Seventy-eighth Session,
26th Meeting (AM)

First Committee Forwards Three Draft Resolutions on Weapons of Mass Destruction to General Assembly for Adoption, Speakers Explain Votes on Nuclear Weapons

The General Assembly would reaffirm its condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances, according to a draft resolution approved today by the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), as it continued to take action on 61 draft resolutions and decisions before it.

By the terms of one of three draft resolutions on weapons of mass destruction approved today, the Assembly would express its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for chemical weapons use must be held accountable.  In particular, it would condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon against Alexei Navalny in the Russian Federation and chemical weapons use since 2012 in Iraq, Malaysia, Syria and the United Kingdom. 

The Committee approved the wide-ranging draft resolution by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 7 against (China, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Syria, Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 18 abstentions.

Prior to approving the text as a whole, the Committee took eight separate recorded votes on provisions in both its preambular and operative portions.  It retained a paragraph re-emphasizing unequivocal support for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to continue establishing facts surrounding allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria.

Among several related provisions requiring votes, the Assembly would express grave concern that, despite the verified destruction of all 27 chemical weapons production facilities declared by Syria, the OPCW Technical Secretariat, as recently reported by the Director General in September, assesses that Syria has submitted a declaration that still cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved two more draft resolutions on mass destruction weapons.  The first calls on all Member States to support international efforts and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.  The second would have the Assembly note that the ninth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention decided to establish a Working Group open to all States parties to develop measures, including possible legally binding ones, and to make recommendations to strengthen the Convention in all its aspects.

Also today, the Committee heard explanations of vote from 31 countries following action Friday evening on 21 draft resolutions concerning nuclear weapons.  Those required 78 separate recorded votes for passage.

The Committee then began action on drafts on the disarmament aspects of outer space, turning first to explanations of vote by seven countries before the voting.  The voting process, including explanations after the vote, is due to take place tomorrow. 

At the conclusion of the meeting, several delegations — Japan, Syria, the Russian Federation and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — exercised their right of reply.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 31 October, to continue action on draft resolutions in the outer space cluster.

Explanations of Vote, Nuclear Weapons

The representative of Colombia, explaining its positive vote on “L.30” (document A/C.1/78/L.30) titled “Steps to building a common road map towards a world without nuclear weapons”, supported the resolution as a whole with the goal of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.  The idea that nuclear weapons are a deterrent is a fallacy.  No General Assembly resolution has the status or legal force to change the provisions of binding instruments, so this resolution cannot be interpreted or applied at the expense of legal provisions established in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or agreed during its review conferences.  The legal obligation of general and complete disarmament does not admit any conditionality.  Colombia abstained on preambular paragraphs 3 and 10 because the Treaty’s obligations and associated commitments remain valid without any preconditions.  The safeguards for the Treaty’s integrity are based on compliance with all its pillars. 

The representative of India said that his country abstained on operative paragraphs 5 and 6 of L.30, as it does not support calls for a moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices. India voted against operative paragraph 7 as it does not recognize obligations outside its safeguard agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and also abstained on the draft on addressing the legacy of nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/78/L.52). 

The representative of New Zealand abstained on “L.30”.  Despite improvement over last year’s text, several aspects raised by her country were not addressed.  She was concerned, for instance, over a reference to irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, which suggests there is such thing as responsible nuclear rhetoric.  Moreover, the text should contain stronger language to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again.  Although she supported the draft on a treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons (document A/C.1/78/L.12), she favoured inclusion of both stockpiles and production in any such treaty.  She abstained on provisions with conditionality, but said that outstanding issues should be resolved during negotiations rather than before. 

The representative of Mexico, stressing the importance of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons through effective multilateralism, said his delegation agrees with the objectives of “L.30” and commended Japan for seeking paths of convergence on this draft. However, he regretted that it omits concrete steps for nuclear disarmament and is focused on risk reduction measures.  Certain paragraphs weaken prior agreements, he said, adding that operative paragraph 2 does not explicitly refer to negative security guarantees, and opens doors for guarantees of military alliances at the expense of nuclear-weapon-free zones.  Turning to “L.12”, he expressed regret that the Conference on Disarmament has not fulfilled its mandate for decades, and stressed the need to make progress on the matter. 

