Tuesday, 23/10/2018 | 9:36 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • China, Arab States drawing up blueprint for Belt and Road Cooperation in New Era

    NNA – The eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF) will be held in Beijing tomorrow. It will be attended by Kuwait Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, representatives from the other 21 Arab countries, and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, and Chinese President Xi Jinping will address the opening ceremony.

    This meeting will be another important event in China-Arab relations following President Xi’s participation in the sixth CASCF ministerial meeting in 2014 and his visits to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Arab League headquarters in 2016.

    At the meeting, China and Arab states are expected to have in-depth discussions on how to jointly advance the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and strengthen overall cooperation with a view to drawing up a blueprint for China-Arab relations in the new era.

    According to State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Yi, China and Arab countries share a long history of exemplary interactions. The past 2,000 years have witnessed uninterrupted exchanges between the Chinese and Arab peoples through land and sea links, which facilitated mutual learning between two great civilisations. Since the mid-20th century, we have supported each other in our respective struggles for national independence and development, writing a new chapter of friendship and cooperation. The inception of the CASCF in 2004 has further upgraded China-Arab relations, by adding a new driver in addition to the bilateral channels, and has thus accelerated the growth of China-Arab cooperation across the board.

    As President Xi aptly puts it, “China and Arab countries, who are natural partners in Belt and Road cooperation, need to follow the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, and seek greater synergy in our respective pursuits of national renewal. The visionary guidance and commitment coming from our leaders have lent a fresh impetus to relations.”

    The last four years have seen multiple highlights in the fruitful exchanges and cooperation between China and Arab states, with a special focus on Belt and Road cooperation.

    Over the past four years, we have maintained frequent high-level exchanges, including President Xi’s successful visits to the Middle East and the visits to China by the heads of state of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Palestine. Such exchanges have contributed to deepening political trust and kept bilateral ties running at a high level. China has established or upgraded its strategic relations with 11 Arab countries. It has supported Arab countries in exploring their own paths of development, and Palestine in restoring the lawful rights of its people. Arab countries, on their part, have given China valuable support on issues concerning its core and major interests.

    The scope of our results-oriented business cooperation and people-to-people exchanges has kept growing to cover a wide range of areas, including satellite launch and cotton production. The CASCF institution building has made significant progress. The effective operation of over ten mechanisms, including the ministerial meeting, the senior officials’ meeting, the entrepreneurs conference, and the energy cooperation conference, has fuelled our Belt and Road cooperation in various respects.

    Over the past four years, we have worked in concert to cement the “1+2+3” cooperation framework featuring one focus (energy cooperation), two priority areas (infrastructure and trade and investment facilitation), and three high-tech sectors for breakthroughs (nuclear energy, aviation satellite and new energy). Sustained efforts have been made to advance the “four action plans”, namely cooperation in four major fields of promoting stability, identifying new forms of cooperation, conducting production capacity cooperation, and deepening friendship.

    Our pursuit of greater complementarity between development strategies has resulted in new progress in China-Arab cooperation. China has signed Belt and Road cooperation MOUs with nine Arab states and production capacity cooperation agreements with five Arab states. Both the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank have invested in Arab countries. In 2017, China-Arab trade approached $200 billion (Dh734 billion), up by 11.9 per cent year-on-year, and direct Chinese investment in Arab countries reached $1.26 billion, an increase of 9.3 per cent.

    Over the past four years, we have added new dimensions to our cooperation in the traditional areas of energy, infrastructure and trade. The Hassyan clean coal power plant in Dubai, equipped with the world-leading ultra-supercritical technology, and the Attarat power plant in Jordan, a dream come true of oil shale power generation, have taken China-Arab power cooperation to a new level. Several large infrastructure projects are well underway, including Phase II of the Khalifa Port in the UAE and the train project in the 10th of Ramadan City of Egypt. They are expected to make the development of Arab countries better connected. Moreover, the cluster effect of the China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone is being felt. Our cooperation has continued to upgrade and deepen through innovation. We have inaugurated a Technology Transfer Centre, and held a successful Beidou Cooperation Forum. China has helped Algeria put its first communications satellite into orbit, setting an example for such cooperation between China and Arab states. The China-Arab States Research Centre on Reform and Development and the China-Arab States Forum on Reform and Development, two platforms for experience sharing in governance, reform and development, have been warmly received by Arab countries.

    Over the past four years, we have added more substances to our mutually beneficial cooperation in home-grown development, social progress and personnel exchanges, delivering tangible benefits to our peoples. China has drawn up plans to provide assistance to Palestine and humanitarian assistance to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya and Yemen, as was announced by President Xi. It has trained over 6,000 people of different professions for Arab countries.

    While encouraging competitive production capacity to go global, China has helped Arab countries build up capacity for home-grown development in light of their need for economic diversification in the Middle East. In this process, China has paid special attention to helping Arab countries improve their people’s lives, which is essential for the local economy. For instance, a Chinese enterprise opened China’s first overseas fibreglass production base in the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, creating over 2,000 local jobs and making Egypt the largest fibreglass producer in Africa and third largest producer in the world.

    Arab countries, for their part, have facilitated visits of Chinese nationals to the region. Today, nine Arab countries give visa-free or visa-upon-landing treatment to Chinese nationals, and 150 passenger flights and 45 cargo flights are run between China and Arab countries every week. As a result, the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in the region is soaring year by year. In the opposite direction, Arabian specialities of premium quality, including long-staple cotton from Egypt, olive oil from Tunisia, chocolate from Lebanon and dates from the Gulf Arab countries, have entered Chinese households with the help of e-commerce platforms.

    The world today is at a critical juncture of major development, transformation and adjustment. China is making big strides in its new journey toward the two centenary goals and showing a stronger commitment to deepening reform on all fronts and opening wider to the world. Likewise, Arab countries have unveiled major initiatives of future-oriented reforms for national rejuvenation. Our development visions are getting more aligned and more complementary, placing China-Arab relations at a new starting point. Under the changing circumstances, we need to work together for a new type of international relations, for a community with a shared future for mankind, and for a peaceful external environment and an equitable world order conducive our national rejuvenation.

    At the forthcoming eighth ministerial meeting, China and Arab countries will follow the guidance of our leaders, explore ways to advance future-oriented cooperation centred around the BRI, and further upgrade China-Arab relations.

    China and Arab countries will become partners in promoting peace and stability. We need to strengthen coordination, continue to support each other on issues of major interests and core concerns, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries. We should promote political settlement of hotspot issues and uphold common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security as we strive to restore peace and tranquillity to the Middle East at an early date and do our share in bringing about a world of prosperity and stability.
    China and Arab countries will become partners in pursuing reform, development and shared prosperity. We need to support each other in exploring development paths tailored to national conditions. We can achieve common progress and development by tapping into complementarity of our respective strengths and needs, by seeking synergy of our development strategies at a faster pace, and by increasing experience sharing on governance. In our pursuit of development, we must stay committed to a people-centred approach and deliver more benefits to our peoples.

    China and Arab countries will become partners in conducting practical cooperation for win-win outcomes. We need to follow the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, as we broaden cooperation in infrastructure, aviation satellite and energy and carry out key projects such as ports and industrial parks. China looks forward to signing with more Arab countries the MOU on Belt and Road cooperation to take our practical cooperation to a higher level. China and Arab countries will become partners in championing cultural exchanges and mutual learning. We will encourage more people-to-people exchanges and deepen cooperation in science, education, culture, health and information. By building more bridges for interactions, we will enhance mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples and contribute to the progress of human civilisation.

    A new blueprint brings new hope. A new beginning heralds new achievements. I am convinced that the giant ship of China-Arab friendship and cooperation will ride the wave toward a bright future.

    =================

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  • Nuclear Energy Could Hold Key to Sustainable Development Gains, Delegates Tell General Assembly, as it Considers international Atomic Energy Agency Report

    Nuclear energy could help countries to achieve sustainable development, Member States said today, with many also expressing concern about recent nuclear testing activities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the General Assembly took up the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    Adopting the resolution “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/72/L.6) — transmitted in a note by the Secretary‑General (document A/72/221) and introduced by the representative of Indonesia — the 193‑member Assembly took note of several resolutions recently approved by the Vienna‑based IAEA.  Those texts were aimed at strengthening international cooperation in areas including nuclear science, technology and nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety.

    The Assembly also took note of several IAEA resolutions on the application of nuclear safeguards in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Middle East, while reaffirming its strong support for the Agency’s activities.  In addition, it welcomed a resolution on the approval of the appointment of Yukiya Amano as Director General of the Agency from 1 December 2017 to 30 November 2021.

    Many delegates, including those from India and the Russian Federation, commended IAEA for assisting developing countries in related development programmes.  China’s representative said that with the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, nuclear energy would play an increasingly important role in the generation of energy around the world.

    Echoing that view, Ecuador’s delegate said nuclear energy — properly used and with the necessary security measures — could be a way to increase great progress and well‑being for the benefit of humanity.  For its part, Ecuador had enjoyed invaluable IAEA support and critical supplies and equipment following the 2016 earthquake.

    Briefing the Assembly, Mr. Amano said that transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries was the Agency’s core business and one of the most important aspects of its work.  “The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health,” he said.

    Meanwhile, IAEA was also committed to other efforts, he said, including verifying and monitoring implementation by Iran of its nuclear‑related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he said, noting Iran’s compliance with all related measures.  The Agency’s inspectors had expanded access to sites and now had more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which was smaller than when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had been launched in 2015.

    On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, he said nuclear tests in September were “extremely regrettable” and called on the country to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Agency.  While IAEA inspectors had been required to leave the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2009, the Agency continued to monitor the country’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open source information.  It was also working to maintain its readiness to return when political developments made it possible.

    In the ensuing discussion, several delegates echoed Mr. Amano’s concerns, with the representative of the Republic of Korea strongly condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “reckless” nuclear tests.  Far from revealing any signs that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was abandoning nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, the Agency’s report had indicated troubling activities at several sites.  “We call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing programmes,” he said.  Until the Agency could resume monitoring and verification there, the Republic of Korea would work with partners in maintaining vigilance and coordinating a constructive response by the international community.

