Seventy-eighth Session,
7th Meeting (PM)

First Committee Meets under Dark Shadow of War in Europe, Resurgence of Violence in Middle East, Speaker Says, Warning Security Failures ‘Becoming the Norm’

Israel’s Representative Says Hard to Imagine Destruction by Hamas, Hizbullah with Nuclear Weapons from Iran

Heightened geopolitical tensions, retrenchment of a deteriorating security environment with few tangible gains, the enduring war in Ukraine and troubling events rapidly unfolding in the Middle East framed debate today in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

“We meet under the dark shadow of war in Europe and intensifying and spreading conflicts in other parts of the world — as we witness now in the Middle East,” said Iceland’s speaker.  The subject of this committee — arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation — has been integral to conflict resolution since the UN’s founding.  There’ve been successes, but also failures.  Today, failure is becoming the norm and not the exception, he said. 

Similarly, Peru’s delegate said the Committee is meeting in an exceptionally worrying geopolitical context, citing the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine and the resurgence of tensions in the Middle East. On the latter, Türkiye’s representative strongly condemned the ongoing loss of civilian life, both in Israel and Palestine, calling on the parties to de-escalate.

Botswana’s speaker also expressed concern about the Middle East’s evolving situation and extended sincere condolences regarding the loss of life, especially of civilians.  Regarding the global security environment, heightened geopolitical tensions among nuclear-weapon States have brought the world to the brink of an unimaginable nuclear confrontation, and further weakened multilateralism.

Israel’s representative said that, after the recent attacks on his State, it is unfathomable to imagine the extent of destruction that Iranian proxies, such as Hamas and Hizbullah, can cause, should they be shielded by an Iranian nuclear umbrella or provided with nuclear weapons.  This State sponsor of terror must be held accountable.  He added that Syria maintains chemical-weapon capabilities and that its undeclared nuclear activities are worrying.

The representative of Syria said that the “Israeli colonizing entity” remains a constant threat to peace and security in the Middle East.  He cited its large arsenal of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.  Yet, he added, the entity is the only party in the region not subjected to any international controls.  He urged it to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear-weapon party and place its arsenals under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Several speakers lauded the value of nuclear-weapon-free zones and spotlighted the urgency of establishing a zone free of nuclear and other mass-destruction weapons in the Middle East.  Among them was the representative of Brunei Darussalam, who argued that the zone’s establishment can strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and expedite general and complete disarmament.  Some speakers, like Myanmar’s representative, cautioned, however, that the zones are no substitute for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

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

Chair’s Statement

At the outset of today’s meeting, RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), Chair of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), speaking in his personal capacity, unequivocally and in the strongest terms condemned the terror attacks by Hamas across Israel, and expressed sincere condolences to the families of the victims.  He then read the 7 October statement of the Secretary-General issued by his press office.


JAVIER SALAS (Peru) said that the Committee is meeting in an exceptionally worrying geopolitical context — rising military spending, which exceeded $2 trillion for the first time in history, the existence of 13,000 nuclear warheads, the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine and the resurgence of tensions in the Middle East.  Some 13 years of no progress in the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) confirms the importance and relevance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), to which Peru is a party.  The world must continue to make progress in signing agreements on nuclear-weapon-free zones.  Latin America is an early adopter on this front.  Peru supports the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. It is essential that nuclear States provide security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons to all States that are parties to such zones, under any circumstances and without any conditions.

BLANKA GLASENHARDT (Croatia) condemned the Hamas attacks against Israel as terrorist acts against civilians, which are “shocking and unacceptable”.  She described the current international security events as “unprecedented” and said that “nothing unprecedented is continuous”.  This, she added, paints a scary picture of the present moment.  Nuclear non-proliferation witnessed regression and setbacks.  Iran should return to its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should abandon its nuclear and ballistic-missile programmes, she said. Last week’s report of the Russian Federation’s intention to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is concerning.  Croatia has experienced all the consequences of military aggression. In this regard, she condemned the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.  More than one third of Ukraine’s territory is now contaminated with mines and cluster munitions.  Croatia, having had its own experience with de-mining, will host a high-level international donor conference on humanitarian de-mining in Ukraine on 11 October.

