weapons use was at its highest in 77 years.  A few powerful countries kept accumulating and modernizing an astounding number of those weapons contrary to their nuclear disarmament commitment.  The world had witnessed extraordinary expenditures under the notion of nuclear deterrence when it was in desperate need of resources to tackle dehumanizing poverty, hunger, disease, and environmental catastrophe.  Humanity was an inch away from the miscalculation or escalation of nuclear war.  The global community deserved enduring peace and prosperity, not the dark shadow of the persistent threat of nuclear annihilation.  He reaffirmed Nepal’s position that universal peace and security could only be ensured through the time-bound, general, and complete disarmament of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Total elimination of nuclear weapons was the only solution.  The nuclear-armed States should respect the principles of transparency, irreversibility and verifiability.

ANOUPARB VONGNORKEO (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligning with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement, called for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons as the only way to guarantee they would never be used.  Citing the NPT, he expressed regret over the failure of the tenth Review Conference, and called on all States parties to renew their commitments.  His country was firmly committed to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and welcomed the success of the first meeting of States parties in Vienna, which had resulted in the adoption of a Political Declaration and the Vienna Plan of Action.  That would guide the Treaty’s implementation and lay the foundations for a world free of nuclear weapons.  As a party to the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty, he stressed that the establishment of regional zones had contributed greatly to global disarmament.  He recognized IAEA’s significant role in non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

AHMAD SALMEEN (Kuwait) said that the world was facing an extremely difficult challenge, which required full efforts to rid humanity of nuclear weapons.  He reiterated his position regarding disarmament and international security, and believed that stability and peace could not be achieved in the light of the spread of different types of weapons, particularly nuclear weapons.  He stressed the importance of multilateral work as the ideal means to advance disarmament and international security.  He also stressed the importance of genuine political will in support of such efforts, particularly with regard to the disarmament of nuclear and other mass-destruction weapons.  He emphasized the importance of Israel’s accession to the NPT and its placement of all its nuclear facilities under the IAEA comprehensive safeguards regime, particularly since it was the only party in the region that had not acceded to the Treaty, and prevented the establishment of the nuclear-weapon-free zone there.

SULTAN ALQAISI (Jordan), associating himself with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite the consecutive failures of the Ninth and Tenth Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences, Jordan would continue to advocate for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Emphasizing the NPT’s crucial role, he urged all States parties to engage constructively at the next Review Conference, to overcome the deadlock.  He called for the full, effective, and immediate implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East and invited all parties to engage actively in its establishment.  Jordan was committed to engage with all Member States to achieve its prime goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

MEBRAT GIZAW TEKA (Ethiopia), pointing to the adverse impact of the pandemic, poverty and terrorism, as well as the food, fuel and energy crises, combined with geopolitical tensions, said that the multilateral system was overwhelmed.  She was concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the inadequate political will to translate words into action.  The current arms race heightened the chance of nuclear weapons falling to rogue non-State actors.  With technological advances, the threat of nuclear war increased.  The world lacked a common framework for dialogue on the peaceful use of advanced technologies.  It also lacked global partnership and leadership.  Nuclear-weapon States should demonstrate much-needed political will, without which the goal of a world without nuclear weapons would remain elusive.  If the financial resources devoted to the arms race had been spent on poverty, the current global situation would be much better.  It was high time for diplomacy, to avoid calamity.  She voiced Ethiopia’s commitment to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty) and to the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East.  She supported IAEA’s work on the verification of States’ compliance with the NPT.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said that the international community was increasingly concerned with the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and the possibility of further conflicts that would raise the risk of the use of such weapons.  International efforts for full and complete disarmament and non-proliferation remained the only way to preserve international peace and security.  In order to remove all fears of those weapons, further efforts must be made to limit, control and prohibit their use, considering their excessive harm to humanity and the environment.  She stressed the importance of full compliance with all international agreements and treaties, including the NPT, and regretted the lack of an agreed outcome at the tenth Review Conference.  Conferences should continue the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  She reiterated the importance of international cooperation for the elimination of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons.

NOHRA MARIA QUINTERO CORREA (Colombia) called for urgent and effective measures to be taken for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The events of 2022 had brought the international community to the most heightened nuclear threat since the cold war and shown the fragility of nuclear deterrence in ensuring security.  She regretted that the tenth Review Conference had not led to a positive outcome, but it was essential to press ahead with the Treaty’s full implementation, in particular, the disarmament pillar.  That would require timelines for the implementation of related commitments, indicators and progress reports for appropriate monitoring.  Similarly, the principles of irreversibility, verifiability and transparency must be respected in the application of all obligations.  Denouncing the fact that significant resources were still devoted to the modernization of nuclear weapons, she called for urgent action to reduce risks through renewed dialogue.

TRAN THI THANH HAI (Viet Nam), associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed her country’s policy of supporting all efforts for non-proliferation and disarmament.  She called for doubling down to address emerging challenges, including by establishing new mechanisms to promote the reduction and control of strategic arms among the major nuclear-weapon States.  She highlighted the need for nuclear-weapon States to offer legally binding negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon States.  Expressing regret that the ninth and tenth NPT Review Conferences had failed to adopt a consensus outcome document, she urged all Member States, in particular, nuclear-weapon States, to commit to implementing the NPT, especially article VI.  She meanwhile hailed the success of the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Plan of Action.  The universalization and early entry into force of the CTBT would be an important step towards achieving the goal of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

MICHAL GERSTLER (Israel) said her country supported the nuclear non-proliferation regime was a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and contributed to the CTBT’s verification regime.  She expressed concern that radioactive sources might be used to commit terrorist acts.  Recognizing the NPT’s value, she said that any regime was only as effective as the level of compliance of its members. The NPT did not provide a remedy for the unique security situation in the Middle East, let alone the repeated violations of the Treaty by some of its Member States.  Four of the five cases of serious NPT violations took place in the Middle East.  Iran had been developing its illicit nuclear programme for decades.  Those developments and the accumulation of irreversible knowledge made the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action worthless now.  Iran’s progress indicated that it had never given up pursuit of nuclear military prospects.  It used negotiations as a convenient tool to bide time and had avoided providing answers to the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding undeclared nuclear material activities.  Syria’s undeclared nuclear activities were also worrisome.  The clandestine nuclear reactor’s construction was a blatant violation of the International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement.  If completed, the reactor would have been suited to producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.  Some regional actors claimed that security architectures in the Middle East could be established without Israel or even without recognizing Israel’s right to exist, but that position was untenable.  Any regional security framework could only be the outcome of mutual political desire, while considering every security concern.  Anything but that could not serve as a base for discourse on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  Israel would not participate in artificial processes that bypassed established practices.