The representative of the Russian Federation, explaining its positive vote on “L.45” (document A/C.1/78/L.45) titled “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty” (CTBT), said that, despite possible revocation of ratification, his country will remain within its legal framework and continue participation in the Treaty Organization’s Preparatory Commission.  While the Treaty was designed to become another bastion of non-proliferation in line with the NPT, this has not happened 27 years after it was opened for signing.  His country ratified the Treaty in 2000 and will shoulder its commitments.  It also will continue observing its voluntary commitment to a testing moratorium adopted more than 30 years ago. 

He said his country’s possible withdrawal of ratification is connected to calls for many years upon Annex II States, primarily the United States, to implement all necessary procedures for the Treaty’s entry into force.  However, those calls have been met with no positive reaction.  If States put the same enthusiasm into criticizing those with unfulfilled obligations under Annex II as they put into condemning his country, then the Russian Federation would not have to consider revocation.  Recent steps certainly do not mean his country is changing its stance on the Treaty, as it continues to believe the Treaty is an important instrument to strengthening international security.

The representative of France said that her country abstained on “L.30” due to fact that the draft references the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).  Her country does not consider that Treaty, mentioned in preambular paragraph 18, as complementary or compatible with the NPT.  In a reference in preambular paragraph 19, she said that for nuclear disarmament to be realistic, strategic contexts cannot be ignored. France could not support “L.52”. Paris acknowledges its obligations for compensating for victims of French nuclear testing and increased financial and human resources to that end.  The text, however, does not acknowledge ongoing bilateral and national efforts.   

The representative of Indonesia supported the draft on a treaty banning fissile material for nuclear weapons, “L.12” as a whole.  He underscored the commitment to advance such negotiations.  Any moratorium declared by nuclear-weapon States cannot serve as a substitute for the urgency of such a treaty.  She abstained on “L.30”, expressing regret that it still maintains qualifiers on nuclear disarmament.  This is not acceptable, she stressed, noting that the text is still far from Indonesia’s expectations for ambitious, comprehensive and targeted actions towards a world without nuclear weapons.

The representative of Iran, expressing gratitude to those countries that supported his delegation’s amendment on “L.12”, said that given its defeat, there was no option other than a negative vote on that draft.  The primary sponsor of that draft proposal should be advised not to present results in an unprofessional manner.  His delegation voted in favor of “L.1” because of its positive elements, promoting respect for international obligations and urging nuclear-weapon States to cooperate.  Further, his country voted in favor of “L.2”, he said, adding that the Israeli regime is the source of nuclear proliferation in the region.  It abstained on “L.31” because of its selective approach to disarmament. 

The representative of Egypt, explaining its abstentions on “L.12” on a fissile material ban (document A/C.1/78/L.12), agreed with the resolution’s overarching objective but said that existing fissile material stockpiles are already more than sufficient to arm nuclear weapons that far exceed existing arsenals. Egypt joined the international community in 2000 calling for negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally verifiable treaty to ban fissile material for nuclear weapons.  Such a treaty must encompass existing stockpiles, and not solely future production, in order to be balanced, effective and credible.  The NPT’s indefinite extension in 1995 should not be interpreted as an open-ended license for nuclear-weapon States to maintain their arsenals. 

On operative paragraph 1 of “L.12”, he regretted that a positive vision of the paragraph was later removed and, therefore, voted in favour of the proposed amendment.  Operative paragraph 2 also lacked explicit reference to conducting negotiations within the Conference on Disarmament.  On operative paragraph 3, he noted the departure from the completely rejected term “States possessing nuclear weapons” and its severe deviation from the NPT’s principles and objectives.  He sought further precision that clearly addresses nuclear-weapon States and all States that have yet to join the NPT, as they do not subject their nuclear facilities and activities to IAEA safeguards.  On operative paragraph 4, the formulation remains vague and not clearly defined in terms of participating States and the role of the UN and its officials.