NICAISE SERVAIS DOUCKAGA NZENGUI (Congo) deeply regretted the recent Israeli casualties and atrocities in the region, and he conveyed condolences to the bereaved families.  Heightened international crises have been exacerbated by unprecedented tensions and an increase in military expenditures, as well as the risks related to nuclear and other mass destruction weapons.  International negotiations towards general and complete disarmament should prioritize the elimination of those weapons, prohibit weapons of mass destruction, regulate conventional weapons and set out terms for the rational use of new technology.  Congo has integrated several effective national approaches to small arms and light weapons, including through development plans and legal institutions.  Regionally, the Kinshasa Convention provides a legal mechanism to control those weapons in a manner tailored to Central Africa’s institutional and cultural specificities.

AMRIYO BOBOZODA (Tajikistan) expressed concern over the sharp escalation of tensions in the Middle East and condemned acts of violence.  Turning to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, he noted that Tajikistan was among the five Central Asian States that created a zone free of nuclear weapons in the region.  Since joining the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1995, Tajikistan has been fully committed to implementing its provisions. Further, recognizing the importance of the Mine-Ban Convention, he called on the international community to help free Central Asia from landmines.  As threats such as terrorism tend to increase exponentially, Tajikistan, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism along with other partners, organized a high-level conference on international and regional border security and management in 2022.

FRANCESS PIAGIE ALGHALI (Sierra Leone) said that the disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as conventional weapons including small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, are critical to strengthening international peace and security.  As a post-conflict country, Sierra Leone reaffirms that the illicit trade, transfers, diversion and poor management of stockpiles of conventional weapons undermine the rule of law and respect for international humanitarian and human rights law.  In Africa, the prevalence of these lethal weapons, especially in the hands of non-State actors, fuels armed conflicts and violence with devastating consequences on socio-economic development.  Sierra Leone, during its presidency of the seventh Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty worked with all delegations and made tremendous progress on the efforts to eradicate small arms and light weapons. 

GLADYS MOKHAWA (Botswana) expressed concern about the Middle East’s evolving situation and extended sincere condolences regarding the loss of life, especially of civilians.  Regarding the global security environment, heightened geopolitical tensions among nuclear-weapon States have brought the world to the brink of an unimaginable nuclear confrontation, and further weakened multilateralism.  She encouraged other States to ratify the TPNW and the five legally recognized nuclear-weapon States to reaffirm their commitment to disarmament obligations as previously done in a joint statement in January 2022. Calling for greater commitment to effectively implement the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and Programme of Action on small arms and light weapons, she reiterated Botswana’s commitment to continue implementing these instruments, fulfilling reporting obligations and seeking capacity-building, if needed.

TOFIG F. MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the aggression committed against his country by Armenia in the early 1990s undermined peace and destabilized security in the region.  While Azerbaijan liberated a large part of the occupied territory in 2020, Armenia refuses to completely withdraw its armed forces and continues to transfer weapons, military equipment and soldiers.  Following a recent terrorist act that caused numerous casualties, Azerbaijan undertook local counter-terrorism measures against Armenian armed forces illegally stationed on its territory.  These measures are in line with international law, and any allegations of the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure and the risk of genocide are false.  Armenia must be held accountable for the war and crimes it committed.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) said that 2023 is yet another challenging year.  Despite the very first resolution adopted by the General Assembly calling for the elimination of atomic weapons, there is no indication that these weapons will be eliminated.  In fact, nuclear-weapon States are moving away from nuclear disarmament.  Weapons of mass destruction also present potentially world-ending-level threats.  The people of Myanmar are victims of these weapons wielded by the military junta. Since the illegal coup, the military junta has imported more than $1 billion worth of arms and raw materials for its scorched-earth policy that has murdered more than 4,000 civilians.  Certain countries known to Myanmar transferred arms to the military junta, including sizeable numbers of fighter jets, munitions, parts, equipment and associated technologies to scale up the production capacities of its defence industries.  It is important to keep a close eye on the junta’s ambition of establishing a nuclear power plant because the junta will never be a good partner in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  He urged Member States and the Security Council to impose comprehensive arms embargoes against the Myanmar military.