    Similarly, Japan’s representative said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes constituted an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat to international security.  The international community must never succumb to a nuclear threat by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nor accept it as a nuclear‑armed State.

    The representative Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the Agency’s report was a “seriously distorted picture of the reality”.  The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula was the product of the United States’ hostile policy and nuclear threat against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    “If the IAEA truly wishes peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should take issue with the United States first,” he said.  Despite serious concerns of the international community, the United States continued to stage its aggressive joint military exercises with the aim of conducting a pre‑emptive nuclear attack against his country.  Pyongyang had opted to possess nuclear weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and would not put them on the negotiating table unless the United States’ nuclear threat against his country was eradicated.

    Delegates, including the representative of Brazil, also highlighted the benefits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.  Australia’s representative said it was “the best option”.

    Iran’s delegate said his country’s compliance with all obligations had been confirmed in numerous IAEA reports.  “Thus, any claim that Iran is not complying with its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments lacks relevance and credibility,” he stressed.  As a valid international instrument, the Plan of Action “neither can be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled”.  Iran would remain fully committed to the Plan of Action “inasmuch as all other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants also fully and timely fulfil their related commitments”.

    The representative of the European Union said the Agency had verified eight times that Iran was implementing all its commitments under that agreement.  The European Union and the wider international community had clearly indicated that the deal would remain in place, he said, calling on all parties to implement all its elements.

    Before adjourning the meeting, the Assembly postponed the appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences, which had been originally scheduled for Friday, 17 November, to a later date to be announced.

    Also speaking today were the representatives of Indonesia, Monaco, Belarus, Jamaica, Libya, Malaysia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Syria, Ukraine, Cuba, Algeria, Iraq, El Salvador, Paraguay, Argentina, Bangladesh, South Africa and the Philippines.

    The representatives of Lithuania, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Belarus, Republic of Korea and Japan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 13 November, to take up sport for development and peace and other matters.

    Briefing by International Atomic Energy Agency Head

    YUKIYA AMANO, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that transferring peaceful nuclear technology to developing countries was the Agency’s core business and one of the most important aspects of its work.  The Agency’s technical cooperation programme, which was central to delivery of its “Atoms for Peace and Development” mandate, had improved the health and prosperity of millions of people and delivered huge benefits to entire communities.  “The Agency now helps countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in energy, food and agriculture, industry, water management and health,” he said.

    The modernization of IAEA nuclear applications laboratories near Vienna continued to produce excellent results, he noted, emphasizing that those eight laboratories provided assistance to more than 150 countries in areas such as food and agriculture and health.  The new Inspect Pest Control Laboratory aimed to help countries to use nuclear techniques to better control pests such as mosquitoes and fruit flies.  Turning to the kind of energy used worldwide, he said that by 2050, if climate change goals set under the Paris Agreement were to be met, approximately 80 per cent of electricity would need to be low-carbon.  Increased use of nuclear power, as well as renewables, would help countries to achieve their climate change goals.  On nuclear verification, he said that the number of States with Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements in force stood at 182 and encouraged all countries to implement the Additional Protocol.

    IAEA continued to verify and monitor implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said, noting that Iran was complying.  “Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” he added.  The Agency’s inspectors had expanded access to sites, and now had more information about Iran’s nuclear programme, which was smaller than it was before the action plan was established in 2015.  The Agency continued to verify the non-diversion of nuclear materials declared by Iran under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements.  Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran continued.

    Expressing serious concern about the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that the country’s nuclear tests in September, its sixth and largest to date, were “extremely regrettable”.  “I call upon Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the Agency,” he stressed. While IAEA inspectors were required to leave the country in 2009, the Agency continued to monitor the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme through satellite imagery and open-source information.  It was also working to maintain its readiness to return when political development made it possible.

    Underscoring the importance of safety and security in the use of nuclear technology, he said lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011 had now been incorporated into all IAEA nuclear safety requirements.  Safety must always come first and the safety culture must continue to be strengthened, he underscored, noting that the Agency’s Board of Governors adopted the Nuclear Security Plan 2018-2012 by consensus in September.  IAEA continued to expand its assistance to enable countries to minimize the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material being used in a malicious way.

    Sound management of limited resources was essential if the Agency was to meet the growing needs of Member States, he noted, emphasizing the importance of striking a balance between real needs and the reality that Member States faced financial constraints.  He also emphasized the need to take the issue of gender parity at the Agency very seriously.  “We have significantly increased the proportion of women in the Professional and higher categories,” he added, noting that it now stood at 29 per cent.  “But we can and must do better.”

    Introduction of Draft Resolution

    INA H. KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), introducing the draft resolution titled, “Report of the International Atomic Energy Agency” (document A/72/L.6), said the Agency continued to play a vital role in fostering international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology as well as nuclear safety and security.  Noting that it also provided technical assistance and necessary support to Member States in their pursuits in those areas, she urged the Agency’s Secretariat to pursue its work programme in a balanced manner to meet the needs of States and ensure that the benefits of nuclear science and technology for socioeconomic development were spread effectively.

    Noting that 13 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals related directly to IAEA areas of competence — including those concerning food, fuel, agriculture, nuclear technology, power generation and health — she went on to underline the Agency’s critical role in nuclear safety and security.  However, the responsibility for nuclear security within a State “rests entirely with that State”, and nuclear security should not be a condition or a prerequisite for technical cooperation projects.  The draft resolution before the Assembly today had been approved by consensus following consultations held in both Vienna and New York.  As in previous years, it took note of the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Agency’s General Conference.  It also appealed to Member States to continue their support for the Agency’s activities.

    Statements

    GUILLAUME DABOUIS, European Union, reiterated the bloc’s support for the full, complete and effective implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime as well as the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.  Also expressing support for the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East, he underlined the Security Council’s primary responsibility in cases of non-compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal” and endorsed by the Council in its resolution 2231 (2015), represented a key and functioning pillar of the international non-proliferation architecture that was even more important in the context of current acute nuclear threats.  The Agency had verified eight times that Iran was implementing all its nuclear-related commitments under that agreement, he said, stressing that the European Union and the wider international community had clearly indicated that the deal would remain in place and calling on all parties to implement all its elements.

    Strongly condemning the latest nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, along with all its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile activities, he urged that country to reverse course, immediately cease those actions and abandon its nuclear weapons programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.  Underlining IAEA’s critical role in verifying Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, he also urged the Syrian regime to cooperate with the Agency promptly and transparently to resolve all outstanding issues.  Calling for the universalization of Comprehensive Safeguard Agreements together with their Additional Protocols, he said nuclear safety remained a key priority for the European Union.  Through the framework of its strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the bloc was activity supporting relevant Security Council resolutions and other agreements including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.  Voicing support for IAEA’s central role in the global nuclear security framework, he called on the Agency’s Member States to ensure reliable and sustainable resources for it work in preventing nuclear terrorism and the misuse of nuclear and radioactive material.

    ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) commended the Agency for its contributions in helping countries implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  On the environment, she said that IAEA evaluations could help prevent land degradation and help restore soil.  Noting myriad programmes Monaco had implemented in collaborating with the Agency, she emphasized one focusing on the training of 400 scientists and another that helped improve food security by detecting and combating animal disease.  She further commended the Agency’s work in increasing access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.  Scientific research with the support of the Agency could lead to policies that combat climate change, she added.  Acidification of the oceans was another area where IAEA and Monaco had deployed joint efforts.  Moreover, the Agency’s environment laboratories in partnership with Monaco had continued to focus efforts on addressing ocean acidification.

    TATYANA FEDOROVICH (Belarus) said that the Agency had managed to achieve substantial progress in facilitating the safe use of nuclear technology, welcoming its efforts to continue to focus on developing that sector in a safe and secure manner.  “Belarus has also opted for nuclear energy,” she said, expressing support for the Agency’s work in nuclear security “from planning to decommissioning”.  She recalled that Belarus had suffered greatly from the Chernobyl disaster and would continue to work with IAEA in all relevant areas to improve safety and security standards.  She emphasized the Agency’s role in helping States to achieve sustainable development particularly in the areas of energy, medicine and agriculture.  With the Agency’s help, Belarus had been able to increase the effectiveness of nuclear training and make significant progress in medicine.

    DIEDRE MILLS (Jamaica), stressing the importance of the Agency’s work, said her country had benefitted from a range of technical and other assistance that had been instrumental in several key priority areas like education, health and research, including the programme of action for cancer therapy.  The Agency’s work in promoting peaceful uses of nuclear technology and applying a safeguards regime for verification, safety and security remained critical.  She encouraged States to accede to legally binding international conventions and commit to working towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  The adoption in July 2017 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a significant milestone achievement towards de-legitimizing nuclear weapons.

    ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya), voicing support for IAEA work in pursuing global nuclear disarmament as well as nuclear safety, recalled that his country had voluntarily given up its nuclear weapons programme in 2002 and acceded to the Agency’s safeguards.  Voicing concern about the continued use or threat of use of such weapons by some States — which continued to maintain or even update their nuclear stockpiles — he said the Agency’s role should not be limited to reviewing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy but should also help to verify the reduction and ultimate destruction of the nuclear arsenals of nuclear weapons States.  Indeed, the equitable application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty would mean total nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and a fair distribution of the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Strengthening the Agency’s safeguards regime should never adversely affect the technical cooperation and assistance provided to States, he stressed, voicing concern over the policy pursued by some States to impose restrictions on technology transfer and assistance to others, which constituted a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Among other things, he also expressed support for Security Council resolutions calling for the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which was still challenged by Israel’s refusal to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or to subject its nuclear facilities to the Agency’s inspections.