YOUSSEF EL MEZOUAGHI (Morocco), associating with the Arab Group, the African Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, called for the universalization of the CTBT and for the start of negotiations on a multilateral treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.  Emphasizing the importance of nuclear-weapon-free zones in promoting nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he recalled the relevance of General Assembly decision A/73/546 and the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference resolution calling for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  He commended the quality of the first two sessions of the Conference on the establishment of such a zone, held in 2019 and 2021, and expressed hope that the third session, scheduled for mid-November, would generate satisfactory results.  Mobilization of the international community and the political will of all were the only way to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

YUSNIER ROMERO PUENTES (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the United States’ first use of nuclear weapons showed the need to eliminate them.  Their mere existence unjustifiably threatened humanity.  The military doctrine based on deterrence should be rejected.  The justification of the status quo should also be rejected.  The greatest priority was disarmament, he said, calling for legally binding instruments to provide irreversible safeguards to non-nuclear-weapon States, like Cuba.  Progress was needed towards a complete ban on nuclear testing.  The inability to reach an outcome at the Tenth Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference undermined the Treaty and impeded the goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.  He supported a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and was proud to be part of the first such zone in a densely populated area.  He reiterated his support for a comprehensive plan with Iran, while condemning unilateral coercive measures that infringed on States’ right to use atomic energy for peaceful ends.  He also condemned the United States’ illegal blockade of Cuba.  States should refrain from actions threatening the Korean Peninsula’s stability and reject external interference in that region.  Only through dialogue could the world achieve satisfactory outcomes.  Citing the words of Fidel Castro, he said the world had had enough of the illusion that peace could be accomplished through nuclear weapons.  Bombs might kill the starving, but they couldn’t kill hunger or starvation.

SANNA LEENA ORAVA (Finland) said that disarmament was a gradual process that required the attention of all States, taking into account their legitimate security concerns.  Nuclear disarmament was foremost the responsibility of the nuclear-armed States, but it was a concern for all nations.  The Russian Federation’s war and nuclear threats undermined global nuclear disarmament efforts.  The failure of the Tenth Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was a reflection of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, and not a failure of the NPT itself.  It was high time for nuclear-weapon States to make good on their NPT commitments.  The world and its people did not need a nuclear arms race.  She welcomed the New START extension, while expressing concern about the Chinese nuclear build-up.  All nuclear-weapon States must implement agreed commitments, decrease their nuclear arsenals, address non-strategic nuclear-weapon arms control and enhance negative security assurances.  Nuclear risk reduction included measures ranging from political declarations to technical crisis communication.  Risk reduction did not substitute nuclear disarmament, however, but could advance it, while global cooperation could help close loopholes to nuclear weapons use.  Advancing nuclear disarmament and reaching nuclear zero required political will.  Going forward and avoiding backtracking was more important than knowing the exact time of arrival.

NOUF UTHMAN S. ALKHALIFI (Saudi Arabia) firmly believed in the importance of the NPT and in the achievement of balance between its three pillars.  He reaffirmed the importance of international efforts aimed at the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.  All Member States should accede to all legal treaties and adhere to the moral imperatives of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.  Peace and security would not be achieved with their acquisition.  Rather, cooperation and dialogue were the basis of stability and confidence.  Development and progress could only be achieved through the avoidance of a nuclear arms race, which would reflect positively on the reduction of the risk of the threat of war and its outbreak.  The representative reaffirmed support for the international efforts aimed at empowering women in the field of nuclear disarmament and the goal of achieving gender balance in that field.  Saudi Arabia had taken practical steps to support the employment of professionally competent Saudi women in disarmament as well as in peacekeeping missions.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar), associating with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that nuclear threats risked the existence of humankind, which was why it was paramount to reaffirm faith in the Committee and redouble efforts on nuclear disarmament.  He shared disappointment at the failure of the tenth NPT Review Conference to have reached consensus on a final document, and called on all nuclear-weapon States to fully implement their Treaty obligations.  He urged the relevant States parties to work towards the commencement of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty.  As a State party to the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone, Myanmar fully agreed that the establishment of such zones  contributed to nuclear disarmament.  He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to respect all relevant Security Council resolutions.  Citing the illegal military coup in his country in February 2021, he called for strict observance of the junta, which recently signed an agreement with the Russian Federation to build a small-scale nuclear power plant in the next few years, despite worsening economic conditions and the mass exodus of the educated work force.

JOSÉ EDUARDO PEREIRA SOSA (Paraguay) said his country, as part of the first densely populated nuclear-weapon-free zone, supported a strengthened non-proliferation regime and advocated for transparent and legally binding nuclear disarmament.  The existence, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons posed grave dangers to humanity and the environment.  The NPT, as the cornerstone of the disarmament regime, as well as of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, complemented the  Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, CTBT and nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties.  He urged States to accede to the NPT and all Annex II States to ratify the CTBT.  Regarding the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he heralded the First Meeting of States Parties and the resulting Political Declaration and Action Plan.  Paraguay co-sponsored the resolution on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, CTBT and the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and called on others to join.  States had the inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology, and he recognized the important role of IAEA in that regard.  Nuclear technology and energy contributed to the health, cultural and industry sectors, and its use was a fundamental issue for Paraguay.  He also welcomed IAEA’s efforts relating to overcoming the pandemic and the physical security of the power plants in Ukraine.

TEBURORO TITO (Kiribati) said that the United Kingdom and the United States devastated Kiribati when they tested 33 nuclear weapons at Christmas and Malden Islands between 1957 and 1962, providing little protection to hundreds of civilians who subsequently developed terminal radiogenic illnesses, including cancer which continued to plague the health and lives of their children and grandchildren.  The suffering at the hands of those nuclear-weapon States in the name of world peace had fully convinced the world that nuclear weapons were evil and should not be used as instruments of peace and security.  Due to his country’s tragic legacy, it had committed itself to seeking nuclear justice for the impacted victims and communities.  He was dismayed by calls from certain States to be “less emotional” when discussing nuclear weapons.  Having lost many close colleagues to illnesses caused by the testing due to the lack of adherence to nuclear disarmament commitments, he would continue to express his profound concern and worry about the qualitative and quantitative advancements and modernization of the nuclear arsenals and the exorbitant spending on those programmes.  He would continue to regard such behaviour as unfriendly, irresponsible, dangerous, heartless and inhumane.  He was standing up to the Goliaths of the world and declaring that enough was enough.  It was time for the user States to recognize their moral responsibility to help affected States.  It was also high time for the international community to recognize its complicity in allowing nuclear testing to be carried out in the Pacific for decades and to provide assistance to his people.

