Moscow May Revoke Ratification of Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty — ‘Patience Ran Out Waiting for Washington To Ratify’— Delegate Tells First Committee in Debate
Speakers in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today expressed grave concern about the Russian Federation’s announced intention to withdraw from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), as they continued their thematic debate on nuclear weapons.
If pursued, it would be “yet another step in the wrong direction” in the disarmament domain, which is already under enormous strain, warned the representative of the Czech Republic. Also sounding the alarm was Poland’s delegate, who said Moscow’s expected revocation of its CTBT ratification confirms its desire to destroy the global security architecture.
The representative of the Russian Federation said Moscow ratified the Test-Ban Treaty in 2000 and patiently waited for Washington, D.C., to take a similar step. However, all patience comes to an end. The Kremlin is preparing a bill to withdraw CTBT ratification to balance its status under the Treaty with the United States. This move does not mean that Moscow intends to resume nuclear testing.
A senior official from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said that, regardless of Moscow’s decision, CTBTO, with its extensive network of supporters, remains undeterred in the collective goal of achieving the Treaty’s entry into force.
Austria’s delegate joined others in cautioning that other key instruments, such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme, are also in jeopardy. Such downward trends are due to the nuclear-armed States’ reliance on the precarious logic of nuclear deterrence, which is fraught with uncertainties. “We know for sure that it can fail,” he said, adding: “We cannot base humanity’s common security and survival on ultimately unprovable assumptions.”
Hungary’s representative, however, said there is “no shortcut” to nuclear disarmament. It requires an incremental approach involving gradual and concrete steps that can yield tangible results. The focus should be on identifying those areas where there is common ground and consensus, including among nuclear-weapon States. Those steps include a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices.
On that, Pakistan’s delegate denounced the “self-serving mantra” of some regarding a fissile material cut-off treaty and the “messianic zeal” to insist on quantitative capping of fissile material production while resisting the inclusion of thousands of tons of existing stocks. Such a treaty would perpetuate asymmetries and have no added value for disarmament. A realistic approach is to develop consensus on a fissile-material ban that addresses asymmetries in existing stockpiles and results in equal and undiminished security for all States.
At the outset, the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts to further consider nuclear disarmament verification briefed the Committee on its work.
The First Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m., Tuesday, 17 October, to continue its thematic debate.
JØRN OSMUNDSEN (Norway), Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts to further consider nuclear disarmament verification, said that the Secretary-General established the Group to further consider nuclear disarmament verification issues pursuant to General Assembly resolution 74/50. The Group used its first session to identify issues on which to pursue its work. These issues can be placed in in three main categories: conceptual issues, capacity-building and the concept of a Group of Scientific and Technical Experts. Gender, youth and education were highlighted as cross-cutting issues for discussion. The issues were discussed during second and third sessions, which became the basis for a draft report. The experts agreed on a final report by consensus (document A/78/120) at the fourth session in May.
He acknowledged there were differing views on how to take forward work on nuclear disarmament verification. The Group was also mindful that discussions were not to pre-judge any future negotiations or agreements. The final report consists of three parts: a short introduction; a comprehensive part on the issues discussed by the Group; and finally conclusions and recommendations. Capacity-building was also widely discussed in the Group. The report covers discussions on general considerations, regional approaches, the value of exercises and sustainability in funding. The report reflects a substantial discussion, focusing on objectives for a Group of Scientific and Technical Experts, a possible mandate and modalities. The report presents 21 conclusions and 5 recommendations. Through their work, the first and second Group of Governmental Experts together have established a strong conceptual foundation for further work on nuclear disbarment verification in a multilateral context.
The meeting was then suspended for informal discussion.
JAMES LARSEN (Australia), speaking on behalf of a group of States, affirmed the group’s commitment to progressing a realistic and pragmatic agenda towards a world free of nuclear weapons. He urged the Russian Federation to immediately return to compliance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and to engage in dialogue with the United States on strategic stability and a successor treaty. He also called on the Russian Federation to cease actions and dangerous nuclear rhetoric that take the world further from the shared goal of a nuclear-weapon-free future.
He condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing development of illegal and destabilizing nuclear and ballistic-missile programmes and other means of delivery, in violation of Security Council resolutions. He urged Iran to return without delay to diplomacy and to fully implement all its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including giving unfettered access to all International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) personnel. “We must overcome the stalemate” in the Conference on Disarmament and start negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty, he added. Pending such a treaty, he called on States possessing or producing such material to declare and uphold a moratorium on production.
FLÁVIO SOARES DAMICO (Brazil), also speaking on behalf of a group of States, commended the work done by the Group of Governmental Experts on nuclear disarmament verification, which led to a substantial consensus report. That work combined with the role of verification in advancing nuclear disarmament lays a strong conceptual foundation for practical work within a multilateral framework. The world community should advance the idea of establishing a group of scientific and technical experts on verification, he said, noting that it would provide unique practical benefits in support of the long-term goal of nuclear disarmament and enable States to work collaboratively in a multilateral setting. He outlined some core objectives for such a group and invited Member States to engage in an informal dialogue on this matter.
OUMAROU GANOU (Burkina Faso) paraphrased the words of United States President Dwight Eisenhower 70 years ago: The existence of nuclear weapons poses a grave danger to the world to the point that one often forgets the vast useful potential of the atom for peace. His speech laid the ground for the creation of IAEA. This must not remain just a historical footnote, but, rather, it must be made a full and perfect reality. Indeed, the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology can bring considerable benefits to humanity. Nothing should impede the access of developing countries to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes or international cooperation, including within the framework of the IAEA technical cooperation programme. Nuclear terrorism is a real danger, and his country remains convinced that the development and maintenance of high standards of nuclear safety and security must be a prerequisite for the optimal use of nuclear science and technology. He noted that Burkina Faso, after 13 years of absence, was elected to the IAEA Board of Governors for 2023-2025.
EDUARDO SANCHEZ (Mexico), noting the world is at a complex juncture, expressed concern regarding the normalization of nuclear weapons in recent years and parties continuing to advocate for the preservation threat and use of these weapons as a means of coercion. The accidental or intentional detonation of a nuclear weapon would cause hundreds of thousands of immediate deaths and irreparable damage to health and ecosystems. The vast majority of Member States do not possess nuclear weapons and do not base their security on them. He invited Member States not yet party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to participate as observers at the second conference of the parties in November.
ALEXANDER KMENTT (Austria) said that past achievements are in danger. Nuclear-armed States are upgrading their arsenals and several conflicts in hot spots have the potential to escalate to nuclear ones. New technologies are adding layers of nuclear risk. A permanent Security Council member is issuing implicit but unmistakable nuclear threats as a cover for a brutal war of aggression. The NPT and JCPOA are in deep crisis, and the nuclear taboo is in a fragile state. The New START Treaty has been suspended, and the Russian Federation may withdraw from the CTBT. All these extremely disconcerting trends is due to the unwillingness or inability of nuclear-armed States to extract themselves from the precarious logic of nuclear weapons, he said. A paradigm shift away from nuclear weapons is imperative, he said, as everyone knows a nuclear conflict would have catastrophic consequences.