Explaining its positive vote on “L.45”, on the CTBT (document A/C.1/78/L.45), Egypt strongly believes in the Treaty as a key legal instrument that provides concrete measures for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  While he supported the Treaty’s entry into force and universalization, it is important not to miss the bigger picture about the responsibilities of different States. The 2010 NPT Review Conference’s outcome document, particularly Action 10, underlined that all nuclear-weapon States undertake to ratify the CTBT with all expediency as well as their special responsibility to encourage remaining Annex II countries to sign and ratify it.  Since “L.45” did not reflect this fundamental premise and capture the crucial distinction about the responsibility of nuclear-weapon States and the strategic and contractual imbalance in regions like the Middle East, Egypt abstained on operative paragraphs 1 and 6.

The representative of Singapore said that her country abstained on “L.24”.  Singapore is a strong supporter of concrete and meaningful progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, which is essential to strengthening international peace and security.  There are multiple pathways to a world free of nuclear weapons.  Singapore’s concerns were not fully addressed when the TPNW was adopted.  That Treaty should not in any way affect the rights and obligations of States parties under other treaties and agreements, including the NPT, the CTBT, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as treaties establishing regional nuclear-weapon-free zones. 

The representative of Israel, speaking on “L.1”, noted that consensus is up to the actions of the Arab Group, alone.  Although Israel attaches high importance to the non-proliferation regime, the NPT does not provide a remedy to the unique security challenges of the Middle East.  Israel voted against “L.2”, which is an unfortunate attempt to divert the Committee’s attention from the real proliferation challenges facing the region. Turning to “L.12”, he questioned the relevance of such a treaty.  On “L.24”, Israel opposed the resolution, he said, recalling that it did not participate in negotiating the TPNW. 

The representative of Marshall Islands stressed the importance of “L.52”, highlighting her country’s legacy as a nuclear testing site.  Victim assistance for nuclear testing is crucial, she said, pointing to the impact of testing on her country’s health, land and lives.  In 1954 and 1956, Marshallese leaders petitioned the UN to stop the nuclear tests and were told at that time that no permanent displacement would occur, and that attention would be given to claims for damage. Seven decades later, this question is still unresolved.  At the same time, she welcomed Member States’ engagement on the resolution, but stressed that it is no substitute for addressing her country’s claims. Far more effort is needed to adequately and meaningfully address its nuclear test legacy, she stressed. 

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining its negative votes on “L.33” titled “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments” (document A/C.1/78/L.33) and “L.45” on the CTBT, said the resolutions seriously distort the nature of the Korean Peninsula’s issue.  The Peninsula has not gotten out of the aggravating situation’s vicious cycle due to the United States’ persistent, hostile policy featuring joint military exercises and nuclear threats and blackmail.  His country’s nuclear force ensures its security and accurately reflects threats from outside hostile forces and the ever-changing global geopolitical structure.  It is the most outrageous and illegitimate act of interference in internal affairs to try imposing the complete, verifiable  and irreversible denuclearization of his country.  It is tantamount to forcing his country to abandon its sacred national law.  The failure of full and complete nuclear disarmament entirely lies with the United States, as the first user and largest arsenal owner.  The United States abandons its obligations and dares to move ahead with proliferation of non-nuclear States for its geopolitical purposes, while pursuing modernization of its weapons.

The representative of Canada, speaking also for Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Türkiye, said that the group abstained on the draft resolution on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons “L.23”, due to language incompatible with the security arrangement of these countries.  But that does not mean disregard for the humanitarian consequences of these weapons.

The representative of Argentina abstained on “L.24”, which makes a strong appeal to sign and ratify the TPNW.  Although his country is committed to disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons, it has not signed the treaty. Any future instrument should avoid duplication and strengthen the regime whose central element is the NPT. Argentina voted in favour of “L.30” as a whole, despite abstaining on certain paragraphs.  It is important to have a balanced text that allows for the broadest possible consensus, he stressed.

The representative of Thailand, stressing the importance of the resolutions in cluster 1, said that her delegation voted in favour of all because it believes in a multitrack approach that can bring the international community to its goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. She expressed support for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones and noted her delegation’s co-sponsorship of “L.47” on the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (document A/C.1/78/L.47), as well as on the new daft “L.52” on addressing the legacy of nuclear weapons.  It is essential to raise awareness about the humanitarian aspects of nuclear weapons.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, explaining its positive vote on “L.30”, affirmed the resolution’s reflection of key recent developments of the security environment in a balanced and appropriate manner, while presenting practical steps forward.  He strongly supported the insertion of new text confirming that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea cannot and will never have status as a nuclear-weapon State under the NPT.  This is a clear testament of the international community’s unified voice against the country’s unjustifiable attempt to claim itself as such.