JORGE VIDAL (Chile) reiterated the importance of the immediate opening of negotiations for a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, including existing stockpiles.  He called for redoubled efforts to ensure that disarmament was comprehensive and prioritized a genuine and broad multilateral debate.  Chile adhered to the principle of the indivisibility of international security, since all States — regardless of their size or power — had the responsibility to contribute to the consolidation of an international order based on multilateralism and cooperation and governed by international law, including international humanitarian law.  Concerned at the dire humanitarian and environmental consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, he noted that consensus had not been reached on an NPT outcome document at the recent Tenth Review Conference.  He underlined the educational role played by IAEA.  He supported the Agency's promotion of the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, underlining the added value of that technology in the fields of medicine, industry, agriculture, environment, and science.

SIARHEI MAKAREVICH (Belarus) said the hope that the end of the cold war would be based on mutual respect and cooperation, and not on conflict, had led to a false feeling of calm and comfort.  Non-proliferation and disarmament were put on the back burner.  Unprecedented escalation and disagreement between States that ignored the indivisibility of common security had now led to an armed conflict in Europe.  Decreased attention to non-proliferation and disarmament instruments and a lack of mutual trust had exacerbated control and conflict issues.  In turn, that led to risks in the nuclear sphere.  Nuclear weapons were no longer a political instrument for deterrence.  The New START extension and the January Joint Statement were responsible approaches taken by nuclear-weapon States.  Belarus supported all constructive efforts at ridding the world of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear-weapon States should decrease nuclear threats through disarmament, the CTBT should rapidly enter force, new momentum was needed for creating nuclear-weapon-free zones, and a legally binding agreement to provide non-nuclear-weapon States with guarantees against nuclear weapons use against them was imperative, as the basis for humanity’s continued survival.

Mr. HADDAD (United Arab Emirates), associating with the Arab Group and Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated his commitment to maintaining international security and a world free of nuclear weapons.  He regretted the second failure to adopt a final document at the NPT Review Conference and stressed the importance of non-proliferation and disarmament conferences and the full implementation of past Review Conference’s resolutions.  All States should fully commit to all international instruments on nuclear safety and security and be fully transparent in their peaceful use of nuclear energy under the NPT.  He urged full participation by all parties to the third Conference on the Establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East.  He underlined the special responsibility of Annex II States to accede to the CTBT and the importance of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s work.  States whose nuclear activities raised questions should undertake to ensure the international community’s confidence in their peaceful nature.  In that, he underlined the importance of safety and transparency in his country’s nuclear energy programme. 

HELENA NDAPEWA KUZEE (Namibia) said that her country, among the world’s largest uranium producers, did not support it for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.  Nuclear weapons were a source of international antagonism, instilling fear and posing endless threats about the destructive force of their use. While existing treaties complemented each other, it was important not to confuse the concepts of prohibition and elimination.  The prohibition of nuclear weapons was an essential foundation for their total elimination.  The former should not be held hostage to the latter.  She remained concerned at the spending by nuclear-weapon States to modernize, upgrade, refurbish and extend the lives of their nuclear weapons and related facilities.  She believed that the continued existence and possession of those weapons did not guarantee security, but rather substantially increased the risk of their potential use.  No Member State was too big to disarm on its own, and none too small to make a contribution.  Multilateralism remained central to attaining the goal of nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy for the benefit of humanity, and was a universal inalienable right.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, regretted that the world had been moving in the wrong direction.  Important disarmament and transparency treaties had been discarded and the disarmament machinery remained deadlocked, with no progress made toward a treaty banning the production of fissile material.  The CTBT was in a state of legal limbo despite further ratifications.  States possessing nuclear weapons were expanding and modernizing their arsenals and squandering resources that could address the world’s hunger crisis and advance integral human development.  She condemned the irresponsible escalatory rhetoric.  To avoid nuclear war, all State possessors must take immediate steps to reduce the operational readiness of their nuclear forces, adopt no-first-use policies and long-term policies establishing a global ceiling on nuclear stockpiles, from which reductions could be made.  He renewed his concern regarding the “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects” of nuclear weapons, adding that those were not abstract or theoretical.  The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with the more than 2,000 tests conducted worldwide, had shown the very real harms inflicted by nuclear weapons.  Indeed, working towards their total elimination also meant that those responsible should redress those harms.  He commended efforts aimed at fostering cooperation in nuclear disarmament verification, which would not only create a culture of trust, but also provide much needed hope that a world free of nuclear weapons was possible.  Indeed, such a world was not only possible but necessary for safeguarding the future of humanity.

QAIS Z. F. KASABRI, observer for the State of Palestine, associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, voiced deep disappointment over the back-to-back failures of the Ninth and Tenth Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences. That stalemate could erode the credibility of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons did not contradict the NPT, but rather complemented it and furthered achievement of its objectives.  He welcomed the convening of the first session of the conference to establish a zone free from nuclear and all other mass-destruction weapons in the Middle East in November 2019, noting its success in adopting several substantive decisions.  Reiterating that the conference was a framework that allowed the participation of all parties and took its decisions by consensus, he noted that one party — Israel — had decided to boycott it, given its desire to continue to possess nuclear weapons illegally, considering that it was above the law and that everyone must abide by the rules while it enjoyed all the exceptions that threatened the security and safety of the region.  The State of Palestine invited all countries to support the conference, including nuclear-weapon States.

VIVIAN OKEKE, representative of the Director General of theInternational Atomic Energy Agency, said IAEA sought to enlarge atomic energy’s contribution to peace, health and prosperity, and ensure it was not used for military purposes.  The Agency was devoted to meet each Member State’s development needs and was responsible for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, related to food and water resource management security.  Its vital contributions to international peace and security through verification and safeguard measures were aimed at independently verifying States’ commitment to not divert nuclear materials to nuclear weapons or misuse technology.  It also responded to assistance requests to overcome medical emergencies, national disasters, industrial accidents and, lately, military conflicts.

She updated the Committee on the Director General’s work in Ukraine and the seven pillars of nuclear safety and security of nuclear facilities.  They related to facilities’ physical safety, equipment systems, the staff’s ability to work free of undue pressure, logistical supply chains and transport, radiation monitoring systems, and reliable communication.  Those pillars had been compromised at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.  The Agency had undertaken three missions to Ukraine and, among other things, left behind a team of experts at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.  On 6 September, the Director General proposed a safety and security zone around the power plant and subsequently met with Presidents Vladimir V. Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In closing, she said the Agency was a vehicle to spread atomic energy benefits and limit nuclear weapons proliferation.  It would continue to play a role in energy, climate and food crises.  At the Conference of the Parties in Egypt, IAEA would highlight the role of nuclear technology in climate adaptation and mitigation.  It was committed to creating a more gender-balanced workforce in the Agency and in the nuclear sector more broadly.

