Seventy-eighth Session,
2nd Meeting (AM)

With Peace and Security Architecture Imperilled, First Committee Must Spotlight Disarmament in Multilateral Efforts to Ease Tensions, Says High Representative

General Debate Begins amid Risk of Nuclear Weapons Use, Speakers Warn

Amid rising geopolitical tensions and the peace and security architecture under unprecedented strain, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) has a key role in ensuring disarmament will be at the centre of broader multilateral efforts at this critical moment in history, the body heard today at the start of its 2023 general debate. 

“There has not been a time since the depths of the cold war that the risk of a nuclear weapon being used has been so high and, at the same time, the regime intended to prevent such use so fragile,” said United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu.  Add to that, trust is lacking and dialogue is scarce, she continued.

Against this backdrop, she said lamenting the persistent deadlock in parts of the disarmament machinery has become a “common refrain in the First Committee”.  She urged it instead to find concrete, sensible solutions to ensure that the disarmament machinery is “fit for purpose” to manage the threats in traditional and new domains.

In the same vein, Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago), General Assembly President, called on the Committee to “bring the disarmament agenda back on track” and maintain its relevance and resourcefulness.  He asked all Member States to recommit to the peaceful resolution of conflicts and a world free of nuclear weapons.

Committee Chair Rytis Paulauskas (Lithuania) said that the credible answer to many of the problems in the arms control domain is strict observance of the Charter, upholding the rules-based international order and fulfilling treaties. Members over the coming weeks will discuss what must be done to improve the “health” of disarmament, non-proliferation and global security. 

The United States’ representative was among several who agreed that multilateral institutions, such as the First Committee and the Conference on Disarmament, are at risk.  Warning that the health and stability of the global arms-control and non-proliferation regime are also in jeopardy, she urged all to reject the “fatalism that has crept into our work”.

Many speakers highlighted the nuclear-weapon States’ special responsibility to lead the way. Indonesia’s representative, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, deplored that nuclear Powers have not made progress in eliminating their arsenals and instead have regressed in the fulfilment of their commitments.  He called for the full implementation of their obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Picking up on that thread, Jamaica’s delegate, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the “unfortunate paralysis” of the NPT demonstrates the importance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted in 2017, as a fundamental step towards the irreversible, verifiable and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons overall.

Similarly, South Africa’s speaker said the Treaty is among the most important developments towards nuclear disarmament and a necessary and effective measure to cease the nuclear arms race.  She called on nuclear-armed States to stabilize relations by renewing trust and committing to those weapons’ elimination in a time-bound and verifiable manner.

The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., Tuesday, 3 October, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), Chair of the First Committee, highlighted the challenging global security environment and the serious implications for all of the Russian Federation’s invasion against Ukraine.  Quoting the words of the Secretary-General in his most recent address to the General Assembly, he said:  “If every country fulfilled its obligations under the UN Charter, the right to peace would be guaranteed […] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine […] has unleashed a nexus of horror”.  The international security situation and the state of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation are intrinsically intertwined.  The most credible answer to many of the problems in the arms control domain is strict observance of the Charter, upholding the rules-based international order and fulfilling treaties.

On nuclear weapons, he urged efforts to advance along the path outlined by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), maintaining the balance of its three pillars.  Cyber- and outer space, and the use of the new and emerging disruptive technologies, including artificial intelligence, have become pressing themes of today’s security debate today, and he called for the responsible behaviour of States in these domains.  Over the next days and weeks, the First Committee will examine the integrity of treaties and conventions and how obligations and commitments under those instruments are fulfilled.  Members will also discuss what exactly must be done to improve the “health” of disarmament, non-proliferation and international security.

DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the General Assembly, warned that nuclear weapons use is an “existential threat that casts a dark shadow” over the “greatest geopolitical crisis” in decades.  The First Committee has the great responsibility to break the deadlock and bring the disarmament agenda back on track.  All Member States must recommit to the peaceful resolution of conflicts and a world free of nuclear weapons.  These weapons are “singularly inhumane”.  A weapon that can wipe out all of humanity is “a life-threatening verdict against all living beings”.  Noting the deeply disturbing trend of rising nuclear stockpiles and technological advancements that make these weapons even more deadly, he implored Member States to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric regarding their use and to instead fulfil the promise of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force.

He urged stronger accountability for and regulation of conventional arms control and resolute action to counteract their misuse, illicit transfer and accumulation.  Of equal concern is the growing reliance on incendiary weapons despite the ban on their use, which must be addressed in line with the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  Furthermore, as the malicious use of cyberspace rises and lethal autonomous weapons systems raise new ethical concerns about the outsourcing of life and death decisions to software, Member States must redouble efforts to implement the agreed framework of responsible State behaviour to reduce cyberthreats. Additionally, he reaffirmed outer space as a common heritage and emphasized that space must be used for peaceful purposes only.  He called for legally binding rules to govern the solar system and the deepest reaches of the cosmos, including to properly regulate issues of growing orbital debris, satellite congestion, commercialization and exploitation of space and the deployment of anti-satellite weapons.

In closing, he urged the First Committee to unite and recommit to humanity’s shared interests in order to maintain its relevance and resourcefulness.  He encouraged Member States to choose joint priorities over national agendas and to “ignite common solutions” that “break the chains of conflict and intransigence that are holding our collective sustainable development hostage”.

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the “stakes feel higher” this year.  Geopolitical tensions are rising, global challenges are mounting, and the peace and security architecture is under unprecedented strain.  Nonetheless, there have been signs of hope for multilateral action.  She cited, among others, the General Assembly’s adoption of an action-oriented document, Pact for the Future 2024, for which “A New Agenda for Peace” was prepared against a particularly difficult global peace and security backdrop.  The document, she said, is “clear-eyed about the magnitude of today’s challenges and realistic about potential solutions”.

Underlining that disarmament is essential to the broader peace and security and development objective, she called for its pursuit as a central pillar of multilateral efforts, instead of in technical silos.  She welcomed initial support from several States to pertinent elements of the New Agenda.  These include calls on States to prevent the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and to accelerate their elimination, reduce weapons’ human costs, address the potential risks emanating from emerging domains, including cyberspace and outer space, as well as evolving risks related to biological advances. Additionally, she called for addressing the deadlock in disarmament institutions.  She stressed that the Committee bears a tremendous responsibility.

She warned that, at no time since the “depths of the cold war has the risk of a nuclear weapon being used has been so high, and at the same time, the regime intended to prevent such use so fragile”.  Over the last 18 months, nuclear weapons have become tools of coercion amid veiled threats of use.  Their role and prominence in military strategies are once again expanding.  A qualitative arms race is under way, alongside the alarming possibility of a return to quantitative use.  “The norms against the use, proliferation and testing of nuclear weapons are holding — but they are under threat.”  There must be accountability for the implementation of existing disarmament commitments, as well as the use of confidence-building and crisis communication tools.  The United States and Russian Federation should return to full implementation of New START Treaty.  The non-proliferation regime must be strengthened and steps must be taken to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  Additionally, the perils of weaponizing new and emerging technology “have perhaps never been as grave as they are now”.

In that, she said the Committee bears tremendous responsibility.  All in the room have a key role in ensuring disarmament will be at the centre of broader multilateral efforts at this critical moment in history.  Given the threat of nuclear weapons’ use, for which there is no justification, she urged all to get back on track and implement existing commitments, despite that trust is lacking and dialogue is scarce.  Lamenting the persistent deadlock in parts of the disarmament machinery has become a common refrain in the Committee; but the time for lamentation must end.  She urged concrete, sensible solutions to ensure that the machinery is “fit for purpose” to manage threats in traditional and new domains.