Explaining his country’s positive vote on “L.52”, he reiterated its long-standing position that references to victims of nuclear weapons should be phrased in a more general manner to account for the entirety of survivors’ experiences, regardless of origin or nationality.  A significant number of Koreans were also among the victims of atomic bombing.

The representative of Japan said his country voted against “L.24” on the TPNW.  As the only country that suffered nuclear bombing, Japan shares the goal of the total elimination of those weapons.  The TPNW could be regarded as the final passage to a world without them.  But to change the reality, engagement of nuclear-weapon States is necessary.  All, both nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon States, must join forces and focus on realistic and practical measures.  Japan voted for “L.23” on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  Based on its first-hand experience with those consequences, Tokyo has made efforts to raise awareness on this issue.

The representative of Brazil supported “L.12”, stressing that the issue should be kept high on the disarmament agenda.  He recalled that his country tabled document CD/1888 proposing a framework treaty on fissile material to be composed by two protocols — one on stockpiles and another on future production.  He abstained on “L.30”, although his country shares Japan’s final aspirations to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.  Some formulations continue to convey interpretations and freeze formulations that “do not hold water” outside of the context in which they were adopted.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the language in “L.52” is incompatible with his country’s position on the legacy of its nuclear tests.  However, paying tribute to the veterans and civilians from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Kiribati, as well as to the indigenous populations affected by the United Kingdom’s nuclear testing programme, he said his country signed the CTBT in 1996 and called for its entry into force. 

The representative of the United States, speaking also on behalf of France and the United Kingdom, explained their abstentions on operative paragraph 5 of “L.50” titled “Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas”.  He maintained that such statements or anticipated statements are fully compatible with the Protocol’s object and purpose and are fully consistent with the objectives and principles of such zones.

Explaining the United States’ negative vote on “L.2” titled “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East”  (document A/C.1/78/L.2), he said the resolution ignores serious nuclear proliferation and compliance challenges in the region.  Syria has not complied with its IAEA safeguards agreement under the NPT for more than a decade and continues to rebuff outreach from the Agency’s Director General.  Iran’s continued lack of cooperation with the Agency has once again prevented it from being able to confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement or to provide assurance that its nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful.  The United States cannot support a resolution that purports to address proliferation risks but is silent about these important, ongoing regional security and compliance concerns.

On “L.52”, the United States, while abstaining on the resolution as a whole, continues to seek ways to focus on areas of common interest. His country has long recognized the effects of its nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands and has accepted and acted on its responsibility to Marshallese citizens through the long-standing, full and final settlement reached in 1986.  The United States also continues to support the CTBT.

Although the United States supports preambular paragraph 7, he clarified that moratoriums on nuclear explosive testing are unilateral political commitments by individual States and that no single multilateral testing moratorium exists.  His country voted against operative paragraph 1 because the word “further” failed to account for the fact that harm from certain testing programmes — such as the American nuclear testing programme in the Marshall Islands — has been fully and finally settled by international agreement.  The United States voted against operative paragraph 3 due to concern that it may imply a State’s responsibility for all harm that could result from a nuclear-weapon detonation, no matter the circumstances or potential defences.  His country understands that any determination of responsibility from nuclear-weapon use or testing would be subjected to rules of international law.

The representative of Spain, speaking for the European Union, said that the Union’s member States have supported the draft resolution on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  The Union reiterates its full support for the NPT, which has laid the foundation for establishing nuclear-free zones around the world as well as the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.  It remains a strategic priority of the Union to support peace and stability in the entire Middle East.

The representative of Costa Rica voted in favour of “L.30”, which should guide the international community towards complete, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament.  Costa Rica values all initiatives that allow progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons.  Recognizing the efforts undertaken to address past concerns, she remains concerned that the resolution maintains concepts in favour of conditional language regarding nuclear disarmament, such as text saying that nuclear-weapon-free zones should be created “where appropriate”.