AHMET ERMAN ÇETIN (Türkiye) strongly condemns the ongoing loss of civilian lives in Israel and Palestine, and calls on the parties to de-escalate.  He urges revitalization of international efforts for a lasting peace based on a two-State solution.  He also strongly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.  The war should be ended by prioritizing a diplomatic solution.  Regarding the NPT, he called on those outside the Treaty to accede to it without conditions, as a world without nuclear weapons depends first and foremost on the NPT regime’s successful and universal implementation. On the CTBT, he called on the Russian Federation to reconsider its intention to rescind ratification of the Treaty, and on all States to ratify it without delay or preconditions.  He urged a constructive approach to revitalize the JCPOA.

GILAD MENASHE ERDAN (Israel) said that hundreds of innocent Israeli civilians were “murdered by barbaric Hamas terrorists in cold blood”.  Israel will adopt a powerful response to restore the security of its citizens. While Israel continues to support the global non-proliferation regime, the NPT itself does not provide a remedy for the security challenges of the region or the repeated violations of the Treaty by Iran and Syria.  Iran’s activities on the nuclear front have no civilian justification and together with the accumulation of irreversible knowledge make the JCPOA worthless. After the recent attacks on Israel, it is unfathomable to imagine the extent of destruction that Iranian proxies, such as Hamas and Hizbullah, can cause should they be shielded by an Iranian nuclear umbrella or provided with nuclear weapons.  This State sponsor of terror must be held accountable.

He said that Iran also continues to breach its safeguard obligations under IAEA and attempts to destabilize the region.  Its support for terrorist organizations contradicts numerous Security Council resolutions.  Its tests of ballistic missiles — in breach of international law — capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction, as well as the production of several satellite launch vehicles that include components used in intercontinental ballistic missiles prove Iran’s true intentions.  Syria maintains chemical-weapon capabilities, and its undeclared nuclear activities are worrying.  A comprehensive security architecture in the region cannot be achieved without recognition of Israel’s right to exist within safe and secure borders.  Ill-motivated initiatives are unhelpful, and Israel will not participate in processes that bypasses established practices, he said.

ADIB AL ASHKAR (Syria) said that disarmament and arms control are the key pillars of maintaining international peace and security, and multilateralism is the only sustainable way to achieve that.  This is particularly true in devastating conflict, ongoing occupation, stockpiling and modernization of weapons, and the spread of terrorism by certain States. The NPT, to which Syria is a party, is the bedrock of international peace and security.  Damascus hopes that the next review conference will overcome the failure of the previous ones.  The Israeli colonizing entity remains a constant threat to peace and security in the Middle East.  He condemns the entity’s persistent violations of international law and the UN Charter, emanating from attacks against his country.  The entity maintains a large arsenal of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.  Yet, the entity is the only party in the region not subjected to any international controls, he said.

The Israeli entity prevents the establishment of a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, he said, urging it to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon party and place its arsenals under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The Israeli entity refuses to participate in the process emanating from General Assembly resolution 73/546 to end the paralysis on the implementation of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.  It is regrettable that the United States also abstained from joining this process, although it is a NPT depository State and is among the three States that co-sponsored the 1995 resolution.  On chemical weapons, Syria joined the Convention and fulfilled its obligations in record time, and it rejected the politicization of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).  He expressed support for the Russian Federation and China in their efforts to preserve international law.  Syria supports Moscow’s right to self-defence in response to the West’s hostile policies against it.  Syria also stands in solidarity with Iran on the JCPOA.  He urged the United States to stop militarizing the Korean Peninsula and to cease its military exercises there.