    DELFINA JANE DRIS (Malaysia) said that collaboration between her country and the Agency had been fruitful in several areas related to nuclear security and that her Government appreciated the Agency’s support in strengthening national detection capabilities in combating nuclear terrorism as demonstrated at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur.  Malaysia enjoyed on-going cooperation with the Agency in radiation protection and safety, research reactor safety, radiological emergency response, environmental monitoring and radioactive waste management.  The Peaceful Uses Initiative was a very important vehicle to support the Agency’s activities related to the peaceful applications of science and technology, she said, adding that research and development played a critical role in realizing the long-term goals of nuclear science and technology for the collective benefit of Member States and the Agency.

    GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) underscored the importance of the inalienable right of any State to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  That included the inherent right of each State to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  He emphasized that the primary responsibility of the Agency was to assist Member States in researching and practically applying nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  Iran stressed the need for IAEA to meet the expectations of developing countries.  As the authority responsible for the verification of the fulfilment of nuclear safeguards, the Agency must carry out its functions in full conformity with relevant legally-binding instruments, taking into account the concerns and interests of Member States.

    Iran remained determined to exercise its inalienable right to develop, research, produce and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he stressed.  Iran’s compliance with all obligations under its Safeguards Agreement had been confirmed in numerous IAEA reports.  “Thus, any claim that Iran is not complying with its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action commitments lacks relevance and credibility,” he stressed.  As a valid international instrument, the Plan of Action “neither can be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled”.  Likewise, any unilateral claim to extend the duration of Iran’s voluntary confidence-building measures ran counter to the Plan and more importantly, was in clear contradiction with the inalienable rights of States under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  “Iran had been and will remain fully committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action inasmuch as all other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action participants also fully and timely fulfil their related commitments,” he said.

    HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 3 September had conducted its sixth nuclear test on the heels of two nuclear tests in 2016 and several ballistic missile launches, including two with intercontinental range, in clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.  His Government strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “reckless and irresponsible nuclear test”.  Far from revealing any signs that it was abandoning nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, the IAEA Director General’s report indicated troubling nuclear activities at the Yongbyon site and Pyongsan Mine and Concentration Plant.  “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuous negative response to the international community’s diplomatic efforts underlines the need to reiterate a strong and unified message that the path to peace, stability and prosperity hinges on its willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue and honour its denuclearization commitments,” he said.  It was essential that all Member States made clear to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that it would face serious consequences unless it faithfully implemented all relevant Security Council resolutions.

    “We call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing programmes in a complete, verifiable and irrelevant manner, and to refrain from any further provocative and destabilizing acts,” he said.  The Republic of Korea appreciated recent efforts of IAEA to enhance its readiness to verify that country’s nuclear programme.  Until the Agency was able to resume monitoring and verification there, the Republic of Korea would work with partners in maintaining vigilance and coordinating a constructive response by the international community with a view to a peaceful resolution.  Noting that the Republic of Korea contributed to the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund, he stressed the need for sufficient funding in order to maximize the contribution of the Agency’s technical cooperation programmes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

    GOH YAN KIM (Singapore), reaffirming full support for the IAEA Director General’s work, noted that his country joined the Agency 50 years ago shortly after gaining independence and had developed a strong partnership with it.  The country was now paying back the assistance from which it had benefitted in such areas as public health and radiation protection by providing technical assistance to fellow developing countries and serving on the Board of Governors, he said, describing other formal arrangements with the Agency and Singapore’s support to ASEAN regional initiatives.  Supporting IAEA’s central role in ensuring a strong and sustainable global nuclear safety and security framework, he welcomed the outcome of the International Conference on Nuclear Security and the most recent review meeting on the Convention of Nuclear Safety.  Affirming that cyberattacks on nuclear installations presented real risks, he supported the Agency’s work in developing guidelines and training programmes for cyber resiliency.  He looked forward to his country’s further strong relationship with IAEA in the years to come.

    SANDEEP KUMAR BAYYAPU (India) said nuclear power was an important energy source to meet increased demand and address volatile fuel prices and climate change concerns.  He took note of the Agency’s efforts on the role of nuclear power in meeting the “climate-energy challenge” and mitigating against greenhouse gas emissions.  Moreover, his delegation attached great importance to the Agency’s work in different fields of nuclear science.  In that connection, the Agency’s achievement in food and agriculture, human health, water resources management and the protection of the environment were helpful in meeting the needs of developing countries.  He went on to welcome the role of the Agency in nuclear security and encouraged all Member States that had not yet done so to ratify the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

    WU HAITAO (China) voiced support for IAEA and the effective fulfilment of its mandates, including by strengthening nuclear safety and security and working towards global nuclear non-proliferation.  With the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, nuclear energy would play an increasingly important role in the generation of energy around the world.  However, the risks posed by nuclear proliferation remained severe, and nuclear security threats were increasing.  In that context, he said the Agency should focus on several critical areas, including enhancing the universality and fairness of its safeguard system based on the principles of impartiality, fairness and in consultation with Member States; establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East; promoting technical support and assistance to developing countries in support of their peaceful uses of nuclear energy; strengthening nuclear safety and security; following and assessing the handling of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station incident; and addressing regional hotspot issues.  Expressing support for the Agency’s work with regards to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said it should also play its due role in monitoring the nuclear activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    SAOD RASHID AL MAZROUI (United Arab Emirates), spotlighting his country’s close work with IAEA in the area of nuclear safety and its compliance with the standards of nuclear safety and non-proliferation, also commended the Agency for its work in transferring technology and knowledge to support Member States’ development needs.  Those programmes helped contributed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, promoted cooperation through the exchange of best practices and strategic partnerships and provided valuable support in the development of infrastructure and human resources for a safe and successful nuclear programme.

    NIKOLAY LOZINSKIY (Russian Federation) said that IAEA must increase efforts to develop nuclear energy around the world while also improving and strengthening the global non-proliferation regime.  Underscoring the importance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said the Agency was monitoring all aspects of that agreement’s implementation.  The Director General had earlier that morning mentioned that Iran was implementing all its nuclear commitments.  He welcomed the improvement of control mechanisms, including the adoption of Additional Protocols on safeguards, which must always remain objective and depoliticized.  The Russian Federation was active in IAEA, he said, noting that it was making financial contributions in myriad sectors and working to facilitate the development of nuclear energy in developing countries.  In the Russian Federation, an international uranium enrichment centre was open to all countries wishing to develop nuclear energy in a safe and secure manner.  He added that it was unacceptable to bring the non-proliferation agenda into issues of physical nuclear security.  The Russian Federation had signed relevant documents, he continued, encouraging States that had not yet done so to accede to relevant international instruments.

    ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) commended the impartial and objective manner in which the Agency had been carrying out its verification duties in Iran in accordance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  He also recognized the Agency’s efforts in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, a role for which it was uniquely positioned.  He expressed appreciation for the effective cooperation between the Agency and the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, a unique and constructive partnership between multilateral and bilateral verification bodies.  Given its technical capabilities, impartiality and professionalism, he stressed that the Agency could play an important role in nuclear disarmament verification.  As such, he regretted the IAEA Director General’s decision not to send a representative to the negotiating conference of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

    FERNANDO LUQUE MÁRQUEZ (Ecuador) said that nuclear energy — properly used and with the necessary security measures — could be a way to increase great progress and well‑being for the benefit of humanity.  IAEA had provided Ecuador with invaluable support as well as critical supplies and equipment following the country’s 2016 earthquake.  At the regional level, he noted Ecuador’s participation in dozens of relevant projects.  For its part, Ecuador has recently signed a national programme framework on technology and technical cooperation, outlining the country’s needs and priorities.  Seriously concerned about the recent testing of nuclear weapons, he expressed support for the three pillars of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty without discrimination or double standards.  Most States had reiterated their deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of any nuclear accident or intentional detonation.  “Any use of nuclear weapons would be a crime against humanity,” he underscored, noting that the Non‑Proliferation Treaty had established the legal basis to eliminate such weapons.  He also commended the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a clear example of what could happen through diplomacy and dialogue.

    BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said that, once again, the world faced a dangerous difficult situation emanating from the threats posed by Israel’s nuclear arsenal.  Meanwhile, other nuclear weapons States were also increasing their threats.  Emphasizing that global nuclear non-proliferation was a key priority for Syria, he recalled that it had acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty early on, long before many of the European Union States that now claimed to be on the vanguard of the global non-proliferation regime.  Many of those nations, along with Turkey, kept nuclear weapons on their territories in violation of the Treaty.  Syria, meanwhile, had long had IAEA safeguard agreements in place.  As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Syria had also drafted a resolution mandating the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, but that text was never taken up as the United States had threatened to veto it.  Such actions revealed the lies behind the claims of Western countries, he said, adding that they had for decades provided Israel with the materials needed to develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

    For its part, he said, Israel had spared no effort to attempt to divert attention from its nuclear arsenal.  Recalling Israel’s attack on the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor in 2007, he said Israel continued to refuse to allow IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities.  Such actions damaged the credibility of the global non-proliferation regime, undermining peace in the region, he stressed, pointing out that IAEA had been aware of those events but failed to cover them in its report.  Quoting from a memoire titled “The Age of Deception” — written by former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei — he said the book demonstrated Western countries’ “nuclear hypocrisy” and raised questions about the information the Agency had received from them.  Among other things, it discussed the United States dossier on Iraq’s nuclear programme, which had served as a false pretext for the former’s 2003 invasion of the latter.  In addition, a book recently published by the Stockholm Institute contained an entire chapter on Israel’s nuclear forces, while no such chapter existed on Syria’s nuclear programme.  In light of such sources, he called on IAEA to immediately address Israel’s nuclear weapons programme.

    KORO BESSHO (Japan), recalling that his country had contributed more than $28 million to the Agency’s Peaceful Uses Initiative, pledged to seek ways to further utilize national relevant expertise.  Japan’s efforts included working to enhance nuclear safety, drawing on lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station incident and reforming its regulatory structures.  Turning to concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent activities, he said its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programme constituted an unprecedented, grave and imminent threat to international security and the global non‑proliferation regime, and operated in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions and other multilateral commitments.  “The international community should never succumb to a nuclear threat of North Korea and accept a nuclear‑armed North Korea,” he said, voicing support for IAEA efforts to resume inspections in that country.  The international community must also remain united in its full implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions in order to maximize pressure on Pyongyang.

