Deployment of Nuclear Weapons to Belarus Debated in First Committee, as Delegates Rethink Global Security
Speaker Says Obsolete Cold War Mentality, Such as ‘Bloc Confrontation’, Resurfacing
The recent deployment of the Russian Federation’s tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus amid the war in Ukraine raises the dangers of escalation, severely impacting regional and global security, the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard today as it continued its general debate.
The delegate from Poland condemned Russian aggression in the strongest possible terms and the country’s determination to restore imperial ambitions and sphere of influence. The Russian Federation is the biggest direct threat to global peace and security, he said, adding that, for the first time in history, a nuclear power plant is deliberately located in a zone of a full-scale armed conflict.
The representative of Lithuania warned that Belarus is breaching its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear-weapon State by allowing the stationing of nuclear weapons on its territory. He urged countries to refrain from aiding the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Minsk has been forced to respond to the intensification of military activities at the country’s doorstep, said Belarus’ representative. Cooperation between Belarus and the Russian Federation is in line with international law and the NPT. This cooperation is nothing new, as it has long been practised by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), both in the form of joint nuclear missions and the deployment of United States’ nuclear weapons to five non-nuclear NATO member countries.
Four days into the general debate, delegations continued to present a grim picture of the global security environment. Among them was China, whose speaker warned that the obsolete cold war mentality, such as zero-sum game and bloc confrontation, is resurfacing and undermining geopolitical balance and stability. The policy of no-first use should be widely adopted, he said, calling on nuclear-weapon States to negotiate and conclude a treaty on the matter.
Nepal’s delegate said that the disarmament and non-proliferation regimes have seen setbacks with increasing reliance on nuclear deterrence in security doctrines. Modernization and the upgrading of nuclear arsenals continue unchecked. “It is imperative that we pause to reflect,” he said, adding that no nation stands immune to the spectre of catastrophic consequences arising from the accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons.
Likewise, Ghana’s speaker spotlighted an alarming surge in violent conflicts ‑ the highest level since the end of the Second World War. A quarter of humanity lives in these conflict-ridden areas. Yet, nuclear-armed States maintain and upgrade their arsenals. Some NPT States parties even allow the hosting of nuclear weapons on their soil or permit their potential use through military alliances. “The dream of disarmament, a world free from the looming spectre of nuclear annihilation and unchecked violence, seems to be slipping further from our grasp.”
The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Friday, 6 October, to continue its general debate.
SUN XIAOBO (China) warned that the obsolete cold war mentality, such as zero-sum game and bloc confrontation, is resurfacing and undermining geopolitical balance and stability. He elaborated President Xi Jinping’s global security initiative. Nuclear weapons must not be used and a nuclear war must never be fought. He supported implementation of the joint statement issued by the five nuclear Powers in January 2022. The policy of no-first use should be widely adopted. He called on nuclear-weapon States to negotiate and conclude a treaty on mutual no-first use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear disarmament should be a gradual balanced process of reduction, which considers undiminished security for all. States with the largest arsenals should fulfill their special responsibility. Additionally, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START Treaty) should be implemented in order to create a condition that allows other nuclear-weapon States to join the process.
A certain country hyped up nuclear threats and deployed weapons systems even at the doorsteps of other countries far away from its homeland. It strengthened “extended deterrence” and has sought nuclear-sharing arrangements in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing urges relevant countries to adopt a responsible approach and stop such dangerous wrong acts. On non-proliferation, China supports the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons’ (NPT) three pillars in a balanced manner. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the only solution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme. The United States must make a political decision to address Iran’s legitimate concerns, restart negotiation and return to compliance. The situation in the Korean Peninsula stems from the absence of a peace mechanism and the remnants of the cold war. Parties must address the legitimate security concerns of all in a balanced manner and follow a dual-track approach to establish a peace mechanism and denuclearize the Peninsula.
Nuclear submarine cooperation between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States contravenes the NPT and undermines International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, endangering regional peace and stability, he said. China stands for an open, inclusive, transparent and sustainable intergovernmental process to discuss relevant safeguards. The three countries should not proceed with such cooperation. He urged Japan to stop releasing nuclear contaminated water in the oceans and address concerns of neighboring countries, and to speed up the destruction of chemical weapons it abandoned on China’s territory. He also called for an early start of negotiations on an outer space arms control treaty. China is in the process of ratifying the firearms protocol and supports the implementation of the “Silencing the Guns in Africa” initiative.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria) strongly condemns the Russian Federation’s irresponsible and dangerous behavior and urged it to end its “war of choice”, abide by its international commitments, and immediately and unconditionally withdraw its military forces from Ukraine. Despite the failure to adopt an outcome document at the NPT’s tenth Review Conference, NPT States must continue exploring all avenues to bridge differences during the current review cycle. Moreover, as an Annex II country that has ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), Bulgaria urges all States to ratify the Treaty without delay. This year, Bulgaria completed the destruction of all cluster-munition stockpiles possessed by its armed forces.