Central to this is moving away from the theory of nuclear deterrence — a theory which requires the actual readiness to inflict catastrophic humanitarian consequences, unimaginable and global in scale. It is illogical to differentiate between the threat or use of nuclear weapons as those are intrinsically intertwined. He condemns unequivocally any nuclear threats. Nuclear deterrence rests on many assumptions and is fraught with uncertainties. It cannot be certain if and how nuclear deterrence works, but “we know for sure that it can fail”, he said, adding: “We cannot base humanity’s common security and survival on ultimately unprovable assumptions.” In that connection, he urged support for “L.23” on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. In closing, he said: “We need to see where we are heading today and it is clearly in the wrong direction.” He urged Member States to move beyond the current short sightedness.
JESSIE LIM (Singapore) noted significant progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation under the auspices IAEA and treaties like the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). However, new challenges and a divided international security environment have “stymied positive momentum in the nuclear disarmament circuit and even regressed to escalatory nuclear rhetoric and actions”. The Secretary-General has prioritized the elimination of nuclear weapons as the first call to action in his A New Agenda for Peace. She stressed the need for continued dialogue, especially when hardening geostrategic positions increase the risk of miscalculation. In this regard, she welcomed discussions at the first Preparatory Committee for the eleventh NPT Review Conference on reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, strengthening IAEA safeguards, and nuclear security during an armed conflict. Regional approaches, including the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, are also practical steps towards achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.
CHRISTIAN HOPE REYES (Philippines) said that 78 years on since the catastrophic event in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, humankind has never been so close to a global catastrophe as geopolitical tensions rise. Challenges include nuclear-sharing, dangerous rhetoric, modernization of nuclear arsenals, lack of functional strategic dialogue mechanisms and reluctance to heed the call for greater transparency. The NPT continues to face adversity. The second meeting of TPNW States parties would help make progress towards the NPT’s main goal. The TPNW never aims to contradict the NPT, and he called on all States to sign and ratify it. Similarly, a fissile material cut-off treaty would complement the non-proliferation and disarmament regime. This is why the Philippines, together with Japan and Australia, hosted a high-level event during the General Assembly high-level week to “breathe life” into the three-decade effort towards an “FMCT”.
JORGE VIDAL (Chile) insisted that all nuclear weapons only create greater anxiety, unpredictability and insecurity. The world cannot allow nuclear threats, their deployment in other territories, or the transport of inputs for their production or modernization. He called on nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their commitments under the NPT to completely eliminate their arsenals. He also urged States not yet party to the TPNW to sign, ratify and accede to it. Moreover, the timely entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is of pivotal importance, and he urged remaining Annex II States to sign and ratify it without further delay.
MUTHANNA SALIH (Iraq), emphasizing the need for political will and flexibility to overcome past challenges in NPT Review Conferences, stressed the urgency of adopting measures and recommendations to address the destructive nature of nuclear weapons. He hoped for concrete actions during the eleventh review. He called for collective, practical measures to achieve general and complete disarmament, stressing the need for the NPT’s universalization. He further advocated for negotiations on a legally binding, non-discriminatory agreement on the non-use and threat of nuclear weapons to address the concerns of non-nuclear-weapon States. Highlighting the significance of creating nuclear-weapon-free zones as a step towards disarmament, he urged against delays in addressing the 1995 resolution on the Middle East.
HUSSAIN MOHAMMED AL-SAFRAN (Qatar) urged the international community to intensify efforts on disarmament at all levels and commit to nuclear disarmament. These weapons must be eliminated completely in a verifiable and irreversible manner under the NPT. The international community awaits the complete elimination of those weapons. The nuclear-weapon States’ current “progressive” approach has not brought about tangible progress. Real progress requires constructive participation, stronger commitment and legally binding action by States parties. He also called for an early establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
ZHANGELDY SYRYMBET (Kazakhstan), warning that increasing geopolitical tensions combined with threats to use nuclear weapons can lead to further proliferation and destabilization, called for strengthening existing nuclear-weapon-free zones, like the ones in the Southern Hemisphere and Central Asia, with the aim of replicating them in the Middle East and other parts of the world. He underscored the need for the five nuclear-weapon States to fully adhere to their commitments under the NPT’s article 6. As a country that directly suffered from nuclear testing, Kazakhstan, together with Kiribati, will table a resolution on providing support to the victims of nuclear weapons. “We must put a definitive end to nuclear weapons testing by finally bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” he said, urging all States to sign and ratify it without delay.
USMAN JADOON (Pakistan), noting the exceedingly precarious security landscape, said that his country’s nuclear-weapons development remains solely guided by security and defence imperatives. Foremost among recent negative developments is the failure of the largest nuclear-armed States, which have amassed tons of fissile material and thousands of weapons, to comply with their disarmament obligations and commitments. He denounced the “self-serving mantra” of some regarding a fissile material cut-off treaty and the “messianic zeal” to insist on “cost-free proposals”, including quantitative capping of fissile material while resisting the inclusion of thousands of tons of existing stocks. Such a treaty would be a non-starter since it would perpetuate asymmetries and have no added value for disarmament.
He said that this approach’s inefficacy and duplicity are laid bare when States with so-called moratoria modernize and increase their nuclear arsenals, or when they exercise double standards by cooperating with “a country in South Asia” that has amassed stockpiles outside safeguards. A realistic approach is required to develop consensus on a fissile material treaty that addresses asymmetries in existing stockpiles and results in equal and undiminished security for all States. Furthermore, the coexistence of nuclear weapons with new and advanced conventional arms requires a new approach that acknowledges their mutually reinforcing relationship and collective impact on States’ security — particularly in asymmetric situations. Negotiating a legal instrument to assure non-nuclear-weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons remains urgent. An international convention on negative security assurance will reduce nuclear risks. He also called for the start of negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention, without further delay.
KONSTANTIN VORONTSOV (Russian Federation) said that the topic of nuclear weapons provokes increasingly heated discussions, and some draft resolutions set records for separate voting. This indicates the international community’s fragmentation on arms control and nuclear disarmament issues. A key problem is a lack of willingness to adequately consider the security environment in the disarmament context. Any blueprints that presume a “shortcut” to “nuclear zero”, including through simply “outlawing” nuclear weapons, are completely unfeasible. Further reductions of nuclear weapons are only possible through a step-by-step approach that requires mandatory consideration of the security needs of all parties. At this stage, possession of nuclear weapons is the only possible response to specific external threats to the Russian Federation. The West provoked the Ukrainian crisis and switched over to an openly anti-Russian course. Under these conditions, further significant reduction of his country’s nuclear arsenal would sharply weaken its national security.