The representative of Switzerland explained his position on several votes, including his support for “L.52”.  Its position is unchanged and reflects the importance of full implementation of NPT commitments, as well as the value of establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.  He regrets, however, resolutions on the topic which continue to single out one State.  His delegation abstained “L.17” on follow-up to nuclear disarmament obligations agreed at the 1995, 2000 and 2010 NPT Review Conferences (document A/C.1/78/L.17) and referred to previous explanations of position.  On “L.30”, he expressed appreciation for Japan’s efforts, adding that although Switzerland voted “yes” on the text, it remains concerned about the wording of certain ambiguous paragraphs.

The representative of the Netherlands, speaking also on behalf of Belgium, Canada and Norway, explained their abstentions on “L.8” titled “Follow-up to the 2013 high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament” (document A/C.1/78/L.8).  He regretted that various proposals from the 2013 high-level meeting were not reflected in the resolution.  While the NPT is the foundation of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, the resolution does not acknowledge the central role of the Treaty and its review cycle.  Since the text does not reflect these concerns, the group does not believe a UN high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament, to be convened at a date decided later, sets the right mandate for negotiations on effective disarmament measures.

The representative of Pakistan said that his country supports “L.2” but voted against preambular paragraphs 5 and 6 due to a reference to the NPT’s universality.  Pakistan is not a party to the Treaty and, thus, is not bound to the conclusions and recommendations of its review conferences.  For the same reason, it abstained on “L.17”.  It voted against “L.24” due to the shortcomings of the TPNW.  Pakistan did not participate in those negotiations.  On “L.21”, his country abstained from preambular paragraph 18 and operative paragraph 2.  It also abstained on “L.30”, “L. 33”, “L.52” and “L.57”, but voted in favour of “L.45”.

The representative of Ireland said the delegation abstained on “L.30” since several of its concerns remain unaddressed and key priorities are not reflected in the text. While welcoming risk reduction measures, he reiterated that they will never be a substitute for nuclear disarmament. Ireland rejects the notion that some nuclear rhetoric or threats could be deemed responsible and condemns the Russian Federation’s nuclear threats in its war of aggression against Ukraine. Ireland also cannot accept any implications where conditionality applies to disarmament obligations.  Still, he commended the texts support to equal, full and effective participation and leadership of women and men. 

The representative of China, explaining its position on numerous texts, including “L.12”, said his delegation voted against it because it does not reflect the long-standing consensus that the Conference on Disarmament is the venue for negotiations on a fissile material ban and implies that negotiations could start “from scratch” elsewhere.  China also voted against “L.24”, saying that the nuclear disarmament process advocated in the text is “divorced from the reality” of international security and goes against the principle of maintaining global strategic stability.  On “L.30”, his delegation participated constructively in the consultations and expressed its concerns over nuclear transparency visits to nuclear sites, as well as regarding the nuclear issue in the Korean Peninsula.  The wording of the text was not objective or balanced, and so he voted against it. 

The representative of Austria said the delegation voted in favour of “L.12” as a whole but abstained on operative paragraph 4 because his country does not agree with limiting transparency and confidence-building measures only to States possessing or producing relevant fissile material.  Since the issue concerns the security of “all of us”, this should be open and transparent to all States.  Austria also has justified doubts that the Conference on Disarmament will suddenly awaken from its decades-long slumber and actually take up its work. Continuing to deal with a fissile material cut-off treaty only in the Conference’s framework promises yet another year of no progress.

The representative of Cuba said that her country abstained on “L.12” as the text does not demand anything about the life cycle of fissile material.  It would be another selective instrument.  Cuba regrets that the amendment to operative paragraph 1 proposed by Iran was not adopted.  She also expressed disappointment that the Conference on Disarmament, as the only multilateral forum to negotiate legally binding agreements, has not been able to begin negotiations on any treaties over the past 26 years.

The representative of Syria voted in favour of “L.1.” based on the belief in peace and security in Middle East.  Syria was one of the first countries to call for freeing the region from weapons of mass destruction.  To that end, it submitted a draft resolution to the Security Council in 2003.  The vast support of the international community to “L.1”, as well as to “L.2”, demonstrates that Israel is “out” of any international consensus.  The real threat lies in its possession of nuclear weapons and, to divert attention, its delegate is spreading false allegations in the Committee.  Israel would never continue its aggressive nuclear armament programme without the United States’ safety umbrella, and he condemned such practice. 