CARLA MARIA RODGRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) said that, while the current reality is riddled with threats to international peace and security, the latter must and can be maintained without resorting to nuclear deterrence. In this regard, Latin America and the Caribbean has not only contributed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, but also to regional and global peace and security through the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Guatemala, as a peaceful State, also commends the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). She stressed, too, the importance of banning the production of fissile material. Turning to the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, she said that this threatens the protection of Guatemala’s citizens by increasing the threat of armed violence. Against this backdrop, Guatemala welcomes the final report of the Open-ended Working Group on ammunition.
FAISAL ABDELAZIM SALIM MOHAMED (Sudan), noting the dangerous and complex international situation, said it is not possible to live in a world of peace and security if nuclear arms continue to exist. The increased spending on nuclear arsenals should instead be allocated to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and combating climate change. Moreover, establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East has always been an integral part of the NPT agreement, even though “certain countries” refuse these resolutions and refuse to take part in UN conferences to arrive at a legally binding agreement. These parties refuse to join the NPT and to subject their nuclear programmes to IAEA control. While nuclear weapons present a major threat, conventional weapons are most used and, thus, most lethal. He reaffirmed the right of States to manage stockpiles according to national and regional circumstances and called for international efforts to combat the illicit trade to prevent terrorist groups and armed militias from accessing and using these weapons.
LINDA KESSE ANTWI (Ghana) said that the world today finds itself grappling with an alarming surge in violent conflicts – the highest level since the end of the Second World War. A quarter of humanity live in these conflict-ridden areas. Nuclear-armed States continue to maintain and upgrade their arsenals. Some countries, party to the NPT, even allow the hosting of nuclear weapons on their soil or permit their potential use through military alliances and agreements. “The dream of disarmament, a world free from the looming spectre of nuclear annihilation and unchecked violence, seems to be slipping further from our grasp.”
She said the TPNW stands out as a significant milestone. While major nuclear Powers have chosen not to be part of this Treaty, its existence serves as a ray of hope for disarmament advocates worldwide. The issue of conventional weapons is of particular importance to Ghana because the diversion and illicit trade in arms perpetuates conflicts and poses significant threats to the stability of emerging democracies across Africa. The establishment of a dedicated fellowship training programme on small arms and light weapons will greatly benefit the region.
LOK BAHADUR THAPA (Nepal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the disarmament and non-proliferation regimes have seen setbacks with increasing reliance on nuclear deterrence in security doctrines. Modernization and the upgrading of nuclear arsenals continue unchecked. “It is imperative that we pause to reflect,” he said, adding that no nation stands immune to the spectre of catastrophic consequences arising from the accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons. He regretted that, as the global military expenditure has soared to $2.4trillion, critical resources for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals have been diverted.
He said Nepal’s commitment to general and complete disarmament emanates from its Constitution. In this vein, Nepal intends to ratify the TPNW as soon as possible and supports the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones. On the use of outer space, he advocates for transparency and confidence-building measures to ensure its peaceful use. Cyberspace could also become a place of conflict and confrontation. Against this backdrop, Nepal calls for a global regulatory framework to ensure open, secure, and accessible information and communication technology (ICT) and cyberspace. Developing countries should be provided with support to enhance their cybersecurity capabilities.
ARMAN BAISSUANOV (Kazakhstan) welcomed the Secretary-General’s call for collective action to ensure peace and security in his A New Agenda for Peace. Given no progress in nuclear disarmament, TPNW is aimed at pursuing the full implementation of the NPT’s article VI. His country devotes particular attention to the Treaty’s humanitarian goals, and together with Kiribati, has introduced a new draft resolution focused on utilizing the framework of multilateral treaties to promote victim assistance and remediation, on a voluntary basis, of weapons-contaminated environments.