He said that the United States’ deployment in Europe of nuclear weapons is a serious concern. Continued development of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nuclear-sharing forces Moscow to take compensatory measures. The Russian Federation adheres to the central limits provided for by the New START and notifies the United States of upcoming intercontinental ballistic-missile and submarine-launched ballistic-missile launches. It also observes a unilateral moratorium on the deployment of ground-based intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. But, these measures are under serious pressure, owing to the United States’ active preparations for the deployment of such weapons in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Moscow ratified the CTBT in 2000 and patiently waited for Washington, D.C., to take a similar step. However, all patience comes to an end. The Russian Federation is preparing a bill to withdraw ratification of the CTBT to balance its status under the Treaty with the United States. This move does not mean that Moscow intends to resume nuclear testing. President Vladimir V. Putin has stated that it will not be the first to conduct nuclear tests. Absolutely unrealistic are the calls for the immediate launch of nuclear arms control negotiations against these backdrops.
TIÉMOKO MORIKO (Côte d'Ivoire), expressing concern about the current trajectory marked by geopolitical tensions and an increased risk of nuclear escalation, called on Member States’ genuine participation and demonstration of good will to achieve the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. He urged nuclear-weapon States to uphold their obligations in terms of transparency and provide negative security assurances to non-nuclear weapon States. Côte d'Ivoire supports the CTBT and the resolution on its effective implementation by annex II States. While waiting for its entry into force, he urged Member States to observe a voluntary moratorium on all forms of nuclear tests, including laboratory tests. He further advocated for a treaty prohibiting the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones worldwide, and increased consideration of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria) condemned the terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel and the violence against its innocent citizens. She voiced concern about the Russian Federation’s suspension of its participation in the New START Treaty and called upon it to return to its compliance with the Treaty and to prove its commitment to the 2022 Joint Statement on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races. The announced intention of the Russian Federation to revoke its ratification of the CTBT is another concerning development, she said. As the invasion of the Russian Federation in Ukraine hinders IAEA safeguards and raises nuclear-accident threat, Bulgaria, as a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, condemns dangerous behaviour of the Russian Federation and urges Director General’s safety measures.
JAROSLAV ŠTĚPÁNEK (Czech Republic) expressed frustration over the slow progress in nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation’s behaviour over the past two decades, culminating in the full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, does not allow countries in Europe to feel safe. The non-European countries should consider the impact of Moscow’s aggression from this angle, as well. The negative consequences on the prospect of nuclear disarmament are enormous and will be long-lasting. He regretted the Kremlin’s purported suspension of the New START Treaty. In addition, the Russian Federation’s Duma announced its intention to revoke its ratification of the CTBT. If pursued, it would be “yet another step in the wrong direction” in the disarmament domain, which is already under enormous strain. Prague fully supports the IAEA safeguards system. The Agency should continue to focus on mandated activities. He is not comfortable with the demands of some delegations to put the “AUKUS project” more prominently on the Agency’s agenda. He supported, however, the Agency’s expert assessment on the discharge of the “ALPS-treated” water from Fukushima Power Station.
CARLOS EFRAÍN SEGURA ARAGÓN (El Salvador) reaffirmed that nuclear-weapon-free zones are integral to the international disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. He also reaffirmed the need to fulfil commitments made at previous NPT Review Conferences, while promoting a balanced and joint approach to the Treaty’s three pillars. The only guarantee of the non-use of nuclear weapons is their complete and irreversible elimination, without preconditions or further delay. Moreover, he underscored the transformative potential of women in peace and security agendas and his country’s commitment to their equal, full and effective participation in disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. Likewise, the participation of civil society, non-governmental organizations, academia and industry is valuable to achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
RAFIQ ALAM (Bangladesh) noting that the ultimate guarantee of security lies in the total elimination of nuclear weapons, urged Member States to ratify the TPNW. He reiterated the urgent need for systematic, progressive, verifiable, irreversible and time-bound nuclear disarmament in line with the spirit of the NPT’s article VI. He called on the nuclear-weapon States to demonstrate their genuine political will to enable the eleventh NPT Review Conference to produce a sustainable outcome to strengthen the NPT regime. It is crucial to preserve the inherent rights of all nations to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful objectives, he said, underscoring the importance of these rights for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Also imperative in this regard is adherence to IAEA standards. He reiterated his country’s support for the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of nuclear and all other mass destruction weapons.
PAPA SAMBA DIACK (Senegal) said that the work of the Committee is happening amid cascading crises that reveal the limits of the international community to preserve international peace and security, promote economic and social development, and ensure respect for human rights. All States, especially the nuclear-weapon States, must refrain from undermining common efforts to preserve peace and security. He called for the universalization of nuclear-weapon-free zones and reiterated its commitment to the Treaty of Pelindaba. It is necessary to revitalize nuclear disarmament bodies and shake them out of their chronic lethargy, he said, citing the repeated failures of the NPT Review Conferences and the Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of the NPT. Equally worrying is the paralysis of the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission, as well as the inaction in the First Committee.
MATÍAS ANDRÉS EUSTATHIOU DE LOS SANTOS (Uruguay) reiterated the Secretary-General’s recent statement that nuclear-weapon States must lead the way towards disarmament and the elimination of nuclear weapons immediately. These States must fulfill their unequivocal obligations under the NPT to eliminate their arsenals. That Treaty does not enshrine any State’s right to indefinite possession of nuclear weapons since “nuclear-weapon States” under the Treaty was to be a transitional status. In a world with more than 12,000 nuclear warheads that constitute an unacceptable threat to the future of humankind, transparency and trust are needed more than ever before. He urged outstanding States to ratify the CTBT and accede to the TPNW without delay.
GIDEON KINUTHIA (Kenya)said that the existence of nuclear weapons, the threats to deploy them, the transfer of their technology and fissile materials continue to threaten and overshadow peace and security globally. “Disarmament commitments cannot be optional,” he said, stressing that nuclear-weapon States must “abandon the false promise of nuclear deterrence and halt the arms race”. Urging Member States to cultivate trust, political will and commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation, he said that strengthening the implementation of the NPT, CTBT and TPNW is essential in this regard. Kenya, a State party to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty), recognizes regional zones as building blocks towards a safer world, and he encouraged efforts to establish more such zones. At the same time, Kenya respects states’ right to peaceful nuclear technology, but emphasizes adherence to IAEA safeguards.
ANATOLII ZLENKO (Ukraine) said that, earlier this year, the Russian Federation declared its readiness to conduct a nuclear-weapon test, followed by suspension of its participation in the New START Treaty, as well as the announcement of the deployment of its non-strategic nuclear weapons in Belarus. Most recently, Moscow has announced its intention to reconsider its ratification of the CTBT. Its actions and statements are contrary to the joint statement of the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon States on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races, issued on 3 January 2022. The Kremlin is ready to undermine the entire nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, as well as the international security system.
He said that the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine has far-reaching consequences that extend way beyond the breach of international law and violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of his country. Responsible nations must not fall into Moscow’s nuclear sabre-rattling. They must consolidate their joint and decisive actions to ensure reliable deterrence and prevent further erosion of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture by the Kremlin. He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and any other weapons of mass destruction, as well as its ballistic missiles and related programmes. The issue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action still depends on Iran’s compliance with the accord’s obligations.