General Statements, Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland), introducing the draft resolution on “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/78/L.14), said that the Convention remains a unique instrument created to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction and thereby free the world from their scourge.  Calling on the international community to send a clear signal of support for the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), he expressed support for investigating all instances of the use chemical weapons and of ensuring that there is no impunity for those who resort to them.  The resolution has greatly contributed to international peace and security, but due to the political polarization of positions, it has lost its conceptual character.  His delegation tried to preserve the agreed language where possible, he said, adding that the changes proposed this year are factual and non-controversial. 

SZABOLCS SVERCSOK (Hungary) clarified that, due to recent changes in his country’s Constitution and policy, his delegation interprets all gender-related language in the resolutions, regardless of their forms, as applicable to women and men, boys and girls and to their equal participation.

Action, Other Weapons of Mass Destruction

The representative of Egypt, speaking in the explanation of position before the votes, said that his country will abstain on “L.14” on the CWC (document A/C.1/78/L.14) as a whole, as well as on all paragraphs subjected to separate recorded votes. For several years, his country supported this resolution based on its firm support for the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction.  However, he was disappointed that the text continues to disregard efforts towards establishing a Middle East zone free of those weapons.  He was also disappointed at the imbalance in the text between promoting the universality of the CWC and Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), on the one hand, and the NPT on the other.  A lack of cooperation by a single State continues to stand in the way of the region’s collective will. 

The representative of Iran voted against “L.14” despite his country’s strong support for this unique multilateral instrument.  While it is essential to preserve the Treaty’s effectiveness and its implementing institution, the text is being used for political ends, highlighting controversial issues and deepening divisions among States parties.  Condemning a State party that has extended unprecedented cooperation in destroying its chemical stockpiles is unacceptable.  To revive a consensual resolution, Iran and other member States offered a constructive proposal and consensual language.  Nevertheless, this was not considered.

The representative of Syria also opposed “L.14”, concerned that the resolution is politicized. Syria hoped that sponsors would change the text and refer to the country as an example that dismantled its chemical programme as well as reflect its continued cooperation with the OPCW. Unfortunately, the sponsors insisted — for the ninth time — to push it to the extreme and make it far from a balanced text, despite the concern and rejection by many.  The resolution is in violation of the Convention and imposes new legal commitments on States parties, she stressed, calling upon delegates to vote against the politicized paragraphs to bring the draft to its consensual and balanced nature. 

The representative of Cuba, explaining their position on “L.14” said her delegation abstained because the text ignores the progress made by Syria.  The pending technical issues must be resolved on the basis of established procedures and without politicizing the issue, she said, also rejecting the way the text singles out one State party to the Convention.  Emphasizing that the First Committee is not mandated to take decisions on reports presented to the Council, she called on the international community to ensure the full implementation of the Convention and the irreversible elimination of all chemical weapons.

Following an announcement by the Chair that “L.51/Rev.1” on radiological weapons would be postponed, the Committee began taking action on three drafts under the “other weapons of mass destruction” cluster.

It turned to the draft resolution titled “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/78/L.14).

By the text, the General Assembly would condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances as a violation of international law.  It would express its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of those weapons must and should be held accountable. 

It would condemn in the strongest possible terms: the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon against Alexei Navalny in the Russian Federation, and the use of chemical weapons since 2012 in Iraq, Malaysia, Syria and the United Kingdom.  The Assembly would urge all States parties to the Convention to meet in full and on time their obligations and to support the OPCW in its implementation activities.

Separate recorded votes were requested on preambular paragraph 6 and operative paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 21, as well as on the draft as a whole.

Preambular paragraph 6 would have the Assembly re-emphasize its unequivocal support for the OPCW Director General’s decision to continue the mission to establish the facts surrounding allegations of chemical weapons use for hostile purposes in Syria, while stressing that the safety and security of mission personnel remains the top priority.

The Committee retained preambular paragraph 6 by a recorded vote of 111 in favour to 8 against (Belarus, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 40 abstentions.