Right of Reply

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, and speaking in exercise of the right of reply, firmly rejected and unequivocally condemned the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, which followed the so-called referendums.  They took place amid widespread and systematic abuses of human rights, as well as intimidation of Ukrainian citizens by the Russian Federation.  The representative did not and would never recognize that illegal annexation, just as he never recognized the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.  Those regions were part of Ukraine.  Last week, the United Nations General Assembly sent a clear message to the Russian Federation through the adoption of the resolution, which confirmed that the overwhelming majority of nations stood ready to defend the United Nations Charter, and rejected the Russian Federation’s aggressions against Ukraine and its people.  The resolution demanded that the Russian Federation immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.  By wilfully undermining the rules-based international order and blatantly and repeatedly violating Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Russian Federation was putting global peace and security at risk, taking territory by force.  The occupation by Russian armed forces of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and Russian military operations conducted in the vicinity of that civilian nuclear facility were unacceptable and added to the gravity of the situation.

The representative of the Russian Federation, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, categorically rejected the accusations that were devoid of reality and had nothing to do with the current situation.  Regarding the European Union’s right of reply, he said he did not see any need to provide any additional clarifications regarding the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson referenda.  The results spoke for themselves:  the residents used their legal right to self-determination.  They deliberately chose for the Russian Federation.  They were able to make that choice freely, which had been confirmed by international monitors and was in line with the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States, the Charter and other documents.  More comments on that topic had been given earlier.

Regarding the Russian Federation’s alleged violation of the Budapest Memoranda, he said that the Memoranda were part of a package of agreements that placed equal obligations on all participants.  The Russian Federation had consistently adhered to the provisions.  However, the United States and other Western countries interfered in the internal affairs of a sovereign State, namely Ukraine, and attempted to tear it away from the Russian Federation.  Now, they interfered in all spheres, including military spheres.  They assisted in the bloody coup to ensure they controlled those in power in Kyiv.  That ramped up tensions among the Ukrainian population and threatened Ukraine’s existence as a single State.

The expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into the post-Soviet sphere, he said, undermined the Russian Federation’s security and violated the Budapest Memoranda, which ensured common and inalienable security.  Over the course of many years, Kyiv did not adhere to the Budapest obligations, in particular, those that attempted to envisaged to combat chauvinism and nationalism.  Kyiv supported radical forms of that, including hero-worship of Nazi perpetrators, and that had become part of their ideology.  In turn, that forced those living in certain regions in Ukraine to defend their interests through self‑determination.  Kyiv was responsible for the deep divide in society, its destructive policies and outside influences.

The Memoranda, he went on, were signed when Ukraine signed onto the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State.  The Russian Federation reiterated its commitment not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States.  But, that obligation was not fully carried out by the other sides.  The Russian Federation did not threaten Ukraine with nuclear weapons and would never do so.  Ukraine’s review of its non-nuclear status would undermine the NPT.  In addition, the recent comments regarding preventative nuclear attacks against the Russian Federation were completely unacceptable.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea categorically rejected the provocative statements by the Republic of Korea and Japan.  Under the current circumstances, it was important to look at the root causes of the Korean Peninsula issue.  The Republic of Korea’s persistent acts of subservience to outside force and uninterrupted military provocations were the root cause.  It followed the United States’ heinous hostile policy to stifle his Republic, translate it into hostile acts and aggravate the situation.  The Korean Peninsula situation was this way due to the aggressive nature of the Republic of Korea and the United States.  The hostile policies derived from the Republic of Korea’s wild pipedream to obliterate his country’s choice of ideology and reunify on its own terms.  Hostility brought confrontation and confrontations worsened the crisis and induced conflicts.  The current Republic of Korea’s policy against his country surpassed those of previous Governments, in terms of ferocity and recklessness.  Historically, the Korean Peninsula’s tensions coincided with the United States and Republic of Korea’s massive military drills.  By all accounts, those drills were war drills, aimed the ability to invade the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The sustained Republic of Korea’s military drills were the root cause and damaged peace in the region.  He would watch the military moves of the hostile forces and take strong counter-steps if necessary.

Japan had transformed itself into a war-capable country, he said.  Worse still, Japan was actively involved in joint military drills with United States in the hottest areas in the world.  Japan imported a huge amount of plutonium and wanted to use it for military purposes.  The international community should be on high alert for its dangerous moves aimed at nuclear armament and re-invasion.

The representative of Iran said certain European countries that had disregarded their commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were uttering falsehoods about his State.  Sanctions remained in place, and Iran did not enjoy the economic dividends that were part of the deal.  The United States’ obligation was to make good-faith efforts to maintain the deal, but in defiance of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), withdrew on 8 May 2018 and reimposed unilateral sanctions.  While Iran maintained its commitments, a maximum pressure policy was still pursued.  The people’s suffering continued and was nearly irreversible.  Iran had responded to all IAEA questions in a thorough and comprehensive manner, while Israel had done everything to scuttle the Plan of Action.

The representative of Syria, responding to Israel’s delegate, rejected the accusations and lies designed to mask that State’s crimes and to escape from resolutions passed against it.  While Israel possessed biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, Syria cooperated with IAEA, showing the greatest flexibility and full adherence to the global safeguards agreement.  Citing Israel’s aggression of 2007 against his country, he called on that State to cooperate with IAEA on pollution generated by its missiles.  Condemning all aggression against Syria, he said the meeting was being used as a platform to attack his country. He insisted that Israel join the NPT.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said that everyone knew which country started the Korean War and which country continued to go down the path of provocations and hostile behaviours.  She drew attention to the immovable truth, that it was that one country that continued to blatantly pursue its military ambitions by launching more than 40 missiles this year alone, not to mention its new legislation to lower the threshold of using nuclear weapons.  Against that backdrop, the combined defence and deterrence posture was not only a response to such military threats, but it was a duty of a responsible Government.  She reiterated that any attempt by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to justify its possession and potential use of nuclear weapons would not be recognized by the international community under any circumstances.

As a country that consistently upheld and defended the Charter, hers believed that all Member States should abide by Security Council resolutions, without exception, she said.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must end all unlawful nuclear activities, which violated international law and multiple Council resolutions, by abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  She also urged it to stop provocative actions and choose different paths by responding to the calls for dialogue.