KIM SONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that international disarmament efforts face a crisis of magnitude.  The risk of a nuclear war and the revival of a nuclear arms race are “entirely attributable” to the United States, which has deliberately created obstacles to implementing the international arms control regime for years.  The United States openly seeks nuclear proliferation through the Australia, United Kingdom and United States partnership, defying strong international opposition and seriously impacting the region’s strategic security.  It should immediately end nuclear-sharing and strengthening extended deterrence, which foments an arms race and undermines the non-proliferation regime.

Noting the United States’ demonization of his country, he said that bolstering his country’s “self-defensive deterrence” is a “justified exercise” of the sovereign right to safeguard its security in the face of outrageous hostility.  His country will not deploy nuclear weapons on the territories of other countries or transfer related technology, equipment or weapons-grade nuclear materials.  The key to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is the abandonment by the United States of its persistent hostile policy and the discontinuation of joint military exercises.  It must halt the deployment of strategic nuclear assets and dissolve the UN Command in the Republic of Korea.  Japan must stop resorting to “reckless and anachronistic moves” to realize its ambition of becoming a military Power and cease its “military conspiracy” with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), he said.

ARIS VÉLIZ (Panama) said that the arms race represents a global risk with devastating and irreversible effects on life and human development.  During the General Assembly high-level week, Panama co-chaired the CTBT Article XIV Conference to facilitate the Treaty’s entry into force.  Panama, as a candidate for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the Latin American and Caribbean region for the period beginning in 2025, is committed to tackling global problems related to international peace and security.  The development and use of new technologies in the military field risk human rights violations, and he/she warned about the use of such weapons by non-state actors. 

JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland) said:  “We meet under the dark shadow of war in Europe and intensifying and spreading conflicts in other parts of the world — as we witness now in the Middle East.”  The subject of this Committee — arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation — has been integral to conflict resolution since the UN’s founding.  There’ve been successes, but also failures.  Today, failure is becoming the norm and not the exception because of non-compliance and a grave security environment.

He strongly condemned Hamas’ attacks on Israel and urged that the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine, an act of pure brutality, must be subjected to “appropriate punity”.  Deploring the Russian Federation’s continuous attempts to derail the NPT’s implementation, he called its announcement on the deployment of nuclear weapons to Belarus a travesty.  Additionally, the possibility of its withdrawal from its CTBT ratification  will undermine the Treaty’s success.  He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to return to compliance with its international obligations, even though two “P5” States are sheltering its illegal nuclear programme and paralysing all Security Council efforts to act on the country’s “rogue behaviour”.  Any attempts to undermine the NPT must cease.  The need to negotiate a fissile material cut-off treaty is becoming ever more urgent, he added.

HERMY AHMAD SAH (Brunei Darussalam) said that her country remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.  Brunei underscores the importance of the Treaty’s full and effective implementation, including through the Plan of Action 2023-2027.  She called on all nuclear-weapon States to sign and ratify the Protocol without reservations.  Brunei continues to recognize the urgency of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as its establishment can strengthen the non-proliferation regime and expedite general and complete disarmament.  The CTBT is a concrete step in the process and should be ratified without further delay.  In this regard, she spotlighted the successful conduct last month of the thirteenth Article XIV Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of the CTBT. She hopes that it can “bring us closer to the universalization of the Treaty”.

JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela) said that today’s global crises will be difficult to overcome under a hegemonic vision that seeks to divide the world into spheres of power and exacerbate conflict. In this context, the Committee should guide its efforts towards reducing the erosion of trust among States, renewing multilateralism and strengthening international law and safeguarding the UN Charter to calm tensions.  Recognizing the right of States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he condemns unilateral coercive measures against States that have exercised that right.

DAVID BAKRADZE (Georgia) strongly condemned the horrific terrorist attacks against Israel and expressed solidarity with its people.  Russian aggression against Ukraine is at the core of the world’s unprecedented security challenges, and it severely undermines European and global security.  He reiterated full solidarity with Ukraine and called on Russian Federation military forces to immediately withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The Russian Federation’s dangerous nuclear rhetoric is unprecedented and utterly concerning.  Moreover, Moscow’s illegal occupation of two regions of Georgia and excessive militarization violate the fundamental norms of international law, the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Russian Federation’s own obligations.