SUNG HOON KIM (Republic of Korea) called on the “P5” to fully implement last year’s Leaders Statement committing to article VI of the NPT, and he urged the Russian Federation to resume full implementation of the New START Treaty without delay. Noting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “decades-long obsession” with nuclear and missile programmes and its unprecedented level of provocations, he noted that it launched more 100 missiles since last year. He urged the international community’s unified and resolute responses against proliferators. His country and the United States have provided numerous security assurances, and there is no legitimate justification for these illegal attempts to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. He strongly urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and related programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, as well as to fully comply with Security Council resolutions and to return to dialogue.
LINDA KESSE ANTWI (Ghana) warned that the world faces significant nuclear concerns, with around 12,500 nuclear warheads in existence, marked by modernization, development of new delivery systems and dangerous rhetoric intensifying a precarious global situation. Nuclear-weapon States must uphold their disarmament obligations under the NPT and transparently eliminate their nuclear arsenals. Despite the setbacks of past NPT Review Conferences, Member States must show political determination in the upcoming NPT Preparatory Committee sessions and aim for a successful 2026 NPT Review Conference. “Non-proliferation policies should never undermine the inalienable right of States to access nuclear material and technology for peaceful purposes,” she said, emphasizing that a ban on the production of fissile materials is imperative. “The proposed Treaty must address fissile materials already produced and stockpiled while limiting future production of fissile materials,” she said.
OGASAWARA ICHIRO (Japan) said the path towards a world without nuclear weapons is becoming harder, given serious challenges to the international security environment, including the series of destabilizing and escalatory rhetoric and acts by the Russian Federation, as well as China’s accelerating build-up of its nuclear arsenal without transparency or meaningful dialogue. Maintaining and strengthening the NPT is in the interest of the entire international community. Tokyo will continue to advance realistic and practical efforts in line with the Hiroshima Action Plan announced last year. Within this approach, Japan prioritizes both qualitative capping, by comprehensively banning nuclear testing, and quantitative capping, by banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. The instruments that realize most effectively this qualitative and quantitative capping are respectively the CTBT and a fissile material cut-off treaty.
PATRICK DUFFY (Ireland), noting that the Committee meets at a time of nuclear danger, emphasized that nuclear weapons are an existential problem that demands cooperative and multilateral solutions. He strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s nuclear threats in its war of aggression against Ukraine and called on Moscow to reverse its announced deployment of weapons to Belarus and to resume full implementation of New START Treaty. Moreover, the Russian Federation’s illegal seizure and occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has created unacceptable risks. It must be returned to Ukrainian control, he said. He also urged States developing civilian nuclear programmes to amend or rescind their Small Quantities Protocol and to sign and ratify the Additional Protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement as a priority.
MANUEL JESÚS DEL ROSARIO VELA (Spain) expressed deep concern over the challenges facing the nuclear non-proliferation regime, emphasizing the nuclear rhetoric and actions by the Russian Federation during the Ukraine crisis. Despite challenges, there is a clear international commitment to strengthening the NPT, with Spain supporting initiatives like the TPNW, the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and the moratorium on fissile-material production. He called for Iran to fully comply with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and to cooperate with IAEA, while also urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with all relevant UN resolutions. He welcomed the proposed establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and emphasized the importance of the CTBT’s entry into force, calling on Annex 2 States to ratify it. On the gender perspective in the nuclear field, he supported the egalitarian participation and leadership of men and women in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
TAWFIC OURO-TAGBA (Togo) said that the only absolute guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is the total elimination of nuclear weapons and a legally binding assurance that they will never again be produced. The disarmament and non-proliferation community must renew the practice of consensus to ensure that the forthcoming NPT Review Conference does not end in failure, as was the case with the previous two conferences. He called on nuclear-weapon States to fully comply with the NPT. On the issue of fissile material, he supported a ban on its production for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices. As a party to the Treaty of Pelindaba, Togo reaffirms the central role of nuclear-weapon-free zones in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, he said.
JULIEN THÖNI (Switzerland), noting nuclear weapons as an existential threat to humankind, stated that the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine has been accompanied by nuclear threats and incendiary rhetoric. That country has threatened to use nuclear weapons and has been placing them in Belarussian territory. In this context, norms against nuclear weapons use must be strengthened and their importance in military and security policy doctrines needs to be reduced. In addition, nuclear-weapon States must place the most significant possible limits on their use in their doctrines. Noting the links between new nuclear weapons and emerging technology, such as the integration of artificial intelligence into command-and-control structures, he expressed support for practical measures to reduce nuclear threats and keep communication channels open. On this, he urged nuclear-weapon States to reach agreements on concrete measures.
MOHAMMAD GHORBANPOUR (Iran) said that deteriorating international security requires complete unconditional nuclear disarmament by nuclear-weapon States. The only safeguard against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is their complete, irreversible and verifiable elimination in accordance with article VI of the NPT, he said. In this vein, he said that United States, United Kingdom and NATO as a nuclear military alliance are the main culprits for weakening and even preventing any progress towards nuclear disarmament. Noting that Iran initiated the idea of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, he expressed serious concerns about Israel’s military nuclear programme. He further demanded a strong international response to recent statements by the Prime Minister of Israel in the General Assembly advocating for a “credible nuclear threat against Iran”. Emphasizing its unwavering commitment to cooperating with the IAEA, he said that Iran has been “a victim of sabotage in its peaceful nuclear industry”.
MICHAL MAAYAN (Israel) said that the foundations of arms control and non-proliferation continue to be challenged by certain States. A general lack of commitment and continued non-compliance undermine the bedrock upon which international security is built. Israel supports global efforts on nuclear non-proliferation and contributes to nuclear safety and security, including within the frameworks of IAEA and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. Israel is a member of a global initiative to combat nuclear terrorism and a member of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and its 2005 amendment. Her country also endorses the IAEA code of conduct on radioactive sources and values the NPT. Nonetheless, any non-proliferation regime is only as effective as the level of compliance. Unfortunately, the NPT does not provide a remedy for the unique security challenges in the Middle East, let alone repeated violations by some Member States. Four of the five serious violations took place in the Middle East since the Treaty’s entry into force, she said.
For decades, Iran has been advancing its nuclear military programme and now possesses a large quantity of highly enriched uranium materials, she said. Iran uses negotiations only to buy time to pursue that path. The international community should demand that Iran comply with its IAEA obligations. The recent attacks by Hamas have demonstrated the destruction that Iran’s proxies can cause, should they be shielded under Iranian nuclear umbrella, she said. In 2011, the IAEA Board of Governors found that Syria was not in compliance with its safeguard agreement, she added. That country’s undeclared and uninspected nuclear reactors remain worrisome. She went on to say that efforts to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East must be pursued based on the will of all States in the region. Conferences on establishing such a zone are unhelpful. The Middle East continues to struggle with instability, deep-rooted hatred, terror, violence and rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Israel must protect its people by itself, she said, adding that it has no intention to entrust its national security to global arrangements, which in the region’s reality constitute more of a basis for violation than anything else.