The representative of Japan said his country adhered to the basic precept of maintaining the exclusively defence-oriented policy and of not becoming a military Power that posed a threat to other countries.  Japan would never change its course as a peace-loving nation.  The purpose of its defence-related expenditure was to enable its self-defence forces to carry out its duties to ensure the lives and peaceful livelihood of the Japanese people and to further to contribute to the peace and security of the international community.  Japan would continue to ensure high transparency in defence-related expenditures, he said.  With regard to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s reference to Japan's possession of plutonium, the representative highlighted that IAEA already had confirmed that all nuclear materials in Japan, including plutonium, remained in peaceful activities under stringent IAEA safeguards.

The representative of Israel said that both Iran and Syria were NPT States parties that knowingly and deliberately had and continued to violate the Treaty.  Those actors tried to destabilize the Middle East and must provide answers to IAEA.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the provocative statements of the Republic of Korea and Japan.  His country had never recognized United Nations resolutions that seriously encroached on its sovereignty and its right to develop and exist.  The Republic of Korea tried to distort the nature of the Korean Peninsula’s issues.  From August to October, it had frantically conducted joint drills, sought to conduct massive military drills, and had committed serious provocations.  In response, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s military sent a strong warning to the hostile forces.  The conservative Government of the Republic of Korea must admit that it had overstepped, and he urged it to think about how its actions might invite danger to itself.

He said that Japan’s bottom line was to introduce a long-distance strike missile.  That ran counter to it exclusive defensive policy, as stipulated in the Japanese Constitution.  Japanese policymakers were arguing about introducing nuclear‑sharing with the United States.  He urged them to reflect on their military moves that might invite undesired effects.

The representative of Iran rejected the unacceptable statement by Israel’s delegate and said he would not provide any further answers.

The representative of Japan said his country would continue to contribute to peace and security of the Asian region and the world.  His Government adhered to non-nuclear principles and would not possess nuclear weapons.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that non-fulfilment of the commitments and obligations assumed under international legally binding instruments, especially on weapons of mass destruction, threatened global peace and security.  The Movement’s States parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons (Convention on Chemical Weapons) urged the United States to take every necessary measure to ensure its compliance with the “Detailed plan for the destruction of Chemical Weapons remaining after the final extended destruction deadline of 29 April 2012”.  The use of chemical weapons and toxic chemicals as weapons anywhere by anyone under any circumstances was reprehensible and completely contrary to international law and the Convention.  Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons should be held accountable.

He reiterated his condemnation of Israeli military aggression against the Gaza Strip in 2009, and July 2014 and August 2014, and the occupying Power’s indiscriminate shelling and bombing of Palestinian civilian areas.  He was gravely concerned about the reported use in civilian areas of harmful and potentially fatal incendiary weapons, such as white phosphorus, and he reiterated the call for a thorough investigation.  International support to victims suffering from chemical weapons exposure was an urgent humanitarian need.  Actions by the Security Council should not undermine the United Nations Charter, existing multilateral treaties on weapons of mass destruction, international organizations established in that regard or the General Assembly’s functions, power and role.  He cautioned against the Council’s ongoing practice to utilize its authority to define legislative requirements for Member State.  The Movement would present a draft resolution on measures to uphold the authority of the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

CARLOS FULLER (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that international peace and security affected all.  The Caribbean Community was concerned that the world was no closer to eliminating nuclear and other mass destruction weapons.  Chemical weapons use was unjustifiable.  He reiterated his support for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  That treaty had made great contributions in codifying a universal norm against chemical weapons use, which caused dire environmental, health and humanitarian consequences.  Any use must be fully investigated, those responsible must be held accountable, and victims should be assisted.  He commended the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in destroying stockpiles and in capacity-building.

She expressed the Caribbean Community’s ongoing support for the Biological Weapons Convention and called attention to the danger of non-State actors’ access to those weapons in light of the world’s scientific and technologic developments.  Climate change was the greatest challenge in his region, compounded by the pandemic’s socioeconomic impact.  The Caribbean Community worked on a counter-terrorism strategy in collaboration with the United Nations. The Community’s commitment to the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction was unwavering, he concluded.

ANOUPARB VONGNORKEO (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on behalf of ASEAN and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that all weapons of mass destruction, used intentionally or by accident, could cause severe casualties and massive loss of life, damage to property, and significant harm to numerous species and biodiversity, and he condemned their use.

He said that all ASEAN member States were parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and strictly abided by international obligations.  He commended the OPCW for its unwavering support of the Convention, and welcomed progress in eliminating chemical weapons stockpiles. He noted the fiftieth anniversary of the Biological Weapons Convention, but cited the lack of a verification measure, which challenged its effectiveness.  ASEAN remained committed to enhancing regional capacity to address chemical, biological and radiological threats. He spotlighted the achievements of the Network of ASEAN Chemical, Biological and Radiological Defence Experts, who shared information and best practices in order to strengthen regional preparedness and cooperation against chemical, biological and radiological threats.  Practical cooperation in the ASEAN defence sector had advanced since its inception in 2006, particularly through the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting platform.  Moreover, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus Chemical, Biological and Radiological Conference, organized by Singapore, aimed to develop a deeper understanding of the risks posed by “CBR” agents in terrorist acts in the region.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq) speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said he adhered to its principled position of achieving a world free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons, giving due priority to the cause of the establishing a zone free of those weapons in the Middle East.  The Arab Group played an active role in efforts aimed at eliminating weapons of mass destruction.  He affirmed that Israel's accession to the NPT would contribute to achieving its universality and boost regional and international security.  It would also enhance the credibility of the international disarmament and non-proliferation system, as Israel was the only country in the region that did not belong to any of the three arms-related treaties.  The Arab countries had agreed to expand the scope of arms control measures in the region to include other weapons of mass destruction in addition to nuclear weapons.  He reiterated the call for strengthening international efforts to establishment a zone in his region free of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons.

KONSTANTIN VORONTSOV (Russian Federation), speaking on behalf of Belarus, Venezuela, China, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Nicaragua and Syria, concluded that the questions regarding the United States’ military biological activities in the context of Ukraine’s laboratories remain unresolved.  He had not received explanations that would eliminate the need for the Russian Federation to conduct a meeting.  He called for States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention to continue sharing expert opinions and technical assessments and to submit their suggestions to the ninth NPT Review Conference.  Given the outcomes of the consultative meetings, and in order to facilitate the resolving issues, all  opportunities provided by the Biological Weapons Convention should be used.  The outcomes would show the Convention’s potential and its efficiency.  Moreover, negotiations should resume on a legally binding, comprehensive protocol with effective verification mechanisms.  Hopefully, that decision would be adopted at the Review Conference.