Kazakhstan, as Chair of the second session of the NPT Review Preparatory Committee, will pursue a balanced and constructive approach for the advancement of NPT’s main objectives, he pledged. Nuclear-weapon-free zones remain an important element in global disarmament. His country and its regional neighbours established such a zone in Central Asia in 2006. The pandemic highlighted the validity of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction and the urgency to develop a mechanism to implement its norms. To this end, Kazakhstan has proposed the establishment of a global agency for biological safety. Given Kazakhstan’s firm and consistent policy for the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, it urges members of the missile-technology-control regime and the Australian group to favourably consider Astana’s applications to join these regimes.
JACEK SAWICZ (Poland) condemned Russian aggression in the strongest possible terms and the country’s determination to restore imperial ambitions and a sphere of influence. The Russian Federation remains the biggest direct threat to global peace and security. For the first time in history, a nuclear power plant is deliberately located in a zone of a full-scale armed conflict. Additionally, the recent deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus raises the dangers of escalation, severely impacting regional and global security. He also underscored the legitimate right of countries to profit from nuclear deterrence in their security policies, including as members of freely chosen defensive alliances. On the future of arms control, he called for a broader follow-on treaty to cover all nuclear weapons, including non-strategic ones and new types. The starting point is rebuilding mutual trust and confidence based on respect for international law.
SULTAN NATHEIR MUSTAFA ALQAISI (Jordan), associating with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern over the absence of tangible progress towards nuclear disarmament. States should reaffirm their commitment to the NPT as well as to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction – a decision adopted at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. He called on the Member States to welcome the outcomes of the of Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, presided over by Jordan in the first of its three sessions. He urged Israel to join that Conference, as well as to adhere to the NPT. Turning to small arms and light weapons, he underscored the need to activate the Programme of Action for those weapons, in particular to prevent terrorists from accessing them.
IVENS MANUEL FRANCISCO GUSMĂO DE SOUSA (Timor-Leste) said that disarmament and arms control are more critical than ever in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, as this will assist in fostering socioeconomic progress and establishing a peaceful and secure society. It will also boost people’s well-being. Global peace and security can be achieved through the total disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. Failure to adopt an outcome document during the tenth NPT Review Conference and the result of the NPT Preparatory Committee meeting held recently, were a major setback in nuclear arms control and non-proliferation. He expressed concern about the catastrophic humanitarian impact from the use of nuclear or any other weapons of mass destruction. The only guarantee against their use and threat of use is their total elimination.
HUGO EMMANUEL GUERRA (Argentina), noting his country’s position in a region historically at the vanguard of disarmament and non-proliferation, reiterated support for the TPNW. The creation of a Brazilian-Argentine organization to control nuclear weapons is not only a safeguard, but also a model for other regions, as it is a paradigm for integration and trust-building for countries that have experienced tensions. Argentina has a substantial nuclear programme exclusively for peaceful use, and the country produces and exports nuclear technology in strictest adherence to the NPT’s norms. It has also renounced the possibility of producing, acquiring, or using nuclear weapons. On ICT, his country is actively participating in the Open-Ended Working Group on the security and use of ICT, as development of this technology could bring great security risks alongside huge implications for development and economic progress.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) urged the international community to redouble efforts to reduce the threats of intentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons, as well as the possibility of them falling into the hands of non-State actors. In this vein, he pointed to the central role of the United Nations and recalled Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) as a key instrument to curb the threat posed by those actors regarding the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery means. Ecuador urged all nuclear-armed States to undertake total nuclear disarmament and other States to stop harbouring nuclear weapons from other countries on their territories. For its part, Ecuador ratified the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which made Latin America and the Caribbean the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a densely populated area. Ecuador co-tabled Security Council resolution 2699 (2023) on Haiti, which extended the previous arms embargo, as weapons transfers and their illicit trafficking are central factors in the deterioration of the security situation there.
VASILIY PAVLOV (Belarus) warned that the current global security situation is marked by escalating tensions against the backdrop of a spiralling arms race and rising military spending, especially in Europe. Mechanisms on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control continue to weaken, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Joint Draft Treaty on the Limitation and Reduction of Strategic Offensive Arms, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, and the Treaty on Open Skies. Disarmament forums are held hostage by politicized approaches and confrontations. The First Committee is a clear example of polarization, as fewer resolutions are adopted by consensus every year. He welcomed that more countries have acceded to the CTBT and called for its entry into force. Consideration should be given to the development of a legally binding agreement to provide non-nuclear-weapon States with unconditional guarantees of non-use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Deployment of Russian Federation’s tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus has become the subject of underhanded insinuations, including in this Committee. Almost 30 years ago, Belarus, based on its sense of profound responsibility, made a conscious decision to renounce nuclear weapons without any conditions or reservations and acceded to the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon State. Belarus is under “unprecedented political and economic pressure”. The Budapest Memorandum has been violated for many years. All this is happening against the backdrop of escalating military-political tensions in the region, the build-up of military potential on neighbouring North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member States and the intensification of military activities at the very doorstop of Belarus. Minsk is forced to respond by strengthening the country’s defence capabilities. Cooperation between Belarus and the Russian Federation in this regard is in line with international law and in strict accordance with the NPT’s provisions. Such cooperation is nothing new. It has long been practised by NATO, both in the form of joint nuclear missions and the deployment of United States’ nuclear weapons to five non-nuclear NATO member countries.