JARMO VIINANEN (Finland) said that reaching a world free of nuclear weapons requires verifiable and irreversible steps by nuclear-weapon States, but the Russian Federation’s threats of nuclear use against Ukraine undermine efforts in this arena. On a positive note, the eleventh NPT review cycle got off to a good start, with the nearly unanimous support for the need to increase transparency and accountability on previous commitments. This holds a great promise, he stated. However, the Russian Federation is developing and deploying new and destabilizing nuclear weapons, and contemplating a return to nuclear testing by moving to revoke its ratification of the CTBT. It is also destabilizing European security by deploying nuclear arms in Belarus, he said, emphasizing that that is not behaviour of a responsible nuclear Power. He went on to caution against China’s rapid expansion and diversification of its nuclear arsenal and encouraged Beijing to be more responsive and transparent on the matter.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) underscored that negative security assurances are vital and in the legitimate interests of all non-nuclear-weapon States. She reiterated appeals to start the negotiation leading to the adoption of a universal, legally binding instrument on such assurances as soon as possible. Obligations to reduce nuclear arsenals must go hand in hand with measures to reduce and eliminate risks related to their use. Moreover, while unilateral moratoriums by nuclear-weapon States are valuable, they are not optimal when a multilateral treaty already exists. She urged outstanding States to sign and ratify the CTBT, especially Annex II States. It is also crucial to revitalize the Conference on Disarmament in order to make progress on fissile material and negative security assurances.
VICTORIA LIETA LIOLOCHA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that total global military spending reached a record high in 2022. “This money could have gone quite a way toward curbing social inequality, addressing poverty and hunger, improving education quality, [and] making the environment cleaner,” she added. While nuclear-weapon States are “dragging their feet” on achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, artificial intelligence is in “full swing”. New research shows that technological developments, notably offensive cyber capabilities, could cause confusion and reduce decision-making time, thus increasing the risk of the accidental use of nuclear weapons. The effects will not be confined to national borders, but would have profound repercussions on all States, and no humanitarian response will be adequate. For its part, Democratic Republic of the Congo has ratified the NPT and the TPNW and urges other States to do so as well.
AIDAN LIDDLE (United Kingdom) said that, as a nuclear-weapon State, his country has made a significant contribution to the reductions in the global stockpile of nuclear weapons. It has de-targeted and de-alerted nuclear weapons. It is the only nuclear-weapon State to operate a single delivery system. Some States are significantly increasing and diversifying their nuclear arsenals. Also, some are investing in novel nuclear technology and developing new “warfighting” nuclear systems. The Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues to cast a dark shadow over international disarmament negotiations. The nuclear programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran are deeply concerning.
He stressed the need to focus on the pragmatic and necessary steps required to pave the way for disarmament in the future, including work on transparency, verification and irreversibility. London plays an active role in verification research, through its national programme, the Quad Nuclear Verification Partnership and global initiatives such as the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification. Only gradual multilateral disarmament, negotiated within the framework of the NPT, will lead to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom remains deeply committed to the NPT’s implementation in all its aspects.
THI THANH HAI TRAN (Viet Nam) emphasized that nuclear-weapon States must shoulder greater responsibility and redouble efforts to totally eliminate these destructive weapons. She called for legally binding negative security assurances and new mechanisms to promote strategic arms reduction among nuclear-weapon States. Additionally, Member States — especially nuclear-weapon States — need to fully implement their respective NPT obligations, which should be complemented by the likewise crucial CTBT and TPNW. Her country continues to call for the CTBT’s universalization and early entry into force, through the accession of remaining Annex II States. An early start to negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty should also be addressed.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand) expressed disappointment with the NPT Review Conferences’ inability to produce substantive outcomes in recent cycles. Similarly, the CTBT has yet to fulfil its “noble purpose”, pending the signing and ratifying by the remaining Annex II States. Thailand looks forward to the second meeting of TPNW States parties next month and encourages collaboration. He stressed the need to promote complementarity between nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation initiatives. Thailand will continue to support the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in all regions, including in the Middle East, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned. As the Depository State and State party to the Treaty on the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (Bangkok Treaty), Thailand is fully committed to its full implementation and Plan of Action, he added.
AHMET ERMAN ÇETIN (Türkiye) said that his country remains fully committed to the NPT’s objectives and full implementation under its three pillars, as well as its further strengthening and universalization. He called on those outside the NPT to accede to it without conditions. Ankara supports a systematic, progressive, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament that considers the strategic environment and is based on the principle of undiminished security for all. As a member of the “Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative”, his country welcomes the efforts for strengthening the NPT review process. It was unfortunate that the working group on strengthening the process, at its meeting last July, could not agree on concrete recommendations. Promoting universal adherence to and the entry into force of the CTBT is a key priority. He expressed concern about the reports on the Russian Federation’s intention to revoke its ratification.
KIM IN CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the nuclear disarmament regime is on the brink of collapse as international peace and security face unprecedented challenges, due to persistent arms build-up and “nuclear criminal acts” by the United States. The country invests heavily every year in its nuclear arms industry and has recently resumed large-scale plutonium production and expanded nuclear-test sites. The United States has distanced itself from implementing the New START Treaty and is inciting an arms race by enforcing a nuclear submarine project with Australia and the United Kingdom. Around the Korean peninsula, it dispatched a nuclear submarine for the first time in 42 years and established a “Nuclear Consultative Group” with the Republic of Korea, intensifying a nuclear alliance and provoking a nuclear war against his country.
He thus described his country’s self-defensive nuclear deterrent as the exercise of a legitimate sovereign right to prevent nuclear war, safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and safely control and manage the Korean peninsula’s situation. As long as the imperialists’ “tyrannical nuclear weapons” exist, he said, “we will neither change nor surrender” the country’s status as a nuclear-weapon State, but instead continue to strengthen its nuclear force. Genuine peace and stability are inconceivable as long as an “aggressive and hegemonic entity” foments war while violating the security environment of sovereign States. The international community should condemn Washington’s unlawful and illegal acts and threats to use nuclear weapons and proliferate nuclear technology.
ANOUPARB VONGNORKEO (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said his delegation was encouraged by the recent positive developments under the framework of the TPNW. Its entry into force in 2021 and the successful convening of its first Meeting of States Parties in June 2022 has laid a solid foundation for successful implementation. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic strongly believes that both the TPNW and NPT are complementary and collectively play a significant role in realizing a shared objective of a world free of nuclear weapons. The NPT, in particular, remains the cornerstone of global nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic promotes the peaceful use of nuclear energy in economic and social development and appreciates IAEA for its continued assistance in that endeavour. He also reaffirms his delegation’s commitment to strengthening cooperation with the Agency, especially through the implementation of the 2019 Practical Arrangements on Cooperation.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) said that the detonation of one or more nuclear weapons causes mass death and injury. Women and girls are at a much higher risk of developing cancer than men. They are the ones who will give birth to children with drastic malformations. Faced with this reality that many still refuse to accept, 67 countries issued a Joint Declaration on Gender, Diversity, and Inclusion during the tenth NPT Review Conference. The Declaration underscores the importance of women’s complete, equal, and adequate participation in all aspects of the Treaty. There is an apparent disparity in the level and number of women compared to men in disarmament, non-proliferation, and arms control negotiations and processes. According to the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), women constituted barely one third of delegates to both the NPT and the TPNW processes, and only 37 per cent to the First Committee in 2022.