Mr. KARCZMARZ, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, condemned the Russian Federation’s ongoing war against Ukraine.  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was a grave threat to international peace and security, including the risk of terrorist acquisition.  The Union welcomed the successful and verified destruction of 99 per cent of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles.  Chemical weapons use was always a violation of international law and could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The world had witnessed their horrific use in Syria, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation and Malaysia.  Impunity must end and accountability be ensured.  He denounced Syria’s continued violations as a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The Union remained steadfast in defending the OPCW against deliberate attacks on its integrity.  He reaffirmed the Union’s support for the Biological Weapons Convention as the legally binding norm against those weapons and called on all States to join it.  Expressing deep concern regarding the Russian Federation’s disinformation campaign, he underlined the unacceptability of attacking legitimate capacity-building programmes in the biosecurity domain. The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation was an integral part of the multilateral non-proliferation architecture. The Union supported all international export control regimes, including the Zangger Committee, the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

BRYAN TOMLINSON (Canada) said that the legal frameworks established to ban the possession, development, and use of chemical and biological weapons were increasingly being undermined in September, States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention had met at the behest of the Russian Federation to hear baseless accusations about allegedly inappropriate biological activities conducted by the United States in Ukraine.  It had resulted in an unambiguous conclusion that activities supported by the United States in Ukraine were fully consistent with the Convention.  The allegations of the Russian Federation were baseless, disingenuous, and damaging to the Convention’s integrity.  The Russian Federation manufactured and misrepresented long-standing cooperation between the United States and Ukraine and legitimately supported its disinformation charge that they violated the Convention.

He said Canada had supported many international assistance projects at biolabs in the Russian Federation, including at facilities implicated in the former Soviet Union’s offensive bioweapons programme, which had involved peaceful scientific collaboration similar to that the Russian Federation called into question in Ukraine.  It also had accused Ukraine of developing chemical weapons.  The Russian Federation had gone so far as to imply that inspectors from the Organisation could be involved in staging chemical attacks in order to blame the Russian Federation.  Ukraine was in compliance with the Convention.  In stark contrast, the Russian Federation had failed to satisfactorily explain the attempted assassinations of Sergei Skripal in 2018 and Alexei Navalny in 2020.  The intent of the Russian Federation disinformation was clear: to undermine decades of collective effort to eliminate two entire categories of weapons of mass destruction.

NARA MASISTA RAKHMATIA (Indonesia), speaking in her national capacity and associating herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that the use of all weapons of mass destruction by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances was inhumane, morally disgraceful and legally unacceptable.  The Convention on Chemical Weapons was one of the most successful multilateral instruments in disarmament and non-proliferation.  However, the threats to international peace and security from their use were clear, and the only guarantee against them was those weapons’ complete elimination.  As a top priority, the remaining possessor countries must expedite the total destruction of their stockpiles, of all categories of chemical weapons, before the deadlines, under strict verification.  She also maintained Indonesia’s unequivocal commitment to upholding the norms against biological weapons.

MOHAMED KAMAL ALI ELHOMOSANY (Egypt), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said he had joined consensus on the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995 on the understanding that the package included a resolution to establish a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone.  His was the first country in the region to propose including other weapons of mass destruction in that zone.  He called for immediate action to face the strategic imbalance in the Middle East, owing to the persistence of one State to impede the efforts of establishing the zone.  Such persistence impeded regional security and stability and led to more conflicts, an arms race, instability, international intervention and a lack of sustainable peace.  Condemning any use of weapons of mass destruction by any side under any circumstances, he highlighted once more the double standards in the position expressed by some Member States when they called on certain Member States by name to accede to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions, while not calling on the only Member State in the Middle East that was a non-State party to the NPT to join it without delay.  The security of some Member States was not more important than that of others.

CAMILLE PETIT (France) said that compliance with the norms of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by all States was an imperative.  Trivialization of proliferation crises and impunity should be rejected.  The taboo against the use of chemical weapons, which was thought to be inviolable, had been broken on several occasions: in Syria, the Russian Federation, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.  Syria should comply with its international obligations if it was to restore its rights and privileges that were suspended by the decision of the Conference of States Parties in April 2021.  The assassination attempt against Alexei Navalny in August 2020 using a nerve agent belonging to the "Novitchok" family, as confirmed by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was another illustration of the use of a chemical weapon by a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, namely, the Russian Federation.  She strongly reiterated the use of chemical weapons wherever, whenever, by whomever and under whatever circumstances.

SCOTT TURNER (United States) said the international community must remain resolute to reverse the trend of chemical weapons use.  There could be no impunity.  The Assad regime had failed in its obligations by using chemical weapons against its own people.  OPCW had attributed four separate chemical weapons attacks to that regime.

On a point of order, the representative of Syria drew attention to the need to use diplomatic language as well as official names of countries and to respect the rules of intervention adopted by this Organization.

The representative of the United States reaffirmed its condemnation of the Russian Federation’s poisoning of Alexei Navalny and urged that country to answer the international community’s questions in that case, as well as in regard to the case of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, United Kingdom.  The Russian Federation must declare its chemical weapons programme and destroy those weapons in its possession.  Relating to its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Federation claimed that Ukrainian troops had used chemical weapons but had provided no evidence.  The Biological Weapons Convention solidified the view that States parties must exclude biological weapons.  The world was at a momentous crossroads.  The pandemic reminded the world how vulnerable it was to infectious diseases.  All biological threats, natural or otherwise, should be taken seriously and required cooperation.  Some sought to undermine that Convention, but the world could not allow progress to elude it, and a new course should be charted at the upcoming Review Conference.  Biological weapons were unacceptable, and he called on all States to come together for the sake of mankind.  He would address the Russian Federation’s unfounded allegation against the United Nations and Ukraine in his right of reply.

ERIN MORRISS (New Zealand) expressed concern over proven cases of chemical weapons use, which were an affront to the global rules and norms to the world had collectively committed to preserve and defend.  Those reinforced support for the critical work of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  She underlined her commitment to the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons and its work the work it did to hold to account those who dared to use those repugnant weapons, urging the Russian Federation to cooperate fully with the international community and OPCW to provide answers regarding the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.  She also reminded Syria of its obligations following the adoption of the decision Addressing the Possession and Use of Chemical Weapons by that country.  Additionally, she urged it to comply with the decision of the Conference of States Parties without delay.  Turning to biological weapons, she noted the upcoming ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, and said it was a timely opportunity to strengthen that important element of the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.

RUTH HILL (Australia) said that it was time to rid the world of chemical weapons, once and for all.  Despite progress, those weapons continued to pose a persistent threat.  She underscored her strong support for OPCW and commended it for its professionalism, impartiality and integrity.  Australia supported its ability to respond to chemical weapons use and to hold to accountable the users and those who commanded, enabled or shielded them.  It was imperative for Syria to comply with its obligations under that Convention and ensure the complete dismantlement and destruction of its chemical weapons.