OGASAWARA ICHIRO (Japan) said his country has assigned to itself the mission of taking the lead in global efforts towards a nuclear-weapon-free world since the atomic bombings on its land 78 years ago. “The tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never be repeated,” he said, adding, however, that the path towards a world free of nuclear weapons is becoming more challenging due to deepening divisions among States and the Russian Federation’s illegal aggression in Ukraine. Against this backdrop, maintaining and strengthening the NPT is in the interest of the global community. The recent Group of Seven Leaders’ “Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament” provides a solid platform towards a world without nuclear weapons. The drawdown of global nuclear stockpiles could be reversed for the first time since the cold war by a rapid expansion of nuclear arsenals, he said, drawing attention to China’s nuclear capabilities. This situation could spark a new arms race and take us further away from realizing our collective goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
He urged the international community to “breathe new life” into discussions on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Japan, together with Australia and the Philippines, hosted an event to refocus political attention on the issue during the General Assembly’s high-level week. He expressed serious concern about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s intensified nuclear and missile activities and called for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. Tokyo will table a draft resolution “Steps to building a common road map towards a world without nuclear weapons” and, together with Colombia and South Africa, will submit a draft on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.”
SZILVIA BALAZS (Hungary), noting the imperative to intensify efforts to reject threats to use nuclear weapons, recognized there is no shortcut to nuclear disarmament. It requires an incremental approach involving gradual and concrete steps that yield tangible results. The focus should be on identifying areas where common ground and consensus that includes nuclear-weapon States can be reached. Critical milestones include the CTBT’s entry into force. She called for the active exploration of avenues to achieve progress in strategic nuclear risk reduction, transparency, confidence-building, and robust verification mechanisms. Multilateral export control regimes play a pivotal role in addressing existing and emerging risks. Regarding biological weapons, the Convention’s importance as a fundamental pillar against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction cannot be overemphasized.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania) said that the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine drastically changed the paradigm of both European and international security. This has exacerbated the aggressor’s status as a permanent member of the Security Council and a nuclear-weapon State. Calling on all States to work together towards the goal of achieving the NPT’s universalization and full implementation of its three pillars, he advocated for a gradual and pragmatic process of nuclear disarmament based on a step-by-step approach. Romania is concerned about proliferation challenges posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran. Currently, Romania presides over the Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). It is committed to contributing to international peace, security and stability by promoting the objectives of the ATT and OPCW. On the former instrument, its priority theme is the role of inter-agency cooperation in the Treaty’s effective implementation.
THOMAS GÖBEL (Germany) stated that the Russian Federation has irresponsibly voiced nuclear threats, jeopardized nuclear security by occupying and militarizing Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant, and weakened arms control by suspending the New START Treaty and withdrawing from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. The Russian Federation’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine has violated the most fundamental principles of the UN Charter and international law, while completely disenfranchising the concept of trust and confidence-building. On other matters, he urged negotiations to ban production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and called for the CTBT’s entry into force. He also supported cooperation on victims’ assistance and environmental remediation from nuclear testing’s long-term damages. Moreover, Germany is committed to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in order to address persistent and emerging threats from both State and non-State actors. With the publication this year of guidelines for a feminist foreign policy, Germany aims to strengthen the rights and representation of women and marginalized groups in peace and security policy.
JORGE VIDAL (Chile) expressed support for the TPNW and invited Member States not part of the Treaty to sign and ratify it. He hoped that the commitment and joint effort of the States parties to this instrument will achieve optimal results at their forthcoming second meeting. Latin America and the Caribbean was the first densely populated region in the world to become a nuclear-weapon-free zone by the Tlatelolco Treaty of 1967. Illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition is a scourge with immense destructive effects. That illegal trade must be regulated. In this regard, he noted that consensus on a specific global regulatory framework for conventional ammunition was reached at the fourth substantive session of the open-ended working group on the item in June.