GIEDRĖ GELEŽEVIČIENĖ (Lithuania) warned that the Russian Federation maintains its unlawful seizure of the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia. By destroying the Nova Kakhovka Dam, which is a supplier of water for cooling reactors, Moscow has posed another direct threat to the power plant. All of this occurs in the context of an illegal war of aggression by a nuclear-weapon State against a non-nuclear-weapon State. The Russian Federation threatens to use nuclear weapons and expresses intentions to station its nuclear weapons in a neighbouring country. The announced deployment of Russian Federation nuclear weapons in Belarus is inconsistent with the commitment of the latter in the Budapest Memorandum. She called for strong commitment to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, and on all States to respect their obligations.
KEDIR GETAHUN (Ethiopia) called for renewed and strengthened efforts to resolve the current impasse in achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all aspects. His country firmly believes that continued multilateral negotiations are vital to curb nuclear proliferation, and he underscores the vital role of the Conference on Disarmament in negotiating these agreements. He also seeks greater flexibility for it to begin its substantive work without further delay. As a party to the NPT, CTBT, and Pelindaba Treaty, Ethiopia is committed to a world free of nuclear weapons.
LEONARDO BENCINI (Italy) said that nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to humanity, and they must be eliminated. “A final goal must be that of a peaceful and secure world completely free of nuclear weapons,” he added. Italy continues to call upon the nuclear-weapon States with the largest arsenals to take concrete steps towards effective nuclear disarmament through further reductions. It is incumbent upon all NPT States parties to commit to a successful eleventh Review Conference after the failure of the two previous reviews to adopt a final document. The NPT, with its three mutually reinforcing pillars, remains the cornerstone of the international regime. He urges the Russian Federation to irrevocably cease its nuclear rhetoric and threats and revoke its decision to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus. He urges Iran to return without delay to diplomacy and expresses deep concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea repeated ballistic missile launches.
TAMÁS TALPAI (Hungary) said that it is important to recognize that there is no shortcut to nuclear disarmament. It requires an incremental approach involving gradual and concrete steps that can yield tangible results. The focus should be on identifying those areas where there is common ground and consensus, including among nuclear-weapon States. One of those steps is the long overdue entry into force of the CTBT. The next logical step would be a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices. Another essential element of the incremental approach is the development of effective and reliable verification and monitoring mechanisms.
THOMAS FETZ (Canada) said a small minority of States are straining the global architecture, thereby underpinning efforts on nuclear disarmament. China is flagrantly amassing more nuclear weapons, while rejecting a voluntary moratorium on fissile material production for nuclear weapons. The Russian Federation continues its reckless nuclear sabre-rattling amid its war of aggression against Ukraine, and he is also deeply concerned that it may revoke its CTBT membership and resume nuclear testing. He also is concerned about Iran’s expanding nuclear programme. In addition, he condemns the unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic-missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, along with their stated intent to enhance and prioritize nuclear weapons.
He strongly supports the Working Group on Strengthening the Review Process of the NPT and urges Member States to respect the will of a broad cross-regional majority, which has affirmed the importance of transparency and accountability from nuclear-weapon States. A treaty on fissile material for nuclear weapons is indispensable, and he calls on all states to commence overdue negotiations. The recent pronouncement by the Russian Federation to withdraw its ratification from the CTBT undermines and the Treaty’s objective. This stands in contrast with the recent Article 14 Conference, which reiterated, with the participation of the Russian Federation, a commitment to the Treaty. Until this Treaty enters into force, all States must establish voluntary moratoriums on all nuclear testing.
KHALID AL-IBRAHEEM (Saudi Arabia) urged the Conference on Disarmament to overcome its impasse by drawing up a global, balanced action plan and accepting new members that will broaden the negotiation process and help universalize international treaties and conventions. He also called for the implementation of article VI of the NPT to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Dialogue must be prioritized to build trust and settle all disputes. Veritable political will and action that harness existing legal and ethical frameworks and treaties will help achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world. Developing these weapons will inevitably produce an environment allowing wars to erupt and military blocs to emerge. Instead of pursuing an arms race, the priority now must be to achieve development and strengthen capacities to establish peace and security.
EMIOLA AJAYI (Nigeria) said that Africa has long acknowledged the existential threat nuclear weapons pose to human existence. By collectively adopting the Pelindaba Treaty, the continent prohibited the acquisition of nuclear weapons for military purposes and declared Africa a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Nigeria calls on all Member States, especially nuclear-weapon States, to renew their efforts on the implementation of agreed commitments in achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. “While we remain resolute in our support for the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime, we are also mindful of the beneficial uses of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and re-affirm the alienable right of all States to use nuclear technologies for their developmental aspirations,” she said. This must be consistent, however, with the relevant articles of the NPT, as well as the statute of IAEA.
WU JIANJIAN (China) said that the global security landscape is undergoing the most profound changes since the cold war, and he called for true multilateralism and the rejection of bloc confrontation. Nuclear disarmament should maintain global strategic stability and undiminished security for all. In this regard, he stressed the importance of a gradual reduction. The countries with the largest nuclear arsenals should fulfil their special responsibility. Nuclear weapons must not be used, and nuclear war must never be fought.
He expressed his country’s support for the strategic reduction of nuclear weapons based on the joint declaration of January 2022 by the “P5” nuclear-weapon States, and calls for reducing the role of those weapons in national and collective security doctrines. He urged other nuclear-weapon States to join China’s no-first-use policy and to conclude mutual no-first-use treaties. He rejects the idea of extended deterrence and of replicating “nuclear-sharing” in the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing’s nuclear strategy and policy are highly stable, consistent, predictable and transparent, setting it apart from that of the other nuclear-weapon States. He, therefore, rejects accusations against his country.
BRUCE TURNER (United States) reiterated that the fundamental role of the United States’ nuclear weapons is to deter attack and defend the vital interests of his country, its allies and its partners. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. All nuclear-weapon States must act according to that principle. As long as these weapons exist, the United States will demonstrate and promote responsible behaviour, particularly regarding transparency and accountability. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation is “shredding” long-standing arms control agreements and considering withdrawal from the CTBT, which he urged Moscow not to pursue. It is also pursuing arms transfers with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in violation of Security Council resolutions that it has approved. However, he said, the United States remains ready to engage and work constructively on a pathway back to fully implement New START, on risk reduction, and on a post-2026 nuclear arms control framework.
His country also seeks a mutually beneficial bilateral discussion with China to promote strategic stability and reduce tensions regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, with the goal of the Korean Peninsula’s complete denuclearization. China, however, has remained reluctant to engage substantively on risk reduction, transparency or broader arms-control measures — either bilaterally or multilaterally. Furthermore, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued violations of Security Council resolutions and reckless pursuit of unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic-missile programmes are particularly concerning. The United States is willing to engage in all these dialogues without preconditions, but not without accountability, he said.