    VOLODYMYR LESCHENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said the 2016 annual report provided a comprehensive and well‑balanced analysis of major achievements of the Agency’s work and its main priorities in promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  Drawing attention to the legal framework for IAEA safeguards agreement application in Ukraine, including in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, he said it was based on the comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol, which was in compliance with relevant Assembly resolutions.  The 2016 annual report reaffirmed the vital role the Agency played in meeting today’s challenges.

    ILEIDIS VALIENTE DÍAZ (Cuba), commending the work of IAEA, stressed the need to use nuclear energy to improve living conditions, promote sustainable development and protect the environment.  IAEA had an important role to play in achieving sustainable development and in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Technical cooperation remained particularly essential for Cuba, she added, recognizing the importance of applying nuclear technology in human health, food security and agriculture, and the environment.  She reaffirmed Cuba’s commitment to ensuring that all countries could use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  She also emphasized the importance of nuclear physical security, adding that the establishment of relevant measures to strengthen and secure their safety was the responsibility of each State.  She also welcomed the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a clear example that dialogue was the best way to solve international disputes.

    JA SONG NAM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the report of the Agency presented a “seriously distorted picture of the reality” regarding the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.  The nuclear issue was the product of the United States hostile policy and nuclear threat toward the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Had it not been for the hostile policy enforced by the United States for more than 70 years against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since the first day of that country’s founding in 1948, the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula would not exist.  For the Korean people who had experienced war imposed on them by the United States, “the powerful war deterrence for national defence was an inevitable strategic option” and would never be bartered for anything.

    He recalled that IAEA, at the instigation of the United States, had brought up suspicions regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s peaceful nuclear facilities in the 1990s.  That had compelled Pyongyang to leave the Agency and withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  “If the IAEA truly wishes peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, it should take issue with the United States first, which is the nuclear war criminal and ringleader of the nuclear threat,” he said.  The Korean Peninsula was now on the brink of nuclear war because of the hostile policies of the United States.  Despite serious concerns of the international community, the United States continued to stage its aggressive joint military exercises with the aim of conducting a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He said his country had opted to possess nuclear weapons to safeguard its sovereignty and it would not put them or the ballistic missiles on the negotiating table unless the United States’ nuclear threat against his country was eradicated first.

    MOHAMMED BESSEDIK (Algeria), underscoring the importance of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme and welcoming its convening of a meeting in Vienna in 2017, expressed hope that meeting would be organized again at the ministerial level.  Noting that Algeria regularly contributed to the Agency’s regular budget, he called for the allocation of sufficient and predictable resources to the Agency’s efforts to support countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Algeria was integrating and using nuclear techniques in the field of health, especially to combat cancer, and with the help of IAEA it had improved its training facilities and the maintenance of its nuclear equipment.  Voicing support for bolstered cooperation among African States in the areas of nuclear technology and training, he said nuclear safety and security were of paramount importance and underlined IAEA’s critical role in assisting States to develop national frameworks in those areas.  Nevertheless, issues of security and safety must not be used as a condition to restrict the provision of technical cooperation or assistance to States.  Calling for universalization of international instruments on nuclear safety, he expressed support for the establishment of nuclear-weapons-free-zones around the world, and voiced concern over continued impediments to the creation of such a zone in the Middle East.  States had been calling for such a zone since 1995, but no progress had been made, he said.

    MOHAMMED SAHIB MEJID MARZOOQ (Iraq) said his country had recently undertaken many positive steps in the field of nuclear energy despite its many challenges in combating Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) forces.  Among other things, it was currently developing the institutions necessary to safeguard sites previously under the control of terrorist groups, some of which still contained radioactive waste.  Iraq had also ratified the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  Underlining the importance of the Agency’s work in providing assistance to developing countries in the field of nuclear technology, and of establishing the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear weapons, he recalled that the United Nations had a “cardinal role” to play in that regard.  The dismantling of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and its accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons State were critical, he stressed, adding that the pursuit of peaceful nuclear programmes by all countries was an inalienable right and remained crucial for the pursuit of sustainable development.  Those rights must therefore not be impeded by the imposition of conditions by other States.

    HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said that today’s draft resolution and the report of IAEA reaffirmed the Agency’s indispensable role.  He called on Member States to continue to support the Agency and welcome decisions adopted at its annual sessions.  Nuclear energy must be used for peaceful purposes.  In that context, it was crucial to avoid the proliferation of nuclear weapons and focus nuclear energy efforts towards sustainably developing agriculture, health, and other essential sectors.  He urged Member States to pool their efforts with IAEA to use nuclear energy to improve the quality of health, ensure food security and reduce and prevent climate change.  Commending IAEA for helping El Salvador strengthen several national sectors, he noted that his country had recently established a national framework plan to align the Agency’s work with its national priorities.

    ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay) said the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy must be conducted in a transparent manner with IAEA supervision, and called on States to comply with international best practices.  Paraguay’s National Commission for Atomic Energy was researching approaches to peacefully using nuclear energy to help to improve the lives of its citizens.  Reiterating concerns over efforts by some States to improve nuclear weapons and develop new ones, he fully rejected the testing of such weapons.  Highlighting the importance of technical assistance and cooperation provided by the Agency to developing countries, he thanked IAEA for helping to improve nuclear medicine in Paraguay.

    GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina), describing her country’s decades‑old nuclear sector that had been backed up by a consistent State policy and international safeguards, said that while IAEA safeguards were essential, they must not impede States from obtaining nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The Quadripartite Safeguards Agreement between Argentina, Brazil, the Brazilian‑Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials and IAEA had, since 1991, guided the application of nuclear safeguards and had helped to consolidate the Latin American and Caribbean region as a zone free of such arms.  With regard to physical nuclear security architecture, she welcomed the Agency’s 2016 International Conference on Nuclear Security and upcoming conference on physical nuclear installations and materials.  The Agency must continue to act as a main coordinator for global efforts to help to consolidate efforts involving safety, security and counter‑terrorism strategies.  States should also work to harmonize both binding and non‑binding measures, she said, adding that Argentina had become the first country to commit to designing, locating and building all its new nuclear plants in line with article 1 of the Convention on Nuclear Safety.

    FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh) expressed full confidence in the Agency’s guiding role in coordinating international efforts to strengthen global nuclear security.  Noting that security considerations must not hamper the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he said the Agency’s work maintained and improved emergency preparedness and response mechanisms worldwide.  Welcoming IAEA activities to improve nuclear infrastructure development, he underscored the importance of building regulatory and management functions to improve the safety of such projects.  Nuclear energy was safe, environmentally friendly and an economical source of electricity, he said.  IAEA was his country’s main partner for the promotion of safe and secure applications of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, he said, adding that Bangladesh was actively engaging with the Agency’s technical cooperation programme and regional cooperation agreements.

    MARTIN ERIC SIPHO NGUNDZE (South Africa) said IAEA had a pivotal role to play in global efforts to promote international peace, security and development.  The Agency’s nuclear applications in areas like agriculture, food security, human health, water resource management, nuclear technology and animal health had contributed to socioeconomic progress in developing countries, assisting them in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  South Africa had immensely benefitted from the Agency’s scientific and technological support, especially in strengthening the clinical management of oncological, neurological and cardiovascular diseases.  He also underscored the central role IAEA played in implementing its safeguards verification system, which was essential in verifying nuclear energy programmes.

    DARREN HANSEN (Australia), commending IAEA for its efforts to champion gender equality, provided a snapshot of his country’s efforts.  Australia had ratified the new Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training in Nuclear Science and Technology for the Asia and Pacific Region, constructed a molybdenum processing plant that would help to secure the global supply of life‑saving nuclear medicine, and had planned an integrated regulatory review service mission for 2018.  Australia would also continue to assist States to enhance nuclear security.  Regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Australia would not accept illegal development and testing of nuclear weapons, he said, urging the international community to fully implement related Security Council resolutions.  In addition, he expressed support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which remained the “best available option” to address Iran’s nuclear programme.

    ARIEL R. PEÑARANDA (Philippines), recalling that IAEA was the sole United Nations body promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, commended the Agency’s Atoms for Peace and Development initiative.  The Philippines strongly supported the Agency’s efforts related to gender equality and balanced geographic representations at all levels, and encouraged it to maintain the balance between the promotional and non‑promotional aspects of its work.  The relevance of IAEA had become all the more pronounced given the increased importance of dealing with nuclear non‑proliferation and disarmament issues from a technical and scientific perspective.

    Action

    The Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/72/L.6 without a vote.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of Lithuania, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said each country had the right to develop nuclear power as long as all international safety regulations were met.  Newcomer countries must be especially diligent in that regard, she said, warning that manipulative, declarative and selective approaches still existed.  Expressing concern about the new nuclear power plant in Ostrovets, Belarus, near the Lithuanian border, she said the facility was being created without regulation, transparency or consultation with neighbouring countries, and IAEA specialized missions could bring important benefits if they were involved in all stages of such projects.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected reckless statements that had been made by the delegations of the European Union, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and the Philippines as part of a politicized plot aimed at defaming his country.  Parties on the Korean Peninsula had agreed to an armistice and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had long urged the United States to sign a peace agreement to no avail.  “The nuclear weapons in [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] are a war deterrent,” he said, noting that they had contributed to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula following more than half a century of nuclear blackmail and hostile policies by the United States.  Noting that the United States armed forces remained stationed on the Korean Peninsula while the head of its regime travelled across Asia making reckless, hostile, warlike remarks, he said if that country truly wished to fulfil its responsibilities, it should dismantle its command in the Republic of Korea and fully withdraw its troops.  He reminded Japan’s delegate that Japan had been the victim of the only nuclear attack in human history and that it should address the threats posed by the United States — the world’s largest nuclear war criminal.  In addition, he emphasized that his country’s proper name was “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and not “North Korea”, as Japan’s representative had mistakenly stated.  To the delegate of the Republic of Korea, he said that country was a colony of the United States.  Emphasizing that such a country could never be considered a sovereign State, he called on Seoul to abandon its reliance on foreign Powers.