HUSSEIN ATHMAN KATTANGA (United Republic of Tanzania), associating with the African Group and Non-Aligned Movement, expressed regret that almost 78 years since the establishment of the United Nations, some countries are still beset by violence and armed conflicts. The proliferation of conventional weapons is considered the most urgent security challenge, fuelling civil wars, violence, organized crime, insurgency and terrorist activities. Africa has not been spared. In fact, it became a new epicentre for terrorist groups. As there are still various challenges that have hindered efforts to fight the menace in developing countries, States should set up measures that facilitate cooperation between counter-terrorism agencies. It is also important to include African States in counter-terrorism projects on the continent. States should put in place strategies to prevent the use of ICTs to facilitate terrorist attacks. Developed countries should consider supporting developing countries in cybersecurity as an urgent matter to prevent the latter from becoming a hotbed for criminals.
THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives), noting her country was one of the NPT’s first signatories, strongly urged all remaining States to ratify the Treaty as soon as possible. Stating that “our security is inextricably linked to the actions of others”, she underscored that disarmament must extend beyond nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Equally vital components of the collective security agenda are conventional arms control, the prevention of illicit arms trafficking, and the responsible use of emerging technologies. Highlighting the intrinsic connection between peace and development, she emphasized that the proliferation of weapons obstructs progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Resources saved through disarmament can be redirected towards some of the most pressing global challenges, namely, poverty, climate change and pandemics.
ARŪNAS JIEVALTAS (Lithuania), associating with the European Union, condemned the Russian Federation’s deliberate and unprovoked war against Ukraine, in violation of international peace and security as well as the rules-based global order. The Russian Federation must immediately and unconditionally cease its military actions and withdraw all its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine. Underscoring that States must refrain from aiding the aggressor, he condemned Belarus for supporting the aggression and urged its authorities to cease those activities. Additionally, and in violation of UN Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), the aggressor uses Iranian drones. It is also concerning that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is ready to provide arms to fuel the war. Only today, an attack by the Russian Federation killed 51 innocent civilians in Ukraine. The perpetrators of those war crimes will have to be held accountable. In addition, strikes on critical civilian infrastructure and cultural sites constitute a violation of international humanitarian law.
In addition, he said, the Russian Federation has subjected people of many nations to food insecurity by withdrawing from the Black Sea Initiative and blocking export of Ukrainian grain. That nuclear blackmail threatens global security. Belarus is breaching its NPT obligations by allowing the stationing of nuclear weapons on its territory. He call on the Russian Federation’s return to full implementation of the New START Treaty. Lithuania is convinced that future arms control arrangements should include all types of nuclear weapons. In this context, China should demonstrate responsibility and join nuclear arms control talks. Turning to biological and chemical weapons, he noted that the Russian Federation has waged a disinformation campaign against Ukraine and other countries, while exposing the Ukrainian population to toxic chemicals through deliberate attacks against civilian industrial facilities. The proliferation and related activities of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in that regard also remain concerning, he said.
Right of Reply
The representative of Japan, in right of reply in response to China’s statement, said that his Government has been strictly abiding by relevant international law regarding the handling of Advanced Liquid Processing System-treated water. IAEA has confirmed and publicly stated that the level of tritium in the discharged water falls below required safety standards. The Government of Japan and the Tokyo Electric Power Company are conducting monitoring and have not detected any anomalies.
The representative of the Russian Federation, in right of reply, rejected allegations levelled against his country, including remarks made by his counterpart from Lithuania. Given missing bilateral contacts, his delegation will address the issues in multilateral forums. Belarus was forced to respond to provocative remarks made by the West on its cooperation with his country in the military and nuclear field. He rejected NATO’s use of double standards. Countries in this alliance conducted “joint nuclear missions” based on the United States’ nuclear weapons deployed on six facilities in five countries in Europe. These weapons, which are actively modernized, can be used to hit strategic targets in the Russian Federation and Belarus. All NATO countries are directly involved in the planning of nuclear weapons use. Against this backdrop, response measures taken by Moscow and Minsk were a last resort and reactive in nature.
The representative of Australia, exercising the right of reply also on behalf of the United Kingdom and United States, stated that the three countries are resolutely committed to their respective obligations under the NPT regime. Australia’s acquisition of a naval nuclear propulsion capability will occur within the framework of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, fully consistent with obligations under the NPT and South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone. The IAEA Director General has confirmed that the Agency will develop a safeguards approach for Australia, enabling adherence to the verification objectives.