ANUPAM RAY (India) said that a multilateral, universal and legally binding agreement will generate necessary political will among States possessing nuclear weapons to engage in negotiations, leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. “We stand ready to work with all countries to achieve this objective,” he added. India strongly supports upholding and strengthening global non-proliferation objectives. “We believe that the international community must do all it can to prevent terrorists and non-State actors from gaining access to nuclear weapons materials and technologies,” he said. Turning to recent events in the Middle East, he said that “India's position with regard to Palestine is well established and well known”. That has not changed. India has always adhered to the laws of war and expects others to do the same. His country stands in solidarity with the Government and the people of Israel at this difficult hour. The international community has a responsibility to confront terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, he added.
PIOTR DZWONEK (Poland) stressed the need to face the current security circumstances and strive for a world without nuclear weapons through pragmatic, effective, verifiable and irreversible step-by-step disarmament approach. In this regard, Poland’s legitimate security concerns, like the deployment of Russian Federation’s tactical nuclear arsenal on Belarus, should be seriously addressed. He also spotlighted the role of the export-control regimes outside the UN system. There is a need to address the future of the arms control global system. This should be followed by wider application of the provisions of the New START Treaty, including those concerning all types of non-strategic weapons and emerging forms of nuclear weapons. China could be involved in these efforts. Expected revocation of Moscow’s CTBT ratification confirms its desire to destroy the global security architecture. The recent deployment of Russian Federation tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus is more evidence of its deliberate and cynical strategy to undermine the NPT and the non-proliferation regime overall, he said.
JØRN OSMUNDSEN (Norway) condemned the Russian Federation’s ongoing illegal and unprovoked war in Ukraine and its nuclear rhetoric. Statements about withdrawing the CTBT ratification only add to this and are deeply worrying. Plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus create additional risks and instability. A comparison to the NATO’s nuclear sharing is misleading. NATO complies with all international agreements. He called on Russia to resume implementation of the New START Treaty and for it, together with China, to engage in a substantial strategic dialogue, including on risk reduction, with the aim of cuts in all categories of nuclear weapons. The Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the military activity in the area could lead to a nuclear incident with potential catastrophic global consequences. He commended IAEA’s efforts to ensure nuclear safety and security in Ukraine.
IVENS MANUEL FRANCISCO GUSMĂO DE SOUSA (Timor-Leste) said nuclear weapons continue to pose an existential threat despite efforts to build norms and legal rules to prohibit them. He noted the adoption by the States parties to the TPNW of the Vienna Declaration during its first meeting in 2022. The NPT review process is among the main instruments for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. With the entry into force of the TPNW, the two regimes can reinforce nuclear disarmament efforts. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to pursue a world free of nuclear testing. He stressed the importance of dialogue to create confidence among States, and he urged all to recommit to the pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons and to reinforce non-proliferation through adherence to the highest nuclear safeguard standards.
INDIRA GOHIWAR ARYAL (Nepal) expressed concern over heightened geopolitical tensions that are fuelling the arms race. In an era when the world grapples with poverty, hunger and climate change, the allocation of vast resources to advancing nuclear weapons is perplexing. New technology and artificial intelligence amplifies this vulnerable position. Security can only be ensured through the complete disarmament of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons. Nuclear weapons are not useful deterrents, but instead cause security dilemma among nuclear-weapon States, she said. They have no place in the national security doctrine of any country. The use or threat of use of a nuclear weapon is not only illegal but immoral. Their total elimination is the only guarantee against it. The NPT’s vitality and efficacy are vital to our shared objectives, she concluded.
KADIM OUSSEIN (Comoros), describing nuclear deterrence as a false security promise based on the threat of using these weapons of mass destruction, urged all States to reject this dangerous doctrine. He condemned any threat or use of nuclear weapons and encouraged nuclear-weapon States to resolutely commit to disarm. He also called on States hosting foreign nuclear weapons on their territory to cease to do so, as the risks and costs for humankind are too great. Moreover, he urged all States to sign and ratify the TPNW and non-signatory States to attend the next meeting of States parties in November as observers. Staggering sums invested in nuclear projects could instead be allocated toward more important causes able to unite humankind, rather than divide it and threaten its existence.
FLÁVIO SOARES DAMICO (Brazil) said that nuclear weapons are openly used to threaten and to intimidate. Security cannot, and should not, be summarized as the possession of nuclear weapons. Yet, not enough is being done. Twenty-three drafts on the topic were tabled, reflecting a scenario of fragmentation and patterns of voting that remain frozen in time. If the NPT is the cornerstone of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime, it should not be allowed to be eroded. Nuclear-weapon States have been falling behind in their obligations, both with respect to the NPT’s article VI and other commitments. The entry into force of the TPNW early in 2021 provided fresh impetus. By plugging a hole prohibiting the use of the most egregious form of weapons of mass destruction, the TPNW is complementary to, and fully compatible with, the NPT, he said.
CHRISTIAN CIOBANU (Kiribati), also speaking on behalf of Kazakhstan, said both States have experienced the devastating impact of nuclear testing. “The tests caused both physical harm and mental harm, including post-traumatic stress disorders, and ,other forms of trauma as well as the disruption of cultural practices and displacement — on a long-term or permanent basis — of communities,” he said. “We have been calling for the international community to take action towards addressing the dark history of nuclear testing,” he added. The First Committee must not only look forward to providing safety and security for all, but also look back on the legacy of harm to address the consequences of nuclear weapons and the needs of States that have impacted by their use or testing. A new draft, tabled by the two delegations, encourages international cooperation to assess and remediate environments contaminated by the use of or testing of nuclear weapons.
TATIANA BÁRBARA MUÑOZ PONCE (Bolivia) said that nuclear weapons are the most inhumane weapons ever conceived, as their deadly impact lasts for decades. They are the only weapons invented with the capacity to destroy life on the planet. As long as they still exist, they will one day be used, either by accident, miscalculation or deliberately. There are still countries that argue that nuclear weapons are an indispensable and legitimate guarantor of their own security. More than 50 years after the NPT’s entry into force, uneven progress has been made in its implementation, as evidenced by the failure to comply with article VI. Non-ratification of the CTBT leaves the window open the possibility of further tests. The TPNW complements other international instruments on nuclear weapons, in particular the NPT and the CTBT. It also addresses such areas as victim assistance and consequent environmental restoration.
VIVIAN OKEKE of the International Atomic Energy Agency outlined the Agency’s vital contributions to international peace and security, including through verification. As the amount of nuclear material under IAEA safeguards continues to increase, the Agency must continue to strengthen the effectiveness of its safeguards. She reiterated the IAEA Director General’s call on the four remaining NPT States parties without comprehensive safeguards agreements to bring them into force without delay, and for States that have not concluded additional protocols to do so as soon as possible. She also affirmed that nuclear energy is safer than ever before and than almost any other energy source. In closing, she highlighted the real, invisible barriers to women’s participation, which are hurting everyone when the sector especially faces shortages of skilled professionals.