    The representative of the Russian Federation regretted ongoing speculation regarding infrastructure in Crimea and reiterated that his country’s position on the matter was well known.

    The representative of Belarus said nuclear safety was a priority and her country was cooperating with relevant international mechanisms.  IAEA had assessed its energy infrastructure and concluded that Belarus was committed to the highest possible level of nuclear security.  Claims alleging poor security measures were politically motivated and unjustified, she added, expressing interest in fostering cooperation with all interested parties, including Lithuania.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea, deeply regretting to note the “groundless statements” of his counterpart from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said her country would take all measures to protect its people.  Distorting facts would not change the nature of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

    The representative of Japan said the missile development programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was in clear violation of Security Council resolutions.  Pyongyang must refrain from provocations and comply with relevant resolutions.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan was unqualified to discuss issues of nuclear concern, and Tokyo had yet to apologize and provide compensation for its past war crimes.  Japan had forced 200,000 Korean women and girls into sex slavery and committed genocide against the Korean people, with over 1 million killed.  He urged the Republic of Korea to learn from history, adding that nuclear deterrence was guaranteeing the prosperity of the Korean people.

    The representative of Japan said mentioning history was inappropriate at a meeting focused on issues related to the Agency.  Japan had always upheld the principles of the United Nations Charter and championed freedom, democracy and the rule of law.  He again urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with relevant Council resolutions.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea said Seoul remained open to talks with Pyongyang and stressed it was the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that refused to engage in dialogue.  She urged Pyongyang to do so with a view to promoting the prosperity of all Koreans.

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  • First Committee Submits Six Drafts to General Assembly, One Calling for Immediate Start of Negotiations on Treaty Preventing Outer Space Arms Race

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) today approved six draft resolutions, including one on a legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

    During the meeting, the Committee approved the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54), by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 5 against (France, Israel, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 45 abstentions.  By the terms of that text, the General Assembly would urge the Conference on Disarmament to agree on a balanced programme of work that included the immediate commencement of negotiations on an international legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

    The Committee also approved three other draft resolutions related to disarmament aspects of outer space, including one on transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities (document A/C.1/72/L.46).  By a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Israel, United States), it approved the draft resolution “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.3).  By its terms, the Assembly would call upon all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to refrain from actions contrary to that goal and to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space.

    The draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53) was approved by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 4 against (Georgia, Israel, Ukraine, United States), with 48 abstentions.  That text would have the General Assembly encourage all States, especially space‑faring nations, to consider the possibility of upholding, as appropriate, a political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space.

    The Committee approved, without a vote, two draft resolutions related to other weapons of mass destruction: “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.23) and “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.49).

    Speaking in explanation of position were representatives of Israel, Netherlands, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Philippines, Peru, Thailand, France, Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lao’s People’s Democratic Republic, Cuba, Bangladesh, Russian Federation, Iran, Liechtenstein, China, Syria, Japan, Germany, United States, Estonia (for the European Union), Belarus, Ukraine, Nepal, Pakistan and Switzerland.

    Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the United States, Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Ukraine.

    The Committee will meet again on Tuesday, 31 October, to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it.

    Background

    The First Committee met this afternoon to take action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

    Action on Draft Texts

    The representative of Israel presented her delegation’s position on several nuclear‑weapon‑related draft resolutions and decisions that the Committee had approved on 17 October.  On the draft resolution “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East” (document A/C.1/72/L.2), she said the Arab Group had submitted it to divert the Committee’s attention from the real proliferation challenges facing the region.  Failing to address the real risk of weapons of mass destruction in the region, the draft resolution was “detached from reality” and neglected to mention that Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria had violated Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons obligations while promoting a clandestine military nuclear programme.  It also deviated attention from chemical weapon use in Syria, she added, noting that for those reasons, Israel had rejected the resolution in its entirety.  Meanwhile, her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.42) because Israel actively participated in all elements of the instrument.  However, her delegation was unable to support the language of the draft resolution “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use of Nuclear Weapons” (document A/C.1/72/L.47) in its entirety and with regard to preambular paragraph 7 and operative paragraph 1.

    The representative of the Netherlands said his delegation had traditionally supported the resolution on “United action with renewed determination towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons” (A/C.1/72/L.35) and its efforts to build bridges between States to reach the goal of the total elimination of those arms.  “L.35” had also mentioned the disarmament commitments under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, including the outcome documents of 1995, 2000, and 2010 review conferences, he said, recommending that negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty should commence as early as possible.

    The representative of Mexico said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.47”, emphasizing that almost three quarters of the United Nations membership had agreed upon the legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Draft resolutions that sought the same objective could not omit that historic fact, she said, noting that the new instrument offered a legal framework for nuclear‑weapon States to comply with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.

    The representative of Argentina said her delegation had abstained from voting on the draft resolution “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations” (document A/C.1/72/L.6).  Argentina had not yet signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, but had begun an analysis and evaluation process on the impact it could have on the non‑proliferation regime and the peaceful use of nuclear energy, she said, pointing out that “L.6” had strongly called for States to sign and ratify the new instrument.  Any future instrument must strengthen the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and avoid creating a parallel regime and duplicating efforts.

    The representative of Spain said his delegation supported the draft resolution “African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.37).  However, Spain did not associate itself with operative paragraph 5 and would have wanted it to include more balanced language.

    The representative of the Philippines said it had voted in favour of “L.35”, but did not co‑sponsor the draft because it had not articulated key principles.  States possessing nuclear weapons must fill their “end of the grand bargain”.  The humanitarian imperative was the foundation of the global disarmament architecture and that key principle must be upheld and affirmed.

    The representative of Peru said “L.35” did not reflect recent progress toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Moreover, he was concerned some paragraphs had changed in a manner that weakened the commitment of nuclear‑weapon States.  Nevertheless, Peru had voted in favour of the draft because of his delegation’s principled position on general and complete disarmament.

    The representative of Thailand said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.35” as a whole because of its attempt to stigmatize nuclear weapons.  However, it had abstained from taking action on operative paragraphs 20 and 21 because they were a step backward on the commitments of nuclear‑weapon States, especially in the context of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Test‑Ban Treaty.

    The representative of France said that while “L.35” placed nuclear disarmament in the framework of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty while fostering dialogue between non‑nuclear- and nuclear‑weapon States, he was concerned by language on humanitarian consequences, contained in preambular paragraphs 19, 20 and operative paragraph 8.  France stood against an emotional and divisive approach aimed at discrediting nuclear deterrence policies.

    The representative of Finland said “L.6” expressed the grave concern about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  While the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons addressed those concerns and Finland shared the goal of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world, the participation of nuclear‑weapon States was essential in making progress on disarmament.  As such, his delegation had abstained from voting on the draft.  While the Treaty was now a fact, States must work together and avoid confrontations.

    The representative of Indonesia said her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.35” because of changes in the language, including the omission of article 6 of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the imbalance of emphasis between disarmament and non‑proliferation.  The very existence of nuclear weapons was the root of the problem and should be addressed in the draft resolution.

    The representative of Malaysia said that while voting in favour of “L.35”, her delegation had concerns about far reaching implications beyond the resolution of the total eliminations of the arsenals and abstained on operative paragraph 2 that undermined the need to collectively uphold the international disarmament commitments coming from the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  She reiterated that the use of nuclear weapons posed grave humanitarian consequences and should be the primary driver for all States to achieve a nuclear‑free world.  Her delegation also abstained on voting operative paragraphs 8 and 21 that now merely recalled for all States to sign and ratify the Non‑Proliferation Treaty without any delay, instead of urging them.

    The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.35” with hope that it would complement efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.  She also shared concerns about the recognition of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and expressed hope that such an important issue would be addressed in the future.

    The representative of Cuba said her delegation had supported the draft resolution “Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.50).  However, the substantive review of a potential treaty on fissile cut‑off material outside the Conference on Disarmament would exclude from participation the vast majority of States.  Cuba was not in favour of limited membership groups to consider matters that had implications on international peace and security.  Negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament of a non‑discriminatory, multilateral and verifiable fissile material cut‑off treaty should also encompass stockpiles and future disarmament in order to avoid creating a partial and insufficient instrument.

    The representative of Bangladesh said that while his delegation had voted in favour of “L.35”, he regretted to note that operative paragraph 2 deviated from the agreements reached at previous Non‑Proliferation Treaty review conferences.

    The representative of the Russian Federation joined the consensus on the draft resolution “International Day against Nuclear Tests” (document A/C.1/72/L.36) noting that the celebration should draw the attention to the unsatisfactory implementation of the Test‑Ban Treaty, which was the only legally binding instrument of its kind.  He expressed great surprise that the United States, one of the most active initiators of the Test‑Ban Treaty, together with other five countries had not supported “L.36”.  Statements were not enough; ratification was needed by the United States, otherwise that important instrument would never enter into force.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.6” and would continue to support its overall objective.  However, the only way forward on nuclear disarmament was the conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons, as called for by the General Assembly.  Voting in favour of “L.42”, he said his delegation agreed with its principle objective, but noted that the language could have been improved, including by addressing the issue of nuclear‑weapon States modernizing their arsenals, which undermined the Test‑Ban Treaty’s goal.  Meanwhile, Iran abstained from voting on preambular paragraph 4 and disassociated from references to the Security Council.  The General Assembly should express its views independently and there was no need to refer to the work of other organs that involved a different context.  Regarding “L.50”, he said any fissile material instrument should be comprehensive and non‑discriminatory, with its scope covering past, present and future production and his delegation had abstained from voting on it because it lacked those conditions and was based on a limited mandate no longer relevant to today’s reality.