ARRMANATHA C. NASIR (Indonesia), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that the nuclear-weapon States have not made progress in eliminating their nuclear weapons and instead have regressed in the fulfilment of their commitments.  The Movement call for the full implementation of all NPT commitments and the unequivocal undertakings assumed by the nuclear Powers at the 1995, 2000, and 2010 review conferences.  He also called for full implementation of the New START Treaty and noted its extension until 2026.  He reaffirmed the urgent need for conclusion of a universal, unconditional, non-discriminatory and legally binding instrument to assure all non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

He expressed disappointment over the consecutive failure of the ninth and the tenth NPT Review Conferences to adopt a consensual outcome document and called on the nuclear-armed States to demonstrate the political will to enable the eleventh Conference to have concrete recommendations.  The Movement welcomes the convening of three sessions of the Conference to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons.  It calls on all nuclear Powers to ratify related protocols to all treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones and to withdraw any reservations or interpretative declarations incompatible with their object and purpose.  In this regard, the Movement supports the draft resolution to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and it seeks the draft’s consensus.

EGRISELDA LÓPEZ (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System, reiterated the group’s “long-standing commitment” to general and complete disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  While the group continues to work towards a comprehensive regional security model, she reiterated that international assistance and cooperation are indispensable for the successful implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and the International Tracing Instrument (ITI).  The System’s member States will continue incorporating these plans into national legislation and promote effective controls to reduce and eradicate the diversion of arms to non-State actors and unauthorized users. Furthermore, expressing concern about increasing conventional arms transfers and excessive military spending, including a record $2.2 trillion in 2022, she called for these resources used for an arms race to instead be dedicated towards sustainable development.

Regarding nuclear weapons, she reaffirmed the need to advance towards complete, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament for a world free of nuclear weapons.  She expressed opposition to the improvement of existing nuclear weapons and the development of new types, and she reiterated the need to eliminate the role of nuclear weapons in strategic doctrines and security policies.  Reaffirming strong condemnation of any nuclear test anywhere and by anyone, she urged all States to refrain from any nuclear weapon test as they undermine international security, risk the lives of millions and cause incalculable environmental damage.  Moreover, reaffirming that the NPT does not establish any right to any State’s indefinite possession of nuclear weapons, she urged nuclear-weapon States to comply with their unequivocal obligations to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, in line with the NPT and commitments from their Review Conferences.  Underscoring Central America as the world’s first subregion to fully join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), she affirmed that the Treaty will strengthen the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  She also called on States that are party to Annex II of the CTBT to accelerate the signing and ratification process without further delay or preconditions.

MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated his principled position on disarmament and international security, against the backdrop of a geopolitical context marked by heightened dangers, challenges and polarization.  In this context, he also reiterated the need to prevent the use of nuclear weapons and to fully eliminate them.  To this end, he underscored the importance of establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

Turning to the NPT, he hoped for achievement of a final document in future reviews. He called for international efforts to universalize all multilateral treaties in the realm of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Treaty’s context, and on States signatories who operate nuclear facilities to fulfil all their commitments.

ERIK LAURSEN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden ‑ warned that, as the Russian Federation continues its war of aggression against Ukraine, it employs a wide range of conventional weapons.  Moscow’s nuclear rhetoric and decision to station nuclear weapons in Belarus are irresponsible and contravene the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.  He also condemned Minsk for its role in the conflict.  Also concerning is the Kremlin’s announcement to suspend participation in the New START Treaty.  Additionally, the Russian Federation has blocked the participation of Member States, international organizations and civil society in various disarmament processes, including in the work of the Conference on Disarmament.  It also prevented the tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) from reaching consensus.  He called on China as well to engage meaningfully in arms control dialogues.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is an integral part of the nuclear disarmament architecture, and as such, he urged the remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify it.  Underscoring the NPT’s three pillars of non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of atomic energy, he urged Iran to return to full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and address outstanding safeguards issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic programmes completely, verifiably and irreversibly.  The Nordic countries are firmly committed to the prevention of an outer space arms race. Strengthened multilateral cooperation can preserve and enhance the safety, security and sustainability in outer space activities.  Lastly, the full inclusion of women into the Committee’s work is vital.

ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) emphasized that security cannot depend on more weapons.  In particular, weapons of mass destruction do not guarantee international security.  Instead, they jeopardize the survival of humankind as a whole.  Mexico will continue to promote the NPT and international legal instruments, including strengthening nuclear weapons-free zones and universalizing the CTBT.  Regarding small arms and light weapons, she urged Member States to foster greater cooperation to address smugglers, their routes, illicit financial transactions and weapons diversion.  The irresponsible flows, diversion and illicit trafficking of these weapons are the “real fuel” of conflict across all regions, and they claim the most victims on a day-to-day basis.  She reiterated that weapons and munitions are indivisible and called for stronger compatibility and complementarity across relevant processes.  Moreover, Mexico seeks to increase attention regarding autonomous lethal weapons systems and the long-term sustainability of peaceful activities in cyber‑ and outer space, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that the disarmament and non-proliferation architecture has been under considerable pressure for some time.  He deplored the obstructive posture of some States, including for blocking consensus at most multilateral disarmament, non-proliferation and export control forums this year.  The Union reiterates its strongest condemnation of the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine, with Belarus’ complicity, which is a violation of international law and the UN Charter.  Moscow also has blatantly violated its commitments under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.  The Union condemns the Moscow-Minsk agreement for allowing the deployment of Russian Federation nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus.

The Union condemns the Kremlin’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and threats to use nuclear force.  Moscow’s violation of existing confidence- and security-building measures and conventional arms-control commitments damaged the European security architecture.  The Russian Federation must immediately cease its military actions and withdraw all its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine.  Furthermore, he condemned the delivery of Iranian drones to the Russian Federation in violation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).  He also called on Moscow to immediately return to compliance with the New START Treaty, underlining that the two largest nuclear-weapon States hold a special responsibility in nuclear disarmament and arms control.

He said that given the rapid and extensive build-up of China’s nuclear arsenal, the country should join future arms control agreements and immediately take measures to improve transparency on its nuclear weapons and doctrine, as well as refrain from further build-up.  He also urged it to pursue risk-reduction measures.  The Union condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of its nuclear and ballistic-missile programmes and calls on Pyongyang to refrain from conducting more nuclear tests.  The country must abandon its nuclear and any other weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missiles and related programmes, in line with Security Council resolutions.  The Union reiterates its determination that Iran must never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon.  It recalls Iran’s commitments and international obligations.

BONNIE JENKINS (United States) warned that multilateral institutions such as the First Committee and the Conference on Disarmament are at risk, along with the health and stability of the global arms-control and non-proliferation regime.  “We all know this to be true, and yet we have not moved with the urgency required,” she said.  Emphasizing the need to act immediately to prevent the road ahead from becoming more treacherous, she said that while certain procedures in Geneva have led to stagnation and frustration, the need remained for the Committee to move forward together where possible, including in supporting a global norm that all States commit not to use radiological weapons.  The topic should be taken up in Geneva to help reinvigorate the work done in this regard by the Conference on Disarmament.

She stressed the complementarity of a fissile material cut-off treaty to each of the NPT’s pillars, and urged support for Canada’s annual resolution on the topic.  To those Members who might point out that such efforts may not succeed, as the Conference on Disarmament will not take up the challenge put to it by this Committee, she said:  “We refuse to accept such a fatalistic outlook; the Conference on Disarmament is obstructed only because we, its members, allow it to be.”  She also voiced concern over the actions of the Russian Federation, which reject a fundamental tenet of international security, and of China, which is engaged in a rapid and opaque nuclear-weapons build-up.  In this context, she called on States to not choose sides, but to choose their own stated goals of engagement, transparency and consensus.  She urged all to reject the “fatalism that has crept into our work” at the very moment unity is needed most.