Operative paragraph 2 would have the Assembly condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon against Alexei Navalny in the Russian Federation and note with grave concern the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s note on 6 October 2020 on activities carried out to support Germany’s request for technical assistance.

The Committee retained operative paragraph 2 by a recorded vote of 86 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 63 abstentions.

Operative paragraph 3 would have the Assembly condemn in the strongest possible terms that chemical weapons have since 2012 been used in Iraq, Malaysia, Syria and the United Kingdom, including as reported by the OPCW and the UN’s Joint Investigative Mechanism and by the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team.

The Committee retained operative paragraph 3 by a recorded vote of 105 in favour to 11 against, with 43 abstentions.

Operative paragraph 4 would have the Assembly take note with grave concern of the OPCW fact-finding mission’s reports regarding alleged incidents in Ltamenah, Saraqib, Duma, Marea and Kafr Zayta, Syria, which concluded reasonable grounds to believe that a toxic chemical or a vesicant chemical substance from 1.A.04 scheduled chemicals under the Convention had been used as a weapon.

The Committee retained operative paragraph 4 by a recorded vote of 106 in favour to 11 against, with 41 abstentions.

Operative paragraph 5 would have the Assembly take note of the OPCW fact-finding mission’s report of 28 June 2023, which concluded that information obtained and analysed did not provide reasonable grounds to determine that chemicals were used as a weapon in reported incidents in Kharbit Massasneh, Syria on 7 July and 4 August 2017.

The Committee retained operative paragraph 5 by a recorded vote of 106 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 43 abstentions.

Operative paragraph 6 would have the Assembly recall the adoption of decision C-SS-4/DEC.3 entitled “Addressing the threat from chemical weapons use” and decisions EC-94/DEC.2 and C-25/DEC.9 entitled “Addressing the possession and use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Republic”.  The Assembly would stress the importance of their implementation and express concern with conclusions in the OPCW Director General’s report of 14 October 2020 on the implementation of decision EC-94/DEC.2.

The Committee retained operative paragraph 6 by a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 46 abstentions.

Operative paragraph 7 would have the Assembly also recall decision C-26/DEC.10 of the Conference of the States Parties, entitled “Understanding regarding the aerosolised use of central nervous system-acting chemicals for law enforcement purposes”.

The Committee retained operative paragraph 7 by a recorded vote of 113 in favour to 7 against (Belarus, China, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 39 abstentions.

Operative paragraph 21 would have the Assembly express grave concern that, despite the verified destruction of all 27 chemical weapons production facilities declared by Syria, the Technical Secretariat assesses that Syria has submitted a declaration that still cannot be considered accurate and complete.  The Assembly would also underscore the importance of full verification.

The Committee retained operative paragraph 21 by a recorded vote of 99 in favour to 9 against (Belarus, China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), with 50 abstentions.

It then approved “L.14” as a whole by a recorded vote of 154 in favour to 7 against (China, Iran, Mali, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria, Zimbabwe), with 18 abstentions.

Next, acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft resolutions titled “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destructions” (document A/C.1/78/L.36) and “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/78/L.59).

Explanation of Vote

On a point of order, the representative of Egypt asked if he should withhold his explanation of vote on a draft that was deferred to a later stage.  The Chair said that he will be provided an opportunity to do so when the draft was voted. 

The representative of Israel said that his country voted for “L.14”.  He expressed grave concern, however, that since 2014, there have been hundreds of cases where chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime against its people.  He stressed the need to address Syria’s non-compliance with the CWC.  He also sounded an alarm on the Iranian regime’s move to use chemicals for offensive purposes and to arm its affiliated terrorist groups with such weapons of mass destruction.  Israel signed the CWC in 1993 and is a party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

The representative of China voted against “L.14” as a whole, expressing concern over the polarization and politicization of the work of the OPCW.  Despite the completed destruction of the stockpiling of chemical weapons worldwide, the destruction of such weapons abandoned by Japan on the territory of China still lags behind, with the deadline repeatedly extended. On the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, he noted that the procedures and methodology of investigation and identification are not in line with the Convention and its verification annex. The draft failed to fully take on board the concerns and adhere to the principles of objectivity, balance and comprehensiveness, he said. 