    The representative of Liechtenstein said “L.35” had been a bridge‑building document, but his delegation had abstained from voting on it because of changes to the text, including a lack of tangible references to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  The draft had attempted to weaken commitments made to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and Test‑Ban Treaty, he said, regretting to note that operative paragraph 21 failed to issue an urgent call to Annex 2 States to ratify the latter instrument.  That could send the wrong message, he said, expressing hope that “L.35” could serve as a bridge‑builder in the future.

    The representative of China said his delegation had voted against a number of draft resolutions because of references to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  While believing in the same end goal contained in that instrument, he said the international community must follow the principles of undiminished security for all by taking a gradual approach.  Consensus must be achieved through the existing disarmament machinery and by ensuring the participation of all parties.  The new instrument was politically and legally flawed, thwarting the effectiveness of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, and did not constitute new customary international law nor would it override existing instruments.  Thus, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was not binding to States not party to it, he said, adding that China would uphold its commitment that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and would continue to contribute to the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.

    The representative of Syria said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.2”.  The only real threat in the region was Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.  His delegation had abstained from voting on “L.42” because non‑nuclear-weapon States had not been provided with guarantees within a reasonable timeframe against the use of those arms and the threat of their use had not been adequately addressed.  Syria had abstained from voting on “L.50” because the sponsors had not considered comments on the need to include fissile material stockpiles.

    The representative of Japan said that as the only country to have ever suffered from atomic bombing, nuclear‑weapon States and non‑nuclear‑weapon States must take united action based on the understanding of the humanitarian effects from the use of such weapons.  On “L.6”, his delegation was concerned about the fragmentation of the disarmament community, which was undermining progress.  On “L.5” and the draft resolution “Ethical imperatives for a nuclear‑weapon‑free world” (document A/C.1/72/L.17), he said Japan recognized the humanitarian consequences based on first‑hand experience and raised awareness on that issue.  However, recognition of the issue should serve as a bridge‑builder for unifying the international community, not dividing it.  His delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “Towards a nuclear‑weapon‑free world” (document A/C.1/72/L.19), despite incoherent language in operative paragraph 22.

    Turning to draft resolutions related to other weapons of mass destruction, the Committee took up the draft resolution “Measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.23), by which the Assembly would urge all Member States to take and strengthen national measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring those arms, their means of delivery and materials and technologies related to their manufacture.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

    The Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.49).  By its terms, the General Assembly would take note of the consensus outcome of and the decisions on all provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention reached at the eighth Review Conference of the States parties, and would call upon States parties to participate and actively engage in its continued implementation.

    The Committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally revised.

    The representative of Iran, explaining his delegation’s position on “L.49”, said a vote in favour had been cast because the most pragmatic action would be to resume negotiations on a multilateral legally binding protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention.  His delegation was not satisfied with text in operative paragraphs 6, 7 and 10; he said that one of the paragraphs should be considered as agreed language for the possible inclusion of the agenda of relevant meetings within the framework of the Convention.

    The representative of Germany, highlighting that “L.49” referred to the first instrument on weapons of mass destruction ever signed, said science and technology developments must be considered.  While his delegation supported “L.49”, he expressed hope for a more ambitious outcome.  The way ahead required creative solutions and flexibility, he said, emphasizing that, for the sake of consensus, Germany had to accept the minimal outcome of the last review conference on the Biological Weapons Convention.

    The representative of the United States said “L.49” was not the draft resolution his delegation had hoped to see.  Noting that the latest review conference had been unable to agree on a new programme of work, he said the United States had sought more ambitious language and, in the interest of reaching a consensus, had accepted far less.

    The representative of the Russian Federation, explaining his delegation’s position, drew attention to the importance of retaining outer space as a place of peaceful research.  Irresponsible steps had been taken in the past that had led the world to the brink of a catastrophe.  Nobody wanted the repetition of such a scenario in outer space, he said, pointing out that many Member States had advocated for actions against the weaponization of outer space.  However, an unprecedented campaign was attempting to discredit the international community’s efforts to prevent an outer space arms race.  Member States needed to prevent the unlimited domination of one State in outer space, he said, emphasizing that any unilateral measures to protect one’s orbital property were doomed to fail.  Global threats went beyond bloc interests, requiring open and balanced consideration, and those problems must be solved on an equitable, respectful basis.  Political will was needed to address one of the world’s most serious issues, he said, calling upon all responsible States to support the Russian Federation’s related draft resolutions.

    The representative of Cuba, expressing support for the urgent adoption of a treaty to prevent an outer space arms race, said such activity would endanger international security.  Cuba had therefore co‑sponsored all draft resolutions under the outer space cluster, including “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.3).

    The representative of the United States said his delegation would vote against the draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53) because it did not adequately define what constituted a weapon, failed to address terrestrially based anti‑satellite arms and did not meet transparency and confidence‑building requirements for related activities.  Emphasizing that “L.53” was not the answer and did not enhance the United States’ security interests, he said his country would engage in programmes to sustain the safety and stability of outer space activities.  On the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54), he said the United States and the United Kingdom would vote against it because of several concerns, including that the new group of governmental experts would base discussions on the proposed Russian‑Chinese joint draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space.  Several other issues had not been addressed, including terrestrially based anti‑satellite weapons and the need for a verification regime.  He was also concerned about China imposing its national view on multilateral politics, adding that political commitments that could not be verified by the international community were not the answer.

    The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said members would abstain from voting on “L.53”.  Underlining the importance of developing initiatives to increase confidence and mutual trust between current and future space actors, she said “L.53” did not adequately respond to that objective nor did it address the need to define what constituted a weapon in outer space.  She was also concerned about the continued development of anti‑satellite weapons and capabilities.  Instead of taking action on such a draft resolution, it would be more useful to address the behaviour in, and use of, outer space to advance meaningful initiatives.

    The representative of Belarus said a basic element of outer space disarmament was the peaceful use of outer space.  Belarus would vote in favour of “L.53”, having voiced support for a draft treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  It also would vote in favour of “L.3” and “L.54” and supported reaching consensus on the draft resolution “Transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities” (document A/C.1/72/L.46).

    The representative of Ukraine said her delegation would vote against “L.53”, which had been submitted by the Russian Federation.  “L.54” contained unacceptable provisions, obscure and vague terminology related primarily to space debris, she said, adding that the Russian Federation had blocked the code of conduct in outer space that the European Union had proposed.

    The representative of Nepal said that since preventing an arms race fell under the umbrella of maintaining international peace and security, his delegation would vote in favour of “L.3”, “L.46”, “L.53” and “L.54”.

    The representative of Iran said his delegation had joined consensus on “L.46” and had voted in favour of “L.53”.  On the latter, however, the term “weapons” had not been defined.  It was prohibited to place “any kind of weapons of mass destruction” in outer space.  In the absence of explicit descriptions of weapons other than weapons of mass destruction, that policy should be considered in line with the universal principle of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.  Any other interpretation of such a policy would be unacceptable.

    The Committee then turned to draft resolutions related to the disarmament aspects of outer space.

    It first took up the draft resolution “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.3), which would have the General Assembly reaffirm the importance and urgency of preventing an arms race in outer space and call upon all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the objective of the peaceful use of outer space and of the prevention of an arms race in outer space and to refrain from actions contrary to that objective and to the relevant existing treaties in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation.

    It then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 175 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (United States, Israel).

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities” (document A/C.1/72/L.46).  By the text, the Assembly would encourage Member States to continue to review and implement, to the greatest extent practicable, the proposed transparency and confidence‑building measures contained in the report, through relevant national mechanisms, on a voluntary basis and in a manner consistent with the national interests of Member States.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

    The Committee then took up the draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53).  That text would have the Assembly reaffirm the importance and urgency of the objective to prevent an arms race in outer space and the willingness of States to contribute to reaching this common goal and would encourage all States, especially space‑faring nations, to consider the possibility of upholding, as appropriate, a political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in outer space.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 4 against (Georgia, Israel, Ukraine, United States) with 48 abstentions.

    The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54), which would have the Assembly urge the Conference on Disarmament to agree on and implement at its earliest opportunity a balanced and comprehensive programme of work that includes the immediate commencement of negotiations on an international legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, including on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space.

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary‑General to establish a United Nations Group of Governmental Experts and decide that the newly established group would operate by consensus, without prejudice to national positions in future negotiations, and hold two two‑week‑long sessions in Geneva, one in 2018 and one in 2019.

    The Committee then approved the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 5 against (France, Israel, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 45 abstentions.

    The representative of Pakistan said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.54” although unfortunately some countries had bypassed the Conference on Disarmament by establishing external expert groups.  Preventing an arms race in outer space was one of the core issues of the Conference on Disarmament’s agenda.  He expressed hope for actions that would enable the Conference on Disarmament to adopt a balanced and comprehensive programme of work.

    The representative of Switzerland said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.53” and “L.54”, adding that an elaboration of new norms and standards were necessary to prevent an arms race in outer space.  He expressed hope that the new group of governmental experts would give fresh inputs and that major space powers would participate to ensure the implementation of those provisions.  Welcoming “L.54”, he was concerned that space could become a place of military confrontation.  Other concerns included the development of land‑based weapons and testing weapons, he said.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of the United States, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his country had a moratorium on nuclear‑weapon testing for the last 25 years.  While he was sure the Russian Federation had a lot of interest in the democratic process in the United States, the international community should not lose focus that one country currently posed the biggest threat to the Test‑Ban Treaty.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said Ukraine’s representative represented the ultra‑nationalist regime that had come to power in 2014 as the result of a coup d’etat supported by the United States and the European Union.  What was going on in Ukraine was regretful.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the objectives of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme were to put an end to threats being made by the United States and to prevent a military invasion.  Joining the Test‑Ban Treaty went against his country’s sovereign rights.  If the United States wanted world peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, it should dismantle its nuclear weapons arsenal and join the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.

    The representative of the United States said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was an outcast; its provocative acts threatened security in the region and beyond.

    The representative of Ukraine said all criminal actions conducted by the Russian Federation would be judged in The Hague.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the provocative allegations of the United States regime.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would defend itself with its powerful nuclear deterrence and at the same time contribute to the maintenance of global peace and security.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said that perhaps his counterpart from Ukraine did not know what the tribunal in The Hague was and had not studied it properly in school.