LEONOR ZALABATA TORRES (Colombia) said that, in 2022, military spending increased for the eighth consecutive year, amounting to an estimated $2.24 trillion.  Those significant resources could be allocated to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially when climate change effects are increasingly evident and, among other things, acute food insecurity is increasing, requiring swift action.  Amid an increase in political tension and mistrust, 2,000 nuclear weapons remain on high operational alert, which increases the risks of miscalculation, misunderstanding or an accident.  At this juncture, dialogue is urgent.  The way to face global challenges is cooperation and solidarity. The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and their ammunition remains one of the collective threats with the greatest impact.  Colombia is among the sponsors of the resolution on the matter.  It also is committed to the Mine-Ban Convention and is a member of the “troika” of the resolution on its implementation.

ESAM BEN ZITUN (Libya) noted that the possession of nuclear weapons by some States represents a direct threat to the efforts undertaken by the UN and regional organizations towards disarmament and arms control.  This situation generates risks for several States, including Libya.  States should join the NPT, eliminate the deadly weapons and thereby contribute to collective security.  In this manner, Libya supports the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  While Libya supports the United Nations programme of action on small arms and light weapons, States had the right to obtain weapons in line with the UN Charter.

Right of Reply

The observer for the State of Palestine, speaking in exercise the right of reply, called it neither acceptable nor appropriate for the Committee Chair to convey condolences to Israeli families while ignoring Palestinian ones, especially without consulting other Bureau members. More than 700 Palestinians have been killed in the last 48 hours, including 140 children. Palestinians have been suffering every single day from decades of forced dispossession, displacement, and a brutal and colonial occupation that affects every aspect of life.

He noted the Chair’s decision to read the Secretary-General’s statement from two days ago, prior to the most recent assault against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, instead of his remarks today.  These remarks addressed the Palestinians killed, the need to respect international humanitarian law and allow access for humanitarian aid, the terrible humanitarian situation in Gaza, and the need to end the occupation and achieve peace in line with UN resolutions and international law.

“I trust that, following my statement, you will rectify your statement and acknowledge our humanity and the sanctity of the lives of Palestinian civilians,” he said.  “Like all civilians, they are not less deserving.”  This is not a time for “selective humanity” or double standards, but a time to end the bloodshed and uphold international law and humanity for the benefit of all.  It is a time to mobilize against oppression and occupation — for peace.

The representative of the Russian Federation, in right of reply, expressed concern over the situation in Gaza and the Palestinian territories and underscored the inadmissibility of any violence, damage, death of civilians or the taking of women and children hostage.  Hostilities must end immediately and be replaced by negotiations to resolve the issue, based on a two-State formula. 

Rejecting the accusations by Georgia as unfounded, he noted that the Russian Federation recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia in line with the provisions of the UN Charter and other relevant international documents.  The attack of the “Saakashvili regime” against South Ossetia in 2008 and the preparation of a similar action against Abkhazia left their peoples with one choice — to invoke the right to self-determination.  The Russian Federation rebuffed the Georgian aggression and guaranteed those peoples a peaceful future.

On strategic stability, the new Russian Federation’s weapons systems are directly linked to the need to maintain strategic balance against the backdrop of the destabilizing programme of the United States for the establishment of an anti-missile defence system.  The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was deliberately destroyed by the United States to free its hands and exert pressure on opponents.  The Russian Federation’s non-strategic nuclear weapons are located exclusively within an allied State and are not deployed, while the United States’ strategic nuclear weapons have been deployed in Europe and their quantity has remained unchanged.  Recalling a statement by a representative of the United States’ Government about a possible “decapitating strike to kill Putin in the heart of the Kremlin,” he said that such rhetoric is reckless.