The representative of the United States, speaking on behalf of 35 countries, said “L.14” accurately reflects the objectives and goals of the CWC as well as key developments of the past year.  It notes that although that Convention’s fifth Review Conference did not achieve consensus on a final document, most issues received very broad support.  The threat of a continued use of chemical weapons is real and continues to grow, he said, adding that the text provides a factual accounting of those weapons’ repeated use.  It is not politicization to state facts, he said, calling on Syria to resolve the discrepancies in its CWC declaration as a critical step towards elimination of its chemical weapons.  Further, the Russian Federation must explain its use of chemical weapons, including nerve gas, he said.

The representative of Türkiye, explaining its positive vote on “L.14”, condemned in the strongest terms chemical weapons use that has reemerged, particularly the case of Syria. The impartiality, objectivity and professionalism of OPCW’s Technical Secretariat is highly commendable and contributes to collective endeavours towards accountability.  However, Türkiye is concerned that the efforts of the Technical Secretariat and investigative bodies have not been reciprocated by the Syrian regime.  He called on the regime to comply with its obligations under the CWC.  He also cautioned against efforts to discredit the OPCW’s investigations, as that would undermine the global norm against chemical weapons use.

The representative of Malaysia, concerning “L.14”, expressed concern about the re-emergence of chemical attacks.  He noted that the OPCW was given a mandate to investigate them, and it, therefore, should be protected against politicization.  His country abstained on operative paragraphs 2, 3, 6 and 21, but voted for the draft as a whole.

The representative of India, expressing support for “L.14”, said any use of chemical weapons is reprehensible and contrary to the provisions of the CWC.  Upholding the integrity of that Convention is crucial, he said, noting that this resolution’s consensus nature has been affected in recent times because of the inclusion of controversial issues. 

The representative of Nicaragua voted against all operative paragraphs in “L.14”, rejecting selective and politically motivated approaches.  This pertains, in particular, to the Convention’s implementation as well as mechanisms and procedures that exceed the mandate.  He hoped that the authors will heed the concerns and focus on the Treaty’s non-politicized implementation. 

Right of Reply

The representative of Japan, in right of reply to “misleading statements” by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, stated that his country has adhered to its constitutional precept of maintaining the exclusively defensive nature of its national defence policy.  He reiterated that “so-called nuclear sharing” is not allowed in Japan because the Government adheres to three non-nuclear principles, which do not permit the introduction of a nuclear weapon.  His Government has no intention to ever discuss nuclear sharing. Regarding Japan’s discharge of Advanced Liquid Processing System-treated water into the sea, he reiterated that the IAEA has confirmed and publicly stated the level of tritium in the discharged water is below standards.  Its concentration level is around one seventh of World Health Organization drinking water standards after dilution.

The representative of Syria, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, rejected allegations levelled against her country by the representatives of the United States, Türkiye and Israel.  The Israeli entity is in no position to give lessons on internationally binding obligations.  It is the only party in the region that owns a huge arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.  It refuses to accede to the relevant conventions and to put its stockpiles under international review or supervision.  It opposes the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.  Their hypocrisy is clear to all.  They cannot hide the crimes against the Palestinian people.  The United States and Türkiye seek to cover up their illegitimate presence in Syria and their support for terrorist forces in Syria.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed concern about the politicization of the OPCW, adding that Western countries are “hushing up facts inconvenient to them”.  Rejecting the insinuations about his country’s supposed involvement in the use of nerve agents, he said those scenarios were invented.  It is all part of a propaganda campaign, he said, adding that London has continued to evade a substantive joint investigation into the incident concerning a Russian citizen in that country.  Berlin, London, Paris and Stockholm have been unable to or are more likely afraid to provide any coherent explanation for the questions that his country has posed, he added.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that Japan’s expansion of military force has reached an uncontrollable phase.  The Japanese archipelago turned into a base for United States’ war of aggression.  He warned that Japan is now pushing ahead with deployment of missiles capable of directly striking his country and other neighbours.  Japan’s reckless moves can get the Korean Peninsula and region into the disaster of war, seriously threatening the world’s peace and security.  He urged Japan to “once and for all” stop the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water.

For information media. Not an official record.