She said that biological threats did not respect State borders.  Use of biological weapons anywhere would be globally disruptive and have a severe impact upon all.  In the fiftieth anniversary since the opening for signature of the Convention, a recommitment was needed to rid the world of those weapons.  She called out those who spread disinformation about those and chemical weapons and who sought to abuse the mechanisms of those Conventions and undermine the work of the OPCW.  She was greatly concerned by the Russian Federation's unsubstantiated claims about chemical and biological weapons, including against Ukraine and the United States, and she urged it to cease.

ROBERT IN DEN BOSCH (Netherlands), aligning with the European Union, said that the world would witness the complete construction of all declared stockpiles in one more year.  That unique achievement had been made possible by OPWC’s years‑long efforts.  However, there was a disturbing reemergence of that threat, with Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its own population.  The Russian Federation started a disinformation campaign with unfounded claims of Ukrainian chemical weapons use.  To ensure the work of OPWC, he called for all Member States to vote in favor of the upcoming budget proposal.  As the pandemic illustrated, it mattered little whether pathogens were spread deliberately or naturally.  Diseases did not respect international borders.  The world community should take steps to address those threats.  The Netherlands would continue to take concrete steps to improve biosafety.  He underscored the importance the Secretary-General’s mechanism for investigation and drew attention to the often-overlooked gendered impact, which could enhance progress in that field.

PIOTR DZWONEK (Poland), associating with the European Union, said the Russian Federation’s unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has grossly violated the Charter, undermined global security and the rules-based international order, bringing devastating consequences for the entire world.  “Our message should remain strong and clear — we will continue to stand together to preserve the international standards and norms against the use of chemical weapons,” he stressed.  All perpetrators of those crimes should be held accountable.  Today, more than ever, the international community needs to convey a powerful and unambiguous signal of support for the Chemical Weapons Convention, as well as for OPCW leadership and its staff in their efforts aimed at promoting the Convention’s full implementation, with strong verification of that compliance.  As before, Poland had been making best efforts to organize an open, inclusive and transparent process of preparing the updated text of the resolution, and wherever possible, preserving the agreed language of the resolution, adding only a few new elements necessary to maintain its relevance.

ODD-INGE KVALHEIM (Norway) said the global conventions to prohibit chemical and biological weapons were foundational pillars in the world’s non-proliferation architecture.  The world could not allow them to be eroded by blatant violations, nor become areas for false accusations.  Referring to the Russian Federation’s allegations of Ukraine’s biological weapons programme, he said it was intolerable to use that to assail international assistance.  Cross-border cooperation was crucial in strengthening resilience to biological threats, and it was imperative to speak out against attempts to falsely frame peaceful cooperation as a form of non-compliance.  He firmly rejected all efforts to discredit the important work of the OPCW Technical Secretariat and its Director General.

He said that Syria was failing to close its 20 outstanding issues, and he supported suspension of its rights and privileges.  The Russian Federation should investigate Alexei Navalny’s poisoning, share the findings with States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and bring those responsible to justice.  Norway had joined the European Union in sanctioning the Russian Federation and that ban included chemical‑weapons exports.  The Secretary-General’s mechanism for the investigation of alleged uses must remain independent and impartial, and Norway saw no reason to update its procedures as proposed in the related resolution.  Compliance was key to upholding the strength of the conventions. Practical ways must be sought to provide assistance.  That would require strong partnership with civil society, the private sector and others.  He introduced a draft resolution on the Secretary-General’s mechanism for investigating alleged use of chemical and biological weapons (document A/C.1/77/L.69).

TANCREDI FRANCESE (Italy) said that securing sensitive materials, especially from terrorist networks’ acquisition and implementing effective export controls remained major challenges.  Those highlighted the need for the universal and effective implementation of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.  The COVID-19 pandemic had shown how important it was to work together to improve global biosecurity and biosafety.  In that regard, the Biological Weapons Convention was paramount, and every possible effort should be made to strengthen its regime and ensure its full and effective implementation.  Dialogue and flexibility were more essential than ever.  He was deeply concerned by the repeated use of chemical weapons.  In the strongest possible terms, he condemned their use by anyone, anywhere, anytime and under any circumstances.  The world must respond to that alarming trend by ensuring accountability and taking a clear stance against impunity for such heinous crimes.  He firmly condemned the use of chemical weapons by Syria and urged it to take all measures required to resolve the pending issues.  He reiterated his call on the Russian Federation to disclose without further delay the circumstances of the assassination attempt on Alexei Navalny.  Moreover, in the context of its war of aggression against Ukraine, the Russian Federation engaged in a campaign of disinformation, spreading unsubstantiated allegations against Ukraine and others regarding chemical weapons.  Ukraine was a responsible member of the Chemical Weapons Convention and in full compliance with it.

ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that no aspiration or ambition could justify the use of weapons of mass destruction.  These “weapons of death” put everyone at mortal risk, especially if they fell in terrorists’ hands.  The Philippines remained committed to upholding the global governance structure and emphasized the need for strategic trade management to reinforce global non-proliferation norms.  It participated in all processes aimed at implementing the relevant Conventions.  Expressing full commitment to Security Council resolution 1540 (2004), he said that the world benefitted from multilateral export control regimes.  Weapons of mass destruction, their means of delivery, equipment and technology were becoming more sophisticated.  National strategic trade control should respond to evolving security threats, and multilateral export control regimes should remain technically driven and insulated from politicization.  Further, politically driven unilateral measures should not unduly restrain international cooperation on peaceful uses.  There was a space for taking further steps to unlock the synergies between the disarmament paradigm and the Sustainable Development Goals.

THARARUT HANLUMYUANG (Thailand) stressed that biological and chemical weapons should not be used by anyone, at any time and under any circumstances.  Compliance with the obligations arising from existing international instruments in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation remained the key to effective responses in the area of collective security.  She reaffirmed the importance of effective and transparent implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, calling for a strengthened Biological Weapons Convention with more effective verification mechanisms to enable rapid responses to growing global biological threats.  Thailand would continue to strengthen its export control system, border security, conduct on‑site inspections and submit annual declarations.  Given the connectivity of the single market within the ASEAN community, it was a priority to monitor dual-use goods and technology transfer, while fostering engagements with the private sector.

MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) stated that the total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction remained one of South Africa’s key foreign policy priorities.  There was a collective responsibility to uphold the international norms against the production, use and stockpiling of chemical weapons established under the Convention.  He condemned the use of those by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances.  It was imperative that States were held accountable for any non-compliance.  He supported OPCW as the only technically competent international authority in the field of chemical weapons.  He underlined the importance of capacity-building and international cooperation for the benefit of States parties through the transfer of technology, knowledge, material and equipment for peaceful purposes.  The Biological Weapons Convention was an important contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security.  He remained committed to strengthening that Convention and its implementation to ensure achievement of preventing the threat of those weapons.

ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria), aligning with the European Union, said that his country’s objective was a world free of all weapons of mass destruction as their existence threatened peace and security.  He fully supported the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and called on all States to fully implement them.  He condemned any use or threat of use of any type of weapons of mass destruction and expressed concern regarding disinformation and escalation.  Syria’s repeated chemical weapons use was a blatant violation of its State party obligations.  He also expressed concern regarding the use of those weapons in the Russian Federation, Malaysia and the United Kingdom, which undermined the hard-earned taboo against their use.  There could not be impunity, he said, placing full trust in OPWC.  The pandemic highlighted the need to strengthen Biological Weapons Convention’s norms.  With rapid technological developments in life science, artificial intelligence and lowered barriers, security challenges were increasingly complex.  The Biological Weapons Convention should be responsive to the needs of the time, he said, pointing to the importance of verification methods, national implementation and confidence-building measures.  Austria supported the Secretary-General’s mechanism.  Export control regimes were important, and The Hague Code of Conduct should be fully implemented.

THOMAS GÖBEL (Germany) said that the Russian Federation had started an unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.  He was particularly concerned about unfounded claims against Ukraine, a country with an exemplary non-proliferation track record.  Those baseless claims were used as a pretext to justify an illegal aggression against a sovereign country in the heart of Europe.  The Russian Federation’s behaviour was undermining the international arms‑control and non‑proliferation architecture.  Rapid developments in life sciences and biotechnology offered new ways to fight disease, but also posed a risk for abuse in the development of biological weapons.  He condemned the disinformation campaign by the Russian Federation, and also was concerned at Syria’s continued non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Equally concerning was the repeated use of internationally banned nerve agents, such as in the cases of Mr. Skripal and Mr. Navalny.  The Russian Federation, on whose territory the attack on Mr. Navalny had taken place more than two years ago, had not provided any explanations on the attack, nor had any criminal investigation begun.  He called on the Russian Federation to launch a substantial proble in order to answer all outstanding questions in full transparency and without further delay, and to fully cooperate with OPCW.

SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to complete disarmament and the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.  “Their very existence is a blight on the conscience of mankind,” he stressed.  Citing the importance and relevance of the Chemical Weapons Convention, he condemned the use of those weapons by any side, regardless of the circumstances, and expressed concern about their re-emergence.  It was imperative that the users be held accountable.  He urged States to cooperate with OPCW, which was mandated to investigate the use of chemical weapons.  He reiterated the call to developed countries to encourage the technology transfers for peaceful in the chemical domain, and he recalled Malaysia’s support for the Biological Weapons Convention, which was a key component of the global disarmament architecture.

Right of Reply

The representative of the United States, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, took the floor to respond to the Russian Federation's continued efforts to malign international cooperation and assistance activities, in order to justify its unprovoked, illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine.  The United States had recently exposed the Russian Federation's disinformation tactics and dispelled its attempts to malign peaceful United States’ cooperation with Ukraine.  It had done so in the presence of delegations from 89 countries.  The United States and Ukraine offered an in-depth series of presentations that strongly refuted the Russian Federation's false claims of United States’ biological weapons development and biolabs in Ukraine.  Technical experts from the United States and Ukrainian delegations unambiguously explained their cooperation and United States assistance related to public health facilities, biosafety, biosecurity and disease surveillance as part of the broader United States cooperative threat reduction.  The United States and Ukraine also highlighted how such activities were consistent with and further supported the provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention, particularly its article 10, which promoted cooperation and assistance by States parties.

He said that the use of chemical weapons in recent years in Iraq, Malaysia, Russian Federation, Syria and the United Kingdom, combined with the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the risk that revolutionary advances in life sciences might be misused for biological weapons underscored the need for effective international mechanisms for investigating the possible use of chemical, biological or toxin weapons.

The representative of the Russian Federation categorically rejected the continuing insinuations about its supposed involvement and use of nerve agents.  That was propaganda, the goal of which was to put continued economic and political pressure on the country.  London continued to refuse a substantive discussion and a joint investigation of what had occurred in Salisbury, resulting in the suffering of Russian citizens.  NATO Member States had used the media to communicate for several months and years.  London, Berlin and Stockholm had not provided any substantive responses to the Russian Federation's questions.  The Western States should clearly understand why NATO Member States were developing new forms of nerve agents.  He would continue to demand from the United Kingdom and Germany authorities comprehensive official information and ask them to fulfil their international legal obligations.  Finally, he drew attention to the fact that statements in support of OPCW and the Chemical Weapons Convention should not be based on selective approaches.

The representative of Syria refused allegations against his country.  The politicization of OPWC was used as a platform to realize some countries’ narrow interests.  He condemned chemical weapons use anywhere, always and at any time.  Those countries claimed Syria had ignored the cooperation with OPCW, but Syria had fully cooperated with it since its accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Syria had destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile, despite challenges, and continued to cooperate with the OPCW Technical Secretariat in a constructive manner.  Syria did not acknowledge the identification mechanism’s legitimacy, as its formation was a hostile act against his country.  That was why the Western Powers were ignoring Syria’s full cooperation, calling Syria non-compliant.  But, that politicized the situation and did not serve the Convention.  It was a bad example of how the Organization gave in to pressures.  He reminded those accusation-making countries that Syria was committed to non-proliferation and disarmament.

In 1968, Syria had acceded to the Geneva Protocol.  In 1969, to the NPT.  In 1972, to the Biological Weapons Convention, and in 2013, to the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The fact-finding missions did not respect the Convention’s provisions.  While some countries continued to cast doubt on what Syria did, it had, in fact, done everything to work with the OPCW Technical Secretariat and respond positively to recommendations.  His delegation refused the inappropriate language of the United States that distorted Syria’s image.  The United States was not in a position to make accusations against Syria.  The representative had no right to preach about international law or human rights, while his country engaged in hostile acts, flagrantly violated the Charter and international law, and attacked civilians.  It denied Syrian citizens the most basic rights by imposing unilateral coercive measures, stole barrels of oil and cotton, set fire to thousands of hectares of agricultural land, and denied food and medicine.  Through illegal coalitions, the United States committed thousands of crimes, killed hundreds of thousands, and destroyed hospitals, dams and care centres.  It protected Israel and refused to dispose of weapons, despite the set limits.  It had a proven track record of chemical and nuclear weapons use against the world’s citizens, of which the results were still visible.

For information media. Not an official record.