The representative of Iran, in right of reply, rejected allegations made by the Israeli delegate.  Due to that regime’s dark record in all aspects, it has no moral or legal ground to address anything on Iran or the region.  The Israeli regime’s delegate attempted again to obscure his country’s destabilizing terrorist activities in the region.  Iran has not engaged in any activities that violate Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) or threaten regional peace and stability.  It is ironic that the Israeli regime, which has a track record of developing, producing and stockpiling various types of weapons of mass destruction, makes such malicious accusations.  The regime took every opportunity to hinder the resolution’s implementation.  For 75 years, the Palestinians have been the victims of the Israeli regime’s aggression, occupation, violence, discrimination, and apartheid policy in clear violation of international law. Palestinians’ responses are spontaneous and natural.  Iran stands in solidarity with them, but his country is not involved in their response to the Israeli regime.

The representative of Japan, in right of reply, noted that as per its Constitution, his country has adhered to the basic precept of maintaining an exclusively defence-oriented policy.  Japan will not change the course it has taken as a peace-loving nation and will not become a military Power that poses a threat to other countries.  It will ensure transparency of its defence and security policy as well as related expenditures through civilian control of the military.  In Japan, so-called nuclear sharing is not allowed.  The Government adheres to the three non-nuclear principles under which the introduction of nuclear weapons is not permitted.  The Government has no intention ever even to discuss nuclear sharing. 

The representative of Armenia, in right of reply to Azerbaijan, said that once again the Committee was forced to hear another attempt to cover up aggressive actions, in particular, the most recent aggression on 19 September against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, and to create a pretext for future military actions.  The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have been victims of terrorism.  The facts show how Azerbaijan’s armed forces use foreign terrorist fighters from different regions to spread terror and carry out atrocity crimes against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

As usual, he said, the delegate of Azerbaijan chose to hide facts by  presenting fiction.  No fiction, however, can cover up either the goal or the consequences of the Azerbaijani armed forces’ aggression against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.  His delegation has warned the international community in different UN forums that Azerbaijan is conducting a propaganda campaign, along with its massive military build-up and military exercises, and is planning to create a pretext to start new aggression, the goal of which is ethnic cleansing of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and to involve Armenia in wider regional military actions, he said.

The representative of Syria firmly rejected the “mendacious propaganda” by Israel’s delegate, as that State has maintained an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction without any international controls — a culture of hypocrisy.  That representative does not know the bloody history of that entity, the first to have used weapons of mass destruction in the region.  “You are not in a position to lecture us about international commitments,” he stressed.  The Israeli entity is the only one in the Middle East to possess such an arsenal, a real threat to regional peace and security, specifically in light of the occupation of a number of Arab territories “including the occupied Syrian Arab Golan”.  The Israeli entity has been denying the international community for decades, attacking Syrian civilian property including airports and other infrastructure and flouting the Charter. 

He categorically rejected the statement about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, as the entity spreads lies at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). “Instead of spreading lies, you should cooperate with the IAEA on the weapons used against my country,” he stressed. Turning to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he stated that theatrical discourse will never conceal the origins of the conflict — occupation of territory and the collective atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinian people for decades, who have the right to defend themselves as guaranteed under international law.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, responding to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s delegate, noted that its ever-growing unlawful nuclear and missile threats “are the very reason why we are strengthening the combined defense and deterrence — not the other way around”.  These exercises and training are long-standing, routine and defensive in nature, as well as a legitimate response to Pyongyang’s continued escalatory and dangerous behaviour, including its overt threat to use nuclear weapons. As a responsible Government, Seoul has a duty to protect its people.  Turning to the United Nations Command, he recalled that it is officially recognized by Council resolution 84 (1950) and contributes to peace and security on the Korean peninsula.  “The DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s] unilateral allegation to dissolve the UNC [United Nations Command] does not hold water,” he stressed. 