JOSÉ ROSEMBERG of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said the Russian Federation has announced it is considering revoking its ratification, something that is concerning and very unfortunate. However, regardless of that decision, the CTBTO and its extensive network of supporters is not changing course, but remains undeterred in the collective goal of achieving the Treaty’s entry into force. The work has never been more important than it is right now, he said, expressing confidence that it will not be long before we have more than the current 178 ratifying States. The universalization of the Treaty and its operation is a collective effort, he added.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Russian Federation rejected “all the baseless accusations” against his delegation, adding that Western delegations have continued to persist in their delusions. He responded to several accusations against the Russian Federation regarding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is on Russian territory and “under our jurisdiction”. Ukraine has continued to commit criminal acts against the power plant, which threaten its security and risk a technogenic disaster with radioactive emissions. Ukraine’s indiscriminate attacks would be “impossible” without the constant political cover afforded by Western countries. “This is precisely what is encouraging Ukraine to have the false sense of its own impunity and to engage in evermore reckless undertakings,” he added. The Russian Federation will continue to take all necessary action to ensure the security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The representative of China, in right of reply, said that the United States, Canada, Finland and Japan repeatedly distorted China’s nuclear policy. Their rhetoric is driven by ulterior motives. China’s policy was already explained in the general and thematic debates. The United States should look at itself, instead of leveling allegations against his country. On a fissile material cut-off treaty, the Conference on Disarmament is the sole and appropriate forum. On moratorium, it has no clear definition, and it is not verifiable, and it can undermine momentum to negotiate such a treaty. On nuclear risks, a no-first-use policy, which China employs, is the most effective means to reduce risks, he said.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in right of reply, rejected the United States’ statement as a “persistent attempt to distort” the nature of the Korean Peninsula issue. The United States already announced a national policy of physically removing his country, he said, and has been ratcheting up nuclear war threats to the worst level in history. His country will respond to the intentional, undisguised escalatory actions of the United States and other hostile forces and will make immediate, resolute countermeasures in an overwhelming and offensive manner. He also rejected the United States’ allegation of arms dealings with the Russian Federation as a politically motivated disinformation campaign to tarnish his country’s image. Instead of “absurdly claiming” non-existent arms dealings, the United States must stop supplying lethal arms to Ukraine that cause bloodshed and prolong the war.
The representative of Syria, in right of reply, said the accusations from Israel about a lack of compliance were baseless and a desperate attempt to hide Israel’s programmes and arsenals. The reality in the region is clear: Israel is the only party in the Middle East that possesses an arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, he said, adding that Israel refuses to adhere to conventions and treatises. It flies in the face of regional and international will to make the Middle East free of nuclear weapons. It must not be allowed to hand out lessons to anyone when it comes to international obligations.
The representative of the Iran said he wished to address the fictitious allegations made by the representative of the Israeli regime against his country, firmly rejecting those baseless allegations. Nothing can distract from this regime's horrific track record of wars, acts of aggression against neighbouring countries, invasions, unlawful occupation of Palestine and parts of Syria and Lebanon, inhumane blockade and bombardment of Gaza, illegal settlements, construction of a wall and repeated violations of UN resolutions including Security Council resolutions. “This regime must be held accountable for all its atrocities and flagrant violations of international humanitarian law through its history,” he stressed. Moreover, the Israeli regime refuses to join legally binding international agreements and obstructs efforts to establish a nuclear weapons-free-zone in the Middle East. “I must also highlight the ongoing threats by this regime against my country,” he added.
Further, he noted that it is essential to acknowledge the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and its broad approach to imposing sanctions on Iran. He categorically rejected allegations levied by the delegate of France last week under this agenda item and condemned France for its non-compliance with article II of the NPT for its role in assisting the Israeli regime to acquire nuclear weapons, and also article VI of the Treaty, according to which France has a clear obligation to nuclear disarmament.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, in right of reply, said there should not be confusion about cause and effect. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unlawful growing nuclear and missile threats are the very reason for his country’s strengthening of the combined defence and deterrence. It’s not the other way around. He also warned against Pyongyang’s “cherry-picking” of the principles of the UN Charter.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, stated that the Russian Federation is solely responsible for putting the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities at grave risk, with its aggression potentially endangering Ukraine’s neighbouring States and other countries. He called again for the Russian Federation to immediately cease all military operations, withdraw its troops and military equipment from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and hand it back to its rightful owner: Ukraine.
The representative of Ukraine stressed that the decree of the Russian Federation’s President on the illegal transfer of ownership of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to the Russian Federation grossly violates international law. The Russian Federation uses Zaporizhzhia as a de facto springboard for the Russian Federation army, he said, adding that Russian Federation shelling has led to a number of blackouts at the power station, posing a grave risk, not just to Ukraine, but the entire region. The only way to prevent a nuclear accident at the plant is for the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops and return the plant to full control of Ukraine, he said.
The representative of the Israel said that, over the past week, she had heard some try to excuse and even justify the murder of more than 1,400 innocent civilians. Nothing can justify terrorist organization Hamas’ 7 October crime. Not recognizing the right of Israel to exist is a blatant call for genocide; not recognizing the right of Israel to exist is blatant antisemitism. Civilian deaths in Gaza are the sole responsibility of terrorist organization Hamas, who uses them as human shields. Hamas regularly hides in schools, hospitals and UN installations. Israel will continue to protect civilian lives as much as can be expected when fighting a war against a terrorist organization such as Hamas. “If you cannot understand the difference between the 7 October massacre in Israel perpetrated by Hamas and the unfortunate and unintended death of people who are being used as human shields by terrorists, then you are morally lost,” she said. In this room are representatives of regimes who have used chemical weapons against their own people; who are working tirelessly to build nuclear weapons in their so-called unrelenting mission towards “our annihilation”; who do not deem it necessary to condemn the massacre, rape and kidnapping of so many innocent civilians, she said.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in right of reply, said that his counterpart from the Republic of Korea was speaking for the United States because it has no sovereignty. The presence of 30,000-strong American troops in the Republic of Korea and Seoul’s surrender of wartime operations to the United States are testament to that. Those two countries have staged a largest-ever drill. This is not defensive in nature. Washington, D.C., has also activated a mechanism for nuclear attacks against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea according to its war scenario. His country’s national security posture is to cope with the United States and its followers who are institutionalizing nuclear attacks against his country. Make no mistake. Security Council resolutions against his country violate the Charter principles, such as sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, he said. Pyongyang, therefore, will not abide by those texts.
The representative of the Russian Federation, in right of reply, rejected the “baseless accusations” from the European Union and Ukraine. They seek to hide their own involvement in sparking the crisis in Ukraine. He reiterated that his country has “shouldered its international commitment to ensure the protection” of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in an absolutely responsible fashion in full accordance with our international obligations”. His country makes every effort to protect the power plant and IAEA experts present to assess the state of affairs on the ground, he said.
The representative of Iran said representatives of the Israeli regime continue to disseminate false accusations. No falsehoods or rhetoric can exonerate them from obeying international law and facing justice for the continued atrocities against the Palestinians in Gaza. More than 3,000 civilians have been killed, over a third of them children, he said, adding that occupation is the gravest form of terrorism and should continue to be condemned. The Israeli regime has been working tirelessly to disseminate false stories to justify the brutality and savagery towards Palestinians in Gaza, he said.