MATHU JOYINI (South Africa), associating with the African Group, the Non-Alignment Movement, and the New Agenda Coalition, reaffirmed that the total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction is a key foreign-policy priority.  She called on nuclear-weapon States to stabilize relations by renewing trust, engaging forthrightly and committing to the elimination of their nuclear arsenals in a time-bound and verifiable manner.  She reaffirmed the TPNW as one of the most important developments towards elimination of nuclear weapons and a necessary and effective measure to cease the nuclear arms race. All States should ratify it without further delay.  Regarding outer space, she urged Member States to commit to ensuring no placement of any weapon in that realm and to reserve it for exclusively peaceful uses.  In the interim, the international community should negotiate, without delay, a treaty to prevent an outer space arms race.

HWANG JOONKOOK (Republic of Korea) warned that all efforts undertaken by the Committee will count for nothing if hard-earned norms are not observed or implemented, and even ignored or intentionally violated.  “We are facing a reality where established rules and norms are increasingly challenged or blatantly ignored,” he said, pointing to the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear-weapon programmes and its incessant launches, in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions.  His country will help uphold established norms as an elected member of the Council for the 2024-2025 term.  He called on the Russian Federation to fully implement relevant Council resolutions, and on Pyongyang to cease further provocations and choose the path of dialogue and denuclearization. 

Turning to the NPT, he urged work to continue, and noted that only one State party prevented consensus on a final report at the tenth review.  Further, he stressed the need to commence negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and for the entry into force of the CTBT.  He called for a step-by-step approach towards nuclear disarmament, spotlighting the role of the Stockholm Initiative.  On outer space, he underscored the need to reduce space threats, welcoming a report on this theme adopted by consensus at Working Group 2 of the Disarmament Commission.  He drew attention to the so-called “satellite” launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, saying that had nothing to do with the peaceful use of outer space.  That country should desist from provocations, including its planned launch of a “satellite” this month.

ARIEL RODELAS PEÑARANDA (Philippines), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), expressed concern over the declining commitment and cooperation in global disarmament, non-proliferation and arms-control mechanisms.  He called on countries, especially nuclear-weapon States, to maintain and fully implement their obligations and commitments under these mechanisms, including in the NPT. ASEAN regrets that the tenth NPT Review Conference concluded without a consensus outcome document that could have provided much-needed additional momentum towards general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.  ASEAN hopes that best efforts be made towards a much-desired meaningful consensual outcome document at the next NPT review conference in 2026.

He reaffirmed ASEAN’s collective position against nuclear tests and continues to stress the importance of achieving universal adherence to the CTBT without delay.  All ASEAN member States have ratified the CTBT, he said, urging the remaining Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible.  He then reiterated the regional group’s commitment to preserving South-East Asia as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, which is also free of all other weapons of mass destruction.  The TPNW held its first meeting of State parties in June 2022.  This instrument is a historic agreement that contributes towards global nuclear disarmament and complements other existing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation instrument.  ASEAN recognizes the legitimate right and authority of sovereign nations to use conventional weapons to maintain internal security and to defend territorial integrity.

BRIAN WALLACE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons should be a concern for the entire international community.  To mitigate the destructive effects of these weapons, CARICOM members have been forced to divert scarce resources from national development budgets.  CARICOM members are not manufacturers, exporters or large importers of conventional weapons, and as such, they have reiterated the need to address conventional weapons in a comprehensive manner and to approach crime and violence as a public health issue.  He affirmed the comprehensive framework on conventional ammunition and the Programme of Action as an important response to this arms control gap.  Moreover, a strong and universal Arms Trade Treaty can effectively regulate the conventional weapons trade and eliminate diversion and illegal transfers.