The representative of Israel, in right of reply, pointing to what she called the egregious statements just given by the representatives of Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority, said Iran’s statements were false accusations, distortions and blatant lies.  Iran is the world’s primary terror-sponsoring State and does so in the name of promoting a radical agenda aimed at destabilizing the entire Middle East and beyond.  Her delegation is very disturbed that Iran is pursuing dual-use central-nervous-system-attacking chemicals for offensive purposes and is seeking to arm their affiliated terrorist groups with such chemical weapons.  These actions and others reveal Iran’s true intentions and cast serious doubts as to its willingness to adhere to any international agreement.

With regard to Syria, she said the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team’s third report concluded, after extensive report research, that Syria used lethal chemical weapons against its own people in Douma in April 2017.  Quoting OPCW Director General Fernando Arias, she said he concluded the report by stating that “The world now knows the facts.  It is up to the international community to take action at the OPCW and beyond.”  She urged delegates to remember that call to action, including when the Syrian representative asserts false accusations against her country.  Addressing him further, she said her country’s official name is the State of Israel.

She said that, since the early morning hours of 7 October, the terrorist organization Hamas broke into Israeli territory and led a ruthless unprovoked attack on its citizens, firing more than 4,500 missiles into Israel.  “More than 700 of my people have been executed, not for what they have done, but for who they are,” she stressed, detailing the kidnapping of 150 people who were dragged into Gaza to be used as pawns and human shields. These horrific acts were celebrated in the streets of Tehran and the Palestinian territories, she said, highlighting that the terrorist organization Hamas, who committed that war crime, is a branch of the Ayatollah’s regime in Iran, which directly finances and facilitates terrorist attacks in Israel and against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world.  “Sadly, sitting amongst us today are representatives of murderous regimes who celebrated the death of my people,” adding:  “I will not take morality lessons from them.  They insult the memory of mothers, fathers, daughters and sons of Israel.”

The representative of the United States, in right of reply, unequivocally condemned the recent terrorist assault by Hamas against Israel and its citizens.  Nothing justifies this attack on Israeli civilians, ranging from indiscriminate rocket fire against villages to gunning down and kidnapping men, women and children. He reaffirmed his country’s ironclad support for Israel’s right to defend itself and the United States’ readiness to offer all appropriate means of support.  Hamas’ path of terror directly undermines the essential task of bringing the region together for greater integration, improved stability and the resolution of challenges between Israelis and Palestinians, with equal measures of democracy, opportunity, justice and dignity for all.

Also speaking in right of reply, the representative of Azerbaijan underscored his country’s right to defend itself and expressed regret that Armenia is camouflaging its military wrongdoings.  Describing that country’s illegal military activities in his country, he said it is trying transfer and plant additional mines in the Karabakh region and arm the civilian population therein.  Despite his country’s repeated demands for the cessation of these activities, these illegal provocations continue.  The anti-terror measures conducted by Azerbaijan are intended to disarm such activities on its sovereign territories.  Stressing that it is the legitimate right of his country under international law to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity, he added that it strictly adheres to norms of international law and that only legitimate military targets were neutralized.

Responding to the representative of State of Palestine, Mr. PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), First Committee Chair, concurred that it is dangerous to get into the debate from the podium, but added that he felt it necessary to react to current political events.  His condolences were issued for the innocent victims of Palestine, as well, he said, adding that he referred to the Secretary-General’s statement in which he issued condolences because he trusted his wisdom.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in right of reply, rejected the allegations made by the delegates of Japan and the Republic of Korea.  Expressing concern about the disinformation campaign that is intentionally distorting the nature of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, he said the military provocations of the United States and its followers are increasing and the military security situation on the Korean Peninsula is reaching the phase of a nuclear crisis.  In April, the United States “cooked up the Washington Declaration”, as a platform for a nuclear showdown with his country.  That country is openly planning to deliberate on the use of nuclear weapons against his country.  Currently, extremely provocative and aggressive nuclear war exercises are going on in the Korean Peninsula.  The frequent deployment of nuclear assets and massive joint military exercises will not contribute to peace and stability in the region.  Calling on the Republic of Korea to ponder the consequences of such provocations, he also condemned Japan’s “reckless” move to become a military Power.

For information media. Not an official record.