    The representative of the Ukraine said she wanted to bring to the attention of the Chair and all delegates that personal remarks in the Committee were unacceptable.

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  • First Committee Debates Future of Fissile Material Cut Off Treaty, Other Instruments, as Building Blocks towards Nuclear Weapon-Free World

    Debating a range of legally binding measures and norms for advancing nuclear disarmament today, speakers in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) discussed the future of a fissile material cut‑off treaty and other instruments as building blocks towards a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.

    The Chair of the High‑level Fissile Material Cut‑off Treaty Expert Preparatory Group briefed the Committee on the work of the body, which was tasked by the United Nations Secretary‑General to make recommendations on elements of a future non‑discriminatory, multilateral and international and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

    Negotiating a convention governing fissile material was more relevant now than ever before, said the Chair Heidi Hulan, particularly as the debate on nuclear disarmament had become increasingly polarized.  While the Expert Preparatory Group was not a panacea for the current dysfunction in the disarmament machinery, it provided an effective forum to reduce tensions and engage in much needed bridge-building.

    Hungary’s delegate said the start of negotiations on a cut‑off treaty was a concrete step towards a world free of nuclear weapons and a significant contribution to the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Echoing that sentiment, Italy’s speaker said the immediate commencement of negotiations for such a treaty was a key priority.

    Other delegates reiterated the continued relevance of cut‑off treaty negotiations.  Meanwhile, some stressed that such an instrument would be insufficient unless it covered existing stockpiles of such material.

    Pakistan’s representative expressed support for negotiations on a fissile material treaty based on a programme of work through the Conference on Disarmament, objecting to any steps taken outside that process.  A vital and indispensable part of the disarmament machinery, it was the sole multilateral negotiating forum, he said, underscoring that initiatives launched outside the Conference on Disarmament ignored the fundamental security considerations that underpinned nuclear disarmament and would not lead to any real change on the ground.

    Yet, a number of speakers, including the representatives of Algeria, Indonesia and Spain, highlighted the need for legally binding and universal security assurances for non‑nuclear‑weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by nuclear‑weapon States.  The delegate from Bangladesh expressed concern that work on such a legally binding instrument had been held hostage to the overall dynamics in the Conference on Disarmament.

    Representing the only voice of a nuclear‑weapon State participating in today’s debate, China’s delegate said his country had proposed a common, integrated, cooperative and sustainable approach to establish global security.  Expressing concerns over the recent adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said that achieving nuclear disarmament required the international community to maintain security while moving gradually within the existing frameworks.

    The Committee also heard the introduction of several draft resolutions, including on a nuclear‑weapon free Southern hemisphere and adjacent areas and on the conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non‑nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

    Also participating in the thematic debate were the representatives of Israel, Finland, Brazil, Guatemala, South Africa, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Iraq, Samoa, Cabo Verde, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Portugal, Thailand and New Zealand.

    Representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

    The First Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 16 October, to conclude its thematic debate on nuclear weapons.

    Background

    The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) heard a briefing from the Chair of the High‑level Fissile Material Cut‑off Treaty Expert Preparatory Group and continued its thematic debate on nuclear weapons.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

    Briefing

    HEIDI HULAN, Chair of the High‑level Fissile Material Cut‑off Treaty Expert Preparatory Group, said the General Assembly resolution leading to its establishment had marked the start of a significant process, one that could be a catalyst in the negotiation of such an instrument.  The Expert Preparatory Group had been tasked with considering and making recommendations on elements of a future non‑discriminatory, multilateral and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

    Discussions on a cut‑off treaty process ran parallel to the negotiation and adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,  she said.  Concrete steps, including an effective legal prohibition on the production of the materials required to make nuclear bombs, remained indispensable to progress on nuclear disarmament.  Despite discussions on the continued relevance of a cut‑off treaty in the context of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, she said negotiating a convention governing fissile material was more relevant now than ever before, as the debate on nuclear disarmament had become increasingly polarized.

    While the Expert Preparatory Group was not a panacea for the current dysfunction in the disarmament machinery, she said it provided an effective forum to reduce tensions and engage in much needed bridge‑building.  The informal consultative meeting held in March had been critical to ensuring that the General Assembly remained engaged in the necessary diplomacy required to hold the Conference on Disarmament to account for the negotiation of the treaty.  Emphasizing the importance of inclusivity to the 25‑member Expert Preparatory Group, she expressed commitment to ensuring that the views of the entire international community were taken into account in its work, she said, noting that the first session in July and August had been substantive and highly interactive.

    Further, the Preparatory Group had succeeded in distilling a concise menu of potential treaty provisions across all treaty aspects, including its definitions, scope, verification and legal and institutional framework, she said.  A comprehensive sense of what options existed for treaty provisions in those areas, and how they intersected, was now in place.  Conveying the regret felt amongst many experts that such a treaty had not already been negotiated, she said that in the absence of an agreement within the Conference on Disarmament on a comprehensive and balanced programme of work that included the negotiation of a cut‑off treaty, the Preparatory Group would continue its current deliberations and submit a report to the Secretary‑General.  In that context, she looked forward to convening another informal consultative meeting in February 2018.

    The Chair then opened the floor to delegates for an informal discussion.

    Statements

    FAIYAZ MURSHID KAZI (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that as global awareness of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons expanded, the world became more sensitized to the risks of their inadvertent use due to an accident or miscalculation.  Moreover, the threat of nuclear weapons and related materials falling into the hands of terrorists deepened concerns over the existence of those weapons of mass destruction.  While all responsible Member States shared a firm commitment to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, divergent views existed on the ways, means and pace of achieving that objective.  He condemned the proliferation of a number of exclusive initiatives that tended to prescribe the norms and standards for nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation, maintaining the so‑called prerogatives of the nuclear‑weapon States.  Regarding negative security assurances, he was particularly concerned that the work on a legally binding instrument providing assurances to non‑nuclear weapon States against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by nuclear‑weapon States remained hostage to the overall dynamics in the Conference on Disarmament.  He then reiterated the continued relevance of commencing negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on an effective, non‑discriminatory, legally binding and internationally and effectively verifiable fissile material cut‑off treaty that included existing stocks.

    WANG QUN (China) said his country had proposed a common, integrated, cooperative and sustainable approach to establish global security.  Expressing concerns over the recent adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said that achieving nuclear disarmament required the international community to maintain security while moving in a gradual manner, by consensus and within the existing framework of non‑proliferation and disarmament.  The new instrument was in conflict with the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and jeopardized its authority.  Furthermore, it did not constitute new customary international law and it was not legally binding to any of the State parties.  China supported the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty and remained committed to the international nuclear disarmament efforts and to the moratorium on nuclear testing.

    ERAN YUVAN (Israel) said his country maintained a policy of responsibility and restraint in the nuclear domain in accordance with the goals and principles of the non‑proliferation regime.  However, cases of non‑compliance with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty had emanated from the Middle East with Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria breaching its provisions.  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s non‑compliance with the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and for being “heavily involved with proliferation in the Middle East”, he said Israel did not sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons because the instrument hindered the disarmament process and global security.  Israel was committed to the process of direct dialogue and confidence‑building especially in the Middle East, and for that reason it had expressed concerns over the introduction of the draft resolution on the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.

    JARMO VIINANEN (Finland), condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing activities, highlighted the importance of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and called on all nuclear‑weapon States to take concrete actions towards disarmament.  Finland was particularly concerned about the thousands of tactical weapons stationed in Europe, which were not covered by any agreement.  Urging all States that had not yet done so to ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty without delay.  The High‑level Expert Preparatory Group was a positive step and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was a major multilateral achievement that should continue to be implemented.

    ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil), associating himself with the New Agenda Coalition and the Union of South American Nations, expressed support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which contributed to the implementation of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and strengthened the existing non‑proliferation and disarmament regime.  He then introduced a draft resolution on a nuclear‑weapon‑free Southern hemisphere and adjacent areas.  The draft text welcomed the adoption of the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East while encouraging efforts to reinforce coordination among other such zones.

    BENARD ESTRANA (Guatemala), associating with himself the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had not been implemented in a balanced way.  However, while a step‑by‑step approach was not being implemented by nuclear‑weapon States sufficiently, he said the new instrument was a mark of hope for the international community and bridged a legal gap to categorically prohibit such weapons.  Guatemala advocated for complete and verifiable disarmament and was proud to be a party to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), which served as an example to other regions.  Calling for the universalization of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, he urged States not party to it to accede to the instrument.  Guatemala also supported the General Assembly in convening a high‑level conference on nuclear disbarment in 2018 to review progress made.

    SIMBONGILE MANCOTYWA‑KUMSHA (South Africa), associating herself with the African Group, the Non‑Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition, welcomed the adoption and opening for signature of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Beyond its entry into force and universalization, efforts must ensure the full implementation of commitments made by States parties in fulfilling their obligations under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, particularly those regarding nuclear disarmament which had been neglected for too long.  Moreover, a treaty banning the production of fissile material should remain a priority for the international community.  Such a ban would represent a step towards a world free of nuclear weapons and reinforce the ideals of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty while complementing the Test‑Ban Treaty.  In that vein, South Africa would table a draft resolution on ethical imperatives for a world without nuclear weapons, she said, calling for its support.

    MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said as long as nuclear weapons existed, the risk of their use exposed humanity and the environment to catastrophic consequences.  He expressed support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, calling for its early entry into force.  Going forward, he said the international community must fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.  Another way was through ensuring the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty, which all States that had not yet done so should sign and ratify.  He also expressed strong support for the preservation of the Southeast Asian region as a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone that was also free of all other weapons of mass destruction, as enshrined in the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon‑Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok) and ASEAN Charter.