She said that the nuclear fuel that Australia would receive under the arrangement it has with the United Kingdom and United States cannot be used in nuclear weapons without further chemical processing, which would require facilities that Australia does not have and will not seek. IAEA will be able to verify the absence of these facilities. Australia does not have and will not seek nuclear weapons, and the pact with the United Kingdom and United States does not change that.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in right of reply, rejected allegations made by Japan. Tokyo’s military build-up has gone beyond its limit. It’s an open secret that that country strengthened and upgraded its military capabilities, distancing itself from the principle of an exclusively defensive posture. Under its Constitution, Japan is bound to renounce war. The United States is systematically handing high-tech armaments over to Japan and facilitating the provision of 400 Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles. He warned against Japan turning into a military Power, describing Tokyo’s allegations against its neighbouring countries as “nothing but a smoke screen” to shift condemnations to others. He also urged Japan to stop discharging nuclear- contaminated water, which could bring about a nuclear disaster.
The representative of the United States, in right of reply, said that his country’s nuclear weapons in Europe are and will remain under its custody and control. They are not transferred to the possession or control of other countries. This has not changed for more than 70 years. NATO nuclear-burden sharing arrangements are fully consistent to the United States and host country obligations under the NPT, including its articles prohibiting the transfer of nuclear weapons or control over them to any non-nuclear-weapon State party. Accusations that these arrangements contradict the NPT are wrong. These arrangements have been in place since before that Treaty entered force in 1970.
The Russian Federation did not raise this as an NPT issue until 2015, one year after it seized Crimea, he said. The fundamental aim of NATO nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression, towards a safer world. Under the NPT, Moscow must retain custody and control of its nuclear weapons in Belarus. President Alexander Lukashenko’s statement that he has control of nuclear weapons is concerning. Language referring to its allies as “American satellites” is misplaced. These are exclusively defensive alliances with sovereign countries, which shares values, such as respect for international law, democratic principles and transparency. They have chosen this path on their own volition. The purpose of these alliances is not hegemony or to create a bloc mentality but to promote international security and stability by upholding the UN Charter.
The representative of Syria, in right of reply, responded to Bulgaria’s statement and stated that the “selfishness” of some Western countries is to blame for the failure to adopt an outcome document at the Fifth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Syria tried to arrive at a text that was “not politicized”, but Western pressure to “serve its own narrow interests” made it impossible. He denounced the use of chemical weapons by any entity at any time, in any place, and under any circumstances. Reiterating that Syria destroyed all stockpiles, he reiterated his Government’s readiness to fully cooperate with the OPCW and to fulfil all commitments under the CWC.
The representative of China, in right of reply in response to Japan’s statement, said that the long-term impact of ocean discharge is unknown and that “we cannot make a conclusive decision” based on the current size and technology. The “only thing we are sure of” is that nuclear-contaminated water is harmful, so refraining from discharge is responsible behaviour. He called on Japan to stop using the IAEA as a shield for its actions and emphasized the Agency Director General’s statements that the report is not an endorsement of the discharge plan nor a policy recommendation.
Regarding the Australia, United Kingdom, United States pact, nuclear submarine cooperation will pose severe challenges to non-proliferation, he said. While some military exercises can be exempted from safeguards, there currently is not international consensus on what kinds of activities belong to this category. A safeguards arrangement should not be agreed upon by the IAEA Secretariat and these three countries alone. All interested Member States of the Agency should conduct an open and inclusive intergovernmental process to have full discussions of the issue and seek consensus.
The representative of Japan, in right of reply, reiterated that his Government will continue providing necessary information to the international community, including the results of monitoring, about water discharges, in a timely and transparent manner. Moreover, in response to the “DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] completely unfounded allegations”, he said that Japan has adhered to the basic precept of maintaining an exclusively defence-oriented policy under its Constitution. As a peace-loving nation, Japan adheres to strict civilian control of the military and has ensured that its defence capabilities are for the country’s own defence.
The representative of the Russian Federation, responding in right of reply to the United States, said that Washington, D.C., thinks what they do is good and correct, but that what other countries, such as the Russian Federation and Belarus, do is wrong and violates the NPT. There is no reason that the United States must deploy nuclear weapons in Europe. He was gravely concerned that the United States is supplying “high-tech” weapons to Ukraine. Does Washington, D.C., spread democracy and stability around the world, he asked. Look at Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, Libya and Iraq; the Kremlin is taking a last-resort measure to ensure deterrence, he continued. Nuclear weapons in Belarus are fully under the control of the Russian Federation.