Regarding nuclear weapons, the “unfortunate paralysis” of the NPT demonstrates the importance and relevance of the TPNW as a fundamental step towards the irreversible, verifiable and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons.  He urged all States to join the Treaty without delay.  Additionally, citing the recent CARICOM Declaration on Autonomous Weapons Systems in September, he called for the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument to prohibit unpredictable and uncontrolled autonomous weapons systems.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected remarks made by Western delegations who misstated the true causes of the crisis in Ukraine and shifted all responsibility to his country.  The work of the General Assembly should not be politicized by a group of Western countries. The crisis did not arise in February 2022.  Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States and their satellites cultivated anti-Russian, neo-Nazi sentiments in Ukraine, planted hatred of “everything Russian”, sought to destroy the Russian language, history and culture.  He also denounced their military engagement in Ukraine, and in 2008, opened the door to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for Kyiv, essentially promising its membership.  All this created a direct threat to his country’s security.

He describes how the West supported an unconstitutional military coup in Kyiv in 2014 and how the new regime installed by the coup oppressed the Russian-speaking population in Donbass.  The Kremlin tried to negotiate with the United States and NATO on mutual security guarantees.  But, in February 2022, at the Munich Security Conference, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine voiced claims to possess nuclear weapons. In the same month, the Ukrainian Armed Forces provoked an escalation in the Donbass by intensifying shelling.  More than 100,000 residents of the region were forced to flee to the Russian Federation.  As a result, Moscow was left with no choice but to launch a special military operation on 24 February 2022 to protect Donbass, demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine, and eliminate threats emanating from its territory.  “And we will definitely achieve our goals,” he declared.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, responding to comments by the United States, European Union and the Republic of Korea, said the United States’ policies were intended to impose war on the Korean Peninsula.  He cited its nuclear war threats, joint drills and the activities of the Nuclear Planning Group in collusion with the Republic of Korea.  The United States has stepped up threats against his country merely for its ideology, he said, stressing that nuclear threats by hostile forces must be countered in kind.  Pointing out that the United States is providing lethal armaments to Ukraine, he stressed that the Republic of Korea, as a “colonial subordinate to the United States”, has no right to interfere with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launches and its friendly relations with the Russian Federation.  The European Union demonstrated its double standards by turning a blind eye to Washington, D.C.’s, provocations.

The representative of Iran, exercising the right of reply, stated that IAEA’s “most robust and uninterrupted” verification and monitoring activities are carried out in Iran’s nuclear facilities.  The Agency has “completely declared and verified” all of Iran’s nuclear and material activities.  In terms of inspections, Iran has “exemplary record of cooperation” with IAEA.  While the country is making its best efforts to enable IAEA to conduct verification activities, that extensive cooperation should not be taken for granted or negatively affected by “short-sighted political agendas”.  There should be a clear distinction between Member States’ legal obligations under the safeguards and voluntary undertakings. Monitoring activities related to the “JCPOA” have not been voluntary and are “in no way” linked to the Agency’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.  Iran continues to fulfil its commitment per the agreement, and thus, it is “totally baseless and unacceptable” to try to repeatedly link this to other issues.  Yet, the United States has not yet stopped the “imposition of illegal sanctions” against Iran.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, in a right of reply, said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the only country that has conducted a nuclear test in this century.  Pyongyang is obligated under the relevant Security Council resolutions to abandon all nuclear weapons and its nuclear programme.  On the joint military exercise, he said that it is his country’s duty to protect its people from those military threats by maintaining a robust defence posture.  It is a legitimate response to Pyongyang’s threats to use nuclear weapons.  Seoul’s defence cooperation with partners is in full compliance with the global non-proliferation regime.  On satellite launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he rejected that country’s claim of peaceful use of outer space.  On the reported military cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he heard from his counterpart that such cooperation is non-existent.  The international community will watch closely if the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will keep its words.

The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, taking the floor again, said his country has assessed the reality it faces, as borne out by frequent military exercises, the convening of the Nuclear Consultative Group and the appearance, for the first time in 40 years, of a nuclear submarine, which conjures the “worst scenarios, of occupation of [its] capital city, annihilation and decapitation”.  He condemned the “reckless acts” of the United States and the Republic of Korea, which impact regional security and drive the situation towards armed conflict. He underlined his country’s right to accelerate its self-defence capabilities and to respond to acts impinging on its sovereignty.

For information media. Not an official record.