    MICHAEL TENE (Indonesia) expressed hope that the Treaty on the prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would break the stalemate in the nuclear disarmament machinery.  Indonesia’s commitment to the new convention did not diminish support for the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, which, however was an indispensable instrument to prevent the spread of such weapons.  Emphasizing the importance of establishing a Middle East nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, he underscored the need to bring the Test‑Ban Treaty to enter into force.  In addition, non‑nuclear‑weapon States should be given legally binding and universal security assurances.  Raising concerns that some States’ security doctrines still relied on nuclear weapons, he said modernization programmes did not comply with disarmament commitments.  To address the unacceptably slow progress in advancing disarmament goals and related issues, he urged Member States to redouble their efforts to achieve the shared goal of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world.

    MOHAMAD REDA (Iraq), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the universalization of all treaties and conventions on nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and the global respect of them was the only way to guarantee that those arms would never be used.  Expressing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he said its adoption had been the outcome of Member States’ continuous efforts over the past 20 years.  Iraq also promoted efforts to establish a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East, which would strengthen regional and international peace and security.  For that reason, Israel should eliminate its nuclear weapons and adhere to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as a non‑nuclear State.  He called for an international legally binding instrument offering safeguards to non‑nuclear‑weapon States that nuclear‑weapon States would not use their weapons.  Given that nuclear terrorism was a major threat to international peace, measures were needed to prevent terrorist groups from obtaining related material.

    ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA (Samoa) recalled that nuclear testing in the Pacific Region that had taken place in the 1970s had made his and other countries in the region, strong advocates for disarmament, as illustrated by South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga).  Samoa continued to demonstrate its commitment to that cause by becoming a party to the Test‑Ban Treaty and the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Magnified by recent events in the Korean Peninsula, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons marked a breakthrough in nuclear disarmament.

    MARÍA PALACIOS PALACIOS (Spain), saying that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing activities posed a grave threat to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, called on that country to take clear steps to reduce tensions, including a moratorium on future tests, and on all States to strictly implement related Security Council resolutions.  Turning to Iran, Spain strongly supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which demonstrated the will of the international community to resolve a serious security matter through diplomatic means.  While calling on nuclear‑weapon States to fulfil their responsibilities, she disagreed with the approach of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, as nuclear‑weapon States’ security interests must be considered.  Meanwhile, she called on countries to ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty, expressed support for a fissile material cut‑off treaty and asked nuclear‑weapon States to strengthen negative security assurances provided to non‑nuclear weapon States.

    FARUKH AMIL (Pakistan) said that amid a worsening international and regional security environment, the goal of nuclear disarmament seemed ever more elusive.  That lack of progress was primarily due to nuclear‑weapon States in fulfilling their disarmament obligations, while constantly shifting the goal posts towards additional non‑proliferation measures that were cost‑free for their own strategic gains.  In addition, double standards in the application of non‑proliferation norms for the sake of political expedience and economic benefits endangered strategic stability in the South Asia region and beyond.

    Turning to the Conference on Disarmament, he expressed regret that it had fallen short of expectations in fulfilling its raison d’etre of nuclear disarmament.  The frustration brewing over the slow progress had boiled over, giving rise to an initiative launched outside the Conference on Disarmament to ban nuclear weapons, which had subsequently faltered by ignoring the fundamental security considerations that underpinned nuclear disarmament.  While his Government empathized with the sense of disappointment that propelled the proponents of such a ban, he said such initiatives would not lead to any real change on the ground.  For its part, any treaty that failed to improve security for all States was a non‑starter, as evidenced by the failure of the fissile material cut‑off treaty negotiations to begin.  Similarly, a treaty that only resulted in a cut‑off in the future production of fissile material would jeopardize Pakistan’s security and bring no added value to the cause of disarmament.  He then presented a draft resolution on the conclusion of effective international arrangements to assure non‑nuclear‑weapon States against the use or threat of use of those arms.

    Ms. BARRETO (Cabo Verde) reiterated her country’s commitment to the African Nuclear‑Weapon‑Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba), expressing support for other such zones, including in the Middle East, as an important measure of nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation.  Cabo Verde had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which presented a “high point of international cooperation” and a significant step in the history of non‑proliferation.  Her country also remained committed to other related conventions, including the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the Test‑Ban Treaty.

    GYORGY MOLNAR (Hungary) condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing activities, urged it to comply with all relevant obligations under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Nuclear disarmament could only be achieved through a gradual and inclusive process, engaging nuclear‑weapon States and considering the international security context.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons did not meet those requirements, he said, adding that it only created an unnecessary and divisive duplication, weakening the existing multilateral disarmament framework.  A concrete step towards a world free of nuclear weapons would be starting negotiations on a fissile material cut‑off treaty, which would constitute a significant contribution to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty by banning the production of such components.

    ROBBERT JAN GABRIËLSE (Netherlands), aligning himself with the Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent tests had destabilized the region and were a threat to regional and global peace and security.  He called on the regime to fully comply with its international obligations.  Raising concerns about current tensions between nuclear‑weapon States and disagreements on how to make further progress on disarmament and ensure non‑proliferation, he said even the goal of a nuclear‑weapon‑free world was at risk of being obscured.  Calling for the international community to redouble its efforts on nuclear disarmament, he said more than ever before, an honest dialogue about nuclear weapons, disarmament and international security was needed, including acknowledging different perspectives on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and finding a way to deal with them.

    MUSTAPHA ABBANI (Algeria), associating himself with the Arab Group and the African Group, reiterated that nuclear disarmament could not happen unless the world rid humanity of the danger of their use.  The presence of such weapons continued to pose the greatest threat to humanity and still, they remained the backbone of many States’ military doctrines.  Expressing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he congratulated the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts.  Going forward, a legally binding instrument on negative security assurances was needed, he said, calling also for the early entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty.  On the peaceful use of nuclear energy, he supported the right of all States to do so as a path to advance national development goals.  Algeria also supported the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East.  Genuine political will and the preservation of current momentum would enable the international community to overcome the existing stumbling blocks toward achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

    MOHAMED ESSA BOAUSAIBH (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the Arab Group, the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Non‑proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, said the Non‑Proliferation Treaty was the cornerstone of the nuclear non‑proliferation and disarmament regime.  He expressed hope that positive steps would be taken to implement the outcome of the 2010 Non‑Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which would ensure that the conference on the establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East would be convened.  The United Arab Emirates affirmed the importance of the Test‑Ban Treaty’s entry onto force, he said, calling upon Annex 2 countries to sign and ratify it as soon as possible.  He expressed concern over Iran’s continued nuclear activities, and hope for implementation of the nuclear agreement and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

    RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), said the current geopolitical tensions in various regions and the belligerent rhetoric were exacerbating the risk of nuclear war.  Nuclear‑weapon‑States should stop exposing humanity to the risk of extinction and violating international law, he said, emphasizing that no security doctrine could justify destruction of the planet.  Despite those risks, little progress had been made so far, he noted.  That was why Venezuela had signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and urged other countries to do the same.  The Test‑Ban Treaty should also enter into force since it was a fundamental pillar and complementary to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty and the new Treaty.  He urged balanced implementation of the three pillars of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty, and said he favoured dialogue and cooperation in seeking the pursuit of complete and effective nuclear disarmament.

    CRISTINA PUCARINHO (Portugal) condemned the recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and urged that country to cease all such activities.  She also underlined the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear‑Test‑Ban Treaty and the urgency of its early entry into force.  Meanwhile, she praised the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, saying it had been reached through political will and in good faith.  No violation of any of its commitments had ever been reported, she noted.  Portugal supported the moral imperative of pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons, and understood the frustrations that had led to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, she said, adding however, that she was not convinced that it represented a realistic way to achieve that common goal.  Portugal supported a process of gradual reduction of nuclear weapons, taking legitimate national and international security concerns into account, she emphasized.

    KARIN KUNJARA NA AYUDHYA (Thailand), associating with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, emphasized that human rights, development and peace were mutually reinforcing concepts, as well as the cultivating grounds for security.  Thailand had participated actively in the process leading to the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which had strengthened the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s provisions.  In particular, the new instrument bolstered the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s safeguard system under the responsibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Thailand also shared in the international community’s grave concern over heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he said, expressing hope that all parties could use peaceful means towards peace and stability.

    DELL HIGGIE (New Zealand) said the historic nature of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had been recognized in awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the civil society movement instrumental in bringing about that convention.  Criticism that the new instrument had created divisions within the international community overlooked the long‑standing dissatisfaction many shared regarding progress on nuclear disarmament.  The instrument represented a symptom of that division, rather than its cause.  In addition, criticism about its failure to permit reservations and at its inclusion of a withdrawal clause had ignored the fact that those aspects essentially followed the Non‑Proliferation Treaty’s approach.  Recalling questions regarding the language contained in Article 18, she pointed out that States parties had undertaken to reinforce obligations set out in the Non‑Proliferation Treaty.  Further, the claim that the new instrument might somehow complicate the entry into force of the Test‑Ban Treaty was especially far‑fetched.  Obstacles to that instrument’s entry into force flowed from the text of the Test‑Ban Treaty itself and from domestic processes for its ratification.

    VINICIO MATI (Italy), associating him with Australia, reaffirmed the centrality of the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of the international regime for disarmament and non‑proliferation.  Calling on all States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Test‑Ban Treaty, he added that another key priority was the immediate commencement of negotiations for a fissile material cut‑off treaty.  Reiterating support for the convening of a conference on the establishment of a Middle East nuclear‑weapon‑free zone, he also condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear testing activities.

    Right of Reply

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to remarks made by his counterparts from Finland, Hungary, Netherlands and Spain, saying the issue on the Korean Peninsula was a confrontation between his country and the United States.  To the representative of Israel, he said Israel was “a symbol for non‑compliance with international legal obligations” and the only opponent to establishing a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the Middle East.  He urged Israel to implement international law.

    The representative of the United States said the Korean Peninsula issue was not an issue between his country and the Pyongyang regime, but rather between the international community and that regime.  He recommended the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to look at its own non‑compliance with international legal obligations when calling on other States to do the same.

    The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the Korean Peninsula issue was between the United States and his country.

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